Print Story Not once did I ask, `are we there yet?'
Diary
By lm (Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 07:30:41 AM EST) (all tags)
I spent all day driving yesterday. It wasn't that bad but it was tiring, crankiness inducing, and irritating. Par for the course.


The irritations started last week. While driving back from a conference in Baltimore, the "hey dorkface, I'm overheating here" light started coming on and the A/C cut out. The Little Van That Could decided that it couldn't and stalled out just as I was pulling into a parking space. The next day, I drove it to a mechanic. He ran it for hours and couldn't find anything wrong. Then last night, I took it out for what was intended to be a one hour spin to make certain it was in driving condition. It stalled out after half a mile. After stalling out, it cranked very slowly as if the battery were dying. I called a tow truck, jumper cables didn't help. So I had it towed to back to the mechanic. I've had cars stall out and fail to start in all sorts of odd ways. I've never seen one die quite like this. I've minor hope that the cause is something silly, like a loosely connected cable from the battery to whatever parts of the car that battery cables are connected to.

This meant, of course, that I had no vehicle to get my daughters to summer camp. Moreover, I was slated to take one of their friends. Fortunately, the parents of their friend were willing to lend me a car so I could drive the three to camp. This solved one immediate problem.

The next morning brought an onslaught of minor delays, a forgotten sleeping bag, last minute trips to the store, not being ready when the car was ready but eventually we got out on the open road and began making good time. I had a nice conversation with my eldest daughter on the heels of her returning from a leadership institute run by the Greek archdiocese. Then the chorus of "I'm hungy" began. Apparently, between the three teenaged girls I was carting up to the mountains, approximately zero breakfasts had been eaten unless you count M&Ms and coffee as breakfast. So when we pulled over for gas, we also hit subway for some sandwiches and another minor delay.

The gas station was just before the Pennsylvania turnpike, one of toll roads on the Eisenhower Insterstate Highway System. We pulled up to get a ticket from the dispenser and no ticket came out. I waited a bit. A state trooper pulled up behind me. No ticket came out. I tried pressing everything that looked like a button to no avail. The number of cars behind us started to swell. I pushed the call button but no one was in the booth. Eventually, a guy in a brightly flourescent safety vest came over and informed me that I have an EZ Pass mounted on the vehicle I was driving and, as such, there was no need for a ticket.

The miles continued to pass by. We exited the Interstate and head north on Pennsylvania's love state highways. One of the first billboards that greeted us was a picture of a tremendously large, uncooked sausage with the slogan: ``Uncle Charlie's Sausage: it just tastes better.'' Okay. I'll leave it to the locals to determine what Uncle Charlie's sausage tastes like relative to other people's sausages. We passed various roadkill, a few different animals, and 26 motorcycles before arriving at the camp site. Given our departure time, we had arrived about an hour later than I had hoped and our departure time had been about half an hour later than I had wanted. But, all in all, it had been a safe and uneventful trip.

Drop off at the camp took about an hour of waiting in various lines, giving medicine to the camp nurse for my younger daughter, etc. We saw a few families from our old parish in Ohio. Their kids were remarkably grown compared to my memories. The parents looked remarkably unchanged. Smiles, hugs, and handshakes went all around and then I hit the long road back to DCia.

The friends that loaned me the car told me that there was a GPS in it and that I should use it when returning to their house because there was a faster back route it would take me through once I re-entered Maryland from Pennsylvania. Since I didn't plan on stopping, I plugged it in before leaving the campgrounds. It looked to take me on a route that didn't utilize the Interstate which seemed to me to be rather fabulous idea. Getting off the PA turnpike where I70 and I76 split ways late on Sunday afternoon is a nightmare. On any given Sunday afternoon, approximately one third of the residents of the greater DC metropolitan area are returned from points west along said route. Depending on other factors, it can take a couple of hours to navigate the exit booths and get back on the Interstate.  So avoiding this seemed like a grand idea.

And it would have been a grand idea had I not been stuck at the end of a train of a half dozen cars, the first of which was moving at fifteen to twenty miles under the posted speed limit. Aside from moving at a very slow speed for the first fifty miles, it was a much more pleasant drive than the turnpike. I passed a buffalo farm, a wind farm, a hotel that looked like a castle, the seediest looking pr0n shop I've ever seen in my life except, perhaps, the one back in my hometown that opened right next to the Church supply store downtown and frequently had creepy women old enough to be my grandmother inviting me in to see some action, and some scenic overlooks from which one could gaze down the mountainsides to the valleys below. It was during this stage of the journey that I discovered the most disheartening part of using a GPS. It constantly displays the estimated arrival time and, as traffic flows more slowly than expected, that arrival time keeps getting more and more distant.

