If you have been following our blog you know that we are driving across the US towing a 24' trailer full of all our stuff for Tanglewood, our Nordhavn 60. A cross-country drive is a first for us, and something we have always wanted to do. Now we have the opportunity and are off and going.
It's been really interesting along the way to see the condition of each State as viewed from a major interstate highway. So, for a little fun, we have started grading the States. Now this is about as unscientific, incomplete, and myopic a view one could possible form of a State, so please don't get upset if your favorite state doesn't do too well. And similarly, don't got too puffed up and proud if your favorite scores highly. All this really means absolutely nothing and is just entertainment for the drive. New Jersey is a great example of why you should pay no attention to this at all. As seen from I-95, New Jersey is about as close to Hell as one might ever hope to get. But, having been raise in Jusey, I can say with confidence that there are many parts of the state that are very rural and absolutely charming. You would just never know if from the highway.
So, in order of appearance, here is the grading and commentary:
Massachusetts: East of Springfield it's pretty bad. I'd give it a C-, and I might be giving it too much benefit of the doubt because I live there. The roads a badly beat up, most bridges look like large parts of them, if not the whole bridge might come down on you as you pass beneath. And the roadside is a mess too. Crap everywhere. Doesn't the state own any street sweepers? The place is an embarrassment. Sorry, but it's true. West of Springfield it gets a little better, but is still spotty. I'd upgrade it to a C+. Through out the rest areas are dumps. Run down, grass and weeds growing up everywhere. Totally third world. Cost of fuel is high too - around $4.19 for diesel.
New York: New York is actually pretty good. I'd give it a B-. There road condition is not bad on average, and the rest stops are really very nicely done. The biggest complaint I have is that it sucks for trucks, which we classify as with the trailer in tow. We go over in the truck area of all the rest stops, both because of our size, and also because our truck is diesel and that's where you get fuel. But at the NY stops, there is only one (yes, just one) diesel pump at pretty much all of the rest stops. And you can't just pull up, run your card through, pump and go. No. You have to hike over to the office, preauthorize some amount, walk back, pump, walk back to the office, cancel the authorization and pay the final bill, then walk back. It's a pain in the ass. Fortunately my filler is on the correct side since you can only come up to the pump on one side.
Pensylvania: We only passed through a small corner of PA, and quite frankly is was indistinguishable from NY or OH just driving on I-90. No grade given.
Ohio: Ohio was about the same as New York, but we stopped and refueled near the hotel where we stayed, so we didn't get as much exposure to it. The one rest stop was typical, not exceptional, so I'd give it a C+.
Indiana: Indiana is another dump. Even worse than Mass. D And they have this totally screwed up system for taxed on diesel. When you enter the rest areas, the signs direct all trailers to the truck area, which we are accustom to. And they have lots of diesel pumps, and the price is significantly lower than Mass, NY, and Ohio - like $3.60. But no, I can't buy diesel at those pumps because I don't have some dumb-ass truck ID number. I have to go over to the car pumps on the other side, which by the way you can't get to without going out the entrance, pulling a U turn, then another U-turn. It was bad. It turns out this is because unlike every other state in the nation, Indiana doesn't collect taxes at the pumps on diesel for trucks. Instead they pay quarterly. WTF is all I can say.
Illinois: Illinois was pretty much the same as Indiana, but I don't think we stopped for fuel. But the roads were generally pretty tough. I'd rank it the same as Mass; a C-.
Wisconsin: Ok everyone in the other states, pay attention. This quiet, out of the way state that many people ignore really has their shit together. They get an A. The roads are in good shape. All the bridges are in great shape. The rest areas are neat, clean, well kept, and well groomed. The people who live there clearly care about their state and take pride is every aspect of how it appears and runs. Fuel prices are very reasonable (around $3.80), and everywhere we went everything was it tip top shape.
Minnesota: Not quite up to Wisconsin's level, but still pretty darn good. Roads are in decent shape. Rest areas are in decent shape. Not bad at all. A-
South Dakota: Now things start slipping again. Yes, yes, I know, Wall Drug is now only 356 miles away. I can't wait. The bill boards really are pretty lame. The rest areas are passable, but nothing to write home about, and other off-the-highway services are pretty run down. For the most part, the road is in good shape. Fuel remains comparatively cheap at about $3.60. It gets a C.
Wyoming: Wyoming is quite a place. The roads are good, fuel is reasonable ($3.90), and the off highway services and facilities are in good shape. A-
Utah: Utah is pretty dumpy. The roads are OK, and fuel is reasonable ($3.90), but it's pretty gross driving through. C+
Nevada: Nevada is also pretty rough, but no more than most of the other states. C
Arizona: We were only in Arizona for our diversion to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, then a small corner between Utah and Nevada. I'd say it's about average. C
California: For the most part CA is pretty run down, just like a number of the other more populated states. Another C.
So, there you have it. A road and road-side condition report across the country, or at least across part of it. And remember that this grading system does not take scenery or scenic beauty into account at all. The states would score very differently based on that, and we might do another post from that perspective.....