On the Road Again

We have a pretty good federated library system where I live, but right now I’m frustrated because I’ve just discovered the Agatha Raisin series, a set of English cozies by M. C. Beaton, and more than half the lot aren’t available on CD.

On the bright side, the Agatha Raisins I was able to borrow got me through a long solo road trip this week when I drove to Ohio to spend a couple of days with my 90+ year-old father. Audiobooks, along with a country playlist on my iPod, made this week’s 850-mile round trip go a lot faster than it did when I first started driving back to my hometown and had to rely on the Bert Lance and Panama Canal hearings to while away the miles.

Other changes I reflected on during the most recent journey:

*After all these years, the interstates, toll roads, and expressways I need to take in Illinois are finally free of major construction zones. Coupled with benign smiles from the traffic gods, this meant that I sailed through Chicago with none of the usual backups, not even through the Loop.

*For several years it has been possible to pay tolls without rolling down the window, thanks to a little white plastic box affixed to the windshield. As a bonus, the I-Pass toll is half the cash toll, although this discounted toll is a multiple of what the tolls were when I started making this trip. See “major construction zones,” above.

I fear there will be a narrow window of opportunity to enjoy this; the roads that were being worked on when I moved to the Frozen North are probably due for another overhaul soon.

*Another toll-related improvement is Open Road Tolling, which means you don’t even have to stop to pay the toll, at least until you get to the Skyway and have to pause for a whole 10 seconds until the “I-Pass/I-Zoom Accepted” message lights up and the toll gate raises.

*The huge military vehicles I used to pass on transport trailers once were painted in green/brown/black camouflage. These days, they’re the color of sand. Opinion is divided about whether this change was really necessary.

*Some of the rest stops in Indiana have sculptures, including this wire-mesh deer “grazing” between the auto and truck areas. Yet another set of rest areas feature an inlaid marble map of Indiana on the side of the buildings in both the northbound and southbound lanes. There was a glare on the map when I was going down, and rain when I was coming back, so I don’t have a photo from either location. Differentiating rest stops and exits (I’m thinking the space theme in the concrete at the intersection of I-70 and I-75 in Dayton) goes a long way into making the expressway experience more pleasant.

*All the rest stops along the way have recycling bins these days, and apparently they’re being heavily used.

True, the signs on some of them could be punctuated a bit better, but it’s the thought that counts.

© 2010 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go

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10 Responses to On the Road Again

  1. So glad you are home safe. Hope your visit with your dad was wonderful. I still miss mine.

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  2. 850 miles round trip is tough. Glad it was easier this time. Love the recycle can bin, someone’s saving tax payers $ 🙂

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  3. Anne M Leone says:

    I used to do the drive from Michigan to Minnesota; I know some of those roads very well! =) Strangely enjoyed this stroll down memory lane. Glad to hear the rest stops are finally getting into recycling! I used to listen to NPR on the way, and I knew I’d been in the car too long when I started hearing the same news reports over and over.

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    • Anne Bingham says:

      I do tune in when I’m near an NPR affiliate, but this time all I seemed to catch were BBC World News reports about the Pope’s upcoming visit to the UK, the Pope’s arrival in the UK, and UK reaction to the Pope’s upcoming visit/arrival. By the time I got to Indiana, I. Just. Didn’t. Care.

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  4. That’s a very special trip. Glad you got to spend a few days with your father, and that the visit was good.

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  5. MaryWitzl says:

    We’re all Poped out here too. Coming back from Glasgow the other day, we saw a dozen or so electronic sign messages warning us to be aware of the congestion the Pope’s visit would cause. I’m just glad the whole visit is over — and was comparatively peaceful and without event.

    You traveled 850 miles round trip? Dear God! And here we were thinking that our 500-mile round trip was pretty exhausting.

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    • Anne Bingham says:

      I was traveling solo, not with teenagers/young adults, which meant I could go at my own pace. I think not having to wait for other people to get finished with eating, using the restroom, etc., makes a trip go faster.

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