Thursday, July 22, 2010

Planning a Trip to NY

Well, I've almost fully convinced myself to do something that probably will fit into the "insane" category, and that's a road trip to NY to visit my parents.  For those reading this without fully comprehending that statement:  I am looking to drive 1,700 miles (each way), by myself, from Texas to New York (and back)...and to further the insanity, it is very likely that I won't really stop overnight anywhere along the way (perhaps coming back, I may stop and do some touristy things, who knows?).

There are a few reasons for this trip:  The first is that I hate going through airport security and get treated like I'm a criminal.  In fact, the entire process of getting to the airplane is unpleasant, and not a good beginning to a trip.  Second, I need an adventure of a good kind.  The idea of getting into a car, navigating the roads, and seeing sights I haven't seen before (or, in some cases, not in at least 20 years) seems interesting.  Third, whenever I fly to visit my parents I am generally grounded in their house without a vehicle for the whole trip.  Yes, I could rent a car or borrow my parents' car, but the former hardly seems worth the money and the latter has a bunch of unwritten caveats attached.

My reservations are whether my body and my car can survive the trip.  The car is in good shape, and I really think that any concern about a breakdown somewhere is just my brain going through every negative scenario trying to prepare for the worst.  My body, on the other hand, I'm a bit more worried about.  I haven't taken a trip anywhere near this long in a very long time, and 30 hours is a long time to be continually doing the kinds of tasks that are needed to be a safe (defensive) driver.  It is also going to require that I take more than just a week off from work.  There's no way that I'm going to drive all that way, just to turn around and go back right away (particularly considering that one needs a day or two just to unwind from a drive of that magnitude).

Right now I've been glued to Google Maps looking at my route options.  The most direct is I30/I40 going eastbound, and then I81 through the Blue Ridge Mountains going north.  Alternatively, the eastbound part can be replaced by going I20 to I59, and that goes through a few additional states (the other route is mostly Arkansas, Tennessee, and Virginia).  The other route is to use I20 eastbound, but instead go through Georgia and take I85 to I95 up the east coast.  I have a close friend's family and an uncle along that route that could be a potential stopping point if I needed it.  However, I95 is almost always under construction somewhere, and the tolls and traffic in the Washington, DC and Baltimore area are a hassle.  I've driven that part of the route before, and I just don't like it much and it can get really boring.  Going the I81 route through the mountains is more interesting, but it's through the mountains, so the road requires more attention and there are no larger cities to stop in if I get too tired.

I did find an interesting site during my research.  The National Motorists Association ( has a great chart showing the state speed limits and some important information about the different state traffic laws.  While the NMA seems like more of a driver advocacy group than informational (like AAA), I am happy to see a compilation of reputable information about state traffic laws, given that I haven't driven much outside of Texas in the past 20 years.  Check out their web site sometime.  They actually are doing some really sensible things.

Of course, if I decide to take the trip, I will definitely report my experiences via this blog.  Looks like a good reason to invest in a new digital camera...


Toni said...

I don't think it's I59 that you are referring to but US 59. Not a freeway so it goes through a lot of one red light towns, my old home town is just one of them. So if you like the scenic route, lots east texas pine trees, then that is the route for you.

cpu said...

I did mean I59. If you take I20 east, in order to get north to I81 you take I59 north.

In Alabama, I20 merges with I59, then they split again and I20 goes east toward Atlanta (Georgia) and I59 goes north toward Chattanooga, TN...then to I75N to I81N.

US59 would be an interesting scenic route, but not from Austin...

mahala said...

Not too crazy, except the part about not stopping. AAA will -- well, they used to -- build you a triptik. You tell them the route you want to take and they'll find cheap motels at the stops you want to make. A little sleep now and then goes a long way...especially for safety. sounds pretty cool.