In my last post I talked about the reason for my recent trip and tried to share the important stuff. If you have read me for a while, you know when I worked for a living I did some business travel. Upon my return to the office, some of my managers wanted me to do a trip report to fill them in on the important things. I always wanted to include things like, the 20-hour weather delay in St. Louis, the fiasco at the car rental counter in Detroit, or the weirdo in the seat beside me from Atlanta to Cincinnati. I could go on but I’m sure you get the idea. My managers didn’t want to hear about that stuff.
Guess what, I’m going to share some thoughts and other goofy insignificant things from last week’s trip. Traveling alone I had a lot of time to think about some serious things and some not so serious. I know it is your option to read or not read, just let me believe someone finally heard the rest of the story.
It was the first long run I had made in a long time and the first without my favorite traveling companion in a very long time. I don’t know how many miles I drove; I didn’t look at the odometer before I left or when I got home. I wasn’t getting paid for mileage so it really didn’t matter. While I was in Morgantown I noticed a lot of zeroes on the odometer; the little Chrysler hit 100k. The cars they were building when the Interstates that took me there and back were new usually didn’t make trips like that if they had 100,000 miles. Some old guys like me still complain, “They don’t build em like they used to”.
President Eisenhower or “Ike” is credited with getting funds approved to start construction of the interstate highway system. I thought about him and Mayme driving the Chevy along I-70 from the White house to their hometown of Abilene, Ks in 1958 and them making the same 1200-mile trip today. Mayme might say, “Ike I’m not sure I like your Interstate highways, there are too many cars and all these trucks scare me”. I’m glad Mayme wasn’t with me on I-40 /I-55 through West Memphis, Arkansas.
I thought about what those highways did for the trucking industry and I thought about what they did to the railroads.
I thought it was strange that the smallest vehicle on the road also made the most noise. I followed a motorcycle onto I-44 from I-35 I liked the speed he was going but I couldn’t handle the noise, I passed him and found a nice quiet 18-wheeler to run with.
The run through Oklahoma and Missouri was pretty uneventful and most of the thoughts related to reaching my destination. I wondered about one thing; in Oklahoma the department of transportation uses the acronym ODOT, in Missouri it is MODOT, I don’t know if Illinois and Indiana both use IDOT or if it is ILDOT and INDOT.
I think the state provided rest stops are becoming decent places to stop again. During the 70s and 80s they were a mecca for drugs, prostitution and panhandlers, my stops were during the day, they may still get a little crazy at night. I found these were good places to watch people.
I stopped at one in Tennessee with signs clearly directing cars, RVs and trucks to their respective parking areas. One guy thought that meant all the other RVs, he used about nine spaces in the car parking area. It looked like a rental RV. The people traveling in it were taking pictures under a sign designating the place as the “Johnny Cash Rest Area”. Maybe Johnny bought some drugs there back in the day.
The speed limit in Illinois and Indiana is 65 and most of the people actually drive 65. I noticed in most of the states, people, to an extent have the same driving habits. Tennessee is the exception; everyone kind of does it his or her way. In Illinois and Indiana they drive like old people; I know I am old, and I do a lot of other things like old people but I don’t drive like that.
Illinois and Indiana were both doing some much-needed repairs to I-70. I did my drive on Saturday, the workers were not present but I hope no one else needs any of those orange barrels. I think there was always one in sight between St. Louis and Indianapolis.
In Indianapolis I made a mental note to get a new GPS. The maps in mine are 5 or 6 years old, and yes I know most of them can be upgraded. I bought a refurb on Ebay; I probably just need a new one. The thing told me I needed to take exit 73B, I thought I saw my highway at exit 69, but the GPS is kind of like me it is almost always right. I was still on a six lane I-70; I looked at the GPS and there was no highway showing. If you have used one you know about the annoying voice telling you “When possible make a legal U-turn”. Mine didn’t say anything; it was completely confused. I stayed on the brand new section of I-70 and went through Indianapolis instead of taking the south bypass. The GPS recovered and was okay for the rest of the trip.
I drove all the way across Ohio and spent a few minutes in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, I didn’t see many orange barrels and they didn’t drive like old people. I made up some time, if anything interesting happened I was probably asleep and missed it. That is one small advantage to traveling alone, if you go to sleep no one rudely suggests you should stay awake.
I think I should have taken more pictures in Morgantown. I saw a lot of photo-ops; I saw very few places to park. I could have shot pics out the window but someone had to drive. That is a disadvantage of traveling alone.
I like the way they drive the open road in West Virginia. They kind of let the highway dictate how fast they go. Speeds seemed to range from 70 uphill to pushing 90 downhill if the curves weren’t too severe. I don’t know if the state troopers are forgiving; I didn’t see one.
I didn’t spend enough time in Virginia to form an opinion. I guess I just drove and didn’t think. I remember some construction.
Forgive me Tennessee; you may think I’m picking on you. That isn’t the case at all; I was in the home stretch. The serious thoughts were bundled and tucked away; I was ready to kick back, relax and see what was happening on I-40. I’ve already talked about driving habits in Tennessee.
I saw a guy pulling about a 16’ X 65’ mobile home, he passed an 18-wheeler; the 18-wheeler was doing at least 70. The guy with the mobile home was pushing 80. It was a little scary but kind of fun to watch; and yes I passed the mobile home, I just had to see what (truck and driver) was pulling it.
I saw 5 or six older ladies in a van owned by the state of South Carolina. I was doing about 85 when they passed me. I don’t know if the governor knew they were crossing Tennessee in one of his vans at 90 mph; I think the lady driving knew where they were but I don’t think she knew they were going 90.
I think the most exciting stretch of Interstate I traveled was I-40 from Memphis to Little Rock. The first few miles not only carries the I-40 traffic headed west to OKC or maybe to LA it also carries the I-55 load headed north to St. Louis and Chicago.
I learned a long time ago that nothing you see or hear in Arkansas should be considered unusual. Except for the traffic on I-40, what I saw in Arkansas will remain in Arkansas.
A final note: I will probably never work again but if I do, I think I would like to work the night shift at a travel stop. You know, the one that is always at the next exit on the Interstate, maybe between Little Rock and Memphis or between Tucumcari and Albuquerque (had to use spellchecker on that one). I have always enjoyed analyzing people; those travel stops provide an endless supply of material. I would only spend a few minutes with them, no long term relationships just a short visit and let my imagination run wild. The coworkers would provide more than enough material for long-term evaluations.
Maybe I would have got the story on the couple in the overloaded Thunderbird with Alabama plates. I think I even saw a corner of the kitchen sink in the backseat. We traded places at least six times between Nashville and Oklahoma City. Or maybe I could have learned about the white haired old man with Oklahoma plates that only bought a can of Red Bull and some peanuts, oh wait.
I know this one is different from my normal style. I enjoyed writing it and if you are still reading, thank you.
Please consider a donation to the cancer research organization of your choice and continue to remember me in prayer.
Good Night and God Bless.