Thursday, June 20, 2013

COUNTDOWN . . . . PART 7



[Actually, trying not to be misleading, if you are just joining us, this is Part 4 of a kind of introduction ("Countdown" 10, 9, 8, 7 . . . .)  and we are 43 days from lift off.]

 
Mapping and Doubting

Even in a year and excluding Alaska and Hawaii, we won’t be able to see it all, not by a long stretch.  It’s a big damn country, 3,119,884.69 square miles for the contiguous 48 states, if you are keeping track.   While that is less than 2% of the total surface area of the Earth, it places us as the sixth largest nation, right behind Australia. (If you add all fifty states and territories, we are the third largest, behind Russia and Canada.)    The highway system in the U.S. includes four million miles of roads. 

Rand McNally tells me that if we travel a rough perimeter about the nation, say, from Miami to Los Angeles to Seattle to Portland, Maine and back down to Miami, we would drive approximately 8616.9 miles. It would, the online calculator tells me, take us only 3 days, 23 hours, and 25 minutes of non-stop driving to accomplish such a task, but that sounds fast to me.  At 55 miles per hour, we come in at 156.72 hours.  I calculate 6 days 12 hours.  Of course, that is never stopping, driving 24 hours a day.  Good thing Jacob now has his learner’s permit.  

The Wall Map Currently Hanging in Home School Room

Let’s say we wanted to catch a little bit of the middle of the country and drive from Miami to Los Angeles then across to Portland, Maine, then down to Miami again, and over to Seattle, and finishing with a trip to Los Angeles, that trip would be a mere 15,011.3 miles.  An easy calculation tells us that if I wanted to drive the full distance in a year, I would have to hit 41 miles a day, or,  if we want to settle in a place and avoid driving every day, 289 miles a week,.  I guess this kind of information is useful if one is scheduling a trip like a metronome.  Click, click, click, moving on down the highway a few hours each week. 

On the other hand, there is still a lot of the country one won’t see, because the metronome is clicking and it’s time to move on.  Nor can we get too far off the main highways.  As I am sitting here, now, I have no idea how many miles we will end up driving.  But 300 miles a week seems a bit daunting.  You see, I want to dawdle.  I want to settle into a place., wake up in the same place three and four mornings in a row.  Besides, we will be in an RV, and be constantly hooking and un-hooking this rolling house to water and electricity.  And let’s admit it.  I am a bit scared about pulling one of these things up and down hills and through highway traffic with semi-trucks roaring past me.  And parking the thing.  Backing it up!  Heaven help me. 

Soundtrack:  Canned Heat:  Going Up to the Country.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Luq3g47cbWI

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