Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Driving Cross Country

  1. Sep 14, 2009 #1
    Have you ever driven cross country? What was it like? How long did it take you? Did you enjoy it? What was your reason for doing it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 14, 2009 #2
    About half a dozen times. Sometimes it was enjoyable and others it was gruelling. I've done it in about 60 hours twice. That was with about 10 hours of sleeping and eating time. Other times it has taken weeks as I make stops to see old friends and relatives. I used to drive across the country just because I had a car and gas was cheap and had nothing tying me to the place where I was. Why not?

    If you are by yourself it can be kind of boring. There's also something meditative about watching the night and day pass by, cities come and go, mountain forests changing to grassy plains to deserts and back to mountains again and through it all you're still there. It really helps to set a scale to the world.
  4. Sep 14, 2009 #3
    Hi there,

    I will say three to four hours, but I am living in Switzerland. So you will need to precise which country you want to drive across.

  5. Sep 14, 2009 #4
    I heard it takes about a week to drive from coast-to-coast.
  6. Sep 14, 2009 #5

    Went from Munich to Hamburg once in fife hours, back in the 80's. Europe is easy...
  7. Sep 14, 2009 #6


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Germany is easy. Try Poland :wink:
  8. Sep 14, 2009 #7
    Hi there,

    Have you tried Lichtenstein or Luxembourg. Already Switzerland is quite easy to go through, in less than 5 hours, from border to border. Yeah, if you want to drive across a country stay away from Russia, Canada, Australia and the US.

  9. Sep 14, 2009 #8
    Canada takes me about 70 hours driving time to go coast to coast. Basically a weeks travel time.
    I recommend driving it at least once. Just for the appreciation of just how big the place is. After 4 or five times driving across, I now fly and save the vacation time for the visits with friends.
  10. Sep 14, 2009 #9
    In 1970, I drove from NJ to CA in a VW microbus. I was 19 at the time. I had friends in CA that I wanted to visit. I wasn't going to school and had no full time job. I used to pick up a few bucks washing dishes for restaurants. I had removed the seats from the back so I could sleep there. The first night I stopped at a national park somewhere in Ohio, I don't remember exactly where. It was early March, so I had the place to myself. I was picking up hitchhikers along the way in hopes of raising money for gas, but no one ever paid. I took side trips out of my way to bring people where they wanted to go, but never so far off the general direction west. When I got to St. Louis, I picked up a few people who started taking turns driving the car while I slept. The car was full by then so with one exception, I stopped making side trips and we made a bee-line for LA. The whole trip took about 4 or 5 days, I don't recall exactly. When we took a pit stop at a bar in OK, the locals put a dime in the jukebox to hear 'Okie from Muskogee' a popular tune at that time. The message was clear: Keep on moving. The exception side trip after St. Louis was to the meteor crater in Arizona and from there to the Grand Canyon.
  11. Sep 14, 2009 #10


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I've never done it, but it always sounds like a fun trip to make. Though, I suspect that while driving across the country might be really interesting, the return trip probably starts to get really grueling and tiring. I think if I decided to do a cross-country road trip, that I'd rent a car, and then drop it off at the airport in CA and fly back.
  12. Sep 14, 2009 #11


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I've never driven from coast to coast, since I've never lived on either coast.

    I have driven from the Lake Erie area to the Gulf of Mexico area several times. Although, technically, the first time I did it, I didn't actually drive all the way. The car died in Georgia, so we took a bus the rest of the way and wound up hitch-hiking home about a month later because we couldn't afford bus fare.

    I've driven between Ohio and Colorado many times (about half way across the country). That's a two day trip to get half way. With two drivers, it's a straight shot in less than 24 hours.

    I did hitch-hike from Ohio to California and back. It took me an entire day to get from Northern Ohio to Louisville. It took about 60 hours to get from Louisville to Los Angeles. The 60 hour shot was straight through with a married couple that drank Bloody Marys all the way from Louisville to St Louis, a truck driver from St Louis to Joplin, a guy and his un-girlfriend from Joplin to LA.

    They were an interesting story. His plan was for them to pool their money to get to LA and never see each other again. Her plan was marriage to him. Even picking up three hitch-hikers wasn't enough to keep their conversations out of dangerous territory. The carburetor of their van was on its last legs and needed replaced in Amarillo. While waiting for help, the guy decided to look for tires, the girl said "No way you're spending our money on tires when we need a carburetor". Four tires and a can of carburetor cleaner later, we were on our way. Unfortunately, the engine access on their van was right in the passenger compartment. By Tumcumcari, all but the driver had passed out from the fumes of the carburetor cleaner and the driver wasn't doing to well himself. Want to make a good impression at a redneck diner? Have a black couple, a Native American, and two scruffy looking white guys climb out of the van, then have the black girl start spiraling around in circles before passing out in the parking lot and have Native American wind up doing a face plant while trying to run across the street. No one gave us any trouble, though. In fact, they just stared at us and made sure not to come anywhere near us.

