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Ten miles backwards

Whenever I drive north on I-35 from Missouri to Iowa, it feels like there’s a point at which my estimated arrival time home increases [1]. The latest time I drove home from Kansas City, I decided to pay closer attention.

When there was a sign that said Des Moines: 123 miles, I reset my trip meter. When the next sign said Des Moines: 100 miles, my trip meter said 23 miles. I don’t remember what the next sign said [2], but the total was still 123 miles.

Then we crossed the border from Missouri to Iowa. The first sign in Iowa said Des Moines: 80 miles. I looked down at the trip meter. It said that I had traveled 53 miles since resetting the meter.

Um … why did the distance suddenly increase by ten miles?


  • I wasn’t paying close enough attention. Doubtful. I really wanted to see when my estimates changed and why.
  • Missouri and Iowa think of Des Moines as being in different places, or choose different places in the city. Doubtful. Mile markers traditionally use the central post office.
  • The sign makers in Missouri got confused. Unlikely.
  • A warp in the weft of the universe. Highly unlikely.

So, what next? Two requests to my readers.

  1. If you drive north on I-35 from Missouri to Des Moines, please repeat my experiment to see if you have the same experience of losing ten miles.

  2. If you have recommendations on who, if anyone, I might resport this discrepancy to, please let me know. (My assumption is MOdot, but I’m not really sure what I say.)

[1] That’s my mental estimate, not the Google maps estimate. I’m generally not running Google maps while driving home.

[2] I recall 85 miles, but I didn’t write it down.

Version 1.0 of 2017-11-05.