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Road trip wrap-up

October 27, 2010

1. The USA is big. Very big. Awesomely big. Actually driving across it at 65 mph puts a completely different perspective on it than the perspective one gets at 550 mph in an airplane.

2. The natives are friendly. There is no need to fear.

3. Despite having mile upon mile of mind-numbingly boring plain, the USA will suddenly hit you in the face with awesome feature after awesome feature. Just think, the Rockies, Arches NP, and Zion NP on 2 consecutive days. Just wow. (And Bryce would be in there if the weather had agreed.)

4. Corn. Lots of corn. Lots of unsustainable corn. Bob (B.’s brother) commented that the US corn production was an example of capitalism at it’s most efficient. I beg to differ. First of all it uses huge amounts of mineral-oil based fertilizer, which is inevitably going to run out. Second, the corn industry has huge federal subsidies, mostly going to the mega-corporations like ADM. This alone has upset the balance of competition in North America, basically wiping out Mexican corn production (causing untold numbers of previously gainfully employed Mexican farmers to head north across the border, for work, by the way). Third, the notion of turning corn into ethanol (which seems to be widely practised across the nation) is a complete nonsense. It takes more mineral-oil based fuel energy to create a unit of ethanol energy than is delivered by the unit of ethanol. What I’m saying is that it would be simpler and more efficient to burn the mineral oil than create the ethanol. That’s how subsidies have twisted the market.

5. We’re delighted by the Westy. Not a hint of a problem in approximately 6,000 miles (I’ll do the hard numbers in a while). It went through the 200,000 mile mark on its way east. Today we got its oil changed. Rick at Hugo’s was amazed that it needed an oil and filter changed, as he had only done that 3 weeks ago. (We use synthetic oil and change oil and filter every 5,000). I had to top up the coolant once (it was a bit low when I started, and I think that it didn’t use any at all), and used about half a pint of oil over the whole trip. Astonishing. This van is 23 years old.

6. Hard numbers:
Trip distance, out and back: 6,044 miles
Average mpg: 19
Moving average speed (return journey): 51.6 mph
Maximum speed: 84.7 mph!!!!!!

7. B. and I are still good friends.

8. Some streaming QuickTime HD Vids (from the iPod) are available at Oddstray.com. They are still slow to load, so be patient, please.

9. Having decided, deliberately, not to take the fancy camera and rely upon the iPod touch, it was limiting, but liberating. You can put the iPod in your pocket, and it was there, all the time, right there, so one can use it whenever circumstances arose. Against that is that the still images from the iPod are not very good – somehow, every one of them gets washed out and over-exposed. The video, by contrast, seems to be pretty good, even in my shaky hands.

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