I pulled into my hotel today in Huber Heights, Ohio as my odometer showed I covered 819.4 miles. The pup and I left the house at 6:45am and it was 9:00pm when we rolled to a stop. There was snow for most the first 150 miles, but with a major reroute that took me straight out of Mass to follow I-90 across New York I basically saved an additional 100 miles of snow. The snow wasn’t too bad – light & wet – so overall the conditions were good for the drive today. About the only moment of concern was when I was crossing the Berkshire Mountains in Western Mass, crossed a high river bridge, and felt a crosswind question if the road froze over under my tires. From there on out, it was a safe trip.
That being said, it was probably the hardest, longest day drive I have done in at least 10 years. That’s really saying alot for me. I’ve loved the ‘Road Trip’, the longer the better. Not so much the driving, or more to the point, the hard driving – but the fact that you get to see so much of the world go by. I enjoy flying, but it always seems kinda goofy that I start a day in one place, and after spending hours in a can, you show up somewhere else. With a road trip, you see it all. The towns, the cities, the rivers, the canals, the big plants, the burnt out buildings, the purple mountains majesty, the amber waves of grains. It’s all there to see, even if they go by at 65 miles per hour.
One of the ironies of this trip is the newness of the roads I am traveling – or more specifically, the lack of newness. As long as there is not another major reroute, there are two portions of this trip that is on road that I HAVEN’T driven on; and I won’t see those until next weekend. Today’s drive was smothered in past trips. With them came memories of those trips. It was like what kept me on the road was the remembrance of days long gone:
– I driving along the Mass Turnpike in an early morning after a Drum Corps season finale in Boston with (among others) Mary (Tracy) Glerum. We were carrying a chest full of live lobsters – and as the rest of the van slept, I was kept awake by the ‘click click click’ of the Lobsters fighting their rubber bands.
– I remember being in a bus full of MTU Huskie Pep Band idiots, hung over from a weekend at the Div II Womens Final Four; and we standing out in a cold service center outside of Albany getting ready for overnight bus ride through Canada.
– There’s the time I ditched a vacation to Buffalo and instead drove across the NY Turnpike to visit Lake Placid, Vermont, and Maine for the first time.
– How when Rusty Johnson and I had an audit to do in Buffalo, and we fought lake effect snow to be in … the city that shall not be named (here’s a hint, their river catches fire).
– Or when I used to run hard from Milwaukee to Gettysburg over a weekend to save myself, and I would wake up in a travel plaza in Ohio to my most memorable sunrises ever.
In someways, this day was a let down. The mountainous views that really get my travelling blood pumping were non-existant, in part because the only real range was the Berkshires and they were clouded in snow this morning. Instead I was reminded how long it takes to cross New York, how just when you think you crossed it, they throw a 55 mph speed limit, and the countryside east of Buffalo is one continuous paintball arena. Yet I remembered the days gone by, the people I rode this road with, and that made the trip go all that more smoothly.
Speaking of which, the pup survived the first day as well. He was concerned most the morning, even nervous & shaking. Truthfully, he has been off the last couple of days. I metioned earlier today, I don’t know if I should be worried for him, or impressed that he figured out something big was happening. He ended up being my armrest for long periods of time, and napped most the afternoon in the backseat. Now he is happy to be in the hotel, excited for all the new people in the halls, and giving me the look that says ‘lets go to bed daddy’. So that’s what we’ll do.
Tomorrow is another long day – 730 miles – but probably an hour or more shorter thanks to more reasonable speed limits. We end in Wichita, down roads I drove nearly continuously for 10 years. Weather looks good, wind will be at our back, and then we will have a week to shake the road off our coats. But that’s tomorrow.