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.