Best (fast / safe) driving route from Houston to Columbus?
July 26, 2004 4:28 PM   Subscribe

I've got to drive from Houston, TX to Columbus, OH, round trip, mind you, in a span of no more than two days.

Any insight on trip routes, staying alert(I'm aware of the sleepiness dangers), etc would be appreciated.
posted by Scottk to Travel & Transportation (47 answers total)
A trucker friend of Dad's swears by peppermints to stay alert. He chews on the cheap "starlight" mints or candy canes.
posted by ferociouskitty at 4:35 PM on July 26, 2004

Find some audiobooks on stuff that is entertaining. I love David Sedaris or Harry Potter on long trips. They're enough to keep my attention, make me laugh, and keep me awake, without being so taxing as to require concentration to follow the story.
posted by mathowie at 4:54 PM on July 26, 2004

Response by poster: Yeah, I'vew found audiobooks to be the ticket myself, and for this particular trip I'm looking forward to ol' Clinton's latest, as well as some Douglas Adams and Orwell's 1984.
posted by Scottk at 4:58 PM on July 26, 2004

Second the peppermints. I've gone through a can of Altoids during a late trip between Philly and Pittsburgh. MINTY.
posted by tss at 5:07 PM on July 26, 2004

Take someone with you.

Falling asleep at the wheel could be fatal. And not just for you.
posted by konolia at 5:20 PM on July 26, 2004

Response by poster: Well aware of teh dangers of driving while sleepy. And, unfortunately, I can't take someone with me. Well, I can, but it would negate the effect of the trip, in which I want to completely surprise a girl. Sure, I could fly, but her seeing my driving 20 hours there and 20 hours back, just to get something off my chest, may help the situation. Sorry, I know this isnt my weblog. My bad.
posted by Scottk at 5:39 PM on July 26, 2004

One 20 hour roadtrip is an acceptable marathon event that can be handled by peppermints, coffee, cold air, singing and books on tape without too much risk. 2 of them back to back (I assume you're not sleeping in between) is just plain stupid. I won't apologize for being curt if that's what you're doing. That's what gets people killed despite themselves. If the girl is impressed by that kind of risk, then she's not a girl of quality.
posted by dness2 at 5:52 PM on July 26, 2004

The only winning move is not to play, grasshopper.

Don't be a dipshit. Don't even try it. You can't do two 20-hour days in a row. Period. The most you could do two days in a row is maybe, MAYBE, 14 hours. 40 hours driving out of 48? No way.

This is from someone who routinely does 25 hours in 2 days, or 18 hours in a single day. Doing more than 12--14 hours in a day WILL. Not might, not could, not probably, but absolutely WILL. FUCK. YOU. UP. You will not succeed in this trip. If you're lucky, you'll fail by merely pulling over and going to sleep. If you're less lucky, you'll just drive off the road and hurt yourself badly, probably hurting someone else in the process.

You're gonna put *my* life in danger by driving like that because of the effect it'll have on some girl? You're not just going to endanger yourself but put *my* lily-white ass at risk? That's more than just stupid, that's an insultingly stupid stunt to pull. So stupid as to be downright immoral.

Call the girl. Send her flowers or a stripper or a cease-and-desist letter or whatever's appropriate. Mail her your damn ear if you want, but don't do something that risks other people's lives in the bargain.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:57 PM on July 26, 2004

Response by poster: As I've mentioned before, I have no intentions of driving while I feel there is the possibility I will dose off. Beleive me, I am always one to be smart enough to pull it over and take that nap.

Please, no worries.
And I think I'll be documenting this trip in a weblog.
posted by Scottk at 6:19 PM on July 26, 2004

And I think I'll be documenting this trip in a weblog.

Don't type while you're rounding a curve.
posted by PrinceValium at 6:26 PM on July 26, 2004

Wouldn't flying be impressive too?
posted by aramaic at 6:45 PM on July 26, 2004

Not to be mean, but I am glad I live nowhere near your itinerary. Protestations to the contrary, this is a literal wreck waiting to happen. Get a dang plane ticket. She will be just as impressed and you will smell better when you get there.
posted by konolia at 6:51 PM on July 26, 2004

A real longshot: there might be some Around the World in 80 Days style combo of rental car, Amtrak and/or Greyhound that might work, and might be a little safer. Might sound more romantic than "I drove like an idiot for X hours", too. You can hum the theme music from the Michael Palin series while you ride the train.
posted by gimonca at 6:55 PM on July 26, 2004

her seeing my driving 20 hours there and 20 hours back, just to get something off my chest, may help the situation

