well north of overdrive…

I am anti-car, at present, since I think I’ve pretty well maxed out on the amount of time spent either sitting in my car or driving it. No offense to truckers, and as much as I like to drive, I have had enough for a little while. We put in about 38 hrs, this weekend, some planned and some unplanned. I was never so glad to be out of my car and into my bed, last night!

It has been said that the most well-laid plans can go awry. I tend to try and avoid this problem by giving my plans a light framework and keep the innards as flexible as possible. Especially on road trips. But things will always go wrong, just as things will always occur to make life interesting. And you have to laugh and smile your way through it, otherwise, what is life for?

We left the house at 6 am Friday, headed from SC to MD, which requires you to drive up Interstate 95, through Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. Not my preference. I’ve spent two weeks of my life on Interstate 81, going to and from Pennsylvania, I’d be happy to spend many hours more. In some cases, familiarity breeds contempt (I-95), and in others (I-81 & 77), it builds on familiarity, and therefore, comfort.

We left at 6, with the intention of arriving in D.C. before going-home traffic got started and possibly even get through the tunnel in Baltimore things got too bad. And we managed fairly well, with only minimal traffic, and eventually, we avoided the tunnel because of clogged highways.

As always, items of amusement occurred on the way. This time, it usually involved the rest stops. The first time, a lady outside of the rest room asked me something about “el banos”, and I said, yes, we were headed to the bathrooms. And she smiled, and maybe thought I hadn’t understood, and mimed pulling your pants down, in case I wasn’t sure. At least I think that’s what it all meant. We puzzled that one out for a while after. And then decided it would remain one of the mysteries of life.

At the next rest stop, I arrived in front of the ladies’ room door, and looked at the sign which said “NI”. Instead of looking around to see any Knights of Ni were lurking nearby, I looked to see if a screw was missing on the sign, causing it to flip. But no such luck. Two screws were holding that upside-down sign, firmly in place. So, I continued inside, wondering if there were ladies married to the Knights of Ni (if you know your Monty Python and the Holy Grail), and perhaps they stopped here while questing.

So, we arrived at Hannah & John’s after 13 hrs, and managed to get plenty of time in with the Norah baby, before going to bed. If we couldn’t have a road trip together, Hannah, Mom, and I, then having a weekend or part of a weekend together would be next best.

As I said before, I had my plans laid loosely, in case of problems. The original idea was to leave MD at 4pm and get to Greenwood by around 7pm. My friends would meet me there and we’d go to church together, the next day, before I drove back to MD.

The plan went awry. Marissa was unable to come down to GWH, so I flipped my weekend schedule and left MD at noon. The plan changed to me kidnapping Rachel from Greenwood and driving up to the Harrisburg area to stay overnight there.

After leaving MD, I decided that a cosmic joke was definitely being played on me. Last time I drove between GWH and Hannah’s, it rained the entire way. And so, it rained hard the whole way from Hannah’s to PA. Despite being annoyed by the dreariness, I blasted Josh Groban the entire way.

Shuffling between all the discs, “Remember When it Rained” started to play (Did I remember? Could I ever forget?), with those blissful lyrics, “Remember when it rained, I felt the ground and looked up high and called your name.” Not being in a very romantic mood, I felt like informing Josh Groban that if you did such a thing in the weather

I was driving through, you’d probably drown as soon as you looked on high and opened your mouth. And why you’d be touching the ground in the first place, I have no clue.

Arrived safely in PA (with a Starbucks stop on the way, which I plainly deserved), and grabbed my friend and we drove through even MORE rain for another two hours. The rain got heavier and heavier and we got slower and slower. And we drove along beside a river, and I prayed that the road wouldn’t be out, ahead, and we shouted at each other, to be heard above the drumming on the roof.

My last visit with my friends was really great, and as if to apologize for the previous day, the sun shown gloriously the next morning. The 2 hr drive back to Greenwood went uneventfully, I was able to say some quick goodbyes to friends there, and 3 hours later, I was back in MD with my cousins and my mom. More baby time, hooray!

Without going into overlong gushing, my cousin’s baby Norah is the most adorable little puddle of joy. I am grateful that Skype and Facebook will allow me to keep up with how she’s growing, over the next year.

On Monday morning, my mom and I were off at 7am, with plans to drive back by way of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. This would require a little longer drive, as we cruised down through Delaware. Mom has memories of driving over this bridge when she was in her teens, with her parents and siblings, so she wanted to do it again.

It was quite a neat looking bridge, and I spent a good bit of the trip (before we reached it) trying to figure out how a bridge dives into the ocean twice as it crosses the bay, without turning the dive into a roller-coaster. Or how it even does it at all!

We stopped on the pier, after the second tunnel, and looked out at where the bridge disappeared and then reappeared. People around us were fishing, obviously spending their fee to cross the bridge, just to go fishing for the day.

My mom’s memories are vague, of the first time she went across the bridge, but it was definitely only a few years after it was built, back in the 60’s. She and her brothers thought it went on FOREVER, and that was before they built the second bridge alongside it. Apparently, the second one was only finished in 1999.

It was relatively uninteresting to drive across as it had no fantastic suspension bridge attachments, like other famous bridges have. We felt pretty close to the water, as it isn’t very high. I found that odd, just because I’m used to driving across the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is nowhere near as phenomenal looking as the Mackinac, but the length of it and engineering involved in creating those tunnels is definitely amazing. I still don’t see how we could have gone deep enough under water to allow large boats to pass over the tunnel, without damaging it.

And after 15 hrs on the road, we arrived home. I was thankful that Mom had been able to share the driving, as I’d put in 5 hrs each day on Saturday and Sunday, and I was really getting tired by Monday. I’m very thankful that Mom and I were able to share one last road trip, to blast the music, talk endlessly, and just stock up on “together-time”, before I head Down Under.

Now, time to start packing.

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