Saturday, July 23, 2011

Excellent Interactive Map of the Trip

If you would like to see some really neat technology, please contact me and I will forward you a file to upload into Google Earth.  Unfortunately, I can not figure a way to save the image in Google Earth and provide you a link so you'll need to upload the file yourself.  But it is worth it. 

Meantime, here's a map of the trip that is a bit busy:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Final Post

 My Charles Manson look at the end of the trip

So this is what I look like under that mess!

What a great trip this has been.  I've thought a lot about freedom and what it means, how we must be vigilant about keeping our country free, ourselves free while protecting what needs to be protected.  I thought about my occupation and what I want to be when I grow up.  I thought a  lot about who I am and with having so much time to spend in my head I learned a lot more about myself and my own Phaedrus.  I thought a lot about my relationship with God and how messy it usually is.  I thought a lot about what I want to do with the second half of my life and really didn't get anywhere with that except for making sure my children have an appreciation for the outdoors and that I get a chance to ride horses with Kate one day.  I probably thought most about my family and friends. 

Kyle had already left for camp
so I won't see him until Saturday.  But his cousin Megan
did a fine job filling in for him for these welcome-home pictures.

 Smelly and worn, but glad to be loved.
I think I look a bit like Wolverine!

Thank you especially to the AAFP for providing me this great time off sabbatical and to my great wife Margaret for giving me so much support, taking care of the kids and everything else while I was away and ok'ing my big allowance for this trip.  And thanks to my friends and extended family for following along on this adventure.  I hope you had fun, I did. 

The Final Key Stats:
Total Miles: 5,571
Average MPH: 52.3
Average MPG: 42.8
Weight Lost: 10+ pounds (more weight loss is expected when the beard is shaved)
Towns Visited: unknown but probably near a hundred
Climates Experienced: various forms of prairies, canyons, ocean, forests, national parks, meadows, lakes/reservoirs, deserts, farms/fields, giant rock formations, and so many other combinations of these.
Temperature Range: low 30's to mid 90's Fahrenheit. 
Animals Seen at Close Distance: several species of road kill, live deer, elk, baby elk (see Brian's pictures), a big horn sheep in the road, buffalo/bison, prairie chicken, some black and white crow-type bird, mosquitoes, cows, horses, and an elephant (ok, the last one was just a picture of an elephant). 
People Met: untold, but one of my favorites was this gentle 70 year-old man who hosted the first campsite I stayed in by myself near Yellowstone.  He was from Cleveland and moved out here a year ago to work for the Yellowstone forestry folks but it ended up more like slavery.  So he found this opportunity to host this campsite.  After I walked from my site to his to purchase some firewood, he drove me back to my site in his golf cart where I learned a little bit about this neat man.

Some Random Thoughts on Driving Responsibly

My family and friends often seem to lack the appropriate level of respect for my keen sense of following driving rules and being an excellent driver. 

So, I wanted to insert a few traffic tips and reminders for all the readers (it's my blog) I was reminded of during my ride -- please share with your family and friends:

1. When you use your signal, it is an indication you will be changing lanes, not that you have already changed lanes. And when you turn, it doesn't count if you apply your signal after you've started the turn. 

2. If someone is driving in front of you, it is unlawful to follow closer than 2-3 seconds (also known as tail-gating).  It does not matter how slow the person is driving (I know, there is a minimum speed limit on the highway and it can be very frustrating when someone is going below the speed limit), you are still driving illegally and dangerously if you are following closer than 2-3 seconds.  If you run into the back of the person, it will be your fault and you will receive the ticket and pay all necessary restitution.  Minnesota even has a section of the highway where they continually remind you about this and put dots on the road so you can see how far you should be from the vehicle in front of you.  Plus, with road-rage being a problem, you never know what the person in front of you may do to you if she/he loses their cool.

3. Don't drive in the passing lane on the highway (also known as the left lane) unless you are passing someone.  If there is a car approaching behind you and you are in the left lane, move over to the right lane (also known as the driving lane) as soon as possible so the person may pass safely. 

4. If you are passing a vehicle on the highway, do not slow down when you pull beside the other vehicle.  I have seen the signs which say "Pass With Care" -- they do not mean you should look at the person when you are passing to convey you care about them.  The sign probably should instead have said "Pass With Caution".  If you can not maintain or accelerate so you quickly get around the vehicle, you should not have passed the vehicle in the first place.  All the cars behind you waiting for you to pass will agree.

5. When a pickup truck is pulling a large trailer behind it, it doesn't automatically convert the truck into a six-wheeled drive, all terrain, sports vehicle.  I saw too many of these contraptions hauling ass at ridiculous speeds through super-tight corners and weaving in and out of traffic.  More wheels does not make for better handling!

More to come...