Road Trip 2010 – Part 7: Loose Ends

I know some of y’all probably want to see the entire route that we drove on a full map of the U.S., so here it is – 4401 miles that used a total of 214.78 gallons of gas (I’ll save you the math – that’s 20.49 mpg average) and took 72 hours and 48 minutes:


I recently upgraded to a Motorola Droid X on Verizon Wireless, and we used it to navigate the entire trip. For the most part, it was flawless, and it always eventually got us to where we wanted to go. I put the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the hotels where we had reservations in the address book of the Droid X, and then I just looked up the next one, told it to show it to me on a map, then told the map I wanted to navigate to it. So long as I had already turned on the GPS functionality and waited for a location fix, this worked well. The first time or two I let the navigation app take me to the settings so that I could turn on the GPS, but it never got a location fix – I had to exit the navigation app, turn on the GPS, and then get back into the navigation to make it work.

Also, it appears that the Car Dock app – which automatically starts when you put the phone in the car dock – has some issues with the navigation app. Two or three times while navigating the Car Dock app would freeze the entire phone, and I would not get any navigation updates until Nancy removed the phone from the car dock and waited for the Car Dock app to force close. After that, the navigation would continue with no problem.

Finally, the car charger for the Droid X does not plug into the car dock as securely as I’d like. I think this is mainly due to the micro/mini/nano/whatever-USB connectors that all of the mobile devices seem to be using these days – it just doesn’t seem to have the surface-area-to-volume-ratio needed to provide a positive, secure, strain-resistant connection. Of course, the fact that the coiled cord on the car charger is only just barely long enough to reach from the power outlet in the bottom of the minivan’s dash to the middle of the windshield is certainly a contributing factor.

Anyway, we got everywhere we needed to be, so I guess we’ll call it a success.

Lessons Learned

The first two days (Salisbury, MD, to Shiloh, IL, to Colorado Springs, CO) and the last day (Nashville, TN, to Salisbury, MD) were looooooong! Too long, in fact.  I don’t think we’ll try to do any more 750+ mile days in the future. Come to think of it, the 650+ mile stint from Dallas, TX, to Nashville, TN, was a bit too long as well. On the other hand, when we visit my parents in Augusta, GA, we routinely drive 600 miles in one day, and that’s with our two dogs; however, that’s on roads with which we’re very familiar and that don’t have a lot of (at least for us) interesting scenery. So, for future Road Trips, fewer miles per day! We’ll have to balance that with how long we can spend out of town, of course. Hopefully I’ll get to “retire” one of these days and pursue my dream of traveling around the country doing pro-bono (or at least reduced-rate) IT work for PCA churches.

On this trip I used premium gasoline exclusively. The minivan’s Owner’s Manual says we can use regular, and that’s what we’ve been using since we got it. I wanted to find out if we’d get either better performance or better gas mileage (or both) by using the higher octane gasoline. I’ve kept meticulous records of our gasoline usage from the day we got the minivan, and this experiment showed that there is no advantage to using premium gasoline in the Quest, so it’s regular, 87 octane gasoline from now on.

Finally, we once again proved our friend Karen Brown’s assertion that the more expensive a hotel room is, the less likely you are to get free high-speed Internet access. We again found that those hotels with nightly rates of around $90 had free Internet (and also small refrigerators and microwave ovens), while the more expensive hotel where OpenCamp was held does not provide free high-speed Internet – they normally charge $9.95 per day (and the room did not have either a refrigerator or a microwave oven). Note that the conference rate on the room brought it down to the $90 range, and the conference organizers had also arranged for free Internet access for attendees, so we got a reasonable deal. Of course, with the Droid X and iPad with 3G I can pretty much get my email and do Facebook and Twitter from anywhere I can get either a Verizon Wireless or AT&T Wireless signal.

Road Trip 2010 – Part 6: Home Sweet Home

After having breakfast with my sister and brother-in-law at a local Cracker Barrel, we left Nashville headed for home on Wednesday, September 1.  As usual, here are the stats:headed for Dallas, TX. Here are the stats:

Depart Nashville, TN, Sep 1 at 9:08 a.m.

Arrive Salisbury, MD, Sep 2 at 1:36 a.m.

