*OK, a bit more than a day-trip. A day-and-a-fifth-trip. Details after the jump.

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It just so happened that everything fell into place. This isn’t the usual situation in my life, where things tend to occur with a superb amount of happenstance. No, this time everything lined up nicely. After 11 years of working a rotating shift, I was offered a position with my company that meant I would now work a much more normal Monday-Friday job like most normal people. The agreement between the two departments for my transfer specified that I would finish up working my weekend shift before starting the new job. It turned out that I would end my Sunday shift at 7 PM, but wouldn’t report to my new position until over a week later on a Monday at 7 AM. An entire week with no job responsibilities? And a new job? What shall I do to celebrate?

The answer, of course, is fire up the Mustang and go visit some friends that live more than halfway across the country. I wasn’t sure that it would work out, but fortunately I was able to get everything done that needed to be done the previous week. Misses Valve Gear had to work, but was agreeable to me taking the road trip unsupervised.

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Now, the road trip was more than just a simple jaunt across this great land. After all, I may or may not be planning another trip to happen at a later date, and this was a chance to test out some electronics and equipment in the car. One such thingy is a GPS data logger. It turns out to be a handy little device - if not completely reliable - but it works good enough to provide data from the trip, making it possible to generate maps such as the one at the top of the page... a map of my route back home.

As you might be able to tell from the map, I traveled between Northern California and Southwest Missouri. I actually took two different routes; a southern route for the first part and the northern route for the second part. Here is a map of the stops made during the circuit, with red lines connecting said stops to create a very generic route:

Highlights of the trip include just a bit of unplanned criminal activity, in the form of non-payment of a toll. I happened upon the Kilpatrick Turnpike in OK City in the middle of the night, and not being familiar with the area, came upon a toll booth without an attendant... nope, have to have correct change to pass. Of course, I find I do not have correct change, and of course a couple of cars roll up behind me preventing me from backing up to the bill changer thoughtfully located two car lengths in back of me. No choice but to get out of the way, although I did pull over and try to figure out how to make it right. I did what the “Missed Toll” instructions prompted me to do on the OTA page, and dutifully mailed them a check for $1.15 along with an explanation and apology. However, it still won’t surprise me if I receive the $25 dollar fine in the coming weeks.

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I actually stopped and took a picture at the Continental Divide on the southern route in New Mexico, although I did not do the same in Wyoming:

Of course, California provided what must have been a very serious wreck. According to the dashcam footage it delayed me a total of 2 hours and 27 minutes from the time I hit the traffic jam to the time I made my way through the single lane that was cleared while the CHP, Fire Department and EMT’s worked the wreck:

In all, the southern route consisted of 2107.6 miles, which took 42 hours and 19 minutes to travel. I was hampered by a lack of sleep (due to leaving after working a 12 hour shift) and the aforementioned wreck, both of which conspired to make me stop for a snooze at a hotel on the way. All of this added up to what turned out to be a relatively slow time for this leg of the trip.

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My visit with my friends was great, as I hadn’t seen them for some months. I won’t bore you with the details of our time together. However, during our visit the highways that had been snow covered when I left were now reported as clear with no chain requirements! Time to take a different route home...

Sure enough, the roads were clear, although in spots the plowed snow beside the road was piled higher than the pony car’s roof. Other than dodging a jackrabbit at one point - an event that was surely captured on the dashcam, yet I haven’t located the file yet - there was really only one incident of interest... and it happened at a gas station in Nevada.

I pulled in to a clean, well-lit station just off Interstate sometime after midnight. There was only one other vehicle getting gas, and I was able to circle around to a pump so my car was facing the road. As I started filling the tank, a pickup pulled into the lot... a pickup with a lightbar on top and official looking stickers on the side. I truthfully didn’t pay much attention to it, except to note that it slowly lapped the pumps and then left.

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After filling the tank, I went inside to use the restroom and then returned to the car. Before leaving, I wrote down some of the information I track and sent a text to my wife to let her know where I was. As I was texting, I noticed a police cruiser enter the parking lot, and make the same circle as the previously mentioned truck. Well, almost the same circle. It came around and stopped off my right side, angled toward me so that the officer could look out his window at me... interesting. I finished my text, and noting that the cruiser had been parked there a bit, put my phone away, looked directly at the officer who was looking at me... and I waved. He made a half-hearted wave back and slowly pulled out of the lot onto the street.

I was ready to go, so I turned on my headlights and carefully pulled out a few seconds after he did. As I mentioned earlier, the station was directly off the highway. The cruiser pulled over on the shoulder of the street that passed under the overpass. I needed to take the first entrance ramp, so I turned right and didn’t pass by the cruiser.

I find the officer’s actions interesting. He was obviously interested in me (or my car) for some reason, yet did not exit his cruiser and approach me. I had used my credit card to pay at the pump and the transaction was finished by the time he arrived, so I can’t imagine that was the reason. He did not make any effort to be discrete when observing me, nor did he wait for me to leave and then follow me or pull me over on the street. I don’t know if there was any connection to the pickup with the lightbar that first circled the gas pumps.

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Of course, I can surmise that there was a reason... one that my have had to do with a certain Mustang proceeding across Nevada in the middle of the night at what some might think to be a rapid pace. Perhaps rapid enough to generate a phone call from a concerned citizen. But, I don’t know that for a fact. Besides, I didn’t see any Mustang’s that were running fast...

I did experience a wide variety of weather during the trip. Heavy snow came down while going through the mountains in Arizona. Sunny, pleasant weather in California. More snow on the ground and cold weather in Wyoming - one degree at the coldest point - contrasted to sixty degrees a few hours away in Nebraska.

The northern route ended up being 1968.3 miles, which took all of 28 hours and 32 minutes. Yep, 28:32 to go a bit more than halfway across the country... a day-trip that took 1.19 days. The resultant GPS data, plotted on Google earth, shows what the route would look like from space as seen at the top of this page.

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The various gizmos all worked nicely, although the GPS logger has a habit of going to sleep on occasion (while in motion) and not logging some data at times. Still, the information gleaned from the GPS logger and dashcam is nice for planning... I can see exactly how long I took at each stop, and know exactly what time it was at almost any point on the trip.

All in all, it was a great trip, and I was able to gather a lot of information that will be very useful for planning any future trips. What kind of trip is planned? Hey, watch this space... I’ll let you know about this year’s big road trip after it happens... this trip was just a practice run!