Friday, May 8, 2009

College Road Trip

Jerry Douglas (with Alison Kraus)--"Back In Love" (mp3)

First, the facts: 48-hour road trip to Kenyon College in Ohio and back. Some 1200 miles. 16 hours driving to and from, 14 hours sleeping, 14 hours with college child, 4 hours unaccounted for.

Here's what the road trip looks like. Gas stop. Denny's stop. Gas stop. Motel stop. Wal-Mart stop. Tim Horton's stop. Motel stop. Bakery with the incredible stuffed pepperoni bread stop! Campus stop. Mall stop. Trader Joe's stop. Motel stop. Bar to watch Kentucky Derby stop. Campus to see daughter dance stop. Friendly's Restaurant stop. Wal-Mart stop. Motel stop. Gas stop. Skyline Chili stop. Gas stop. Home. Such a blur.

Second, the road rage thing. Now, I am a bit of a road rager, probably more so on the interstate than around town. When I leave on a trip, I've got a particular E.T.A. (Estimated Time of Arrival) in my head, and I don't like things that stand in the way of that, especially truckers who are in the wrong lane, people who signal into the fast lane and go so slow that I have to take off my cruise control, people who shouldn't be in the fast lane at all because they drive so f---ing slow, two trucks that decide to drive side by side just to f--k with me, states that put up "Road Work Ahead" signs that cause me to slow down only to discover that there is no g-d, motherf------g roadwork, people who cause traffic to be back up for 5 sonofabitchin' miles because they are gawking at an accident that took place on the other freakin' side of the road!!!!!!

Anyway, I find those circumstances mildly irritating. Maybe you, too.

But on this trip, I found a solution. A few weeks ago, when my younger daughter and I were goofing around at home, she called me a "jerk," but when she said it, for some reason she said it with a British accent, so it came out "juhk." This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it has rescued me from road rage. All during this trip, when I would come upon and eventually pass one of the offending drivers or trucks mentioned above, I would simply give them a sideways glances, and then, with or without the rest of my family, simply say aloud, "Juhk." And that did it. In a calm and relaxed way, I had had my say and could move on without raising my blood pressure. Try it. It works.

Third, the words you never want to hear. We stopped on the way back home at Skyline Chili, a brand new one about as far south of Cincinnati as those franchises go. After we ordered, my wife and daughter went to the bathroom, which, as they eventually discovered, had only one toilet. When they reached for the door, it was locked. They waited. They waited some more. I had eaten all of the free soup crackers from my little dish, and I was starting to sneak them from the little dishes that belonged to my wife and daughter, taking one or two at a time, hoping that they wouldn't notice when they came back.

I waited for them. They waited. Finally, my daughter said, "Maybe we should just come back later." At that point, the door opened, a nicely-dressed woman walked out. She looked at my wife and daughter and said, "Sorry, guys."

Now, you never want to hear "Sorry, guys" from someone who is walking out of a bathroom. It is a statement that portends doom. And it did.

The bathroom looked like World War III, with toilet paper everywhere, skid marks of the brown kind, and overpowering smell. In short, a road toilet ambush. Who knows what happened in there? Who can even guess? Only the apologetic, nicely-dressed woman knows.

Fourth, the idiosyncracies of Ohio.
Ohio has an excess of charm, with its well-kept small towns, its quaint Amish riding their buggies down speedy thoroughfares, its terrific Tim Horton's franchiese (think Dunkin' Donuts meets Panera), its Skyline Chili (which would be the ultimate road food if it didn't lead to such gastrointestinal difficulties. Sorry, guys.), and, most of all, the orgasmic stuffed pepperoni and mozzarella bread at Asetta's Bakery in Mt. Vernon.

But when I am in Ohio, I must also remind myself, 'This is the state that put Obama over the top. All sins are forgiven.' For the good citizens of Ohio are among the most sensible on the planet. So sensible, in fact, that they traditionally drive 5 miles below the speed limit. Especially on the backroads when there are no other cars around and when you drive behind them, you also travel at that same, sensible, safe speed. In fact, the top speed limit in the state of Ohio is 65 miles per hour, a sensible 5 miles below our Tennessee speed limit.


The method to the madness: Though "Back In Love" would seem to have nothing to do with this post, its constant refrain 'Everytime I move I lose' was quite inspirational for these traveling woes. Available at Itunes.


troutking said...

Sounds like my kind of road trip. It takes me many extra hours to get through Ohio because I have to stop at virtually every Skyline (or Gold Star) Chili. A Fribble from Friendly's is hard to beat, but if it's Ohio, I'm stopping at Graeter's for Raspberry Chocolate Chip!

Where's the new southernmost Skyline???

Another good thing about Ohio? YOUNGSTOWN (the song, not so much the city)

Hank said...

If you like pacing yourself on a road trip, I highly recommend picking up a GPS. I use the ETA feature as a challenge, constantly trying to cut time from the trip. It also encourages expedient pit stops.

Bob said...

Absolutely, Hank. I was playing the same game, though nothing kills the fun like sitting at a dead stop for half and hour and watching all that time you've shaved creep back into the GPS's projected time of arrival.

troutking said...

Sounds relaxing. Maybe you should just drive straight to Walgreens for high blood pressure medication.

Jason said...

It is nice to see that more of Canada (Tim Horton's) is infiltrating your blood. You have to watch those Canadians, they are quietly and insidiously taking over the United States.

The original Tim Horton's that started it all in 1974 I believe, was a stone's throw away from my elementary school growing up.

Long road trips are like personal challenges for me. Can I average 60 mph for the whole trip with stops? I usually highly discourage unnecessary stops:)

troutking said...

I usually highly ENcourage unnecessary stops. On long road trips, I never get to my destination at a decent hour. I either leave really late because I'm not organized or I continually find reasons to stop---record stores, local food establishments, historic sites, it doesn't take much. Either way, the only way I ever make decent time is driving late at night when nothing is open. Luckily, caffeine really does a number on me. One cup and I'm good til at least 3 am. On the plus side, that's when music in the car sounds the best. My favorite song to stay awake to is Like a Rolling Stone. You can really yell it out for a good wake up call.

Hank said...


That travel plan sounds very similar to someone else who works in your department (the unnecessary stops, not the screaming). Do you have any suggestions for where I can get cheap socks or a favorite Stone-Campbell Movement meeting site?

Jason said...

I would say that my biggest weakness is my selective patience/overcompetitiveness.

I am patient with friends and family. I am not patient with myself at all. I dislike lines and traffic. I have to compare everything that I do with the previous time ie. If I drove from New York to Miami in 21 hours last time, I have to find a way to do it in less time this time. Ridiculous-I know.

One of the authors of this blog penned a piece way back about overly competitive people which was a direct shot across my bow I believe. Dead on.

Bob said...

Jason, it must be said that one of the dislikes you have is the way Koreans drive. I remember several white-knuckled rides as you jockeyed in and out of lanes!

Jason said...

As usual Mr. B, you're completely right. I could use the justification that in this country you get eaten up on the roads unless you drive with aggression, but that wouldn't be completely true. It would be also a combination of my competitive personality, and my natural aggressive nature from sports/business I think.

Sorry if I gave you a couple of wayward journeys:)