Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Cross-Country Trip, Part 1 -- May 29, 2018

Okay, I'm sort of caught up with the "current" news in the Bakken. I'm going to throttle back and enjoy the next hour or so with some rambling. I have no idea where this rambling will go, but if you come/came here for the Bakken, I doubt this page will be of any interest to you. But it helps me put things into perspective.

First, I just spent a week in Williston, ground zero for the Bakken. On the way up, I spent two days in the Black Hills. Maybe not as impressive as the Grand Canyon, but I bet there's a lot more for kids aged 3 years old to 18 years old to do than at the Grand Canyon, and, yes, I've been to the Grand Canyon twice in the past three years or so. I haven't been to Yellowstone National Park or Yosemite, so can't comment/compare.

Dakota economy: Bismarck; Sioux Falls; Fargo/West Fargo; and, Rapid City -- incredible growth. Something's going on.

Cross-country driving: best times of the year, without question, just before the tourist driving season and just after it ends, i.e, the last two weeks of May before Memorial Day and the last two weeks of September, after Labor Day. This country is absolutely incredible. I assume the least "beautiful" / the least "impressive" part of the country is from Texas north to Canada. And if that's the least "beautiful" / the least "impressive," I can only imagine how the rest of the country is -- and I've been in all 50 states (as far as I know) and I lived in most regions of the country, and have spent more than three months in every region of the country (except Hawaii -- I've only been there for a week while in the US Air Force; the military can squeeze a year's worth of experiences into one week).

Texas friendly. Best day to drive cross country from North Dakota to Texas? Probably Memorial Day. On the four-lane divided highways, the posted speed limits gradually increase from 60 mph to 75 mph going from north to south (from Nebraska to Texas), although in western South Dakota it was either 75 mph or 80 mph on the interstate. The average speed travelers were driving appeared to be about five miles above the posted speed limit. That was the average. That means most were going ten to fifteen miles per hour faster than the posted speed limit to average out the folks who were driving Volvos (supposedly the safest cars on the road) fifteen to twenty-five miles slower than the posted speed limit. There were very few trucks. The last stretch from Wichita, Kansas, to Dallas, Texas, -- a four-lane divided I-35 -- was busy, busy, busy, but it was only half what it could have been.

Texas friendly, continuing. I did not spot one highway patrolman or state trooper from Wichita to Dallas. That's not quite accurate. One state trooper (either southern Nebraska or northern Kansas) was parked on the median watching for speeders. But he/she was not stopping anyone. A few miles down the road, a state trooper in the very same type of vehicle was speeding north, I assume to relieve the other state trooper at shift change. And then somewhere in Kansas, one highway patrolman had stopped one speeder. And that was it. Normally, I see not less than six or seven highway patrolmen/state troopers in every state I go through on that Texas-North Dakota trip. I didn't even see a trooper on my way out of the Bakken, nor anywhere all the way to Rapid City. There was the fake cop car in Amidon. That car, by the way, has been updated; and still has the Canadian flag painted on the driver's door. There is no longer any dummy in the driver's seat.

My hunch is that law enforcement is out in full force after dark and they "rest" during the day. An analogy. NBA basketball. Some games, the refs call the game very, very tight -- calling the game very, very closely, lots of fouls. In other games, the refs back off, and "let the players play." I had the feeling that law enforcement on Memorial Day were letting the "drivers drive." It's possibly law enforcement was tied up in Memorial Day parades, policing and/or participating.

[Everyone loves a parade, except me when I'm trying to get through some one-stop-sign town.]

It's also my impression that on four-lane divided highways, things go a whole more smoothly when law enforcement is not out there. Drivers know what they are doing and they all generally drive at the same speed. Throw in a state trooper and everyone modifies their behavior and it screws everything up. The cars all going 85 mph all of a sudden slow down to 60, and then when one speeder is cut from the herd, everyone takes off again, but now instead of everyone standing still (at 85 mph) relative to each other, folks are now going anywhere from 60 to 90 mph. That's a disaster for an accident. At 85 mph one tends not to doze off. At 55 mph, everyone falls asleep, including the driver.

Texas friendly, continuing. Fourteen hundred miles. Actually, 1,420 miles - exactly. Not one sign of road rage. No road rage because we all assume everyone is carrying a long gun or two. That's what we mean by Texas friendly. I had one incident -- if one can call it that -- of a whale of a car tailgating me. I was going 81 miles per hour passing a truck in a posted 70-mph zone so the tailgating did not bother me. I signaled that I would be moving to the slow lane as soon as I cleared the truck, and I did. But that was it.

Texas friendly, continuing. I was really, really impressed. Everyone, on the very crowded interstate, I-35, was falling into line in the slow lane, going 75 - 85 mph. The right lane was left open for passing. There was a three-mile stretch or so that there was not one car in the left lane. It looked like the Daytona when 43 cars are all in single file using the draft or whatever to gain speed. For those three miles, no one broke from the pack to pass. It was surreal.

Texas friendly, continuing. I never go over the speed limit when driving, and usually drive about ten mph slower than the posted speed limit when I'm driving my own car, but for the this trip, I had a rental. A Chevrolet Sonic. Awesome car. Almost as good as my 2012 Honda Civic. First time I hever had Sirius XM. I highly recommend Sirius XM if traveling cross-country. If one never travels cross-country, one probably doesn't need Sirius. I'm serious. Couldn't resist.

Maybe more on this later, but for now, need to move on.

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