Wednesday, May 09, 2007

"US-501: Lynchburg to Buena Vista"

Skip to the random thoughts on "24" (Spoilers!)

Throughout the life of this blog, I've beaten the State College <--> Raleigh (Cary) drive into the ground. Well, good news - I'm not done yet!

When I was trying to put together the southern portion of the route, the major sticking point I had was figuring out how to get from I-81 to US-29. Most map guidance I had looked at up to that point suggested I take US-501 from Buena Vista to Lynchburg and pick up US-29 there. But I've done that route before, and it's not fast. Then, on my way back from Staunton in October, I thought I'd try the VA-6 way. And, I've never gone another way since. (Actually, I just went to MapQuest and asked for the best way to get from Raleigh (Cary) to Staunton, and it told me to take VA-6, not US-501. didn't do that last time...) All the while, through my trip segment timing, I left the door open to give US-501 a shot at redemption. And since I don't have many State College <--> Raleigh (Cary) drives left, I figured I'd take the opportunity and give US-501 one last chance on Sunday. I didn't expect this route to be faster, but I at least wanted to quantify the difference. I've taken US-501 twice before, but did not time it specifically in comparison to the VA-6 route either time.

Just to get your bearings straight, here are a couple of maps. The first one is the way I've been going:

Now, here's the US-501 way:

The first map isn't entirely accurate, because Microsoft Streets and Trips 2007 doesn't have the newly completed US-29 bypass east of Lynchburg. Because of that, I can't really provide a meaningful distance comparison between the two routes.

What was the timing difference? Compared to the average segment times taking VA-6, the US-501 way was 12 minutes slower. That's about right. Now...I didn't complete US-501 as quickly as I could have. I was stuck behind a trailer for much of it. He wasn't going that slow, and I don't think that alone made a difference of 12 minutes, but still. The road itself is actually a lot of fun when you're not stuck behind anybody; there are many curvy sections as you head over the Blue Ridge. Unfortunately, US-501 gets enough traffic, you'll almost always be stuck behind somebody if you drive at an above-average speed. And in these mountains, passing opportunities are few and far between. So, this road isn't exactly the fastest way over the mountains. Instead, you're better off taking I-64 over the Blue Ridge. Interstates don't make for the most interesting mountain drives, but they always seem to give you the fastest way through the mountains. You still have VA-6 down the mountain, but it's short, and it's fun, and there isn't much traffic, and you can always take US-250 all the way to VA-151 if you want to avoid curvy sections. (But why would you want to do that?) So, this was probably the last time I'm going to take this section of US-501. It's not fast, and there are other fun roads in the area with less traffic.

One more comment about Sunday's drive. My car surpassed 151,000 miles while on PA-16 near Mercersburg, PA, and the Car Mileage Log has been updated accordingly. This is the third milestone I've reached since starting the log. All three milestones to this point have happened outside of North Carolina on Saturday or Sunday. Also, none have been on an interstate highway. I don't really have a preference where these milestones happen; I'm just trying to objectively chronicle their occurrences. But if I were to guess, I'd say that the 152,000 milestone will happen in North Carolina. And when that happens, I'll be sure to let you know, because every 1,000 miles means I'm that much closer to the car's last gasp.

Today's random thoughts on "24": (Spoilers!)

- If you paid attention during the opening credits, and knew which character was played by James Cromwell, then you would have already known Jack's father was going to show up in this episode. I'm surprised they put his name in the opening credits; usually when a character makes a "surprise appearance" at the end of an episode, his or her name isn't in the opening credits. For example, when Audrey made her first appearance a few hours ago, Kim Raver's name did not appear in the credits. (Speaking of which, I think we've seen the last of her this season.) Knowing that Phillip was going to show up, as soon as we found out that the raid on CTU was for Josh, I figured he was behind it somehow, possibly as part of a mutual exchange with the Chinese. Ding ding ding!
- I can picture Tom Lennox sitting in that van, twiddling his thumbs, waiting for Lisa and whoever to finish their business. That's actually kind of funny. But still, the scenes involving Lisa were really painful to watch.
- It's a good thing CTU got attacked, because this episode was going nowhere up until that point. I was getting tired of all of the love stories (which are getting really out of hand, I must say). And I knew Jack wasn't going to be stuck in that cell for the entire episode. This was the most interesting thing that's happened in the last few episodes.
- When the Chinese henchmen shot Milo, did they know he wasn't the real acting director of CTU? They found out later that Nadia was the director, but I'm not sure if they knew that when they shot Milo. If they thought he was acting director at the time, then killing him would have proven to be a mistake when Mike Doyle contacted CTU and the acting director was dead. I really don't understand what that was about, except to write him out of the script. Which, do you really need to write miscellaneous CTU people out of the script? They're minor enough characters, they could simply disappear between seasons and nobody would care.


Jeff said...

According to the creator of the show, they want to kill some characters off to remind viewers that good guys can die too. I guess that ends one of the CTU love stories, which I agree, were getting out of hand. You'd think CTU would institute a "no dating" policy at work, given the nature of their jobs.

Jeff said...

When I dorve U.S. 501 on my way to Florida in 2006, I also remember it being rather slow. We were caught behind a log truck I think.