I know this is neither the question you asked nor the advice you want, but ....... please, don't do something this stupid just for the sake of dramatic effect. Did you mess up, and now you want to set things straight? Or maybe you want to declare a grand, dramatic gesture of love? That's very sweet, but you can accomplish the element of surprise and, well, effort, just by jetting in on a moment's notice. It's safer, you'll be better able to say what it is you want to say when you're not deprived of two days of sleep, and she's far less likely to think you're off your rocker if you conduct this in a saner manner.

At least think about it, ok? There are other ways to accomplish what you're going for without endangering your safety.
posted by boomchicka at 6:56 PM on July 26, 2004

A round trip plane ticket will run you about $750, if it's this weekend.

If you travel Friday redeye, and return Sunday redeye, it will cost even less. $500 or so.

The second cost is around what it would cost in gas for you to drive round trip, assuming 10mpg.

Keep the roads safe. Spend a little more and be safe and sane when you get there. It will look more gallant.
posted by tomierna at 7:13 PM on July 26, 2004

The other option is to do the 20 hour drive there (which I think is totally doable if you're careful), then do your dramatic exit (or whatever).

Then go to a hotel somewhere nearby, get a good night's sleep, and then do drive back over a couple days, take in some sites, whatever.
posted by malphigian at 7:24 PM on July 26, 2004

He's got a long way to go
and a short time to get there
He's gonna do what they say can't be done
posted by mookieproof at 7:31 PM on July 26, 2004

I think malphigian's got a great idea (and really the only responsible one)--the dramatic gesture's always a nice idea, but once you leave, what does she care how long you take getting back?

If you just _can't_ take more time to get back because of work, etc., it's really not a great idea. You're basically planning on driving drunk. (I'm not saying that to admonish you, but to point out that lack of sleep quickly starts to incapacitate you just as much as drinking too much--and those tests were with more sleep than you're talking about getting.)
posted by LairBob at 7:33 PM on July 26, 2004

I have driven from Utah to Iowa to talk to a girl, 20 hours of driving both ways, so this experience is somewhat familiar to me. And I found that if you're well-rested, prepared, and focused, you can in fact get *there* inside of 24 hours.

However, you can't actually talk to said girl and drive *back* within the next 24. In fact, I was so tired coming back it took me over two days.

If you really need to be back that soon, flying is probably your only realistic option. If you are in Houston, you have southwest, which, as has been pointed out, will set you back less than $500 for a last minute flight. Given gas prices, and opportunity cost of missing work, honestly, fly.

Or if you really want to drive, take at least two extra days off.
posted by weston at 8:27 PM on July 26, 2004

I have done recent road trips of about ten hours straight in the car and was jello at that point. Even seventeen hours one way is dangerous, foolhardy, and possibly even prosecutable if he falls asleep and hits someone.
posted by konolia at 8:28 PM on July 26, 2004

I drove from Minneapolis to San Francisco non-stop: it took about 30 hours.

Some things that helped me:

* when you stop for gas, go to the bathroom and wash your face with some cool water: I found myself vastly refreshed after doing this
* I left at night so that the end of my trip was during the day I'm not sure if this helped, but I don't think it can hurt
* surprisingly, eating nothing during the trip seemed to help

Having said that, be smart about it. If you feel exhausted, pull over and sleep a bit.
posted by AmaAyeRrsOonN at 8:36 PM on July 26, 2004

Sorry, I mentioned $500 roundtrip on Southwest -- that's actually for a 7-day advance purchase, not an "anytime" fare, which will run you $600.

Gas for my Iowa Trip cost me about $300 in my thrifty Geo Prizm -- last year, when prices were better. So, yeah, it could be 50% cheaper, but there's almost no question that I would never do that kind of trip again. If there ever happens to be a reason to, I will pay the extra to fly, or I will take longer to drive.
posted by weston at 8:46 PM on July 26, 2004

I'm sorry but have you stopped to consider doing something like this might appear a tad creepy? If I was a girl, I would not be a big fan of daft gestures. That's just my opinion. I would fly or heck take a train.
posted by riffola at 8:48 PM on July 26, 2004

I've done Chicago-Austin many times, about the same distance you're contemplating. On a couple of occasions, I've been able to do it solo in about 20 hours, but I was a wreck at the end of that, and frankly a bit dodgy on the road for the last hour or so.

