I’m in no hurry to take another road trip
Back from my travels. After working both jobs on Wednesday, thankfully they were pretty easy, I dropped off the rental car using the after-hours key drop. I am quite happy not to be driving that Dodge Charger anymore. It wasn’t a bad car, don’t get me wrong, just not my idea of happy motoring.
On Thursday morning I got dropped off at Islip airport for my 8:25 flight to West Palm Beach. Southwest Airlines doesn’t have assigned seating but instead uses three boarding groups. Being fairly late to check-in meant that my boarding pass was in the last of these groups, and as the gate agents were announcing a full flight I resigned myself to a middle seat. As I was walking toward the rear of the aircraft, however, I saw a row in which a 50ish man was in the aisle seat and a woman of about the same age in the window seat. I though to myself “I bet they’re a couple, and if someone asks for the middle seat one of them will slide over to sit next to his or her spouse.” My intuition was correct, the woman moved to the middle seat and I got the window.
It was a quick flight, and yes I had some decent views thanks to the window, and the aircraft itself was a 737-800 that seemed very new. Naturally it didn’t occur to me until after the flight to check the registration number, which would have allowed me to learn its delivery date. I noted with some bemusement that the list of prohibited electronics items on the safety card now includes e-cigarettes.
After a couple days in Florida I headed back on Saturday morning, driving what is now my new car, a 2007 Toyota Corolla. With fewer than 20,000 miles it’s practically a new car and is MUCH nicer to drive than that Dodge had been. I drove to my stepdaughter’s place in Athens, Georgia, which worked out to be 699 miles and took about 13 hours. It would have been shorter had I not missed a turn off of I-75 in Macon, which would have resulted in a more direct drive to Athens (which, curiously, is not on an interstate highway). Another thing I realized is that Orlando is not in northern Florida. When I passed it heading north on the Florida Turnpike I figured I was almost into Georgia. Not hardly.
I was sorry to have to leave on Monday morning, as I enjoyed my visit and the town itself. I got underway about 10 in the morning, and after taking I-85 to the beltway around Atlanta got onto I-75 north into Tennessee. Similar to what had happened with respect to Orlando, I had significantly underestimated just how much of Georgia lay between Atlanta and the state line. Eventually I got to Tennessee, my first-ever visit to that state, and then made a quick detour onto I-24 west so I could cross the line into Alabama and add another state to my roster. That was a bit adventurous, as to get to the state line I had to drive up an extremely steep country road that rose high above the Tennessee River. How people manage that road when there’s snow on the ground is quite the puzzle, as despite the southerly location the high elevation means that the area probably gets snow on a regular basis. I ended up going only about mile into Alabama, in the town of Bryant at the state’s northeastern corner, before returning to Tennessee.
After passing through Chattanooga, not a bad-looking city, I headed north on I-75 through the very pleasant countryside of eastern Tennessee. As the detour into Alabama took longer than I thought, and rush hour traffic in Knoxville delayed me further, I decided that trying to add Kentucky to my list just wasn’t practical. I suppose in a sense I had already been in Kentucky, as about 20 years ago I had changed planes at the Cincinnati airport, which is over the river in the Bluegrass State. As darkness fell I got onto I-81 and crossed into Virginia. I had wanted to get as far into the Old Dominion as possible, and made it to a Comfort Inn in the city of Wytheville, about 60 miles past the state line. It ended up taking me about 10 and a half hours to cover about 575 miles.
Tuesday was another long day on the roads. I-81 through Virginia seemed utterly interminable, and some very heavy rain along the way slowed my down quite a bit. Fortunately the weather cleared in time for me to see the scenic Shenandoah Valley, and after quick slices of West Virginia and Maryland I was in Pennsylvania. East of Harrisburg I switched to I-78, which I took to the Holland Tunnel. I crossed Manhattan on Canal Street, and got the Williamsburg Bridge to I-278 and finally the Long Island Expressway. Traffic wasn’t too bad on I-78 and through the tunnel, mainly because I was going against the main flow of rush hour traffic, but I-278 (the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) was a clogged nightmare, as was the Long Island Expressway until almost the Nassau line. The total drive was just under 600 miles and took a bit over 12 hours, though I had made a longish stop at a Panera in New Jersey.
I’m glad I got to add two new states, but after all this driving I’ve had my fill of road trips for the foreseeable future. Now I’ve got to go to the DMV on Friday to switch registrations on the Toyota (oh joy!) and then try to sell my Subaru. Oh, and start getting back into the gym routine too.