Where to start? A family emergency necessitated another trip to Massachusetts, and given the short notice, the cost of flying was astronomical, so I drove. In the past, I never took US24 as part of my route to the east coast, but Mapquest declares it the shortest way. When my daughter and I made this trip last August, I had assumed US24 linked up with I80/90; we were almost to Michigan before we discovered I was wrong. Coming back, the Garmin misdirected us - can't quite recall what the issue was - but my daughter figured out where we needed to go and got us there.
This time I turned on the Garmin while heading north on US24, but the maps are severely outdated and she had no knowledge of the "Fort to Port" improvements, which apparently made it look like I was traversing corn fields. Tired of the complaining, I turned her off until I neared Toledo, then turned her back on. This time I spotted a sign that directed me to take 475 north to I80/90, while the Garmin was saying to take 475 south. Not trusting her, I followed the sign, which turned out to be the long way.
On my return trip, I stopped for gas shortly before Toledo and checked Google Maps on my phone to determine just what I needed to do: take I75 south, 475 west, link up with US24. But the signage did not support my plans, I missed 475 and was on my way to Dayton before I knew it. Of course, it was dark and rainy and late, so I had no choice but to rely on the Garmin to get me home even though I knew she might not find US24 where she expected it to be.
Driving down these two-lane county highways, I had no idea where I was and there were almost no other vehicles around except for the semi on my tail. I kept my fingers crossed I would not hit a deer or get a flat tire. The road jigged and jogged, so after a while I was not certain I was even heading in the right direction. But - hallelujah! - I finally spotted a sign that said "To 24". And there it was, in all its four-lane glory.
That wasn't the only problem with the Garmin. When I left the hotel last Wednesday morning at 8am, the Garmin estimated I would be home shortly after 9pm. Of course, that assumes no stopping, but I was optimistic I could complete the drive in one day instead of the two I usually take (I could not stand the idea of one more night in a hotel). About two miles later, traffic ground to a halt on 95. An hour later, I had not made much progress. When I passed Route 2, I decided it was time to change course, so I got off at the next exit with the intention of finding 2 and heading west. The Garmin kept trying to take me back to 95, but fortunately, I was familiar enough with the area to override her directions and eventually she got with the program. Despite Toledo, I arrived home a little after midnight.
Initially, I was a bit anxious about driving all that way by myself, but actually found it easier than travelling with others. I'm one of those we-are-not-stopping-anywhere-for-anything-you-can-eat-in-the-car kind of drivers who wants to get from point A to point B in the least amount of time. That was impossible when travelling with a toddler and my SO is not like that at all, so it was quite refreshing to be able to just keep rolling. I tried to limit stops to every 200 miles or so (about three hours), and each time I stopped, I walked around a bit (1000-2000 steps) and bought gas even though the tank was still almost half full, so I would not have to make another stop too soon. I listened to Michael Pollan's new book Cooked and to the Joni Mitchell station on Pandora using my cell or just enjoyed the view - peak season for foliage.
While in Massachusetts, I stayed at an Extended Stay hotel. Instead of a room, you get a mini-apartment with a separate bedroom and a working kitchen. With the weekly rate, it was also the cheapest option for this time of year in New England. While I was perfectly comfortable there, I do have a few complaints: the free wi-fi turned out to be wi-fi lite - the high speed option required payment; the free breakfast was breakfast lite, too - granola bars, instant oatmeal, apples and oranges, not the waffles, eggs, sausage, etc. one gets at other hotels; and the building and surrounding grounds proved to be a cell phone dead zone. Otherwise, it is amazing just how little one needs to get by. My "real life" feels cluttered and burdensome in comparison.
It is good to be home, though.