Here are some scattered observations, notes, and thoughts from my coast to coast trip.
Names I was Called During My Trip: I got called sir a lot. But other names turned up too, like Mr. Hoover, man, hun, honey, darlin’, and pardner. The pardner made my day. Oh, and I almost forgot, I got called some vulgar names when I had to change lanes in a complicated detour in Denver (The detour signs used written commands instead of arrows to direct traffic in some areas. This does not work well when you’re sitting at a light and the sign says “25 S Detour Take Broad” and Broad is not in sight. Is it right, left, straight ahead? Where is Broad?)
Selecting and Judging a Hotel: During my trip I learned that one of my highest priorities in selecting and judging a hotel is the strength and reliability of the wireless network. I couldn’t tell you which beds were the most comfortable, but I could talk about the wifi (and the breakfast). When I stayed in Las Vegas at the Stratosphere they advertised in-room wireless internet “for a modest fee.” The fee was $11.99 for 24 hours. I don’t know why I expected Las Vegas to know the definition of modest.
Traveling West: Traveling west is as close to time travel as I will ever experience. It was fun to re-live an hour when I crossed a time zone. Now that I live in the PST zone I still find myself thinking: It’s 5:00, that’s 8:00 in real time.
Sliding doors: The hotel I stayed in in New Mexico had a sliding door for the bathroom in my room. It just slid right into the wall when it was open. Very efficient. No blocked and wasted floor space. Why aren’t doors that slide into walls more common?
Sideways Traffic Lights: I saw sideways traffic lights in Santa Fe. Are these common?
No Oversize Load Escort: It seems that oversize loads on trucks do not require escort cars or much signage in the west. I encountered trucks hauling large equipment, like something from logging or quarry work, and the trailers were unapologetically borrowing part of my lane. I did see one escort car with a truck near Denver, so maybe the proximity to a city has something to do with it.
Predicting Trouble: The only close call I had during my trip happened on 93 in Arizona. The sun had set and it was dark. I was driving a stretch of 93 with a terrible surface. It was bad enough that I was driving 10 MPH under the speed limit, and I was mostly alone in the Arizona desert. Several trucks were hanging out 100 yards behind me. A pick up truck hauling a camper shot past me, driving well above the speed limit. As it bounced by I thought to myself: What is that driver thinking? Is he crazy? How is he staying on the road? About 10 minutes later I arrived at a curvy descent. Just as I rounded a curve I saw a guy waving a flashlight frantically. Right behind him the pickup and camper were laying across the road, having rolled and slid down the hill leaving a trail of debris. I braked and pulled toward the shoulder, not having enough room to get by the debris field. Then the trucks that had been behind me came around the bend at 65 MPH. They had no hope of stopping. I drove into the grass beside the road to get out of their way. They flew by, blasting the debris out of their way. The smell of hot brakes was strong. Police and an ambulance arrived at the scene, and the driver seemed to be okay, so I left. I’m sure the pickup and camper were totaled.
Signs: I saw many signs warning drivers about animals. Deer, elk, and bear were the most common. My favorite sign did not specify a species, it just said “Watch for Animals.” It’s a zoo out there on the road.