Author Topic: Distances  (Read 6562 times)

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Thipu1

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Distances
« on: February 21, 2012, 11:32:36 AM »
It's been said that the main difference between people in the UK and people in North America is that North Americans think 100 years is a long time and residents of the UK think 100 miles is a long distance.

Another thread here started me thinking about this.

Some years ago Rose, a friend of my aunt, moved to southern NYS from Ireland.  She kept in touch with people in her home town.  One day she received a letter from her former parish priest.  Another lady from the village was moving to NYS and it would be nice if Rose had her over for lunch. 

It wasn't a bad idea but the other lady had moved to Rochester.  At the time, it would have taken almost 18 hours to get from one place to the other because NYS is almost the size of England, Scotland and Wales combined. 

Another time, a French lady working with us was invited on a road trip to New England with American school friends. The trip would take two weeks.  She was concerned because she thought New England was a small city and what would they do there for two weeks? 

We got out the atlas and showed her that New England consists of six states and they're all quite different.  It sounded like a lovely trip and there would be plenty for her to see.

We've had our own problems.  We thought that the trip from Southampton to Portsmouth would be a short hop we could do in an afternoon.  Wrong!

What misguided travel plans have you made?






Slartibartfast

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Re: Distances
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2012, 12:11:08 PM »
My brother and his fiancee might be moving from the east coast to Houston, TX.  They're about twelve hours from where I live now in Alabama (if someone were to want to drive that far), so I was kind of excited they'd be in the southern US and therefore had to be closer.  Then I looked it up online and found that Houston is actually farther from my town than their current apartment is!  I had always assumed the southeast was more or less all in the same region, but Texas is a really big state.

jmarvellous

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Re: Distances
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2012, 12:37:16 PM »
My brother and his fiancee might be moving from the east coast to Houston, TX.  They're about twelve hours from where I live now in Alabama (if someone were to want to drive that far), so I was kind of excited they'd be in the southern US and therefore had to be closer.  Then I looked it up online and found that Houston is actually farther from my town than their current apartment is!  I had always assumed the southeast was more or less all in the same region, but Texas is a really big state.

Well, I've driven from Houston to NE Georgia in a day (so, about 6 hours more), but I won't tell you it's fun or easy. I would expect it to take 10-12 hours to get from Houston to anywhere in Alabama, though.

My "Gee it's big!" sensation comes from driving around Houston, actually. It can take 3 hours in moderate traffic to get from one suburb to another -- about the same time it takes to get from Houston to Austin (a journey of 150-170 miles).

I am driving from Austin, Texas, to West Bend, Oregon, in a day late next month. Google maps says it's a 20-hour drive, and BF and I are going to try to do it in a straight shot! Wish me luck.

lowspark

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Re: Distances
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2012, 01:01:31 PM »
I've lived in Houston all my life so that's what I'm used to -- the huge distances and a potentially long time to get from one place to another, all within the confines of Greater Houston, depending on traffic.

Back in the olden days when we used paper maps, a map of what encompassed Houston and the highly populated areas surrounding Houston took the front AND back of a large map. Once we went to visit Austin and pulled out the map of the city to figure out where we were going. We were in one corner of the map and had to get to somewhere in the opposite corner.

We estimated an hour and a half as travel time. Turned out to be 20 minutes. It's all relative... The map of Austin was about the same size of the map of Houston, we just didn't think about the relative sizes of the cities and therefore, the scale being quite different.

Ferrets

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Re: Distances
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2012, 03:30:20 PM »
[...] and residents of the UK think 100 miles is a long distance.

And you shall never shake me from my conviction that it IS. :D

As the great Bill Bryson observed in Notes from a Small Island: "Surrey to Cornwall, a distance that most Americans would happily go to get a taco..."

Slartibartfast

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Re: Distances
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2012, 03:59:39 PM »
[...] and residents of the UK think 100 miles is a long distance.

And you shall never shake me from my conviction that it IS. :D

As the great Bill Bryson observed in Notes from a Small Island: "Surrey to Cornwall, a distance that most Americans would happily go to get a taco..."

Maybe not a taco, but I know someone who drove twice that distance to get a hot dog  :P  (Nashville to Chicago - about eight hours, or 450 miles - the hot dog was from someplace featured on some Food Network show, and my friend's fiancee decided since he had the weekend free they could throw the dogs in the car and make the drive.  My friend says the hot dog wasn't entirely worth a 16-hour round-trip drive, but her now-DH disagrees.)

veryfluffy

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Re: Distances
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2012, 04:07:49 PM »
I once accidentally drove from London to Land's End, ie the westernmost tip of England, and back in a weekend.

I'd driven with a visiting American friend to Stonehenge, and then somehow decided it wasn't too far to Cornwall. And then once we hit Cornwall, it somehow seemed reasonable to head for Land's End. I had no idea how long it was. We managed to get as far as Newquay by nightfall, got to Land's End after breakfast, and then had to head straight back to London to return the rental car.

The other thing I remember was the look on my friend's face when it was her turn to fill up with petrol. Now this was at least 15 years ago -- she couldn't believe that it cost almost 40 to fill the tank of this small car. These days it would be more like 75.
   

Thipu1

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Re: Distances
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2012, 07:26:44 PM »
[...] and residents of the UK think 100 miles is a long distance.

