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Day Two: And I Would Drive 500 Miles…

16 Jun

Well, actually, 506 miles. If anyone is counting. And believe me, I am. I want credit where credit is due. Today’s drive, while only 90 miles further than yesterday, felt much, much, much longer. A lot of contributing factors: starting later in the day, cruddy driving conditions (more traffic, people going under the speed limit in the passing lane, lower speed limits in general, rain later in the day, several accidents), not having any unexpected visits with friends to break the drive. The myriad causes melded together and made it seem like a long driving day. And to be fair, what I was expecting to take 7-7.5 hours ended up taking 9 hours. So, like I said, a long day.

But, this morning was delightfully lazy, even my early rising boy slept in some. Okay, okay, not many people would call 7:30am sleeping in, but believe me, for him, that was late! And as several of the crew were slow to rise, Avery & I headed out to take care of a little business, namely, filling the van with gas, picking up some plastic spoons (stay tuned, those feature prominently later in the story), and buy bagels for everyone. The bagels were legit. Though, when I asked for a dozen, and the lady said that meant I got 14, I was a but perplexed. I mean, I’m familiar with a baker’s dozen, but adding an extra on to that? One-up-manship? Or trying too hard? Whatever, they were delicious! And I had an opportunity for a little teachable moment when we were in Harris Teeter buying spoons (seriously, stay tuned). We went to use the self-checkout kiosk, and I immediately noticed that there was money in the “change” slot. As in $40 cash, money. I try always to do the right things, but I will admit that for the briefest moment that $40 “free” money was mighty tempting! But I only pondered it for a nanosecond, and then told Avery that we needed to turn it in to customer service, and hope that whoever it was that had requested cash back, and then neglected to actually take the cash, would realize their mistake and come back to ask about it. It was, in my opinion, the proper thing to do, turning it in, in fact, it was the only thing to do. When I got back to the house and explained what happened, Harper was indignant that I hadn’t taken the money for myself, after all, I had found it! And that’s really where the teachable moment came in, because Avery was immediately on board with the fact that it was never our money at all. So, I explained to Harper that if I had found the money on the street in New York City, and it wasn’t obvious who had dropped it, I would have absolutely taken it and been thankful for my luck. But this was different, for a lot of reasons, and turning it in was the right thing to do. At least maybe I’ll get some karma points?

Anyway, after some hanging out, and some delicious bagels, it was time to say goodbye to our friends, throw the kids and dog in the car, and set off for our next destination: Harrisburg, PA. Our first stop was 166 miles up the road, in Pulaski, Virginia. Which gives me the perfect segue for a travel pet peeve of mine; I think there needs to be some kind of law/ordinance requiring those blue highway signs informing of available restaurants/gas stations/lodging/services/etc to indicate how close said services are to the interstate. Because in this case, I got off at the exit due to the blue highway sign indicating a McDonald’s, only to find out once I was already off the interstate that said McDonald’s was 2.6 miles down a country road. Grrrrrrr….. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, an extra 2.6 miles wasn’t really that big of a deal, but it’s the principle of the thing. I like it a heck of a lot better when I get off the exit and see the follow-up sign that indicates my chosen service is only 0.1 miles to the right or left. But it turned out to be a worthwhile stop, as this particular Micky D’s had clean restrooms, and a shaded grassy area in which to walk Remy. Once back on the road an accident hd us slowed down a bit – two lanes narrowed to a single lane, that then had to perform a slalom between wrecked cars and large pieces of debris. Also on scene was a downed motorcyclist (thankfully on the on-ramp, so likely his accident didn’t occur at highway speed.) When we passed, he was on the ground being attended to, but he did raise his arm, so at least we knew he was alive.

More driving, and approximately 200 more miles up the road, it was time for our second stop, this one rather extended, as we all needed to stretch legs, use the restroom, refill water bottles, and procure fountain drinks/slushees. During the time that Beau & Harper were in the store (How much do you love Sheetz stores in the MidAtlantic?!), Avery and I finally got around to scratching off our North Carolina lottery tickets. That’s right, the Lottery Project is still in effect this year, though in a severely truncated form. North Carolina was our first outing, and it yielded a positive return – $10 investment, $15 return. Now I just have to remember to stop in NC to cash those winning tickets in on the way home! (Side note: Have put gas in the van twice so far – and both time paid $2.19per gallon. I think I’m getting off fairly well, seeing as though the tank of gas I started with from home cost me somewhere in the $2.33 range.