What worked for me is short, frequent breaks: every two hours, pull over, top off the tank, walk around, drink something cold.

I have to agree with others that trying to do two trips back-to-back is a Bad Idea. Also, you won't be looking your best for The Girl after ~20 hours in the car.
posted by adamrice at 8:50 PM on July 26, 2004

I drove from St. Louis to Glacier National Park within two days:20-some hours, twelve hours' sleep, and onward. I've also done St. Louis-New Hampshire-St. Louis over a four-day weekend. I'd recommend neither -- I was incoherent for a day afterwards on the second trip. Get a couple extra days off to come back (Stop in StL, and I'll buy you a beer), or fly.
posted by notsnot at 8:52 PM on July 26, 2004

Yeah, if you really want to say something meaningful to this girl, you won't be able to do it after a 20hr drive. Fly or take the bus.
posted by Hackworth at 8:58 PM on July 26, 2004

Also, if you are looking to impress her, she may be just as touched by the outrageous expense of last minute flying as much as insanely dangerous driving. The line to use would be, "the money meant nothing, getting to you is priceless".
posted by Hackworth at 9:01 PM on July 26, 2004

Don't do it on August 2 or August 8. I'll be on the road those days, and will likely be travelling along some of the same highways you will. Thanks.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:02 PM on July 26, 2004

A few years back during Race Across America, I slept ten hours in a little under six days going cross country. I also saw pink elephants. My greatest concern was falling asleep and running over the cyclists...

The advice on this thread is some of the best i've seen in these pages.

There are sooo many other ways to impress a girl besides your idea.

But, if you will do it anyway, I suggest NOT eating the greasy food found along the way. Also, every time you get out of the car, stretch as much as possible. It wouldn't hurt to do a thorough check of the car before hitting the road (air pressure, tires, oil, filters, etc.)

If you can get some, guarana powder or capsules will help keep you awake.
posted by ig at 10:14 PM on July 26, 2004

I'm a girl and I say either fly, train or don't bother. For about the first five minutes, I'd be happy. Then I'd realize what you'd just done and get angry at you for risking it.

Especially if I knew you were driving right back.
posted by amandaudoff at 10:34 PM on July 26, 2004

Just remember, even if you pull this off, and the girl reacts as you hope... you're still in Columbus. (I'm allowed to say this because I grew up there.)
posted by kindall at 1:56 AM on July 27, 2004

This idea is retarded.

If one of your friends told you they were doing this, what would you tell them?

And as a girl, I'm going to weigh in on an event like this setting off creepy stalker boy bells and whistles. Suprises != party hats and ice cream cake. Of course, most of us are dying to know what it is you have to tell her.

I made a 12.5 hour drive. Co Springs to St. Louis. It sucked. I was worn out by the time I got to Columbia. No one has to drive a double digit number of hours in a day. That's what Southwest Airlines and JetBlue are for.
posted by pieoverdone at 4:22 AM on July 27, 2004

Have you tried or some of the other online sources? You can get some last minute deals on flights that are pretty good that way.
posted by konolia at 5:32 AM on July 27, 2004

Another girl saying "oh god, creepy stalker". Really, it will NOT impress her. Driving one way might. My now-husband drove Chicago - Waterloo, Ontario a few times to visit me, and that impressed me. BUT, he always stayed for two to four days afterwards, rested a lot while he was with me, and was willing to stop somewhere if need be on the way back. You don't seem to have that luxury and that's just not safe.

Everyone's tolerance is different - don't feel you have to take all this advice straight up, some people are saying 10 hours is too much but most people can do more. My dad used to drive us to Florida over two days, a 23-26 hour trip total, but we'd take tons of breaks, and then he'd have a long time until we had to drive back. That's the main thing here - your return trip idea really, really sucks. I am sure you can make it there, but I wouldn't want to be on the roads when you are heading home.

