Friday, December 5, 2014

Thoughts On The Thanksgiving Trek

Da Buddha, as he's called in Chicagoland.  Yes, he's using cruise control.  But mindfully.  ;-)

The temperature was in the 30's when I left Chicagoland.  On my first morning in Twin Citiesland, it was 12.  Of course the tire pressure warning light on the dashboard came on.  I've learned to ignore this, and just drive more slowly until it gets warmer.  On the run home, the temperature rose from 17 to the 30's again.  Sure enough, the warning light turned off.

Of course I forgot my snow brush.  But Twin Citiesland has industrial strength drive-thru car washes, with high-pressure and volume water.  I watched one blow three inches of icy snow off a big F-250 4WD pickup that was in line ahead of me.  Around here, this would be Misdemeaor Abuse of Paint and Rustproofing, punishable by, say, coffee and a super-sized muffin.  But 3 more degrees of latitude changes "best practices" a lot.

Often, I make this run to bookend a long weekend, to minimize traffic.  But this time I came back on Sunday.  Holiday travelers and their Designated Representatives, left lane bandits, could not be avoided. What is it about certain stretches of Interstate?  Like I-90/94 between the Illinois State Line and the Tomah split in WI?  Or I-65 in Indiana?  Always clogged, it seems.  The Indiana and Ohio Turnpikes aren't.  I-64 and I-75 in Kentucky aren't.  It's not just traffic density, but I've no idea what the other factors are.  It's puzzled me for years.

Nowadays, left lane bandits represent all States.  It used to be that a plate ahead of you from New York, Michigan, or Illinois would be a dependable bird dog, flushing radar and parting the sea of traffic ahead.  I still remember a Prairie Home Companion episode from the '80's in which Garrison Keillor said something like "Maybe Wisconsinites wouldn't resent Illinoisans so much if they didn't tear through the State at 80 m.p.h."  Now, left lane bandits from IL, MI, and NY are as common as those from MD, VA, IN, or WI.  I was embarrassed for the reputation of my State.  ;-)

There is something Zen-like about a long road trip.  You can approach one-ness with a good car and a good road.  It's a satisfying state of mind.  I rarely use the CD player or, perish the thought, the radio.  I like to focus traffic, the road, and interaction with the car.  People who won't learn to operate a manual transmission, or who by preference multi-task behind the wheel, are a mystery to me.

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