Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Road to Charleston

(My rental - photo by me)

All of the pictures from the trip are on my Flickr site here.

Four twenty-two in the morning. And I was disappointed in myself.

Let's go back, shall we? I picked up a red 2012 Mitsubishi Galant (yeah, the one above) and went back to working before having my weekly dinner with Sean. I got home that night and finalized my packing before crashing around 11:00 PM.

Oh, packing. Oh...yeah. I'm a terrible packer to begin with, but the path I cut between my dresser, my closet, and my suitcase became a gully. The temperature was due to be cold in New York...but perhaps warm in Charleston...but maybe cold again. So yes, a pair of shorts would be nice, but layers would be the name of the game. Of course, I over-packed (I admire Carrie on this, among many other things. The girl picks out her clothes, closes her suitcase and goes).

The alarm went off at 3:15 AM in Mahopac - my phone going with "Good Day Sunshine" by The Beatles. I readied myself with the intention of being on the road by 4:00. I ate breakfast and still felt comfortable with my timing...

Then I stumbled, because of my own vanity. I was going to visit Jon From R-Va for lunch in, well, R-Va (OK, at his office in Henrico, to be precise). Incidentally, Jon posted a picture in honor of his visitor from the north.

But I could hear my father's voice, who always preached looking appropriate. Of course, he's been gone almost 23 years and had never heard of business casual. Still, my Seattle Pilots t-shirt and a thermal wouldn't do. So...I changed and finally decided on a comfy sweater, but would stay in jeans. A compromise.

But it was now after four. And that brings us to 4:22 AM - departure time, finally. The radio would be my companion for the first part of the trip, but WFAN's Tony Paige would not do (sorry, Tony). Instead I went with WCBS (880 AM), because I wanted to check on traffic and weather. And indeed, as only New York can do, I was advised to stay away from the George Washingon Bridge. So it was time for a small detour.

I opted for the Tappan Zee Bridge and Garden State Parkway to get around New York City. I crossed the bridge around 4:50, and crossed into New Jersey at 5:00. With that all resolved, Paul McCartney's Good Evening New York City kept me company. I was roaring along, making good time, and soaking in the lack of traffic and daylight - all reminders of previous road trips.

New Jersey really isn't my favorite state to drive, for the simple reason that it's so close to New York so I'm often in it. Plus it can be boring. Yet the Garden State Parkway was fun to drive - probably since I hadn't done so in some time. By 5:45, I was on the Turnpike. Admittedly I wasn't going to do a lot of toll roads, but I was just doing so well that I went with them.

Still I wanted to have fun and break things up. So, to add another state to the drive, without going too far out of the way, I exited the Turnpike at Exit 2 and drove across the Commodore Barry Bridge into Pennsylvania. I was into Delaware and taking my first break at the I-95 rest area, three hours after leaving home.

(I-95, Delaware)
I dodged the toll in Delaware on I-95 but it cost me time-wise as I dropped down to US 40, in part to grab a coffee and some gas at Wawa. I can normally make the Baltimore city line in under four hours, but with the breaks and the slower pace of US 40 (I did get back on 95 in Maryland, but the damage had been done), I reached Charm City at the 4:30 mark.

(Open road, Capital Beltway, Virginia)
Still, I was rolling now. I fielded phone calls from work (really?) between Baltimore and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, but it did little to deter me. Indeed I passed into Virginia after being on the road for almost five-and-a-half-hours, and stopped in Fredericksburg, VA at 6:15. It was a quick stop before I-95 and I danced our way towards the capital of Virginia. I was on the phone with Carrie as I hit the city line in just under seven hours.

(What's a little rain?  It's Richmond, VA!)
After seven hours and 16 minutes (nearly 416 miles), I stopped for lunch at Jon's. Remember how I worried about my appearance?  Yeah...Jon appeared in front of me in Crazy Eddie t-shirt (worn to give me a laugh).  I should have known better.  Still it was great to see him, Lori, Kevin, and the rest of the people who I had lunch with. But the reality was that I had a long way to go...

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