June 2, 2011

Travel notes

The Ohio Turnpike has increased the speed limit to 70 mph and it's AWESOME. As a Pittsburgh fan, I was raised to loathe Ohio -- and the 2004 presidential election only made it worse -- but today I found myself thinking warm, fuzzy thoughts about the state, like, "Maybe I should check out the Rutherford B. Hayes presidential center sometime."

Unfortunately, the new speed limit is entirely canceled out by the long stretches of construction plaguing the road. I swear, at least 15% of my 820 mile drive was spent in work zones, and the low speed limits were only justified in a few cases. Most "work zones" were stretches where one lane was blocked off with cones, perhaps for past or future resurfacing work, but there were no workers or machines in sight -- and we could have easily used the other two lanes normally without imperiling people, machines, or construction. But no, they expect us to crawl along as though it's an active work zone.

The Beltway was closed entirely at I-66 for overnight construction, and after getting stuck in a line of cars for 30 minutes, I had to follow a convoluted detour that involved getting on and off I-66 twice. It was still faster than driving anywhere near 95 in Northern Virginia during the day.

I have finally learned to time my rest stops so that I don't end up deliriously hungry in a travel plaza wasteland. ALWAYS stop before leaving Indiana, because you will be driving for over an hour before you encounter anything edible in Ohio. In Ohio, get dinner at the Panera rest stop at milepost 170, even if you're not hungry yet -- you'll thank yourself when you're driving through Pennsylvania, scanning signs for Roy Rogers and Cinnabon.

I hardly saw any cops on the road after Indiana. I suspect some combination of fuel costs and giving officers time off after the Memorial Day weekend. Or maybe there was a lot of crime today.

Don't you hate how trucks pass each other extremely slowly while everything behind them gets backed up? This is why having a separate speed limit for trucks does not work (ahem, Indiana). Also, people who pressure and tailgate when there is absolutely nowhere to fucking go, unless they expect you to veer off the road and plow past congestion on the shoulder, are just the worst, aren't they? Oh, and people who block you from merging because driving at a safe speed on the ramp was so agonizing that that they have to speed past you the second they get on the road. And LINE CUTTERS who zoom past the line of cars and then try to merge out of a tapering lane at the last possible second. Fuck those people so much.

My cat did pretty well. She fussed for the first hour of the trip, when she realized what was happening, and then settled down for about 10 hours. She piped up regularly to register her discontent, but remained calm. She freaked out a little during the Beltway mess, probably due to the noise and the machines and my voice sounding stressed. And, the last hour was ceaseless meowing, but I don't blame her because I felt the same way.

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