3,742.7 miles, eight states, a good book, music, and a Wyoming oasis

posted in: Books, Music, Serendipity, Travel | 9

Ending trip mileage: 3,742.7 (6023.3km). Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, (Oregon again), California, Nevada, Utah, (Wyoming and Colorado again).

Trip average: 31.8 miles per gallon, although I reached 33.7 on the outbound half (the 1100-mile section that did not include Seattle and Sacramento). The car is rated for 19 city, 26 highway. It's a manual, so I have some control over mileage through my driving style, and I think I'm getting the feel of the transmission down pretty well. On last year's similar trip, the overall average was a bit under 30 m.p.g.

Most mornings, I drove enjoying the sound of the air through the open windows. Especially when I was traveling two-lane asphalt, those times were reminiscent of road trips in the '50s and '60s. (I drove interstates when necessary, but logged a lot of miles on well-paved now-secondary highways.)

As the heat increased and the day (and my energy) wore on, I tended to close the windows, turn on the air conditioning (highest registered outside temperature was 101 F / 38 C), and listen to a book or some music.

The book I checked out of the library was Temple Grandin's new Animals Make Us Human:

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There's still a long list of holds at the library for the regular books, but I was second in line for the audio version and it was returned just in time for the trip. Perfect!

I especially enjoyed the chapter on wildlife, in which she talks about lab science versus field science. She mentions a discussion she had with her dissertation adviser about experiments without controls. She contended that they could be valuable, and that careful field observation studies the subject in its natural environment where behaviors are not distorted as they are in a lab. He contended that control groups are essential for real science, and that careful observation is insufficient. She countered that astronomy is considered a real science, and all of its methods are based on observation. Often her straightforward logic, part of the way her mind works because of her brain's particular neurology, quickly slices to the core of a question. There's more in the chapter that intrigued me. I'd like to read or listen to the book again.

I wish I could listen to music when I work, but I concentrate so hard
that I rarely can. It's nice to have some drive time because I do love
music. I haven't figured out how to feed the iPod's sound through the car's speakers (I know it can be done), so I grabbed CDs. It's interesting to try to grab a collection of what I might want to listen to on a particular trip. What would I be in the mood for, given the likely landscapes and events, for the next three weeks?

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I didn't have time to listen to everything I took with me, mostly because I do like quiet, and there were lots of good options I left at home. Here's some of what I listened to, a whole bunch of proven favorites (often several albums by an artist or group) and a couple of new discoveries:

I took, but didn't listen to, a couple of albums of Andean music and several shape note collections. I listen to those relatively frequently when I'm at home. No classical music in the CD set: not great for staying awake while driving. I had some on my iPod and listened to it during non-driving times.

Nevada and Utah, as I've mentioned, were not great spots for vegetarian food for the traveler. Neither was western Wyoming. So toward the end of the trip, I hoped to encounter a particular location in Laramie, Wyoming, at a time when it was open:

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It was Monday, a day when many restaurants at home close, and a few minutes after 11. It looked pretty quiet on the street.

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They'd just opened for the day. Whew. I rarely have room for dessert, but I think a couple of days of short rations left space. I made it through the peach-raspberry cobbler, after a veggie reuben and delicious kale slaw. I ordered a slice of vegan chocolate cake to go, to share with my daughter, because by this time I was about an hour from home. It was all worth waiting for.

If you're ever in Laramie and need healthy food, check out Sweet Melissa. Downtown, by the railroad tracks. No website.

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9 Responses

  1. LynnH

    I give up. What is in a Veggie Reuben?

    Peach-raspberry cobbler? That sounds like a main course, if you ask me! Incredible.

    Glad you are home and settling in. Hope that cake was as lovely as the cobbler.

  2. L.M. Cunningham

    Three ways to get the iPod to play in your vehicle:

    1. Plug a male-to-male cable into the headphone jack on the iPod and the appropriate plug in your vehicle (if it’s new enough and has one of these).

    2. Kensington and Griffin both make kits to let the iPod play over your radio (we’ve got this). Works great, although you want to make sure the cable drapes around your radio as much as you can so you don’t have to keep finding a clear frequency.

    3. You can also get kits to plug into your cassette deck, if you’ve got one.

  3. Deb Robson

    A veggie reuben is a sandwich with something like tempeh or seitan (in place of the traditional corned beef), sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and thousand island or Russian dressing, often on rye. Grilled to melt the cheese.

    The cobbler was a delight.

    And the cake was amazing! It looked really dense and heavy. In fact, the *flavor* was dense (dark chocolate-y) and the cake itself was fairly light.

  4. Deb Robson

    The car has one of the plug-ins. We have an adapter. For some reason, it didn’t want to work before I left. I didn’t have patience, so I asked my daughter to have a go at it, but it was last minute so she didn’t have much opportunity to fiddle. We got the same adapter to work with a different MP3 player last year.

    I know about the radio thingies, but don’t have one. I think technically we don’t need it. . . .

  5. L.M. Cunningham

    Odd that it wouldn’t work with the iPod. We rented a car last year when company was out and I used a standard cable on it with no problem.

    That being said, I made sure the iPod was fully charged and didn’t bother tinkering with trying to also plug in a ciggie-lighter thing (unlike the radio transmitter): I can see all sorts of issues cropping up with that if you’ve not got an iPod-specific one.

  6. Deb Robson

    Yeah. I’ll play with it sometime when I have time. I don’t use my iPod for music much . . . I think I’m in the minority there. I use it for calendar, contacts, notetaking. . . .

  7. Ted

    Lynn beat me to the question about the veggie reuben. I just can’t see them without corned beef, though. (Kinda like how carob was marketed as tasting like chocolate. Evidently those marketing people had never tasted real chocolate.)

    And you had anon4 in the music line-up. That’s classical music, one way or another.

  8. Deb Robson

    Hi, Ted:

    I like the sauerkraut, cheese, and dressing so much that all I need is something for body and a bit of underflavor and all is good in the reuben department.

    Yeah, Anonymous 4 sort of counts as classical. More so if I’d brought another of their albums–the one I had with me was American Angels. More “traditional” than “classical.”

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