Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day 20: Tales of the Road

I am writing to the Pope and asking him to use his influence to create a new level of Hell for people driving recreation vehicles. I know these people are often grey nomads off on the adventure of their lives but honestly they have driven me around the bend in the past three weeks.

I have begun to think of them as very large, moving obstacles on the road, rather than vehicles sharing the same space with me. I suspect most of the drivers are learning as they go, not quite figuring out why this house on wheels doesn't corner the way their SUV does.

As I kept struggling to avoid being trapped behind one of them, I started thinking that if Bob Newhart were to do his famous Bus Driver School routine now, it would work just as well as RV Driver School.

I can almost hear his voice saying, "That's right, Mr Morton. Just keep your left wheel on the middle line. It's the easiest way to make sure people are afraid to pass you....

"Oh, no, no, Mr Morton. You approached that hill way too slow. The people behind you will know you're going to be crawling by the time you get to the top. The trick is to juice it just at the bottom of the hill so you gain speed and start to go up as fast as everyone around you. Then halfway up - once you've got a couple dozen cars happily behind you, just take your foot off the accelerator for about 10 seconds. No don't hit the brake. That will alert them. Just ease off the gas, and you'll be amazed how quickly you can slow down."

I am writing this tonight because I think my 20-day war with RVs is about to come to an end. Today we moved eastward enough to pretty much say good-bye to the RVs that seemed to be everywhere in the west.

Gone also are the almost-empty lanes and only occasional vehicles sharing the roads of Nevada, Wyoming and South Dakota. Hello instead to T-Rex sized trucks passing even bigger trucks going up hills and staying there for, oh, maybe half an hour. Traffic is bumper-to-bumper --- and that's while we're all going 65 miles per hour. Even a 5-hour drive is tiring in this mess.

About the only excitement on today's trip came when our GPS, Honor, had a major dispute with Chief Science Officer Linda. Honor wanted to take us on a highway fairly close to Chicago and CSO LK decided we'd be better off going a little further out of our way but staying clear of the big city traffic. Honor kept telling me to take the next exit and turn around. LK kept telling me to ignore her. Finally, LK just shut the system off and we were flying with old-fashioned technology - a road map, to be exact.

It worked. Tonight we're staying in South Bend, Indiana on our way to see friends tomorrow in Akron, Ohio. South Bend is most famous (OK, only famous) for being the home of Notre Dame University - the most prominent Catholic university in the US, and certainly the most successful as a major sports school throughout the past many decades. It also houses the College Football Hall of Fame, but since I didn't know that until I got here I cannot very well say it is famous for that.

We got in late-ish and hadn't eaten lunch, so we decided to catch an early dinner and check the university tomorrow. More on that in the next post. So, on a day in which about all we did was try to avoid accidents on interstate highways, there isn't much more to report other than that we have crossed into Eastern time, our fourth and final time zone as we head east. And the tourist part is on hold for the next three weeks which we will spend with family and friends.

And finally - There may be no post tomorrow. I can't think of a polite way of visiting someone whom you haven't seen in almost 10 years and excusing yourself to write a blog.

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