Things I learned while we were "On the Road Again"....
1. Driving in the middle of the night (left home at 1:30 a.m.) is the best!! No traffic, open roads, no construction, you can go the speed limit even through the big towns!! (We only drove at night on the way to Chicago, but we got from Austin to the first Missouri rest stop by 9:00 a.m.) All the other driving was in daylight and was not nearly as pleasant.
2. None of the roads we drove in Oklahoma had any rest stops at all, just one Welcome to Oklahoma tourist information stop. Luckily they had restrooms and a gift shop. Texas, Missouri, and Illinois are much more travel-friendly with multiple rest stops along the way!
3. I swear that at least half of those same roads in Oklahoma were under construction. It was slow down for construction for 10 miles, drive for 20 more miles, slow down for construction....the whole way through the state!
4. It is interesting that most drivers on two-laned interstates will keep in the right lane except to pass....just like you are supposed to....EXCEPT when it opens up to three or more lanes in the cities! Then its every man for himself!
5. According to the Big Guy's GPS unit, my speedometer reads about 5-7 mph higher than my actual speed! No wonder I haven't gotten any speeding tickets!! LOL!
5. Despite being doable, 11 hours in the car is too much! At least it is for this frequently creaky old body! It was nearly 2400 miles round trip....that's a lot of driving time!
1. We were very surprised that the only arrowhead jewelry at the Oklahoma tourist was made in India!!! Kind of defeats the purpose! The lady in charge said that finding genuine arrowheads is very rare these days and collectors and archaeologists snap them right up!
2. Every town along the way has some variation of essentially the same stores! In some ways its like you never left home! I'm sure that if you go off the interstates and wander through the smaller towns you could still find independent retailers, but we pretty much only saw Walmart, Target, Academy, Walgreens, Sears, Penney's, and all the standard shopping center chains. It makes shopping on vacation really boring! The good thing is we didn't blow our budget buying stuff!
3. The price of gasoline was pretty much like Austin throughout the trip. The range was somewhere between $3.23 to $3.49 a gallon for unleaded....until we hit Chicago! Gas prices for unleaded everywhere around Chicago were averaging about $4.10 a gallon!!! Yikes!!
Food and Lodging::
1. The situation with restaurants along the way was pretty much like the stores, but much worse. McDonalds, Carl's Jr., Subway, Waffle House, Cracker Barrel, Braum's, and Love's Truck Stops are about all you find. I have this great fantasy of finding a great little small town cafe with great food and friendly people, you know sort of like the Whistle Stop Cafe! The trouble is there are no such places along the interstates! And the food at Braum's, the Waffle House and Cracker Barrel restaurants is just barely edible! From what they charge, the food should be a heck of a lot better. Their glory days are long gone!
2. Even the places like Motel 6 and Days Inn are charging anywhere from $40 to $50 a night for a dinky little room in the middle of nowhere. Holiday Inn Express was charging $100 a night! The best we were able to do while on the road was a Best Western for $70 a night and a Quality Inn for $75. That is part of the reason we made the drive in two days each way....only one night to pay for!
3. This one falls into the category of "unpopular sentiments", but did you know that the ENTIRE STATE of Illinois prohibits smoking anywhere in ANY hotel?! To say nothing of restaurants! And still....smoking is NOT illegal! You can buy cigarettes everywhere, but you sure can't find anywhere to smoke them! That is why you see so many people smoking in their cars, its the only place where no one will hassle you! And I swear if one more little 4 year old comes up to me and says "Smoking is going to kill you", I'm going to drop kick the little darling into next week! It is my right to smoke and I don't need to be hassled by obnoxious children whose parents should know better than to let them accost strangers!!
But I digress, sorry!.
4. At least Chicago did not let us down in the food arena. We had Chinese food, Italian food, the best pancakes I have ever eaten (Walker Brothers Pancake House in Glenview, IL) and the required visit to a Chicago tradition....hamburgers and chocolate malts at Superdawg! The Big Guy was able to get his favorite Fannie May candy and his favorite breakfast coffee cake (Swedish Flop-delicious). For him the trip was mostly about the food and he was able to fill up on all the things he misses! I think we both probably gained ten pounds. I'm afraid to get on the scale to find out for sure though!
All in all it was a pretty good trip....but I think it will be a while before we get "On the Road Again!"