I loved traveling when I was little. Beach, family, toy store, you name it. I rode five hours to Maine every summer with a grandpa that didn’t do potty break stops–at least I don’t remember ever stopping. Multiple times a summer my mom took my brother and I to Point Judith, Rhode Island, more specifically Scarborough Beach, and this took 2.5 hours to get there. No potty breaks on those trips, either. I’ve driven quite a few times to Gloucester, Mass to go deep sea fishing, another 2.5-hour excursion. And yes, no potty breaks along the way. I’ve also been to every single state on the east coast thanks to high school band trips, family visits, and Red Sox games. I’ve been to Cancun and Ontario, and look forward to adding many more countries to my travel log one day.
So, why the deviation from my books to travel?
I just drove thirty two hours in two stretches from my hometown in Connecticut to San Antonio, Texas, then took a one-way ticket back home. Talk about a memorable experience. This trip will find its way into my books one day.
My best friend I ever had just got a job in San Antonio. To what I consider my great luck, I was the only one who could get the time off to see him to his new home and job safely. It’s bittersweet in a sense. I must admit I’m going to do some job hunting that’ll require quite the geographical relocation if I get hired.
Our eight-state trek of approximately 2000 miles kicked off at 5:30 AM on Sunday and came to a much-craved close at noon on Tuesday. We have a hunch we passed the pods containing the bulk of his belongings while traversing Pennsylvania, which would be kinda funny. We drove from 5:30 AM to 9PM on Sunday, then from 5PM on Monday to 12PM on Tuesday, with an unexpected 4-hour delay in the middle.
1. Connecticut: nothing overly noteworthy. We’ve been on 84 a billion times. We’re used to aggressive New York City drivers who fit the stigma. Fog was everywhere.
2. New York: More fog. Lots more fog. Every time we thought we were getting out of it, we’d reach a higher elevation and find more fog. I’d been hoping to snap a picture of the rising sun, along with the hilly scenery, but no dice. At one point we got stuck behind two eighteen-wheelers driving side-by-side for about ten minutes. We were part of quite the irritated procession that build up behind said trucks.
3. Pennsylvania: dear god, this state is wide. When we thought we had to be close to halfway through the state, we were, in fact, about an eighth of the way. We booked it due west, passing north of Pittsburgh and straight into Ohio. It took well over four hours. We lost the fog, but found rain, along with a dead deer about every five miles. No joke. Their corpses ranged from looking like unappetizing roasts waiting to be hefted into a smoke grill, to impressive splatter patterns that showed you how far and in which erratic direction the unfortunate driver went. This is the first state I’ve ever seen exit numbers in the triple digits. That was intimidating.
4. Ohio: the terrain flattened out and everything grew really remote. The weather started clearing up in this state, but t the same time the sun went down. Go figure. At least we got quite lucky in regards to dodging all sorts of potential delays. The highlight of Ohio was all the car accidents. All but one accident was on the other side of the highway. The one that was on our side was so fresh that traffic hadn’t backed up yet, and the people–unharmed, thankfully–were standing in the breakdown lane, on the phone with the police. The crashed car looked akin to a ball of rolled up spaghetti noodles. Lovely. The biggest accident on the other side of the highway involved an eighteen-wheeler that had managed to plow through a Jersey barrier. Half his truck was on grass. That’s one of those times a truck driver hopes you don’t call one of those “how’s my driving?” 1-800 numbers.
5. Kentucky: this is where we knew we’d officially left the North and entered the South. The scenery was that of Tornado Alley: flat and rolling, yet with plenty of trees outlining every chunk of farmland. Exits were horrendously few and far between, so far that they used mile markers to number them, instead of going in descending order. I don’t know how people tolerate living so remotely, and with highways with no lights. There were, however, an abundance of billboards advertising adult toy stores, so I guess there’s our answer to the former. They also had lots of religious billboards intent on inducing the fear of god in everyone, like”Hell is real”, and another telling drivers to start preparing to meet god. That one made me scratch my head. Wouldn’t you start preparing from the moment you can discern between right and wrong? Just my humble opinion.
6. Tennessee: it came and went in almost total darkness, and I mean with almost zero street lights.
7. Alabama: here’s where all the cop cars were hiding. Thankfully none of them felt like pulling us over. The speed limiting being set at 70 helped.
8. Texas: after seven states of smooth sailing, we literally hit our first and only major delay at 3AM, a tread from an eighteen-wheeler propped up on its narrow side across my lane. By the time my headlights saw it, I had enough time to say, “oh, shit!” before I plowed into and over it. 75mph speed limit and no effing street lights. The gas gauge warned us we were rapidly losing fuel at about a gallon a minute. Thankfully we just happened to be near enough to an exit with a gas station, which happened to be in range of AAA, which towed us to a repair shop a mile down the side road. The manager just happened to make a habit of showing up at 5AM, and he just happened to be the only BMW certified mechanic for 100 miles. Luckier still, the undercarriage was protected by a metal guard, instead of plastic. Luckiest of all, we had no leak; just a broken gas gauge. we got back on the road by 7:30, sparing me the need to reschedule my flight home.
San Antonio turned out to be prettier than anticipated. It’s sprawling, but there aren’t any skyscrapers to cramp the skyline, so it has a welcoming feel. The roads are confusing, though. You have to go backwards to go forwards, and there are so many major roads that run parallel to one another that it’s easy to lose track of where you came from.
The Return Trip
There’s nothing like having the pilot tell you your flight is delayed because his steering isn’t working. Thankfully, in a sense, my flight got rescheduled to the next morning, and I made it home 14 hours later than originally planned. I learned one amusing bit of trivia: the GPS app can track a plane’s movement. I had a good laugh at watching my blue dot sail over Lake Erie.
Hope y’all don’t mind the one-post deviation from all things fantasy writing.