Episode 4: The Drive

I had originally expected to leave Gardner and start my drive to Indianapolis on Saturday night.  I had expected to spend Saturday night in a hotel near Hartford, Connecticut.  Well…on Saturday morning I started to have second thoughts about that plan.  First of all it would require me to check out of the hotel at 11AM, 7 hours before the wedding.  I’d have had to tote my luggage around in the car all day, wouldn’t have had a "home base" to shower and change in and so forth.  Also I was really enjoying the company of some of my new friends and thought that perhaps I wouldn’t want to rush out of the reception early after all.  So I checked in with the hotel Saturday morning and asked to stay the extra night.  To say I’m glad I did would be an understatement.

It was great to have the home base and not be rushed, but also I had such a good time at the wedding and reception, and enjoying the conversations and company afterwards that I was really glad I stayed.

So….0600 comes on Sunday morning and it’s time for me to hit the road.  I do have a nearly 15 hour drive ahead of me.  I was aiming to take a slightly southerly route so as not to skirt the lakes too closely in December so I told Emma (My Garmin GPS Nav system) to chart me a course to Scranton, PA. (Home of Dunder-Mifflin Scranton!).  Grabbed a bite to eat and a full tank of gas and into the early morning fog I went.

 Emma’s Bonus Feature
I knew that Emma would help me navigate the route – that’s exactly why I bought it – but I hadn’t counted on how handy it would be in the fog.  The highways there are unfamiliar to me and when visibility is bad it was nice to be able to glance at Emma’s display and see the graphical map of the upcoming highway.  I could see that the road was going to bend left or right in a short distance, for example, so I could better anticipate turns or stops.

One downside to the Pontiac Vibe is that it only had one of the "cigarette lighter" power sockets up front.  That means I had to choose between powering my GPS and using my iPod dock.  Luckily for me the Vibe came equipped with XM Satellite Radio so it really wasn’t an issue.  For most of the trip I just listened to a couple of XM channels with great music.

I was cutting across New York and noticed that my gas gauge was getting seriously low.  I was on a stretch of highway that seemed a little isolated, I had no way of knowing where my next fuel stop might might be and I was a little nervous about running out of gas out there.  Not exactly the best way to start my trip!  Again Emma came in handy – I was able to click a couple of menus and tell her to find me the nearest gas station.  And she directed me right to one – perfect.  She even found me one next door to a Dunkin’ Donuts. 🙂

Both the car and I appropriately fueled I continued on my way.

Boston 045Boston 048

The drive itself was really quite nice.  The countryside is lovely, though it was sort of overcast and rainy, and it was just nice to see southern Pennsylvania and into Ohio as I had never really spent a lot of time there.  I was trying to make up a bit of time so I didn’t bother to really stop for lunch – I had a bag of pretzels and was fueling up a bit of soda (yes, I know, not very healthy) and actually I never really got that hungry.  So other than gas and caffeine the drive was smooth and steady.  Pennsylvania has the best rest stops, by the way.  Clean, well-lit, nicely maintained, and frequent.  After a couple of sodas they were quite a welcome sight! 🙂

Later in the evening it became apparent that I wasn’t going to make Indianapolis today.  I had thought I might pull up in Dayton, Ohio, stay at a hotel and maybe even meet up with my friend Natalie (who lives in Dayton) for a bite to eat.  But fatigue was setting in and I could feel myself getting drowsier by the mile.  So in Kent, Ohio more sensible thoughts prevailed and I pulled into a Hampton Inn for the night.  It was only 8:30PM but I was dead tired and the comfortable room was like an oasis.

I did a quick e-mail check, sent a couple of messages updating friends and family on my progress, took a quick shower and was passed out cold by 9PM.  It had always been my goal to get to my Aunt’s house no later than 9AM so I had Emma calculate the estimated remaining drive time (just shy of 5 hours) and I decided to set the alarm clock for 2:45AM.

0245 Monday morning comes along, the alarm rings, I’m out of bed, back into the shower, then dressed, packed and checked out.  On the road by 0345 and looking forward to seeing my family.  The rest of the drive went fairly smoothly, at least until I got to Indy.  Emma was flawless and took me right to my Aunt’s front door….the front door of her OLD house.  I had given Emma the wrong address.

Luckily her new house was just a mile or so away, so after a quick call to confirm the correct address, I entered it and within just a few minutes Emma had me passing through the gates and into my Aunt’s neighborhood.

Seattle07 073Seattle07 076 

A good long drive complete.  I’m glad I did it – I really needed the time alone with my thoughts, just enjoying the countryside, listening to good music and figuring a few things out.  And it was a new experience – something different from just driving to another airport, getting on another plane, flying to another airport…I do way too much of that already.

Next episode….the Amstutz/Malcom/Huddleston/Perales/Schorr Christmas gathering.  I know, I know, you can hardly wait.  Go get your popcorn…then we’ll continue.


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