as to your plan to buy a car and travel around...Another important thing to remember about driving in the States. It's a big place.
Driving from Seatle to Los Angeles is around 1,800 km. Like driving from Amsterdam to Rotterdam 35 times.
Driving from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. is around 4,300 km, equivalent to driving from Amsterdam to Rotterdam 83 times, or Maastricht to Groningen 16 times.
Good news: last week near me in the States, gas was around 92 cents a litre.
There are some large distances between some places, and sometimes with nothing
As in, no towns, no food, no water, no gas. And many places you can drive on a side road and end up in the middle of no where. Every year people die when their car breaks down someplace remote: freeze, starve, bake/dehydrate, medical attention, etc... There are places where you can walk 50 feet to the side of the road and you'd swear you're the first human to ever set foot there (and that might
be true...). Walk too far from the road and you might be one of the people each year that they never find.
Being someone who's heading to Black Rock City, you're not likely the type that spends their life sitting on a sofa. And Black Rock City is, well, a City, with tons of people. But for your other U.S. traveling, if you're the type that likes to go off the beaten path, or you make a wrong turn and unintentionally end up there, you need to be aware. Get a map. Be aware of the distance. Be aware of where you're going.
ASK someone. It's not always what it seems. I've had a road through the mountains turn into a gravel road, then a road cut out of the rock, then around the corner was a small stream coming down across the cut rock where you had to drive fast enough to have enough momentum to get through the stream before you were swept over the side; or back up for miles until you found a place to turn around (including crossing the road washout that you repaired with fallen trees). I've picked a "Highway" out of Tuscon (Catalina Highway), only to drive it and discover it's a gravel washboard road up over a mountain, complete with free range cattle. Although it was December, and a cool day, with no added trans-cooler (just the stock trans-cooler in the bottom of the rad), I was able to heat my lunch by wedging it between the seats on top of the transmission hump.
gyre wrote: ... Most auto transmissions need a trans cooler added. Easy to do. Better fluid helps too.
Now to me, these types of places are fun. When I was younger, I even looked for such places. But for others, it's a nightmare, and it can stress them to the point where they do something stupid and end up dead.
Back to your buying and then taking off around the U.S. in a used car. I got a real surprise while cutting through the Navajo Reservation a few years back: turns out the used car I bought runs out of gas shortly after the gas gauge gets down to 1/4 full indicated
... I'd done the math and knew I'd get into town with 1/8 of a tank left. And a few days later I discovered that the parts store didn't stock the lower rad hose that split open, it was going to be wait days for it to arrive - the hardware store had enough plumbing parts I could cobble together to get on the road again.
AND DON'T SPEED THROUGH TOWNS. People don't like things that threaten the safety of their kids.
For example, read up on driving to Burning Man.
In being aware of where you're going, check for risks. For example, if you're going in bear country, find out how they behave and what you should and shouldn't do, etc., Same for hot, cold, mountains, and special places like Death Valley (the name is a really really big hint about what can happen if you screw up).
Car engines behave differently at different elevations. You can end up higher than you realize, with an engine starved for air (oxygen). Some examples:
- BRC is around 3,907 ft (1,191 m).
- There's places in Arizona where you can bomb across a highway on a huge flat plain, unaware that you're over 6,000 ft (higher than Switzerland's Wegen in the Berner Oberland).
- I've been on highways in Colorado that go above 10,000 ft, and one was 12,000. There are many above 3,000 m. Nine of their passes are higher than the top of the Eiger.
Get a $12 tool kit from Walmart. Carry spare water, spare gas, food. You'll have a first aid kit for BM already.
Odd. No bears to watch in the dump. Oh well, lets go across the road & pick blueberries.
... but don't harm the red dragon that frequents the area from time to time. He and I have an agreement.