The half-truth about that weird elevation sign on the turnpike

You know, that brown sign out in Becket in the Berkshires that announces an elevation of 1724 feet, "next highest elevation on I-90 Oacoma, South Dakota, 1,729 feet." Slate reports that, in fact, the highest elevation in Oacoma, SD is only about 1,440 feet tall.



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    Sox towns

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    What? Fred Lynn, Mike Lowell, Tim Wakefield, Bill Lee, Erik Hanson, Mike Paxton, Jeff Russell, Tom Bolton, Terry Adams, Joe Hudson, Wes Gardner, Chick Maynard, Jeff Plympton, Edward "Tubby" Spencer, Allen Webster, Garry Hancock, Bob Montgomery, Drew Sutton, and of course Carl Everett aren't enough for ya?


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    I tip my hat to you, that's a nifty list!

    One other question: doesn't I

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    One other question: doesn't I-90 have to pass through elevations of 1725, 1726, 1727, and 1728 feet before reaching that high point of 1729 feet? Or is there just a shear 5 foot rise in Oacama? Seems like you'd get a lot of accidents there.

    Local maxima

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    I think the intended meaning is "if you look at all the local altitude maxima along I-90, the next one you will come to that is higher than this one is in Oacama SD". Too wordy for a road sign.

    What does the sign mean ?

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    What does the sign mean ? That Massachusetts is too full of itself unjustifiably. So embarrassing. "Keep back of line" now seems intelligent. If I remember correctly, the sign used to be a much simpler statement of highest Mass Pike elevation. Either go back to that or tear it down please and let us save some face.

    Lighten Up

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    I've been told that there used to be a storefront in Randolph on Route 139 with a large billboard that read "LAST FOOD BEFORE PORTLAND MAINE".

    The logic being that if you got on the highway at Route 24 and drove all the way to Portland Maine before exiting, that storefront would be the last available food.

    We need more of this kind of thing.

    Gas station in Watertown

    There's a gas station on Mt. Auburn St. @ Grove St. in Watertown that has a sign posted "Last Gas Until Cambridge." You might want to fill up; that half a mile until the next gas station (the pair of them at Aberdeen Ave.) might use up what you have left in the tank.

    I think that was probably

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    I think that was probably because either Cambridge had different laws about pumping gas, I.e. full serve only, or higher tax on gas. Neither of those may be true today, but perhaps they once were, and a traveler could legitimately want to know that. It's not about the distance, it's about skirting one municipality's laws in favor of another's.

    I know I always want to make sure I know where the last gas stations are before entering New Jersey, for example.

    I know that spot

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    And it was always cheaper at the Watertown station than at the next one... maybe only a few cents per gal but enough.

    What's wrong with NJ gas

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    They pump it...and it's cheaper than CT (it's also the 10th cheapest state right now). How is that something to want to avoid?

    Because I'm an adult and am

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    Because I'm an adult and am capable of operating a gas pump. I like to be able to do things for myself.

    Aside from that you have to twist my gas cap just right or it triggers the check engine light.

    Special snowflake syndrome

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    What do you drive? An MG imported from the UK? You think they've never seen your VW/Audi quarter-twist cap before?

    When the robots start pumping gas, you're going to be one of those hold-outs who pulls the nozzle out of their hands and sets off the alarms, aren't you?

    Yeah no, I'd rather do my own

    Yeah no, I'd rather do my own work and not have to worry if the pump jockey is going to scratch my paint, drip gas all over the fender or "top off."

    I'm sorry but wanting to pump

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    I'm sorry but wanting to pump my own gas does not equate to being a "special snowflake". It's just something I'd rather do myself, and I'm bothered by the government thinking I'm not qualified to do so.

    And for the record, I drive a Honda. It's not fancy, but I've gotten to know it quite well over the past 209,000 miles, and I think I'm much better at judging when it's actually full or whether the gas cap is sufficiently tight than some minimum wage pump jockey who has no personal investment with the car, and does not care.

    Why do YOU care so much about other people pumping their own gas? How does it affect you? I'm not asking to pump your gas for you, and I'm not trying to prevent you from patronizing full service stations, I just don't want to be forced to myself.

    Why do YOU care so much about

    Why do YOU care so much about other people pumping their own gas?

    Nobody cares if you prefer to pump your own gas, but I find it a little odd (and I'm sure others do, too) if you make an extra stop on a long roadtrip just to prevent anyone else from pumping gas into your car.

    Here's one reason

    I own a diesel - and I have to make sure that any pump jockey is grabbing the right pump and not trying to "make it work".

    When I go to my local station that has a separate pump, and has a lot of similar cars fueling there, I don't much worry. When I'm on the road, I prefer to DIY.

