Thursday, February 12, 2015

Silly Solo Trip to Louisiana: Recap

There are a lot of things I could have done with my three days of vacation time. Why did I decide to spend it driving nearly 2,400 miles?

Well, this road trip thing is sort of a fun game. Let's start with the primary goal: how can I visit as many new counties as possible in as little time as possible? I think this is a pretty fun math / map problem to figure out. My chosen route through Alabama-Mississippi-Louisiana gave me 48 new counties (colored dark red on the linked map) - not necessarily the absolute most I could have gotten in three days' time starting/ending from home, but good enough. Since I had three days, I also wanted to take advantage of the time and get farther away from home, even though I could have probably gotten more counties staying a bit closer to home and driving back and forth across Kentucky and Tennessee, perhaps. And, of course, "How likely is Amber going to want to take a vacation here someday" was also a consideration. (We've actually already done road trips to both Alabama and Mississippi. Unlikely to do another one.)

By the way, if you're wondering how much this trip cost me...I spent $155.45 on gas and $131.85 on hotels, for a total of $287.30. That seems like a lot of money to spend for three days of driving, and you're right. Roadgeeking is not the cheapest of hobbies. On the other hand...
- It's not like we've been spending much on travel lately.
- If I had taken this same exact trip one year ago when the average price of gas was $1.15/gal higher, then the trip would have cost me an additional $80.
- If I had taken my Subaru Forester instead of Amber's Mazda 3, then I would have gotten slightly worse gas mileage, and had to spend an additional $40 on gas.
- Really, the most efficient way for me to get the maximum number of new counties would have been to fly to Dallas and rent a car for three days. If I did that, the total trip expense might have even breached $1,000. I have to draw the line somewhere.

Here's another thing that makes this a fun game: timing. How accurate are the Google Maps projected trip times? How much driving can I do by myself in a given day, anyway?

The Google Maps projected trip times are as accurate as they've ever been. Google said the entire trip would take me 35:54 (that's the "no traffic" time, excluding stops). If you subtract out the 12 minutes I spent sitting in Atlanta traffic, the entire trip took me: 36:18. (The Garmin time pictured above is unofficial because it also includes taking exits to gas stations, things like that.) Gone are the days in which map software assumed you would drive 60 mph on the interstate or something silly like that. Google is much more reasonable now. (As for other map websites...who cares? THERE IS ONLY GOOGLE MAPS.)

The drive time distribution over the three days was 12:48, 13:01, and (including the Atlanta traffic jam) 10:41. Was that too much driving? Nope! At least, not in terms of personal stamina. It would have been nice to see some of these places during daylight hours.

So...what did I see on this road trip, anyway? In southern Louisiana, I saw lots of bridges.

And, I saw a lot of French-sounding names.

Seriously, "Acadiana" (as it's known) might be the only part of the country where having a French-sounding name is actually good for business. If your last name is something like "Thibodeaux" and you want to get into politics or law, there's no better place to be than here. Somebody named "Thibodeaux" is far, far more likely to win an election in Louisiana than anywhere else in the country.

The Northern Alabama mountains were scenic - at least, the parts that I saw during daylight hours - but that's about it for scenery. But for some reason, I still enjoy driving through the rural South. It's interesting.

Here's the (approximate) entirety of the route: (Google Maps embedding doesn't work with more complicated routes, apparently. Sorry.)

The reason I took I-75 and I-20 through Georgia on the way back - not part of the original plan - was because I realized that would give me every mile of interstate in Georgia. Hooray! Also, I'm now only 360 miles short of having driven exactly half of the entire interstate highway system. Which has me thinking...if I wanted to, what's the most efficient way for me to get those 360 miles?

On second thought, that's enough of this craziness for a while. By the third day, I was pretty lonely and questioning whether I should have gone on this trip in the first place. In hindsight, two days would have made for a more enjoyable trip than three days. But I couldn't have made it to Louisiana and back in two days, either, so...well, I don't know. Either way, at least now I've been to Avoyelles Parish.


Spartangoogle said...

80.3 mph? Glad you made it home safely. We have reached the point where we don't want to spend more than one day on the road at a time.

Chris Allen said...

I-49 in Louisiana has a speed limit of 75 mph (that's where I hit 80.3). Wee!