Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Open Road

What a lovely drive I had getting to my parents' place in Minnesota!

The roads were open and clear. To paraphrase the ancient Irish wish: the sun was at my back and the road rose to meet my wheels.

And while I didn't make it in anything approaching my personal best, I really had a great time listening to a book on my iPod and just spending the day driving. the only issue of the entire day, in fact, was the wind.

From the time I hit the South Dakota State line to the time I entered the sheltering forest around Dad & Flo's place, the winds were whipping across the plane. It is lovely, the wind whipping the long prairie grasses in to a frenzy; giving them the appearance of a green, restless ocean. On one weather forecast that I heard a report of winds in excess of 80 MPH on the prairies.

Which was easy to believe just looking at the fuel usage gauge in the car. My Honda Hybrid has a nifty little gauge that tells me what the current fuel usage is at any given point and what the estimated usage is for the mileage shown on the trip meter.

So if, say, I am spending a lot of time hot-dogging in downtown, hot footing it at all the green lights, screeching to a halt at all the reds and ripping up the roads in-between at twice the posted speed limits... (Not that I have ever personally done anything like this. Eh-hem.) it may register that I am achieving about 35 MPG during that time. While if I am driving sensibly, as I usually do, It may say that I am achieving about 45 MPG. On the highway, I usually get somewhere between 45 and 50 MPG which makes it possible for me to make the 1,000 trip (well, 995 but who's counting) in just over two tanks of gas.

But yesterday, I really saw the effect wind has on the car. While it is a cross-wind buffeting me, then the challenge is just staying centered in the lane. Luckily, for a large part of the trip it was a tail wind.

But from Sioux Falls to the Minnesota border, it was all headwind and the usage gauge shows it! The damn thing never reached 30! I achieved 29.8 MPG for the last 200 miles of my trip. But then I was in the arms of my family, so what's the problem with burning a little fossil fuel for that?

Wherever you are, I hope that you're having a great day and the wind is always at your back!

Don Bergquist - May 18, 2008 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

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