    I don't

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    I think it's an archaic law like the ABCC that needs to die. Imagine how cheap NJ gas could be if they didn't have to pay the attendants to be there.

    However, it's also a law that doesn't exactly matter either. Aside from the "closed pump" experience commented below, it really doesn't matter if I pump my gas or someone else does. It's not rocket science (close, but we don't get anywhere near the compression of a rocket). They've seen every kind of car come through in an hour. They don't damage cars through a lack of caring or there'd be a billion IROC owners wearing their wife-beaters at Christie's door demanding an immediate end to the car-nage. It's just a thing they still do for no reason (used to be to "prevent spills" before automatic shutoffs, etc.). It doesn't change your life one way or the other and yet they sell gas so much cheaper that you're paying a huge mark-up to fuel up before or after NJ (which is also conveniently about 3/4 of a tank of gas away for many cars driving from Boston).

    "I just want to do it myself" is about the only valid answer (aside from something like understaffing)...and it's an odd one. People usually pay extra to get personal service/concierge. Here, they're doing more and costing you less. If more states did it, it would lead to more employment at only a cost of about $0.05/gal more than we pay now to do it all ourselves (the estimated savings if NJ repealed it).

    Ford capless fuel fillers

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    (which have been in use since 2009) can be notorious for allowing overfills to occur if the nozzle isn't inserted properly or completely. Apart from higher prices (not the case in NJ), this is about the only legitimate reason for someone to avoid full service gas stations.

    Good point

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    I bet nobody has ever driven a new Ford in New Jersey for the past 6+ years.

    I don't like wasting time waiting for an attendant.

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    I try to avoid it because I hate being stuck in my car waiting in line for an attendant. In my experience there are always free pumps but no attendant there to man them. If I could pump my own, that problem would be solved. It's like being at the grocery store, finding the can of soup you want on the shelf, then getting yelled at when you try to put the can in your cart - "I'm sorry sir, this is a full service grocery store, you aren't allowed to put items in your own cart. Please wait for a cart loading technician to assist you."

    Last time I drove through NJ and had to gas up, I stopped at the Vince Lombardi rest area just after you cross the river. We were lined up 3 cars deep because, there were 15 or so pumps, but 11 of them were blocked off with orange cones, because only 4 were being manned. I will gladly step out of my car to pump my own gas if it means saving 15 minutes on what should be a short simple task.

    edit: since this is obviously a pet peeve of mine, I noticed that I could never find a self service station in Winchester, MA back when I dated someone up there - is it a legal thing or do old people and rich people just not want to pump their own?

    Everyone else I know goes out

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    Everyone else I know goes out of their way to get gas *in* NJ, because it's so much cheaper than all the surrounding states.

    NJT rest stops suck

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    Everyone stops at all of them. I don't get it. The food is horrible and the gas stations are always overcrowded. One tip I can give you is to use the Montvale one at the northern end of the GSP if you take the Tappan Zee. It's usually staffed well and has a limited line.

    Otherwise, I sometimes like to get off the highway at one of the state highways and just find a local station where there's never a line and the prices are even a bit cheaper than the highway (for obvious reasons).

    I'll have to look in a couple of weeks

    I believe that I-90 climbs much higher than that through Eastern Washington, or at least through Snoqualmie Pass. I'm turning north at Spokane and heading into the Idaho Panhandle, but I suspect the passes in Montana and Idaho are even higher still.

    Snoqualmie is a hill

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    Compared to Homestake Pass at 6,375 feet, though the divide is crossed at a mere 6,368 feet at the Elk Park Pass, all in the great state of Montana.

    Sorry, I've had to deal with someone who compares the White Mountains to the Cascades, so I like comparing the Cascades to the Rockies to keep things in perspective.

    I hear you

    The white mountains are comparable to the coast range in OR/WA ... those are the small mountains ;)

    Read as:

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    You are at the "highest elevation" that you've obtained since starting on I-90 in Boston. The next time you peak at a new "highest elevation" won't be until somewhere in South Dakota. Of course, you're going to hit a lot of higher elevations as you keep going west through the Rockies, but we thought it was pretty cool that you won't get above this "highest elevation" until somewhere around the middle of the country. If you'd like to discuss this further and understand how the eastern river basins contour the eastern United States, please read the next sign because I've run out of room on this one.

    That IS a reasonably cool fun

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    That IS a reasonably cool fun fact. And certainly nothing to get one's underwear in a bunch over, or to start projecting all kinds of attitudes and opinions on "Massachusetts" (it's a land mass, people, it doesn't have attitudes or opinions, yes I know what you meant but you're being a jerk).