Bored at Work: Racing the Sun

As the school year winds down, many of us at Buntology are preparing for graduation. This means we are very busy, so lay off, OK!?!? (And by busy I mean stressed out.) Here is a piece written by Will, who prefaced the story by telling us: “Not really typical stuff I know, but w/e I was bored (hence title).”

drivingintosunsetEvery winter I eagerly anticipate one of my favorite days of the year. When we spring those clocks forward. I couldn’t possibly put a price on that extra hour of daylight. For people like me who enjoy the long days, or people with Seasonal Affective Disorder, spring is a big sigh of relief. Once the world feels right again, and Father Time is back where he belongs, it’s just a countdown until June 21, the longest day of the year. Recently I proposed a hypothetical question to my friends, asking them how far they thought someone could get leaving from Boston at sunrise and driving west, only stopping once the sun went down. And because it’s a nice, sunny, 73 degree day and I’m sitting inside bored at work, I decided to try and answer that question to the best of my ability.
Before I tried to solve this problem, note that this is very theoretical. I’m going off a lot of estimations here and I’m sure some math experts and/or people who possess common knowledge might be able to think of some reasons I’m wrong. That aside, before diving right in I had to make two stipulations. Number one: This trip has to be do-able. And by do-able I mean, you have to be able to drive on real roads and highways, not just an imaginary straight line to the west. Number two: the destination has to be somewhere somewhat interesting. I don’t think anyone would want to drive for hours and hours just to end up in the middle of a cornfield in Ohio. With that in mind, I checked to see how many hours of daylight I have to work with.
On timeanddate.com, I took a look at when the sun would rise and set on June 21, 2009, in Boston. It turns out my science teachers weren’t lying and that really is the longest day of the year. Allegedly the sun will rise at 5:08 A.M., and set at 8:25 P.M., leaving us with 15 hours, 16 minutes, and 50 seconds of daylight. Next step- google.maps. I recognize that sites like google.maps and mapquest aren’t always 100 percent accurate on their time estimates, or even the fastest routes, but on the whole they’re surprisingly accurate. If google.maps tells me it’s going to take me 27 minutes to drive somewhere, as long as I don’t hit major traffic, it’s typically pretty close. Plus, I’m assuming this trip would be almost all highways so it’d be hard for them to send me down some random side street, prolonging the trip.
After playing around with destinations from Boston, I found that you could drive to Lincoln, Nebraska within 24 hours. Neat fact, but that’s too far for this trip. I tried Iowa, but that was also too far. Then I tried Chicago. That was 15 hours and 40 minutes. Given that you’d be racing the sun driving west, you’d have even more daylight. That sounded very reasonable, and it also fit the requirements of being a place that would be fun. So I checked the sunset time for Chicago on the 21st. It was 8:29 P.M. But since they’re one time zone over, that means it’d ultimately be 9:29 P.M. EST, bringing the grand total of potential travel time to work with to: 16 hours, 21 minutes, and 3 seconds. And since it only takes 15 hours and 40 minutes to get there, the answer to the original question would actually mean you could drive past Chicago to another city near it in Illinois. But who cares about Elgin, Aurora, or Joilet, Illinois? I haven’t even heard of those places. Chicago is far enough. Plus, there’s some wiggle room on time for stopping for a meal/gas/bathroom. Satisfied with my findings, I decided to take a look at December 21, (the shortest day of the year), as well. Turns out you couldn’t even make it to Ohio. You’d be hard pressed making it out of Pennsylvania with only 9 hours, 4 minutes and 48 seconds of daylight to work with.
So… that’s it. Sunrise to sunset, you could make it to the windy city.
Oh, and on an unrelated note, anyone down for a day trip to Chicago on June 21?
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Comments

  1. hahahaha will i love you and i’m down for the trip. lets do it.

  2. Jackie says:

    Will, remember when you asked me that, and I said, ” Ummm vermont.”

  3. Hahahah yes I do! But to be fair, you aren’t mistaken. You can definitely make it to Vermont from Boston in that 15 hour timespan.

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