Speed, or How to Get from Phoenix to Minneapolis?

Pop quiz, hotshot.  You need to drive your grandmother from Minnesota to Phoenix.  A nasty sciatic means that 1600 mile trip will take three days, for an overall average speed of around 30 mph.  Once you’re in Phoenix, the need to minimize vacation days will join forces with your hipster sensibility to get you out of that lame-o town as quick as possible.  But there’s a catch – you’re neurotic about air travel, due to its tremendous environmental impact.

Do you go by ground transportation?  There’s no Amtrak in Phoenix, of course, and the Texas Eagle, which picks up in nearby Maricopa, takes 60 hours to get to Chicago (I think part of that is due to a transfer to bus in East Texas because Southern Pacific is repairing some track, although there seems to be a 10 hour layover in San Antonio all the time).  A bus from Phoenix to Minneapolis doesn’t take terribly long (only about 40 hours), but that much time on a bus is itself kind of terrible.

So the least terrible ground route is to catch a Greyhound at midnight in Phoenix, which arrives in Flagstaff about 3 am.  Then you kill two hours in scenic Flagstaff by night, before catching the Southwest Chief a bit after 5.  32 hours later, you’ll be in Chicago just too late to catch the Empire Builder to St Paul.  The Megabus only has redeyes after 3pm so you’ll have to get a 5 o’clock Greyhound.  That’ll roll into Minneapolis at 1 am, only 49 hours after you left Phoenix, giving this itinerary an overall average speed of 32 mph.

Or do you fly, hotshot?  A direct flight to MSP from Phoenix costs the same as ground travel, and takes less than a tenth of the time.  If you’re willing to put up with a layover, the trip takes 5 whole hours but you can save $50.  Will the incredible time advantage and sizable price advantage overcome your neurotic resistance to flying?  Or will you cave to societal pressure and join the cadres of cramped, stressed, timesavers of the sky?  What do you do, hotshot?  What do you do?

This picture is way too classy for my blog


10 comments on “Speed, or How to Get from Phoenix to Minneapolis?

  1. Phil says:

    You could always use those 30 extra hours you save by flying to volunteer for something that benefits the environment, or work an extra 30 hours at a job and use the money you made to an environmental advocacy group!

  2. Bill says:

    i’ve been on the Texas Eagle. It took almost 2 hours to go from Dallas to Forth Worth.

  3. I’m with Phil – Take the time savings / or equivalent from the flight and volunteer / donate to a worthy cause.

  4. mulad says:

    Carbon credits are one option, though my biggest complaint about airline travel these days is the security process.

  5. Rex says:

    Mpls to Phoenix? I’m doing just that in May. Driving my trusted ’06 Corolla. I’m making a tour of it, visiting a friend in Denver and seeking out photogenic spots along the way (and back). But what if I had a grandmother to transport with me? She wouldn’t be up for all of the shenanigans. I think Ntl. Lampoon’s “Vacation” showed us all how to handle a station like that.

  6. Rex says:

    Sorry…..SITUATION like that, I meant to say before a robot took overly writing duties for me. But it just occurred to me, I may have broken the rules of using a car? In that case I would fly.

  7. Alex says:

    Wow, excellent suggestions. Thanks everybody. Rex, I’m hoping the train will show me some of those photogenic spots, although I have a bit of a time crunch and the direct route through Kansas isn’t much for scenery.

  8. Froggie says:

    So what did you wind up doing?

    • Alex says:

      I was able to cobble together more vacation time than I thought, so I took the Southwest Chief. It worked well, except as we sat for more than an hour at Kansas City replacing an engine that conked out on the Raton Pass, I realized I should have just caught a bus from there to Mpls instead of going through Chicago. It probably would have been about $50 more, but would have saved a few hours.

  9. […] couple months ago when I posted about my plans to travel from Minneapolis to Phoenix to transport my grandmother, I was waaaaaay too easy on Phoenix.  Just because I happen to be a […]

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