November 12th, 2008

engineer

Route Planning

Ever since I was about 10 I have LOVED to plan out trips. I'm not one of those "open road" type people. I loved to have everything planned out. About the only exception would be if I were to include camping. Then I would drive until I was tired and find a secluded Forest Service road on which to pull off. I would set up camp and crash wherever.

With the advent of wireless internet I have been able to do a little more planning on the fly. Kitty and I would drive until the early afternoon, and then we'd have a better idea on how we felt. Were we making good time? Was the weather nice? Was there anything to see? We would then make plans as to where we wanted to stop. We would check for best motel prices and make reservations using the Net.

I love long road trips, although they are becoming a little less attractive as I get older. I have been making the drive to MFF almost every year. Prior to my MFF days I would make the trip for Thanksgiving. One of the more memorable trips I made was with my dad the year before he died. It was a wonderful bonding experience, and I look back on it very fondly. I think he appreciated it as much as I did.

The drive from ABQ to Chicago is a 2-day affair. They are a LONG 2 days, but easily doable. There are 2 routes; the all-interstate route via OK City and St Louis, or the more "scenic" route via southern Kansas and central Missouri.

This year I've decided to take 3 days instead of 2. Since I am a train nut, I want to hit North Platte, Nebraska, home of the largest classification yard in the country. Swinging that far north right away really doesn't add all that much to the overall distance. What I am finding is that it really doesn't matter what route I take to get there. Every time I tweak a highway here or there, the distance doesn't change all that much. So the plan will be to just take a route that tickles my fancy and just drive as long as I have daylight. Unfortunately there are not very many north-south rail lines so the opportunity for trainspotting on Saturday will be small. Sunday, however, I plan on following the Union Pacific all the way across Nebraska. I'll once again drive until I get tired, stopping frequently for train pics. I'll roll into Chicago sometime on Monday. Oh yeah, and then it will be the Westin on Wed. night.

Be ready for some on-the-road posts on Sat and Sun.