Saturday, September 28, 2013

Our Lakebound Journey Turns into a Southwestern Trek

Suited up for hittin' the road
Two days ago, our journey continued east, just past Buffalo, past Lockport where we saw the Erie Canal, and to a small town in New York called Olcott. Here we found beach access to Lake Ontario and satisfied the first part of our quest for this tour; to touch all five Great Lakes. After playing for less than a minute in the cold water, we went back to the grassy park nearby. 

That was three days ago. Ever since we sat in that grandstand at Olcott Beach Park near Lake Ontario, our lives have pretty much consisted of driving, southwesterly, over not too terribly interesting terrain.
...saw some corn...

We drove from Olcott back to Cleveland the first night and didn’t get back in until about midnight. The drive took about ten hours total, each way. Pretty long drive to go to a park for fifteen minutes. But this was a very special park for a very special reason, so it was worth the long drive. 

On the way out to the lake, I was concerned that I had only brought my short pants with me, but it didn’t turn out to be that cold. On the way back from the lake, I was regretting not bringing the cooler and my food. My idea was that we’d drive four hours out there and then have a nice long lunch and then drive four hours back and have dinner. But it didn’t work out that way. It took much longer to drive out there, including breaks. And I ended up eating my lunch about halfway to the lake, in a rest area in Pennsylvania. By the time I was on the way back from the lake I was very hungry and ended up stopping at a roadside burger shack for a quick cheeseburger and fries, that River had to sit and watch me eat. 

Yesterday morning, we woke up and got right back in the car for the drive from Cleveland to Indianapolis, which wasn’t too exciting. I was surprised how big Ohio is. Much of the drive the previous night was in Ohio and much of this drive went through it for hours as well. River perked up immediately upon our entering Columbus; he seems to want to go back there and investigate more. I’d be interested in seeing more of Cincinnati. 



We stopped at a Wal-Mart parking lot somewhere to chase each other and take a break from driving, but other than that, it was a straight shot. 

We got into Indianapolis just in time for me to meet with a client for a massage. After that, I spent the rest of the evening looking around for some good food. As I usually do when I’m out of food, or when I’m not in the mood to eat what I have, I checked Yelp and Urban Spoon for some nearby restaurants that I could order take out from. I kept getting pointed to this place that seemed to change names a few times but kept getting enthusiastic reviews. I was shocked when I got it. I don’t know if I found the wrong place or if I am really hard to please, or if Indianapolitans are easy to please, but I found the dish I got to be very mediocre and way too sweet. Or maybe I just ordered the wrong thing.

I had intended to meet with a friend when I got into town, but after all the driving and the lack of sleeping, combined with the not-too-nourishing meal, I just felt tired and hoped to meet her for breakfast instead. She, unfortunately had a class to teach in the morning, so we didn’t get a chance to connect. 



So this morning, once again, we pile right into the car and hit the highway.

Ever since talking to the Mini Dealers in Milwaukee as I waited for my car to be serviced, I’ve been toying around with using the Sport feature in my Cooper Countryman S differently. My dealer in Seattle had told me when I bought it that using the Sport feature “may cause a dip in my gas mileage” which I didn’t give much thought to, because I liked the zoom zoom feel of it. I even asked him, and others, “Why would I ever turn that feature off?” seriously asking for a reply, but no one seemed to answer it with more than a shrug.  But when I asked these guys in Milwaukee, one of them says, “well it’ll zap your gas mileage.” And that struck me as very different. I can accept ‘may dip’ but a ‘zap’ that’s serious!

Ever since then, I’ve been using the Sport feature only when I want to be accelerating, and then I turn it off when I’ve reached my cruising speed. It turns out to be a lot better to drive that way, in the first place. Changing speeds gradually, as done in highway driving, is much smoother in regular mode than Sport mode.

Almost immediately after starting to do this, I noticed my gas mileage start to increase. It had never been higher than 30.3 when it started to go down due to cheap gas in the midwest. Since discovering BP Supreme it went back up to 30.3 and stayed there for days, until I stopped driving in Sport mode on the highway. It is now showing my average MPG at an all-time high of 30.6.


Once we entered Indiana, we stopped for a picnic at a rest area. 





Then we got back in the car and drove almost all the way to Missouri. We’re just a few miles from St. Louis now, in a town called Caseyville, Illinois. It’s close enough to St Louis to have come up in my search when I looked for Nia in St. Louis, so it must be considered a suburb.

River is still itching all over. This place has a nice tub, with a seat in it. I think its a sign that River needs a bath. I hope he doesn’t mind Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap.

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