And if you're thinking money, think how much stress that is on your car - you'll need an oil change, maybe a tuneup, you're adding thousands of miles to it, etc. Flying might be a really great deal with all the cheap airlines these days.
posted by livii at 6:17 AM on July 27, 2004

like weston said, you can't do the drive and the talk in the time allowed. like other people have pointed out, one way is not nearly as selfishly irresponsible as two way.

like many of the other girls said, i'm not sure that it will have the effect you want. the gesture would be dramatic, but either:

a) she'll be floored by it then pissed off at the foolhardiness, or put off by the whambamthankyouma'amness of it


b) she'll think "crazy psycho stalker" then be pissed off


c) you'll never top it, so instead of laying a good solid foundation for whatever comes next, you'll be building sand castles.

unless of course you're going there to tell her to get bent. in which case, more power to you (but still, don't do the return trip immediately). and you can take someone with you--just leave him or her in the mcdonald's up the road. if you're really planning a there-and-back quick turnaround, what's the big deal, unless you're planning to kidnap the girl, in which case, bad idea.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:08 AM on July 27, 2004

Yet another person here saying this is stupid and don't even try it. I'm another one who routinely does very long drives, and I have no problem with 12+ hours per day (sometimes far more), but what you're proposing is just idiotic, and if I were The Girl, I'd tend to view your Big News with that in mind. It's not gallant or romantic to do something this stupid, it's just stupid. Fly, take a bus or train, or arrange to spend more time there so that you can rest up before you drive back. What you're proposing is not doable safely, and any girl worth this amount of effort would be more impressed with sanity than stupidity, and if the News is bad news, then at least respect yourself enough to be sensible about this.
posted by biscotti at 9:10 AM on July 27, 2004

This thread is putting a Celine Dion song in my head, and that is Bad. Anyway, as a girl, I can see a bit of the romance in the gesture, so depending on your current relationship, the creepy stalker thing might not be a worry. BUT... assuming the desired affect is her unbridled caring for you, I wouldn't let you leave to get in the car for another 20 hours. Of course, maybe that's what you're going for. Anyway, I'll second (third? fourth?) the opinion that other means of travel would be just as impressive, and less dangerous.
posted by ferociouskitty at 9:38 AM on July 27, 2004

a) Long-distance relationships are insane. Sooner or later, someone has to move.

b) She might be just as impressed by a very nice, hand-written, well-thought-out letter (snail mail, not email). This also gives you the luxury of choosing your words extremely carefully. Plus, you can have a dozen roses delivered to her as well. Also, you can pick out a nice gift that you know she will love, and FedEx it to her.

c) If you get in an accident, everything will go to hell very quickly. Especially if you harm someone else. Is it really worth the risk? I mean, if she's the love of your life, surely you can resolve whatever it is without doing something so risky. And if she's not, why is this worth the risk?
posted by beth at 10:30 AM on July 27, 2004

i think it's a dumb idea, but when i was 22 i did something close to it. it's not a death sentence, it's not impossible, but it's probably worse than driving home dead drunk several nights in a row, and therefore highly unethical to attempt.

if this guy goes ahead and tries it, here are a few tips:

the danger times are 1-4 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. - this is when the brain cycle ebbs in all people, morning people and night people. traffic accidents skew way, way up in this period. consider stopping for 2 hours worth of nap every 12 hours.

don't get cocky. you will periodically get your wind back, and be wide awake for long periods... then, you may drift off suddenly. when mammals have sleep debt, their brains get desperate and tries to sleep for minimal periods - 5 seconds on 5 seconds off is bad enough, and then it deepens into 30 seconds on 30 seconds off. remind yourself that falling asleep means death for you or others: keep yourself in fear, stay focused.

make a checklist of good driving habits (checking mirrors, instrument panel, controlling your bright beams, listening to the engine, etc.) and in between each item, list a mental note like "breathe deep" or "keep your eyes open at all costs". as you drive and get tired and bored, you will periodically be slapping your face or whatever, counting mile markers, fiddling with the music system; you can also use this checklist (you'll memorize it quickly).

those guys who stayed awake for long periods (10+ days) did it by keeping their mind engaged, and they had friends with them. keep your mind engaged. music you know is typically better than music you don't. a book you love is better than a book you don't.
posted by mitchel at 10:58 AM on July 27, 2004

while a drive this long seems a little nutty, i've made a few road trips in less-than-ideal circumstances-- some of which i probably shouldn't share, but i will share what i've learned:

- bring lots of water, caffeine, and cigarettes if you can stand them. (i find i go through the first one much faster than the other two, personally.)
- music. if not necessarily loud, at least something that won't induce sleep. something interesting enough to keep your mind engaged so it doesn't wander.
- food. you don't need tons of it, but i would recommend eating stuff that's high in protein, and avoiding fatty or greasy food.
- don't let fear of taking too long or showing up late dissuade you from bathroom breaks. hard to focus on the road when your bladder is sending big honking red alerts to your brain.
posted by nath at 4:16 PM on July 27, 2004

