I drove this weekend from southern MD to Yuma, AZ and thought I'd share. It was an uneventful trip, but we made some good time(I think) and saw a few interesting things along the way.
I loaded a few hundred pounds of stuff into the car (02 Golf TDI) and hit the road Saturday morning, heading towards my sister's house in east TN... I arrived about 7 1/2 hours later. I picked up my co-driver(Dad) there and we started heading west about 7am Sunday morning. We topped off the tank and got on I-81 south towards I-40, then drove I-40 all the way across TN. It started to rain just before getting to Memphis, and we decided to stop for lunch and fuel in West Memphis. After that, we hopped back in the car and continued west on I-40, with the rain not stopping until we got into OK. The next time we pulled off I-40 after West Memphis was Shamrock, TX. We crossed the entire states of AR and OK non-stop!
At that point, according to GPS, our average moving speed for the day was 73.5mph and average speed including fuel/food/bathroom stops was 71.2mph. We had been cruising at the speed limit plus 6-7mph, according to GPS(speedo reads about 2.5-3mph faster) all day, so I guess that sounds about right. 1100 miles that day.
Sunday morning we filled up at a gas station across the highway from our hotel in Shamrock and jumped on I-40. Nice clear day, and very little traffic except a little going through Amarillo, and some construction in Albuquerque. However, winds steadily increased across the western part of NM and into AZ. The low fuel ligth pinged just a few miles short of Holbrook, AZ, which is where I had planned to stop, so that worked out perfect. We just crossed the TX panhandle, NM, and maybe 80 miles of AZ- again, non-stop! I think the average speeds for Saturday and up to this point Sunday were 72mph over-all, and close to 75mph moving.
After filling up in Holbrook, we continued toward Flagstaff. The winds were just plain crazy! It was a work-out just to keep the car between the lines. Finally we got to Flagstaff and headed south on I-17, and the winds were significantly less. Traffic was light on I-17 at first, but after a little while it started to pick up- so I turned off at 169(Cherry Rd?) and went to Prescott. Drove through the Embry-Riddle campus, wow, that place has changed a LOT since I graduated in 2001! We drove through town and headed south on White Spar Rd (89?), having a little fun in the twisties, but not too much with all the crap in the back of the car. We just took the backroads from there towards Quartzite and down to Yuma, getting into town about 9pm. That was right at 1000mi for Sunday.
Average speed for the entire trip from east TN to Yuma, AZ was 69.6mph and moving average was 72.2mph(excluding the night in the hotel in Shamrock, of course). I was really hoping to have an over-all average of 70+, but my little tour through Prescott and ERAU probably knocked it down a bit.
Hmmm, what did we see along the way? First, I thought the road surface in AR was awful, and only a little better in OK. AR almost made me wish I had a mouthguard. We saw several minivans and SUVs rolled over, and a few semi trucks that had gone off the road. Drive safe!
We also saw a train that had derailed, I think that was a little west of Albuquerque, NM. You could see a few trucks and a bunch of guys working on the track, and several rail cars either laying on their side, or standing upright next to a pile of coal. For the next few hundred miles, we saw train after train, stopped on the tracks, presumably waiting for the rail to be repaired.
We saw a few trucks headed east with what looked like those igloo dog houses, but these things were huge- the "door" was probably a good 8-10ft tall. I figured they were probably the hubs for wind generators, and sure enough a few minutes later I saw the big generator assembly that goes on the back of the hub/rotor. I'd like to know where these things are being erected, they must be massive. I remember a show I saw in Germany a few years ago about their generators, and they had some with a semi-span of 100m. I think the ones I saw will be at least that big, possibly larger.
We saw a lot of police cars in NM, but other than that we only saw a few. I don't think we had much to worry about as far as tickets go at the speeds we were driving, but it's always a relief to finish a tip without any tickets. The only disappointment with the trip was that I averaged just under 43mpg. I had been expecting more like 46mpg. I guess being heavily loaded, the slightly higher driving speeds than I'm used to, and heading westbound into the winds, it all adds up. Maybe I'll make up the difference on the way back- which should be sometime between late June and September.