Mawlers’ Big Adventure ’04:
Laws of Physics -- Reality

Our original idea is elegant in its simplicity: a road trip to the Great White North. In the spirit of Kerouac and the rest, we would set off from our doorstep with the sun at our back (then in our eyes, at our back, in our eyes, at our back, in our eyes…), driving until we reached Alaska and could turn around and come back. The freedom of the road drives us! We survive on the very dust of the road itself!

Sorry, got a bit carried away, as did the whole idea. Turns out that four weeks is still not enough time.

Basically, the planning for the trip is a series of compromises. In the business world, we might say that we are “reducing scope”.

As I mentioned, we launch into the trip planning process with the classic American road trip from Washington, DC to Anchorage, Alaska and back. We both love the idea and it is surely a grand enough scheme to hold our attention.

This is when I make my first critical mistake: I open a mapping web site on the Internet. While I have been a geography-buff my whole life, there is something different about looking at a route on a map and actually plotting distances between points. The Internet has made the latter task far too easy.

So, with nine (9) months to go before the trip, I used this web site to create a planned route across the country, letting the computer calculate the distance between each of the points and, more importantly, the estimated time.

The computer practically laughed in my face.

The total mileage estimate for the Classic American Road Trip comes out to 9183.57 miles and the computer helpfully adds that, by its calculation, this should take an estimated 188 hours and 42 minutes. In case you were wondering, that would be 7.8 full 24 hour days of driving. Now, not being one to trust computers fully, I perform my own calculation and discover that, assuming an average speed of 60 miles an hour for the whole trip, we can do it in a mere (153.059 hours, or 6.3 full 24 hour days of driving.

While not strictly in violation of the laws of physics, that itinerary is no more. But, to quote a favorite actor out of context, “I never studied law”. So we simply move our starting point farther west and north.

The previous installment:
Laws of Physics -- Continuing Education

The next installment:
The Laws of Physics -- Reality (part 2)

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All materials © 2004 Lea Ann Mawler & Stuart Mawler