Actual driving time of 13 hours 2 minutes

778 miles at 59.6 mph average

The trip was fun, but I’m always glad to be back home.  The dogs were also happy to see us. We got everything in from the minivan, put away the milk we picked up at a Royal Farms just outside Salisbury, got ready for bed, and I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

I’ll have a total time and miles, complete with an overall map, in the next day or so (for those who might be interested). I will likely also include some thoughts on how well the Droid X did with navigation, how the iPad worked out, etc.  Stay tuned…


Road Trip 2010 – Part 5: The Grand Ole Opry

We left Dallas, TX, early on Tuesday morning, August 31, 2010, headed for Nashville, TN. Here are the stats:

Depart Dallas, TX, Aug 31, at 7:30 a.m.

Arrive Nashville, TN, Aug 31 at 7:30 p.m.

Actual driving time of 10 hours 24 minutes

653.4 miles at 60.4 mph average

We arrived at the hotel in Nashville in time to check into the hotel and then head for the Grand Ole Opry.  The Opry is currently being performed at the old Ryman Auditorium – its original home – due to the flooding that Nashville got back in the spring. The Opry started at 7 p.m., so by the time we got there it was intermission, so we missed the first half of the show.  The second half was very good, though, with Bill Anderson, Little Jimmy Dickens, Little Big Town, and Montgomery Gentry. Only one night in Nashville – and then only because there is no way to drive from Dallas, TX, to Salisbury, MD, in one day – so the next morning we headed for home (after having breakfast with my sister and her husband at a local Cracker Barrel).


Road Trip 2010 – Part 4: OpenCamp

We left Roswell, NM, early on Friday morning, August 27, 2010, headed for Dallas, TX. Here are the stats:

Depart Roswell, NM, Aug 27 at 8:10 a.m.

Arrive Dallas, TX, Aug 27 at 7:20 p.m.

Actual driving time of 8 hours 32 minutes

486 miles at 56 mph average

Attending OpenCamp Dallas 2010 was really the original reason for the trip.  OpenCamp was the first conference dedicated to the three (major?) blogging platforms: WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.  By the time it was finished, a .Net track and a Multimedia track had been added as well.

I was primarily interested in the WordPress talks, but also wanted to get some exposure to Drupal and Joomla. I learned a lot, met some of the folks I’ve seen on some of the popular tech video podcasts, and met some folks in the WordPress community. It was a great conference; perhaps there will be something similar in the coming years that is closer to Maryland’s beautiful Eastern Shore.

The conference began on Friday evening, Aug 27, and ended on Sunday, Aug 29.  We stayed in Dallas until Tuesday morning (no need beginning a 660 mile 10+ hour trip after 6 p.m.) And, yes, we could have left on Monday morning, but there were a couple of things near Dallas that we wanted to see: Southfork Ranch, in Parker, TX, and the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, in Arlington, TX.  Actually, we really only wanted to see Southfork, or at least that all I really wanted to see.  I was a huge fan of the show Dallas, and saw every episode, so visiting and touring Southfork was a no-brainer given that we don’t know when we’ll be back near here.

Southfork Ranch, where the hit series "Dallas" was filmed.
Southfork Ranch, Parker, TX (near Dallas)

We also visited the Cowboys stadium to pick up a couple of things for our son-in-law Ryan Simms, his daughter Taylor, and his soon-to-be son Logan (Ryan, and by association Lauren (his wife, and Nancy’s daughter), Taylor, and Logan are all huge Dallas Cowboys fans).

Road Trip 2010 – Part 3: Alien Hunting

We left Pagosa Springs, CO, and headed for Roswell, NM, which is where we decided to spend the night on the way to Dallas, TX.

Depart Pagosa Springs, CO, Aug 26 at 8:45 a.m.

Arrive Roswell, NM, Aug 26 at 3:30 p.m.

Actual driving time of 6 hours and 9 minutes

342.7 miles at 55 mph average

I’d wanted to visit Roswell since I watched – and liked – the Sci-Fi series that aired on The WB called “Roswell.” We made it into town in time to make a leisurely visit to the International UFO Museum and Research Center. I’m not going to say whether or not I think that Extra Terrestrials exist, but the museum and night in Roswell were certainly entertaining.

After the UFO museum, we had a great dinner at Cattle Barron’s Restaurant; if you’re ever in Roswell, I highly recommend it.

Only a short evening and one night in Roswell, then on to Dallas, TX (well, actually, Addison, TX) for OpenCamp 2010 Dallas!