And you shall never shake me from my conviction that it IS. :D

As the great Bill Bryson observed in Notes from a Small Island: "Surrey to Cornwall, a distance that most Americans would happily go to get a taco..."

I also love the books of Bill Bryson. it's especially nice that he lives in rhe same New Hampshire town as my MIL.  Reading 'I'm a Stranger Here, Myself' I know many of the places he mentions. 

I started reading 'Notes From a Small Island'  the day before we were taking a transatlantic cruise from Devon.  that book put the icing on the cake for me. 

baglady

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Re: Distances
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2012, 11:02:56 PM »
No way that it would take 18 hours to go from southern New York to Rochester, N.Y. Eight hours, tops, and that's assuming that "southern New York" is the easternmost tip of Long Island in rush hour traffic. Once you get out of the metro area and onto the Thruway, you can get to Albany in about 2 hours and Rochester is about 4 hours from there.
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Sophia

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Re: Distances
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2012, 11:52:44 PM »
Even Americans in densely populated areas can be confused about distances.  I friend of mine worked in Texas (Dallas area) and his boss (NYC, I think.  NE definitely) was constantly setting up lunch meetings for him for that day in places like El Paso or Houston. 

On the other hand I used to work for a German company and when I was at headquarters I would sometimes pop over to the auxiliary site 40 miles away and two towns over.  My German coworkers thought the drive was so long that they got the rest of the day off if they made that trip.  It was a nice drive, no traffic, good roads.  No turning, even.  Just head down the road and turn into the parking lot when you see the building.

eta:  I do remember once going to Headquarters in Germany direct from Monterrey, Ca.  In Monterrey they have this adobe building/house that I think was the first in the area.  Basically, it was special because it was really old, so they made it a museum.  Then the hotel I stayed in two days later in Germany was nothing special, heavily remodeled and about 100 years older than the museum building in CA. 
« Last Edit: February 21, 2012, 11:57:00 PM by Sophia »

Shopaholic

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Re: Distances
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2012, 12:03:24 AM »
In Australia's Northern Territory distances are huge. We rented a car in Darwin, with plan to drive down to Uluru, with quick stops at Litchfield and Kakadu parks.
We did the math it should be about 2400 kms... closer to 3600.
Kakadu is just slightly smaller than Israel...

Next stop was the Great Ocean Road - all of 250kms, a seemingly short distance - not when it's a winding, one-lane road and you just have to stop to take in the views and photograph the koalas..

dietcokeofevil

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Re: Distances
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2012, 12:07:44 AM »
I grew up in a small town in the Midwest.   Our town didn't have much to offer besides grocery stores and a couple of pizza places.  To go to Wal-mart, the movies or to get fast food we had to drive about 20 minutes to the next town.  If you wanted to go to the mall, nicer restaurants or just about anything else, you had to drive 45 to 60 minutes to CollegeTown.    None of us thought anything of driving to CollegeTown to grab dinner or do some shopping.  However, almost everyone lived close to their work.  Commutes of more than 15 minutes were rare and usually just because people lived way out in the country.

After college I moved to the Boston area.  A lot of my co-workers had commutes of close to an hour.  Those same people that drove 2 hours a day to get to and from work, thought it was weird when I mentioned traveling that same distance for something social.

Ereine

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Re: Distances
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2012, 12:14:56 AM »
The problem with Europe is that it includes places like this. Finland is a relatively small country, about the size of Florida but about half of the country is very sparsely populated (for the rest of the country it's about 17 people per square kilometer, for Lapland it's two). The nearest place to give birth at may be 400 km away, for example or the nearest school 50 km. For me 100 km is a decent day trip (I've travelled 8 hours in one day to go to a rock festival, it was a lot but not crazy), I live in the more densely populated south (population density 727/m2), for them it's nothing. We are also located next to Russia. I don't really probably get the distances there but it's so huge that compared to it, America looks smallish, sort of like Europe and because traveling all around Europe isn't that uncommon (because the train system is so good and you can get train passes that cover the whole continent), at least for Finns, then that probably creates the illusion that if I can easily travel to Italy from Finland by ground then I should be able to travel from New York to Florida.

Slartibartfast

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Re: Distances
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2012, 01:30:20 AM »
http://goeurope.about.com/od/europeanmaps/l/bl-country-size-comparison-map.htm - great map at that site where you can compare the size of Europe and of the US, including individual countries/states.  I think this is part of why some Europeans are shocked that many Americans only know one language and don't have passports - some parts of the US are more than 1400 miles (~2200 kilometers) from the nearest non-English-speaking border.  If you don't count Quebec City, you can be more than 2400 miles (~3800 kilometers) away, roughly the distance from Helsinki to Madrid.  There's also lousy rail transportation for most of the US with the possible exception of the East Coast, so we drive for anything less than six or eight hours away because air travel is expensive :P  (And for a six-hour drive, you're probably going to take just as much time to get through the airport as you are to drive the distance anyway.)

Thipu1

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Re: Distances
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2012, 09:15:30 AM »
No way that it would take 18 hours to go from southern New York to Rochester, N.Y. Eight hours, tops, and that's assuming that "southern New York" is the easternmost tip of Long Island in rush hour traffic. Once you get out of the metro area and onto the Thruway, you can get to Albany in about 2 hours and Rochester is about 4 hours from there.

Today it wouldn't but this was back in the 1930s before the Thruway existed.