2009 Ford Flex Limited: Road Trip Conclusion by the Numbers
October 20, 2008
It was a long (very long) journey, but I've been back for a few days now. Conclusions-- including a by-the-numbers account-- of the trip are after the jump.
Miles driven: 6,780.2
States visited: 21 (California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico.)
Days on road: 10
Gallons of fuel used: 304.8
Best Fuel economy: 24.8 mpg through Nebraska with a 75 mph average-- maybe slightly higher.
Worst: 17.5 LA traffic + Vegas traffic
Overall Average MPG: 22.2
Cheapest gas: 2.75 in Tulsa.
Longest run on a single tank: 422.3 miles. NY + Western MA
Shortest run: 165.4. Somewhere in Utah a sign said no gas for almost 200 miles. I decided not to risk it.
Speeding tickets: 0 (thanks, Valentine One!)
Breakdowns: 0. Though on the return trip through Arizona the oil change warning illuminated.
Gallons of water (for drinking): 5
Gallons of bug dissolving washer fluid: 1
BBQ Stops: 4
Miles driven on dirt roads instead of highways thanks to nav system: 3
Other Flexes seen on road: 1
Corvette ZR-1s seen on road: 1
Not to get too far into the political sphere here (though I guess I do have a degree in that which I'm sure my parents are thrilled they paid for), but as someone who has lived only in the Northeast and in Southern California, a trip across the nation at ground level is an eye opener-- especially during these tough economic times. At ground level it's easy to see history. To see which industry -- shipping, textile, farming, manufacturing-- built up certain areas and then devastated them when the jobs left. Seeing the towns that have bounced back, the ones that gave up, and the ones that are have just started to grow. Or more frequently now, started to fall. Watching the signs change from Obama / Biden to McCain / Palin and then to Jesus and eventually back to Obama.
Putting a frame of reference on President Bush's comment that our nation is addicted to oil is easy to do here in SoCal with the constant traffic, but it's more than that; an addiction to cheap goods (trucked from the heartland and from port cities) has made entire corridors of the country little more than a string of big-rig fueling stations. And while we're on the subject of addiction, I'm afraid I came across another addiction of ours ( I'm two-for-two in this whole national addiction thing): beef. From sea-to-shining-sea, if corn, wheat or soybeans won't grow, then dagnabit, cattle will. I'm not sure this is great for our collective waistlines or cholesterol count, but it does make BBQ easier to find (and more delicious).
It's a testament to the architects of our society that we can make it all work. The disparity between L.A. and, say, Gallup New Mexico couldn't be greater if there was a sea and a language barrier separating them. But it does and I won't pretend that passing through with short visits has given me any greater insight as to how. In fact, it's made me more confused. All I know is that my text message to Schmidt read "I've never been so happy to see smog" when I passed over the hill and back to LA.
When I first moved to California (for this job) I couldn't understand the allure, why anyone would suffer the traffic, the smog, and the sprawl. But after spending nearly two weeks away from it, I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't pack up and head west.
But I'll get off my soapbox now. Thanks for listening. It was a great trip. If you ever get the chance I recommend it highly. In fact, don't wait for the chance to arise, seek it out. Take a vacation. Quit your job. Just get out on the road and go. But do yourself the favor and figure out a way to do it one way.
Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 9,265 miles