Up the East Coast

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Something I was going to blog about under more normal times was my planned long term stay down in South Carolina for work.  There is a 3rd part audit for that plant coming up in December that needed some help to prepare for.  As you can guess, if you haven’t been sleeping under a rock (or ignored my last two blog posts) those plans have changed.  In fact, I was trying to delay the trip there knowing a change was coming but  … well … it wasn’t until I was on the road to the SC when the great move out west was firmed.  Still, the pup and I had drove down a week ago to South Carolina, which meant we had to drive back.  While a part of it was started Friday afternoon, the majority of the drive home was yesterday (Saturday) and ran up most the major East Coast cities.  Of course, when you drive 750 miles over 15 hours, you brain goes in weird directions … and mine wrote this post in me brain (yes, I said ‘me brain’, that ain’t a typo in me head).

The trip started in Hillsborough, NC just outside of Durham (and yes, I totally forgot my friend Cindy lived just down the road, I only cared about finding a dog friendly hotel on the cheap).  Flipping on the GPS, the mileage stated 711 miles and arrival around 7:15PM.  It basically followed I-85 and I-95 up until things got weird north of Delaware.  The one thing that stood out in the morning was how big Virginia is.  Like, for serious.  I spent nearly 300 miles in Virginia yesterday.  While on the way down, we were treated with the views of the Blue Ridge mountains, the views were mostly of … well … marshes.  If we were further south, I’d feel confident to call them swamps but … Virginia.  Like most the interstates in this country, that stretch wasn’t new road for me (except for the stretch near Richmond), but it’s been nearly 20 years since the last time I was there.  Back then, I was a little Civil War focused, and was doing a road trip to many of the most famous battlefields.  So, riding by Petersburg (home of ‘The Crater’) and Fredericksburg (site of the battles of Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Spotslyvania Courthouse, and … erm … Fredericksburg ) was a great memory of that trip.  Though no time to visit this time.

We did have time to make a run through Washington DC.  Letting the pup show no regard for the different monuments around the National Mall.  The main point of interest on this little detour was best summarized by the following Facebook Post I made:

I got to drive around Washington DC today, and I saw something horrifying. There was not one, but two separate people walking around (in public mind you) wearing Northern Michigan University shirts. Just another sign of how this country is going into the crapper.

Somewhere in Northern Maryland, the drive was starting to get to me.  I started taking more frequent and longer breaks.  But it was the numbers that were concerning.  After driving for nearly seven hours, I wasn’t yet halfway … and the sun was going down.  Still, just north of there we got to tick off another milestone — Auggie took a ‘break’ in Delware, marking his 35th state … that’s right, my 4 year old dog has been to more states than you. 😛

Part of the reason I drove on a Saturday was to avoid traffic.  So … that worked against me.  Washington DC slow downs started it, then what seemed way too many people stopping and going up the Washington-Baltimore Pike made things a bit frustrating, but it all started clearing up North of Delaware.  That is, until NYC again.  When the mile posts started saying ‘GW Bridge in 10 miles’ and the traffic sign says ’50 minutes’ you know you are in trouble.  Thing is, that run up the NJ Turnpike was a strange set of memories.  Back in my Drum Corps days, I spent many trips in the winter flying into Newark and catching rides to Teterboro.  Running along the NJ Turnpike, it seemed it went from the ‘marshes’ and country side to the more memorable refineries and tank farms.  I saw the turnoff for the Staton Island Expressway, a road that was the site of one of the most tramautic nights of my life (think 20 years old, 1000 miles from home, and your car filled with nearly everything in your college life is smashed beyond repair on the side of the road … and you have no idea how you are going to get home).  I passed by that exit, and continued on.

As it turned out, GPS these days are fearless of reroutes.  That 50 minutes to cross the GW Bridge because 40 minutes to cross the Tapen Zee Bridge further north; but to get there meant the back roads along the Hudson River for 20 miles.  It also meant the Merrill Parkway in Conneticut – a highway that seems like everything you would love about driving, but in a way that is everything you hate about it.  Four lane expressway, twists and turns and tuns and bridges.  No trucks or buses.  Controlled entry.  Should be fun cooking along that windy road, but instead you get too tight of turns, too quick of construction slows, people going below the limit, people destroying the limit, and in the dark when you can barely react in time for what you want.  By the time I left the Merrill, I was looking for a long break, long enough for a nap.  Cranking the windows down, I the mist started to fall.

A good bonus for this trip was the weather.  I literally had as good of weather as you could hope for running such a distance in November.  It was clear skies for most the day, in fact, I didn’t even see a cloud in the sky while the sun was up.  The temps were kinda funky.  Southern Virginia dropped from 55deg to the low 40s in about an hour.  Around DC it was in the 70s, and then back to the 50s when the mists happened in Connecticut and Mass.

Walking the horse into the stable, I drove down I-90 through Boston like I have a hundred times.  Being late on a Saturday, the usual suffocating traffic was missing and it made the trip very surreal.  I was uncomfortable making the run into Dorchester at 45 mph, while the speed limit was 60 … meaning, I have never gone above 10 mph in that 6 lanes of interstate, so why do the speed limit now.

We pulled up, the pup and I, at just before Midnight.  Too tired to pack, we just dragged out butts to bed and promptly … kept waking up for the next five hours until I finally got up and started laundry.

In the end, you could say this is just a warm-up.  When we move to California in a few weeks, we are driving – though a route isn’t set, we are going to go where the weather allows us to go focused on the JPL requirement of a minimum 350 miles a day to meet their relocation requirements.  While I don’t expect those days to be as long distance as yesterday was, it was nice to know I can still get a long run done.  Cause after that … probably that will be it for one of those for a while.

Laundry’s done … got to run.

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