Thursday, July 24, 2008

Travelling Man

Well #*$& me, we made it.  I'm sitting at GG's house in New Jersey, and the girls are about to go to bed.  Everyone is alive, sane, and not much worse for the wear. 

Our plans were dramatically altered, though, along the way.  On Wednesday morning we left Nashville at about 7:30am (Central) and headed east - stopping outside Knoxville for a snack, and then just inside Virginia for lunch.  We were really cruising, despite having to pull over for about 10 minutes due to the horrific thunderstorm that washed through western Virginia.  We stopped in Staunton, VA at Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant for dinner (for future reference, order the cherry pie, warmed, with ice cream.  Holy crap.  I might insist on stopping there on the way home).

At this point, we made a fateful decision.  The girls were doing great, and we asked whether they'd like to wear their PJ's in the car and drive to GG's that night.  Now, of course they had no idea what they really were getting into, but Kirstin and I were feeling saucy.   So we loaded up and pushed north into the night.  90 minutes after dinner we were in West Virginia, 20 minutes after that we hit Maryland, and 10 minutes later were in Pennsylvania cruising to Harrisburg.   There we stopped for gas, a driver change, and a caffeine/sugar fix.  I drew the last shift and we rumbled from Harrisburg to Plainfied, NJ in one big shot with the girls sleeping in positions so contorted they might need to be checked for swayback. 

But we did it.  We got in at about 12:30am (Eastern), and GG was kind enough to have the beds ready and the girls went down without too much protest.  This morning she was also kind enough to handle most of the breakfast duties, while I slept to close to 11.  Still tired, though.   We did a solid 17 hours in the car in one day.  Yes, we're that stupid.

For those of you scoring at home, here's the rundown of the trip:

Basic route - State highway 59 north from Houston to Texarkana, AK.  Catch I-30 east to Little Rock and then I-40 through Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville until you hit I-81 is eastern Tennessee.  I-81 takes you up the Shenendoah Valley in Virginia and cuts through West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.  Outside of Harrisburg you get I-78 east and follow that into New Jersey.

Tolls paid - Zero.  But only because you don't pay to enter New Jersey, only to leave (which seems to say something about the Garden State).

Mileage - 1657 or thereabouts.

Clock time - 8:30am Central on Monday from Houston to 12:30am Eastern on Thursday morning in New Jersey.  63 hours if I'm counting right.

Movies - Various Barbie movies, Peter Pan, Cars, Aladdin, and a bunch of Dora, Angelina Ballerina, and Max and Ruby videos.

Food - We packed enough to get through most snacks and lunches on our own.  Only one McDonald's trip (which for me on a car trip is a shocking display of restraint).   Only broke into the chocolate once - and that was when I was alternating Coke and mini-Hershey's to stay awake the last night.

Best Scenery - there really wasn't anyplace ugly on our drive, but eastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia are really just awesome.  Mountains in the distance, deep valleys by the sides of the roads, and unpopulated enough that you feel out in the wilderness - except of course for the exceptionally well engineered four lanes of man-made concrete highway slicing through all this nature.  And the porn shops - apparently porn retailers are also big fans of the outdoors, an interesting intersection of interests.

Best food - see above for Mrs. Rowe's pie.

Pools - the airport Holiday Inn in Little Rock isn't bad - it's good for kids, as its only 4 feet deep.  The Nashville Marriott has a nice rooftop one, and a whirlpool (and that feels darn good on cramped legs after two days of driving).

Meltdowns - maybe one?  I'd even hesitate to call it a meltdown - Maddie was exhausted and itching to assert her dominance of the pack.  But no one cried in the car or even complained much about tired butts.

Unscheduled poop breaks - One.  Thank you, Abigail.

Overall Score:  95/100.   The trip loses 5 points for making us finish the drive in a pretty heavy rainstorm in PA and NJ.  Nothing like passing semi's doing 75 when you can't see.

I shall now commence the heavy beer drinking.  Cheers!

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