Up North

Having just come back from “up north” as we like to say in Minnesota I have a few instructions for all those people that aren’t quite sure how to drive on interstate highways (primarily for 4-lane divided highways) throughout this great land. Here we go with step-by-step driving instructions for the driving etiquette-challenged:

  1. Make your way to a freeway/highway entrance ramp and proceed down it, steadily increasing your speed, until you can merge with traffic at their pace.
  2. Proceed to your destination while maintaining a constant speed. (hint: Cruise control works well here)
  3. If your speed of travel brings you upon a slower moving vehicle switch lanes into the passing lane (left lane) and pass the vehicle in question.
  4. Return to the right lane (all the while maintaining constant speed

If everyone follows these simple rules, everyone will have a stress free trip – it is a well functioning system. If everyone drove this way there would be no breakdown in the system (by definition) and much more efficiency would result. (even fuel efficiency as constant speeds would always be maintained)

Some people claim, however, that other systems would work equally well – particularly the “I just drive in the “fast” lane until someone wants to pass then I get over” method. There are two reasons this technique doesn’t work: 1) the majority of people are trying to follow the rules listed above and 2) this system requires people be more active – always watching for people coming up behind you. It should be the responsibility of the faster car coming up from behind to pass.

Road trip occurances

Each time I go on road trip in the U.S. I notice a few things and I thought I would share some of my observations and random thoughts with you.

  • First off, the U.S. is a huge country with so many wide open spaces. Wow!
  • Most of the population of the U.S. lives in small towns and suburbs and not in the 20 big cities of the nation.
  • Most places are much more similar than they are different. They have the same restaurants, stores, zoning configurations, etc.
  • Minnesota has fewer good (some would say none) radio stations than other cities of similar size.
  • People drive poorly everywhere, but nowhere is worse than in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • On a related note, when you factor in these drivers, the speeds we often go on the freeways, and all of the assorted critters that like to get to the other side of the road – driving is very dangerous business – it would be really easy to die doing it.
  • There are not too many fast food chains – in fact there are very few.
  • It is very difficult to find vegetarian-friendly fast food. (How many time’s can you have a veggie sub at Subway or a 7-layer burrito at Taco Bell on one trip?
  • Krispy Kreme is the best doughnut chain in the country.
  • most people drive in the right lane and only use the left to pass. Those who don’t do this, suck.

Here is also some bonus commentary on the various states I visited/drove through this last week:

  • Minnesota – home base, I am sort of biased. It is like the Iowa with trees, lakes, and industry.
  • South Dakota – flat boring first half with a nice change up for the western side (+ Wall Drug and all its signs)
  • Wyoming – flat and boring on one side, more rugged on the other – I should have driven further west.
  • Colorado – I could live here – well, in the middle part: Boulder, Denver, etc. not the south which is too much like New Mexico and not the north or east which are too much like Wyoming or Nebraska.
  • New Mexico – stark, would like to see more of Albuquerque, Taos, and Santa Fe
  • Arizona – pretty, bad place to try to avoid a semi rollover, nice police officers who only give warnings for going 95 in a 75.
  • Nebraska – Flat, boring – who has ever heard of thunderstorms and tornados in October?
  • Iowa – poor Iowa. does anyone ever even get off Highway’s 80 or 35 except to get gas?