Road Trip, Day 5: South Bend, IN to Arlington, VA

Home StretchSomewhere over the Sierras, driving through snow, I started thinking that I should front load the trip so that I could relax the last two days with maybe only 5 hours of day of driving rather than 8-10.  Even with the bad weather, the plan would have worked out just fine.  I slept ’till 10:30 am on Friday, waking to more rain and a bunch of Boston College fans in the lobby preparing for their football game against Notre Dame.  I did not have a difficult schedule or a specific goal in front of me other than stop somewhere in Pennsylvania.

Despite the bad weather and absurd toll roads, I made pretty good time.  I have no problem paying for the right to use a highway, but $0.80 stretches broken up by toll booths with human beings making change and giving receipts seems ridiculously inefficient.

I came close a few times to getting  a ticket, but the weather saved me (the silver lining of that black cloud following me cross-country).  The first near-miss came in Nebraska as I zipped past an obvious speed trap.  The traffic was sparce and I was probably 15 mph over the posted 70 speed limit.  Once I saw the highway patrol car angled on the median, I eased on the brake.  With the rain just pounding down, however, the patrolman didn’t budge.  It was coming down so hard, he might not have gotten a good radar reading.  Whether technology malfunction or lack of motivation, I lucked out.

The next one came in Ohio.  Again, no doubt the weather gods helped out as I was plugging along around 90 mph when I caught sight of a highway patrol car coming up from behind.  I slowed and moved over to the right lane, but he clearly got a good read on my speed.  Instead of hitting the lights and siren, he pulled alongside as our wipers moved in synchronized high gear, and simply motioned to me to slow down.  I gave him a knowing thumbs up and mouthed an exaggerated Thank You as he moved forward in his mission to keep traffic within the bounds of the legal limit while maintaining a spotlessly dry uniform.

Once in Ohio, the rest centers started showing Washington, DC and my ultimate destination on the map.  Reprogramming the GPS to my condo address, the computer told me I’d be pulling into my parking spot around 9:00ish.  That sounded much better than another rest stop motel so I pushed on.

Once on I-70, I figured I was in the home stretch.  No more snow and even the rain had lightened up.  I wouldn’t hit any commuter traffic on a Friday night after 8:00 pm.  Cake.

Well, not exactly.  As I crested a hill, I noticed my windshield was starting to fog up.  I was surprised because after much experimentation over the past week, I found the optimum air conditioner settings to keep the windows clear and the cabin warm enough, even in the 25 degree weather of Western Wyoming.  After blasting the defogger, I realized it was not an interior problem.  Instead, I was heading into extremely thick fog that reminded me of the California Central Valley’s Tule fog.  Traffic wasn’t packed, but in some ways that made it scarier.  The fog came up very fast and I could only see one or two car lengths ahead of me.

I quickly hit the fog lights and the emergency flashers, slowing to about 25 mph.  I felt like a complete wimp as a Honda Accord passed me quickly on the left.  An immediate screech vindicated my caution as the Honda slammed on his brakes and swerved onto the shoulder to avoid hitting the car in front him.  I was really rethinking the whole “let’s get home tonight” strategy, but there was nowhere to stop so I just kept driving and eventually came out of the fog unscathed.

I found my underground parking spot around 10:30 pm, and spent then next three hours unloading the car and putting things away in my new home away from home.  I slept very well.

Final Stats for the road trip:

  • 2900 miles (give or take)
  • 580.1 miles per day
  • 114.15 gallons of gas costing $348.04 (24.86 miles per gallon — not exactly a hybrid)
  • Just under 2 gallons of black coffee (mostly the bad, see-through, kind)
  • 7 sighted highway patrol cars, 0 tickets
  • 2-1/2 books-on-ipod completed
  • 5 blog entries

I promise no more weather descriptions at least until I get to my first foreign post.

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2 thoughts on “Road Trip, Day 5: South Bend, IN to Arlington, VA

  1. Hi there! Glad to know you are safe! Enjoy your new home!!! Were you by yourself the whole trip, or did your wife help with driving at all? What about your doggie? Is it still in California or is it in DC?

  2. Tomorrow is a big day! Swearing in followed this week by the appearance of the bid list.
    Glad you dodged the speed traps and survived the toll roads.

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