Later in the afternoon (early in the evening? What time exactly does it switch from afternoon to evening?), we encountered some rain in West Virginia. Ready for another product placement? Holy smokes do I ever love Rain-X (especially when it’s on the windshield of my Honda Odyssey! See what I did there?) But seriously, it should be required for every windshield. Perhaps then people wouldn’t have such trouble driving in the rain. The kids asked me why I bothered doing that, putting all that stuff on the windows, and today I could just point to the clear windshield, and say, “Exhibit A.” Fortunately for us, we were going northbound on I-81 today, because there was a major accident on I-81 South in West Virginia that had all four lanes closed. Like diverting ALL traffic off the interstate closed. It obviously affected the flow of the northbound lanes, and as we crawled by I saw a mangled tanker truck, and a great deal of sand that had obviously been purposefully spread on the highway. I’ll assume that was spill control, and the tanker was carrying some kind of fuel; I just can’t imagine the sand would have come out if it had been a tanker of milk. But even more sobering than the completely jackknifed and mangled tanker truck was the minivan sitting on a flatbed tow truck at the scene. It was the same topaz gray Honda Odyssey as mine, and I can only hope that there were no children in the third row back seat, because it was crushed. It was completely sobering to see that van, my exact van, in such a mangled state, because if it had been us in the accident, that back seat IS occupied by my two oldest children. And just seeing that wreckage made me shudder. I can’t find too much detailed information on the wreck online, but I did see there was one confirmed fatality. Again, I hope against hope that it wasn’t a child in that minivan. And for more karma points, I called my mother after clearing the scene of the wreck. I could just see this being picked up by some national news outlet – seeing as though the interstate was going to be fully closed for quite some time, and my mother seeing that mangled gray minivan, knowing that I was to be in the WV vicinity, likely on I-81 late in the afternoon, and just failing to see the southbound indication before flipping out. Better a proactive phone call, than a frantic, reactionary one. Feels like a potential bomb diffused.

Then it was just another 30 miles, and one quick, urgent bathroom stop later, before we arrived at our destination: Harrisburg, PA. I hear the downtown is really nice, and the state capitol is gorgeous, so we might have to make time to drive through town tomorrow morning on our way to our annual photo shoot in Hamilton Park (Weehawkin, NJ). But whether or not that happens, I am very pleased with the accommodations I secured for us. The Red Roof Inn isn’t going to win awards for swankiness, and their two doubles double beds feel really, really small (especially when facing the prospect of sharing with the starfish child – either spread eagle, or clinging to me in some contorted posture), but they are BIG dog friendly, and judging by the activity in the parking lot, every single person staying here tonight has a dog with them. Managed to back into a parking space directly in front of our room door, there is a large grassy area to walk the dog just across the parking lot, and there was a nearby convenience store, just a short mile or so drive away, from which to procure our dinner. (Here’s where the plastic spoons re-enter the picture.) Every year I allow one night of the road trip to be Ice Cream Dinner. And all we do, is go to a local grocery store, or convenience store, and procure vast quantities of ice cream, which we proceed to eat straight out of the containers. Of course we never quite finish it all, and it melts and goes down the drain, but damn is it fun to try to beat the forces of nature and down as much as possible of it before it changes form. So the children get adequately sugared up, and I seem like the coolest superhero of them all. I believe that’s what we call a win-win situation.

 

Day 2 by the numbers:

Miles driven: 506

Number of states traveled through so far: 8 (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania)

Number of times I’ve thought how lazy I am because I can’t quite muster the energy to re-read/edit these posts yet: 1,639,217 times.

 

Oh, and you may have noticed that other than mentioning the large-dog-friendly hotel, Remy didn’t get much play in tonight’s entry. And why is that? Because he is the super most awesomest, go with the flow, doggone road trippingest poodle that ever was. He hasn’t been restless or anxious in the car. He was super well-behaved at the Taylor’s house, he has been amazing on our stops. I am positively gobsmacked at how well it is going traveling with him. (Again, knock wood, we still have Manhattan to deal with – though I also have Xanax available should it become too much of an issue, so I’m still holding out hope!) But I really should thank him for shining a little light on the perspective that I indeed have more imaginary problems than real ones… Good dog.

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© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim