I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned the Interstate Highway System. When I joined the military, I think I had been on three Interstates: I-75, I-85 and the only one that truly mattered, I-95.
That’s changed. I’ve been stationed on both coasts. As of today, I’ve driven cross country (Eastern to Pacific time zones) at least 10 times, and from border to border three times. You have to use the Interstate system to get anywhere relatively quickly. Because there are safety standards for interstate highways, it makes it an easy decision to RV on those roads.
I-80 at I-95, Hackensack N.J.
As you know, the major interstates are denoted with an end number of zero (east – west) or five (north – south). I’ve been on all of them, and not for just a little bit. I’ve traveled all of Interstate 10, Interstate 20, and Interstate 85. Of the zero and five interstates, I’ve traveled 400 miles on all of them except Interstate 30.
I-30, Texarkana TX
I-30 isn’t really a major Interstate, it runs from Little Rock to Dallas. Texas messes up the Interstate system, something else dumb they did. There’s an Interstate 2 and an Interstate 14 in Texas, minor routes but probably something Texas did to squeeze the Federal government for money. I’ve traveled most of I-30 anyway, from north of Little Rock to just east of Dallas.
Most of the interstates aren’t very interesting visually speaking but there are some very necessary routes that make national leisure travel — and more importantly, interstate commerce — a reality. These are the diagonal routes leading from one region of the country to another. One is Interstate 85, which brings you to/from the Deep South from/to the Northeast. Interstate 71 moves travelers from the Midwest to the top of the South. Interstate 59 brings travelers from the Gulf Coast to the top of the South. Interstate 15 serves a similar purpose in the West. These cross over regions and tend to cut substantial amounts of time off long trips.
There are routes existing for the purpose of connecting a solitary city with the rest of the United States. Interstate 25 exists to connect Denver with Canada and Mexico. Denver is a metropolis distant from any other major city in the country. I’ve traveled most of I-25. Here’s a fact: I-25 north of Casper WY to I-90 in Buffalo is the Empty Quarter, the Rub al Khali of the United States. I truly feared an RV flat tire or breakdown in that region, because there would have been no real help for hours. If you’re on I-40 east of Barstow, at least there is regular traffic. Another car might not come along for 20 minutes on I-25, and who knows who is in it?
Interstates are a lot less forbidding since the advent of the cell phone. After I joined the service, I did my first cross country trip almost completely at night, from Merced CA to Washington D.C. via Highway 99, I-80, I-74 to I-70. I was driving across central Nevada at 1 am and I stopped at a rest area literally in the middle of nowhere for a break. I fell asleep, then I woke up. Charles Manson was staring at me sleeping in my car. I started screaming, started the car and drove off. Next rest area, 44 miles. I was still tired. Years later, I thought how making that trip alone and unarmed was so dumb. Now, Charlie would have seen me swinging my full size 1911 around before HE went screaming off into the night. Once I stopped at a rest area in Southern California along the I-10 east of High Desert at you guessed it, 2 AM. I meant to avoid LA traffic. I’m at a urinal when I find out someone is masturbating in the stall next to me. I’m trying to cut off the stream to move away while they continue, and end up peeing a bit on my shoes. Oh well. In those days, I considered myself invulnerable. Now, not so much. Unless I’m in a legit desert or there’s no phone reception, I’m generally within minutes of a state trooper. Cops typically frequent rest areas.
I don’t do extra long trips anymore. By extra long, I mean 1,000 miles or more. That’s literally more than a third of the country. Sleep is a valuable thing. While I will tow the RV up to 540 miles in a day, that’s nothing compared to the long haul trips I’d make in my car. I drove over 1100 miles in a day, from east of Oklahoma City to Phoenix via Flagstaff. I drove from Phoenix to San Antonio, another thousand + miler. San Antonio to Atlanta is just short of a thousand miles and I’ve done that a number of times. Anything under a thousand was no big deal. Well, not quite. One that was a big deal was finding out my girl was at San Antonio for a medical evaluation, while I was in Biloxi MS (Keesler AFB). I hadn’t seen her in a while. I drove 600 miles in 8 hours via Houston; it was well worth the trip. Back when I was stationed at Warner Robins, I drove from D.C. to Fayetteville N.C. (Fort Bragg) while I was sick with the flu.
I only do daylight RV towing because setting up after dark is no fun. Actually it’s not a good thing to tow in the dark because you might not see something you’d want to see and someone might not see you either.