Archive for October 12, 2010

I’m home

October 12, 2010 1 comment

Like I said before, I set out early on Monday morning.  The first thing I did was to get lost, because I wasn’t familiar with the street layout in Queens.  I almost ended up back on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which was not the way I decided to go.  But I turned off just in time, and after one more false start and loop around the blocks, I ended up in the right direction.  At Dave’s recommendation, I crossed the Triborough Bridge, went along 125th Street in Harlem (I glimpsed the Apollo Theater!), then took the Henry Hudson Parkway to the George Washington Bridge.  The reason I hadn’t come in by the GWB is that I was kind of afraid of suspension bridges, finding them rather precarious-looking.  But you know what?  Once I was actually on the bridge, it didn’t seem precarious at all.  Yes, it’s dangling from cables, but those cables (by which I mean the big ones that form the catenary arches, from which the smaller vertical cables are hung) are huge.  Up close, they don’t seem flimsy at all, but look like very thick, solid, reliable supports.  So the anxiety I felt approaching the bridge evaporated once I was crossing it.

After that, I spent the rest of the day on I-80.  I meant to stop for gas in New Jersey, since an online gas-price map I found showed prices were lower there, but NJ turns out to be a much narrower state than I’m used to being in, so I almost ran out of Jersey before I stopped for gas (and I got lost before I finally found the station — lousy directions at that exit), and the price where I did stop was about the same as it was in Pennsylvania, which was significantly higher than it was on my trip out just a few days earlier.  On the other hand,  it was the first full-service gas station I’ve ever been to.  It was surprising to have someone pump my gas for me.

I-80 through Pennsylvania was pretty uneventful, though the scenery was gorgeous — lots of low, rolling mountains covered in trees in a mix of green and autumnal oranges, yellows, and browns.  I stopped for lunch at a Denny’s, a place I’ve heard used as the butt of jokes, but my meal was actually quite delicious — a cranberry-apple chicken salad (meaning a green salad with chicken in it, not the sandwich kind of chicken salad) with walnuts (or pecans?) and served with balsamic vinaigrette and garlic toast, followed by an excellent slice of pumpkin pie.  I drove through a small rainstorm, which got heavy and made me nervous, but it was rather brief and didn’t cause me any trouble.

My early start let me drive for a good ten hours or more and get clear across Pennsylvania before I stopped for the night.  I had been determined to get across the Ohio border and spend the night in my home state, but then at the last rest stop in PA, I discovered something I wish I’d noticed on my trip out: rest stops have booklets containing motel coupons.  I found a coupon for a place just four miles from the Ohio border, and it was a very good price.  So I decided to stay there for the night, since I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find anything as good across the border.  A little while later, it started to rain, making me even more convinced I needed to stop for the night.  In fact, it began really pouring, so I was tempted to stop about 9 miles early when I saw a motel sign at that exit.  I decided to barrel on, though, and the rain had diminished by the time I reached the motel with the coupon (from the same chain as the one I stayed at on the way out, but a very different facility and about half the cost, at least with the coupon).  Ironically, it stopped altogether while I was checking in. There was a restaurant in the motel, but it was new and wasn’t open for business yet.  I had to drive up the road a ways to get some dinner (just fast-food takeout), and got a little lost again — well, not lost, since I knew where I wanted to go, but I couldn’t find a way to get into its parking lot until I’d gone some distance, found a way to turn around, and come back.  They gave me fries (and charged me for them) even though I didn’t order them, but once I saw the fries in the bag, I decided not to object.  But I forgot to get ketchup packets.  Oh, well.

So I got to watch my Monday night shows (both named for people named for architecture, House and Castle), but I got another show as well; outside the window of my room, I saw at least five cats, apparently strays that came out of the adjacent woods or maybe just haunted the motel grounds.

I got a decent night’s sleep, considering, maybe six hours, which is almost a full night for me.  I was still pretty sleepy, though.  I hoped some breakfast and exercise would suffice to wake me up, but I ended up deciding to have a cup of tea after all.

Again, I got lost at the start of my trip, another case of bad signage.  I came upon a sign saying I-80 was back the way I’d come, so I turned around, and in this direction the signs were very clear.  Weird.  Anyway, four miles later, at exactly 8:00 AM, I crossed the Ohio border.  As usual, it took me longer than expected to get home, over seven hours.  I stopped for lunch at a Bob Evans not far from Columbus, having a chicken and pasta dish from their light menu (bland, needed lots of pepper) along with steamed broccoli.  The waitress was so nice and motherly, though, that I let her talk me into having a piece of French silk pie, cancelling out the “light” side of the meal.  Well, I certainly needed the energy.  I was quite fatigued by the last leg of the trip.

Oh, I have Dave Mack to thank for my entertainment during the trip.  I noticed he had a CD soundtrack set of Stu Phillips’ score to the original Battlestar Galactica.  It was a silly show, but it had excellent music, and Dave was kind enough to burn copies of all four discs for me.  I listened to two per day.  I also snacked on one of the apple-carrot muffins Kara set aside for me, but I saved the other three for when I got home.

Before going home, I stopped at the post office to pick up the mail from my vacation hold.  Turned out they didn’t have any held mail for me.  But when I got home, I had plenty of mail in my box and a package by my door.  From the way some of the mail was squished in the box, it appeared that there had been at least two deliveries; apparently the vacation hold never took.  Just as well yesterday was a postal holiday, otherwise my package would’ve been sitting out in the hallway overnight.  I got lucky, but it’s disturbing that the hold didn’t go through.  I should probably complain to the post office.

One of the first things I did at home was to check my VCR, and this time it worked.  It taped all the shows I programmed, and in fact I was able to skip some of them since I already caught them at Dave’s house.  As for the shows I was planning to watch online once I got home, I caught them all at motels, so I don’t have to.

So I’m back now.  Time to rest.

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