Scottk - how'd this work out?
posted by ferociouskitty at 3:42 PM on July 31, 2004

Response by poster: Left Montgomery, TX at 8:30 pm, tuesday, knowing I had to be back home by friday. Saw Columbus skyline 18 hours later. The drive was cake. The hard part was driving that distance not knowing her address or place of work. And on top of that, the fear that I may not actually see this girl. Regardless, I called the chamber of commerce in columbus, asking for any new mexican places that have opened within the past two months. The polite man fed me this place, and I headed that direction. Once I found the place, I was obviously nervous as all get-out, knowing I just drove a fairly long distance to possibly not even see this girl. So I ask a waitress working on the patio of this place if she is working, and she tells me she already came in today and that she may have left. You better believe I have thoughts running through my head like nothing else. I mean, I may have been awake for well over a day by now, but I know a crappy situation when I see one. Anyway, I get a phone call telling me one of my friends had just talked to this girl, and apparently she was on her way into work as she called, but she was on to the plan that I may be making a guest appeareance. Regardless, she is upset that I would even consider doing something like this, knowing that she and this other guy are trying to work things out, and my presence would seriously jeopardize the situation. I was aware of this, and had no intentions to do so. So at this point, I pretty much receive confirmation that the mission is a flop. I'm 1000 miles from home, I've no place to go, and my brain is starting to lose function. I decide to leave a note for her at this restauraunt, so I write one, explaining my reasons for coming up and all. I enter the restauraunt, hand the note to the hostess, ask her to give this to her, and she says fine. I get back in my car, not knowing if I'm going to just drive home or what. But the thought crosses my mind that this hostess may not have understood the importance of the note. I go back in, tell her the situation, and she basically tells me she can't promise anhything. What the fudge? I just drove 1000 miles and this is what she tells me? People are terrible. So the manager comes over. I ask him to do me this favor. Long story short, he thinks I'm a stalker and we exchange some choice words. I nearly lost it and walked out, adrenaline pumping out of control. I was in no shape to drive, and I had never had a worse feeling than that, feeling so alone and knowing how far I was from home. It was terrible. Anyway, still riding no sleep for well over 24 hours, I decide to drive 6 more hours to Chicago to crash at a buddy's house. Well that drive seemed longer than the 18 hour one to Columbus. So I stay in Chicago for the next day, then thursday morning, 10:30am, I drive 18 more hours back home, arriving sometime around 4:30am, ready to go into work at noon.

Basically it was a 2700 mile drive over two days lasting 42 hours.

posted by Scottk at 10:27 AM on August 4, 2004

Response by poster: I just had to get some closure, and oddly enough, this did it.

It's made her think about the current guy she is with, and what he would do for her.

It's made her think that she just lost a guy that would have done anything for her.
posted by Scottk at 10:31 AM on August 4, 2004

Basically it was a 2700 mile drive over two days lasting 42 hours.

You're insane. Really. Summed up in words no one could better with this bit:
I was in no shape to drive, and I had never had a worse feeling than that, feeling so alone and knowing how far I was from home. It was terrible. Anyway, still riding no sleep for well over 24 hours, I decide to drive 6 more hours to Chicago to crash at a buddy's house.

Please, don't ever - EVER - attempt anything like that again. And I really do not understand how you got 'closure' when you didn't see her, don't know if she got the note, and was wild and crazy when you were talking to her new co-workers.
posted by humuhumu at 4:29 AM on August 5, 2004

Jesus. You are a stalker.
posted by pieoverdone at 5:51 AM on August 5, 2004

Response by poster: She was too embarassed to ask for the note from her manager. However, she did call me the next night, and the night after. My closure came from the fact that I was able to do this one last thing for her, just to let her know I wanted the best for her and her ex that she was trying to work things out with. Basically, I wanted her to think about what she had lost(me), so I could move on with my life.
posted by Scottk at 9:00 AM on August 5, 2004

I love how people talk about things they don't know about as if they were the top expert on them.
posted by Hall at 10:09 AM on August 5, 2004

« Older Scan My DVDs   |   Who qualifies for "the honorable" rather than... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.