    Oh, and if I ever hear that Minnie Riperton song, "Loving You", again, I think I'll scream. Instead of buying 4 tires, couldn't he buy a little more variety in 8-track tapes?!

    It took a little over two weeks to get back from San Diego (did some camping along the way back). That was a fun trip.

    In the old days, one of the best things about travelling cross country was the different radio stations. Every single one seemed to have its own flavor. Nowadays, it may as well all be one radio station. In fact, best bet is to buy satellite radio and be done with it.
  13. Sep 14, 2009 #12
    Far out, these you guys take route 66?
  14. Sep 14, 2009 #13
    I don't remember well. I vaguely remember wanting to take route 66 and being disappointed that it was no longer in operation having been replaced by Interstate 40. I may be mistaken about it.
  15. Sep 14, 2009 #14
    Route 66 is an interesting road..

    The best advice I can give anyone looking to drive ol' Route 66 is to plan to stick to the high country and the routes connecting the national park systems and local tourist traps. Those are the segments of Route 66 that preserve their old looks but still offer a sense of civility.

    I was just out in Mojave desert and drove a lot of old 66 out there, in much of those towns i felt more resemblance of post katrina New Orleans then i did for any nostalgia of what was route 66..

    It was great to see both sides, however if you're interested in reliving route 66 as it once was, stick to the surviving tourist traps.. If you want to feel what its like to be in a post apocalyptic world, then see the bypassed towns :)
  16. Sep 14, 2009 #15


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    We've never gone all the way from coast to coast, but my wife and I have driven from South Carolina to Arizona four times, about 2000 miles each way by the most direct route. We tend to avoid the Interstates (motorways) except out West where they're sometimes the only route, and we stop for sightseeing, so 400 miles is a long day for us. We did the one-way trip in four days once, but normally we figured at least five days, and took as many as ten days (going via Utah and Colorado, not counting all-day sightseeing stops).

    We took a different route each time, so boredom wasn't much of a problem for us. There was always something new to see, except for I-10 between El Paso and Tucson which was difficult for us to avoid.
  17. Sep 14, 2009 #16


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Driving from Manchester to Lyon on Friday. Does that count?
  18. Sep 14, 2009 #17

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    We drove from LA to Illinois twice, and LA to S Dakota twice. With a car full of kids it took about three days each way. It was barely short of torture for me - like being locked in a cage for three days. I've made many, many ~500 mile trips all along the I-5 corridor in California and Oregon. When we moved to Oregon, in one week I drove the 1000 miles between our new home in Oregon, and our old home in Los Angeles, four times! I hate driving!

    Then I traveled a bunch for my job for a few years [~100,000 airmiles a year]. Now I hate flying as well. If I never see another hotel or airport it will be too soon.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2009
  19. Sep 14, 2009 #18
    I hate flying as well.. used to work for Oracle and flew all over the country. Would have been fun if i could have had a life outside of work and didn't have family/house/kids.

    However, i doooo love driving. gets you down and personal with America :)
  20. Sep 14, 2009 #19

    Chi Meson

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I've driven from Virginia to the Rockies and back three times, using I-80 and I-90 primarily. Once was by myself. That was something.

    WHeat! But when the mountains kick in, it can't be beat. Each time it was about four days of driving, nearly continuously.

    I've also driven from Connecticut to Utah , that was six days of driving with "responsible" amounts of sleeping, and seeing some of the things in between.

    Then there was the drive from Virginia to Portland, Oregon in five days, and the week long return trip to Connecticut (three years later, hauling three years of accumulation).

    There is absolutely a unique state of mind you slip into when driving those trips. Hours really peel away. You can look at your watch and say,"nearly there, only eight more hours of driving!"
  21. Sep 14, 2009 #20

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I spent a week about thirty minutes from Niagra falls and never got to see it. Often I could have delayed my trip home and done some sightseeing, but after a week or two on-site, all that I wanted was to get home as quickly as possible.

    It was common to work 80+ hours a week while on the road. I think my record was ~ 120 hours in one week. By the end of the week I was starting to hallucinate a bit. Sightseeing was not even a consideration at that point.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2009
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Driving Cross Country
  1. Country music (Replies: 37)

  2. Different Countries (Replies: 19)

  3. Country associations (Replies: 27)

  4. Country Music (Replies: 22)