Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Trip Going There

This year the big christmas trip is to Mary's family in east Texas. We left home the day after christmas and had a mostly good ride to Buna. I did all the driving with Nelson as my co-pilot this time. Mary and Caitlin claimed the back seats and watched movies, read, and hassled me for stopping too much. Mary would have driven had I needed a break, but this trip went well and fit in my body schedule just right so I was able to pull the full 18 hours behind the wheel without a problem. The Co-Pilot did an excellent job of chatting me up during the dull times and making sure I wasn't making too many stupid moves. He also helped with the twitter tweets - for the 5 followers that might have thought I was thumb-typing while driving.

We generally do not rush our trips, but try to get on with them if we are pushing through instead of stopping for the night. We take short meal breaks, but long enough to get the kinks out of our legs and backs, and somewhat frequent rest breaks. I have a near constant thirst and that leads to fairly frequent potty breaks. This trip we are in Mary's Honda Element instead of the Suburban we have driven for the past 7 years. The good news is that it gets much better gas mileage and we have to stop for gas more often (even with the better mileage the tank has a much smaller range). The bad news that the Element is smaller. There is not as much room for stuff or kids. Even with a carrier on the roof, we had to cut back on the junk that was carried on the trip (not a bad thing really). The suburban let each kid have a seat which was nice in avoiding territory problems. The really bad problem will be getting back home with the added stuff, but cause the car was full on the way and there is certain to be more stuff on the way back given the nature of the season.

We decided to let the GPS show us the shortest time routing instead of going one of our two usual paths to see how different it would be. It was just different enough to make me go hmmm. It says that it road is 860 miles from our drive to the center of Buna, Texas. I knocked 30 miles off the end by taking a bit shorter route that it had for us, but that did not make up for some of the other mistakes.

I made one really big mistake early on. We ran into a traffic jam just before getting out of Georgia. The GPS has a feature that offers a detour routing when it notices that you are going slow over certain period of time and are near an exit. The Co-Pilot and I discussed and decided to take the detour, but I failed to review the routing carefully. The Co-Pilot mentioned at least three times that it looked like it was just turning us around, but I was not listening carefully. I told him it would be our luck that as soon as we got over the exit and could see down the road we would see that the highway was clear right past there, and sure enough it was. So that was when I looked closer at the detour to see if it was really going to help or if I needed to get back on I-20 right there. The GPS routing was crazy - it was going to take us all the way back to Atlanta and then some other way to Texas. In other words it was giving up and going home. Then we wasted some time figuring out a reasonable way to get around the jam and back on the road. Silly GPS was ignoring the small roads that run parallel to the interstate.

The second mistake was later in the afternoon. I forgot to put some sunglasses in the car when we left. This day turned out to be the first clear sunny day we have had in two weeks (and now we were stuck in a car). With us driving southwest late in the afternoon, the sun was pounding right into my eyes. I decided to combine the next potty break with a shopping trip for shades. Nelson and I ran into a Wal-Mart for both jobs. By the time we got back to the car and were ready to go, a think layer of clouds had snuck over the horizon and made the shades useless. If I would have just suffered for about 45 minutes longer, we would not have wasted the trip into crazy store parking lot, store, check out lines, and return roads to the interstate.

My estimate is that those two escapades added about two hours to the trip.

Other than being stuck in the car and having to drive, I kind of enjoy these trips. I would not want to make one a week, but they do tend to give me some time to think about things other than what is happening on my keyboard at the time. This trip brought up some memories that I am going tor try to write up over the next few days. Not sure how successful I will be, but I'll give it a go.

The soundtrack for this part of the trip was:

  • Regina Spektor, Begin To Hope (Gift from My sister, Played 3 Times Until Co-Pilot objected)
  • Sheryl Crow, C'mon C'mon
  • Evelyn Glennie, Her Greatest Hits (disc one)
  • Rush, Counterparts
  • Avril Lavigne (Co-Pilot objected to my choices again)
  • Kelly Clarkson (and again)
  • Leo Kotke, One Guitar, No Vocals (I reclaimed the power)
  • Dave Matthews Band, Listener Supported
  • Mix Tape (odd mp3 downloads burned to cd) about 2 times because Co-pilot was asleep

I saw a few funny signs on the trip, but it seemed like the really funny ones happen later in the ride. I am not sure whether this was more because I was getting tired and flaky or because we had gotten to Louisiana and its higher density of flakes.

The Geaux Green billboard is funny, but only if you think about the ending of Thibideaux, Guilbeaux, Arcineaux, Fonteneaux and a dozen others and the way they all rhyme with GO.

When I saw the sign for this radio station, I first thought it said Kaja Jesus. This struck me as a funny coincidence and made me think of Kajagugu since I just met him last week at the APBT. Then I realized that was an N and it was Cajun Jesus instead and that somehow struck me as even funnier.

The first 'distance to next town' sign you see entering Texas about one mile inside the border on I-10 has cracked me up since I first saw it when I was about 10 years old. It says: El Paso 857 miles.

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