Total state tally LA/XC-2: 26 (Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware)
Total state tally LA/XC-2 + LA/XC-1 (combined): 31 (additional states from LA/XC-1: Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Utah, South Dakota)
Mileage Comparison: LA/XC-2 = 8,060; LA/XC-1 = 7,643
Westbound mileage: 4,087
L.A.-Area mileage: 620
Eastbound mileage: 3,353
Best improvement to car set-up: Clear plastic “bureaus” (from Bed, Bath & Beyond) making clothing easy to find
Least useful “improvement” to car set-up: Camp chair and camp table for roadside meals; almost all rest areas provide picnic tables, dummy!
Totally unnecessary purchase that I originally thought was such a scorchingly brilliant idea: Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee stainless steel to-go cup. Last year I frequently got coffee at vending machines that didn’t supply lids for the cups, which made them useless while driving. This year, that never happened — not even once. Still, better safe than sorry . . .
Best technology improvement: Portable printer that fits in my briefcase. (Last year I had to schlep my desktop printer into every motel room, every night.)
Best vehicle decision: Choosing the Acura MDX over the Jeep Wrangler. It’s hard to believe I even considered taking the Jeep, let alone mulling this decision for as many hours as I did. I actually compiled a comprehensive “pros & cons” list for the Jeep. The “cons” ran into double-digits: terrible for a rainly day; terrible for a really hot day; not so great if someone wants to steal Ricky from the car . . . There was only one “pro”: cool car
Best new idea for LA/XC-3 (already thinking ahead!): Bring along my L.L.Bean backpack cooler. Ordered it about 15 years ago and have found exactly zero uses for it to date. But it would be the perfect thing for transporting my refrigerated stuff from car to motel fridge and back, without having to “transplant” it into a separate conveyance. (Who’s gonna remember this for me?)
Beagle Man Cross-Country Road Trip Diet Results: Damn! Only lost 3 pounds this year. (Lost 7 on LA/XC-1.) Too much socializing and too much fine dining this time around. Mastro’s in Beverly Hills. Bones in Atlanta. Home cooking by the Smiths in Delaware. Definitely not conducive . . .
As you can see from the dateline on the Beagle on Board logo, Ricky and I are up in Vermont now. We were home in CT for all of four days before we started missing the rumble of the tires under our rears, and had to hit the road again.
Before putting LA/XC-2 in the rear-view mirror, I have a few more thoughts and observations I’d like to throw out there. For starters, I can’t tell you how many people are fascinated by the concept of a cross-country road trip, and say it’s something they’ve always wanted to do. Several of these people have even “threatened” to join me in 2013 for LA/XC-3. (Matt, that would be you.) We’ll see who follows through when next September rolls around . . .
I’m thinking of doing a little less north-south next time, and sticking more to the east-west interstates. While I totally enjoyed each and every stop, I constantly felt I was off schedule and behind the eight-ball because of all my extra mileage, and was probably 2-3 hours late for pretty much every visit. (Though as Carol frequently assured me, if you’re driving across the country to meet someone for dinner, they’ll probably understand it you’re not there at 7 o’clock sharp.)
I hit the wall in terms of staying in motels on my 26th day on the road. Even though I had to cover 676 miles that Monday, and even though I didn’t make it home to Westport until after 2 AM, I wouldn’t even consider checking into another motel — much as I love Best
Western, Comfort Inns, and the rest. One quick word about my fascination with motels: I don’t really think they’re quite as gorgeous and luxurious as I sometimes pretend, but I am constantly amazed — as a person who’s lucky enough to occasionally stay at a zillion-dollars-a-night Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton — at what you get for your $67.46 at, say, the Gold Country Inn & Casino (America’s Best Value Inn chain) in Elko, Nevada. More about my motel fetish in my “Home Team” column in last Friday’s Westport News: “Pet friendly, with free wi-fi and breakfast.”
I touched on a new little twist I started with my road music toward the end of LA/XC-2: going to “All Songs” on my iPod, rather than choosing albums or playlists. The utter randomness of it was kind of fun (“After Midnight” by Eric Clapton followed by “After the Ball” from Showboat), but since I only started doing this on the final Friday, and since over the weekend I tend to listen to almost nothing but football, I only got up to song #221, “Ball and Chain” by Big Brother and the Holding Company, not even getting past the “B’s.” “Aha,” I hear someone saying — “he’s listening to his songs alphabetically, rather than by random shuffle. How OCD!” Well, I’m not gonna say I’m not
obsessive, but that’s not the reason for this choice. As anyone who listens to his/her iPod a lot knows, “shuffle” is anything but random. I guarantee that if I played “All Songs” via shuffle, 5 of the first 25 songs played would be from the same Spin Doctors album. Shuffle just doesn’t cut it; listening to song titles alphabetically is actually more random — and you get the added bonus of hearing 3 entirely different songs all titled “Already Gone” (The Eagles, Kelly Clarkson, Sugarland), or two different renditions of the exact same song (“American Girl” by Tom Petty and a cover version by the Goo Goo Dolls).
As I mentioned, I listened to a lot of football on XM radio over my 4
weeks on the road. Often you have no choice, and have to listen to the “home feed” — and now I really understand what people mean when they talk about announcers as “homers.” How obnoxious these guys are! Say what you want about everything New York, but this kind of thing simply would not be tolerated by metropolitan-area broadcasters. Screaming “Come on!” when the home team has the ball? Whining “we got robbed” when the ref makes a call they don’t like? How unprofessional can you get?? On the Dolphins broadcast, you might just as well have Robby calling the game, fcol! But by far, the Worst Homer in the Country award goes to Ron Wolfley of the Arizona Cardinals. Absolutely unlistenable.
And one parting observation from my travels: The Northeast is the only part of the country where you see college decals when you look at a vehicle’s rear windshield. In the rest of the country, it’s gun racks. (jk. Sort of.)
You’ll see the “Beagle on board” logo one final time later this week before I put it aside until 2013. That’s because every day of LA/XC-2 I’d dictate brilliant insights and observations into my min-recorder as I drove, but come nightfall, when posting on Beagle Man, I’d be too tired to listen to the playback, so I’d write whatever was top-of-mind. Consequently, I have all of these gems wallowing somewhere in my little digital device. In a few days I’ll devote one final post to my “Random Road Notes,” and get it out of my system . . .