In planning for this weekend, we had a bit of a problem. I had to return to Albuquerque to teach my classes Tuesday, but Pat has to stay at the lake until his dockmaster duties end Wednesday. So we had to drive up Friday in separate vehicles; Pat took Enterprise with the fifth-wheel, while Dulce and I had Galileo.
Being in a larger, clumsier rig, Pat took a route that emphasized big roads and faster travel. According to Google Maps, this route is 166 miles and takes 3 hours, 11 minutes. That seems about right.
Meanwhile, Dulce and I took a more scenic route. It's shorter in miles, but it's decidedly not suitable for bigger, clumsier rigs. Google Maps says it's 153 miles and takes 3 hours, 55 minutes. The time estimate is WAY off. This trip, Pat and I left at the same time, and while he had to stop for fuel and spent 15 minutes getting lunch, I arrived ahead of him by about the time he spent on fuel and lunch. On other trips, Gerald and I have arrived sooner via the scenic route than Pat on the big roads. My guess is that Google Maps underestimates the travel speed on New Mexico's state highways, some of which are unpaved but still can be traveled at a fairly high speed. Sure, I had to stop a couple of times to wait for some cattle to mosey out of the way, but, hey, that's part of the appeal of the back roads.
Then for the trip home, I chose a route that I already knew was going to be more time-consuming, but that would also be fantastically scenic. If Google Maps had an option to select the most scenic route, this is how it would tell people to go. It's 193 miles and 4 hours, 8 minutes -- an accurate assessment, probably because none of the roads are unpaved. For out-of-state visitors, the reverse of this route is what I would recommend to get from the airport to Five O'Clock Somewhere; it provides the best of the best of scenery, plus a nifty bonus: the chance to stop at Viola's Restaurant
in Los Alamos for lunch. On this route, it wasn't cattle but deer that I had to stop for until they decided they wanted to wander over to the side of the road.
In case you're wondering, I hate freeways. I also dislike road construction. When a route involves both, I'd rather find some other way to go.