Driving cross-country is like hitting the reset button for me. I like to explore old roads, new roads, roads I've never been on, and even roads I've been on a million times; I always find something new. Last summer one of my favorite pastimes was somewhat stifled by fuel prices. I mean at over $4 a gallon, it wasn't like they were simply giving the stuff away. That, combined with a Jeep which was barely making 15mpg (the way I drive it), and it didn't make a whole lot of sense to hit the road. So this summer I made sure to get out on the pavement a little more and I took a few notes that might be helpful in your travels. Sometimes I follow the rules, but other times I skip a few to ensure adventure.
*If you plan on making a cross-country road trip in your Jeep, you best learn to enjoy the vast majority of radio stations with a heavy rotation of country, religious, or Spanish music. Either that or pack the iPod and aging CD collection.
*A trip by yourself will take less time than if you have a passenger.
*The more passengers you have, the longer your trip will take.
*For some reason your passengers will never synchronize their bathroom breaks with fuel stops, or even with each other.
*Citys, towns, and exits with unfortunate names have them for a reason. No need to stop at Los Banos, Drain, Panoche Road, and so on.
*The I-5 between the Grapevine and Redding is perhaps the straightest, flattest, most boring section of highway ever created.
*Driving from one end of Texas to the other along the I-10 is even worse. By the time you leave Texas, you'll swear you'll invent a Star Trek transporter before you'll ever make the 900-something-mile trip again.
*Live armadillos are a myth. Someone simply throws dead ones along the road-sides in states that claim to have them.
*Exhaust leaks will madden you enough to consider welding the exhaust manifold to the engine head. Sorry, it doesn't work.
*You're being a sissy if you think it's hot out. Unless you're in Death Valley where it's 120-plus and there is no water in sight.
*Stop early and get a hotel before nightfall, rooms fill up (especially in the summer months), the available rooms get nastier, and prices seem to rise as the night goes on.
*Don't stop to sleep on the side of the road with a loaded pistol on the center console. Cops don't like it, especially in California.
*You really only need one gauge; fuel level. If anything else goes wrong in the middle of nowhere, you're probably better off not knowing about it till you get to somewhere.
*One-liter bottles of Mountain Dew can keep a person up and driving for unusually long periods of time.
*The Low Fuel light is only a recommendation. Real gamblers know how many miles they can travel with the light on.
*Colorado fuel stinks. Don't get it on you.
*When ordering seafood from a menu, consider how close you actually are to the ocean. This will prevent any wonder as to why you feel sick the next day.
*Never bet me that you can eat or drink something in some amount of time. I don't mind losing as long as I see you barf.-John Cappa