Sunday, March 03, 2013
I love driving. I don't love being stressed because I'm not getting any work done, but I enjoy listening to some good music, a good book on CD or the news and admiring my surroundings as I cruise along.
Last week I had to drive to Grand Junction, CO for a project that is just getting started at Colorado Mesa University (formerly known as Mesa State College). Because the expenses for the trip are reimbursed, I decided to rent a car. It doesn't cost me any extra, besides the time that it takes to pick up and drop off the car. Even though it didn't cost me a dime, I reserved the cheapest car available, an Economy level car for $23/day (+ 1 day of airport parking). It turned out to be a Nissan Versa, which turned out to be a bad choice. The car was terribly uncomfortable. It was so narrow that as I sat my butt in the chair, I was forced to lean towards the passenger seat as my shoulders were too broad against the door. What made this so uncomfortable was that the seat didn't have an armrest and there wasn't a center console, so there was nothing to lean against and nothing to rest my right arm on.
The 582 mile drive was fairly uneventful. I stopped at a project site at Novell in Provo and then continued on my merry way for my meeting in Grand Junction. Once I got on the less busy roads, I was dismayed to find out that the car didn't have cruise control. With just me in the car it always had enough power going up hills and it was a smooth ride. After the meeting I grabbed some dinner at Famous Dave's, stopped by Best Buy to admire the new Microsoft Surface Pro and then got back on the road.
Note to self: Don't get the economy car and make sure that the car has cruise control before completing the rental.
This week I had to drive to Blanding, UT. On Monday evening after work I walked to a car rental place downtown (Enterprise) and picked up another rental car. This time I think that I chose a mid-size car for around $38/day (but no airport parking fees). I had a choice between a black and silver Prius, which was a nice surprise.
Besides a little rush-hour traffic at the south end of the valley, the drive started out well and I enjoyed driving a much nicer car than the Versa. It was quiet, it was comfortable, it had an awesome display and all the bells and whistles. I think I even got up to around 59 mpg before I started up the canyon and hills.
Driving to Blanding is a long drive. It's maybe 35 minutes and 19 miles further than Grand Junction, but it feels longer because even less of the drive is on the Interstate. Unfortunately, most of my drive down was in darkness (although the moon was full) so I didn't see much of the beautiful drive between Canyonlands, Arches, Moab and Blanding, where I stayed the night.
I spent 2 1/2 hours at the job site the next morning before heading home. This time I took a little longer route (past Hite and through Hanksville instead of directly north through Moab). Between Blanding and I-70, I think that I only passed 3 cars. I stopped and took a few pictures at a historical site and at the Hite overlook, because this is some of the most beautiful terrain in the world.
With such a quiet drive I may or may not have tried to see what kind of guts the Prius had. I tried a few times, but I never could go any faster than 116 mph... My Volt will only make it to 100 mph, but I've never confirmed this.
I like to keep my cruise control set as I drive and one of my biggest pet peeves is when you're in a no passing zone on a two lane road (say going up a windy canyon road) and you have to slow down for a slow car ahead of you (no big deal). What irks me is when as soon as a passing lane appears, the car that has been cramping your style immediately speeds up so you can't pass them. Once the passing lane ends they slow right back down to their slower speed. This happened a few times to me today (you know who you are jerk in a black Honda).
One last interesting tidbit is that I passed the Amtrak train just north of Helper on my way to Blanding at nearly the exact same spot that I passed it coming home from Grand Junction the week before. It was a weird sense of deja vu, although I was traveling in two different directions.
Below are a few pictures, with most of them taken looking out towards Hite Marina. In better days, these pictures would be showing the water of Lake Powell, but the water is still way down.