Once finished with the back roads, I hit the Interestate and did battle with the hordes of drivers returning to the nation's capital. I ran into road construction that narrowed the freeway down to one lane, passed a few disabled vehicles, observed one fender bender, and got stuck in numerous jams that didn't seem to have any rhyme or reason to their emergence. All the while, the glowing time on the GPS unit indicating how long it would take me to get the car back home kept receding further and further off into the distance. But, eventually, I rolled up the long driveway of my friends, returned their car, and they drove me to the nearest metro center where I caught the train home. Having left the house at 7:45am to catch the bus to pick up the car, I returned at 8:30pm, tired, crabby and ready to go to bed.

I slept the sleep of heroes and innocents.

< Uncle Tommy's Grave | a decent weekend. >
Not once did I ask, `are we there yet?' | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Summer Camp by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #1 Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 08:07:35 AM EST
Dad dug up some camp photos from the mid-70's. The camp was in North Carolina.

Traffic returning from Ocean City can be awful on a Sunday, which is why I leave OC at noon.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

My cow-orkers were talking about OC traffic ... by lm (2.00 / 0) #2 Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 09:37:49 AM EST
... just the other day. One of many reasons I don't go to the beach. I hate crowds and crowds of cars.

If our start hadn't been delayed and I hadn't gotten stuck behind Mr. Slowpoke, I might have missed the worst of the Sunday afternoon traffic. C'est la vie.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I comew back by way of 404. by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #3 Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 09:44:07 AM EST
But cut cross country to 301 in order to skip the major tie up at 404/50 and the outlet malls. There are a few other bypasses if you look at maps. But the Bay Bridge is unavoidable unless you go a couple hours out of your way.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
one of toll roads on the Eisenhower Insterstate Hi by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 07:09:26 PM EST
as far as I know the PA turnpike is the only one.  We tried to toll I80 but the feds will have none of that shit.

I've driven the i70/i76 split once.  Gah.  it's just awful.

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I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR BALLS! ->clock

Hrm by yankeehack (2.00 / 0) #5 Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 07:36:44 PM EST
I think there are more toll roads.

95 is toll in Delaware and in Maryland, for example.
"...she dares to indulge in the secret sport. You can't be a MILF with the F, at least in part because the M is predicated upon it."-CBB

[ Parent ]
The key here is by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 08:07:11 PM EST
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Highway_System#Toll_Interstate_Highways

Sorta a grandfathered/exception thing going on.

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I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR BALLS! ->clock

[ Parent ]
I95 has a toll in Maryland? by lm (2.00 / 0) #9 Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 09:08:10 PM EST
It must be north of Baltimore. Between Baltimore and VA, there's certainly no toll on I95.

In VA, they're selling the HOV lanes to a private firm to be turned into a toll road. But that's south of MD.

PA does have many toll highways other than I76/I70. But so far as I can recall most of those are state routes rather than Interstates.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
It's the Baltimore Tunnel by yankeehack (2.00 / 0) #10 Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 09:13:23 PM EST
Toll... and here's a tip, there are always cops just before it.
"...she dares to indulge in the secret sport. You can't be a MILF with the F, at least in part because the M is predicated upon it."-CBB
[ Parent ]
odd numbering. by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #12 Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 09:57:53 PM EST
PA 66, is toll for a bit.
I476 is toll but was renumbered.


--
I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR BALLS! ->clock
[ Parent ]
I-90 in NY has tolls by houser2112 (2.00 / 0) #11 Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 08:34:52 AM EST
I keep waiting for NYS to lift the tolls as promised, since the road has been paid for.

[ Parent ]
Having spent plenty of time hanging out with one by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #7 Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 08:35:54 PM EST
Of their camp counsellors this year, I'm sure they're in good hands. Not that they're new to it   or anything anyway.

It's the last year for my eldest by lm (2.00 / 0) #8 Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 09:04:06 PM EST
I think it's her eighth summer at the village. And, yeah, they're in good hands. The first year she was crying and spent the first three days homesick. But by the end of the week she never wanted to leave. She cried the entire five hour trip home at the end of her camp session. The first year my youngest went she couldn't get there fast enough. Once we checked in, she didn't even say goodbye.

The chief of my worries is that they might get bored during the "Christian education" classes. Or get eaten by bears. But I think the first is much more likely.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Not once did I ask, `are we there yet?' | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback