Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Road Trip

Well they've done it again. The people at Budget Rent-a-Car have made me an offer I can't refuse.

$168.40 to rent a reasonably brand new car for the week following Christmas. Better yet, for $24 a day I can put as many miles as I wish on their car. That's a mistake on their part.

Two years ago it was $220 for a 2007 Subaru Legacy with 5000 miles on it. My plan was to retrace the route of the Lewis & Clark expedition, which meant 9 days and about 5500 miles round trip. Only made it as far as North Sioux City, SD but that's a story for the archives.

I'm going to be turning the big Five-O in a couple of weeks and I've decided to treat myself to something. I am in absolutely no financial position to be taking a vacation, at least not the kind of vacation one thinks of when considering a winter holiday. Actually, I'm in no position to be spending $168 to rent a car but I've always operated under a rule that says when you can least afford to take a break from work, that is precisely the time to take a break from work. So that's what I'm going to do. And, my vacation will be spent driving. Got myself a new RCA Small Wonder HD Camcorder as a premium from one of my suppliers, and so I'm going to make a video documentary of my trip and post it here when I come home.

But here's the thing...I don't know to where I feel like driving. Some rough calculations tell me that I can cover somewhere between 4500 and 5000 miles if I just drive drive drive. Not sure I want to do that. I'd like to spend a couple of days driving, a couple of days kicking around, and a couple of days driving home. Whenever I open the Rand McNally Atlas my eye seems to float towards the west. I've done Colorado a dozen times, and it's winter. Not only am I not bringing my skis, I'm not carrying enough cash to lodge in Colorado during ski season.

In fact, I'm in the mood for something warmer. Been southeast a hundred times, ain't no way I'm making Texas my destination (sorry Michael, but that state stinks of Jack), so now I'm thinking southwest. I know New Mexico is high desert so it won't be that warm, but I've always wanted to check out the Very Large Array radio telescope in Socorro.

I've never seen the Grand Canyon, which is just about as far as I'll be able to travel while allowing for a reasonable pace of return, so I'm thinking of hitting those two places.

If I hook north from there I can check out Monument Valley in northern AZ. (Monument Valley was just written up in Vanity Fair. A nice read.) Where's Lono and Duc when I really need them? I could use some Arizona advice.

 If time allows I can swing through the southern part of Utah, maybe see Bryce Canyon and what-not.

That'll allow me to pass through my old friend the Colorado Rockies without dumping $300 for a hotel room.

I can already picture the final leg of my trip across the Nebraska and Iowa plains during winter. Nothing like that stretch of highway to make a person feel real small, but in a nice way.

This is going to be my kind of trip, the kind that involves no reservations, no real itinerary, and no schedule to serve.  Money's tight, and this is the best bang I can think of for $168 bucks. What the hell, you only turn 50 once right?


MichaelRyerson said...

gawddam, I wish I had shotgun. been to the grand canyon a bunch of times, monument valley too. pay attention, chum. tell us.

Keifus said...


Schmutzie said...

Grand Canyon is out MR. Not enough time. After some more rough calculations, it looks like it's going to be the VLA telescope in NM, Canyon de Chelly in AZ, up through Colorado, and home. It's going to be a long drive, but I'm looking forward to it already....unless I change my mind.

artandsoul said...

Oh it looks sweet - even without the Grand Canyon! I like driving too. So much to see along the way.

Do you have to make a reservation at the telescope? What's your weather going to be like? I guess just about anything is warmer than Chicago that week.

Happy Birthday coming up.

Anonymous said...

Great Bday and Christmas present to yourself, Schmutz.

Interstates and backroads - Full moon on 12/31 could make for some nice nightscapes on your trip.

Also, the other side of 50 is no big deal. Wiser maybe.

- - Robert

Schmutzie said...

Cindy & Robert,

I'm changing my mind again. (Happy now Ryerson???)

If I skip the side trip to Socorro I can spend a day at the Grand Canyon, which everyone seems to think is a better idea.

Love these seat-of-the-pants road trips.

artandsoul said...

I think the Grand Canyon is an EXCELLENT idea. Especially in the winter. No crowds.

Sure, it's cold as hell and some of the trails are closed. But I loved my trip there for the lack of people, and the sheer big over-the-top beauty.

If you can ever get yourself to Florida I can arrange a pretty personal VIP tour at NASA with a rocket scientist I know (raised him since he was 12). He works out propulsion issues for the orbiters. Lemme know if that ever works for you.

This trip sounds like you and Mother Nature have a big old fashioned date! I love it!

artandsoul said...

Go have a great time on your Road Trip! And Happy Birthday to you!

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