Road Trips are Great. Except for the Driving.

When it was time for Peter and me to hit the highway, my left mind didn’t compute that the first 462 miles can be on toll roads with surroundings about as thrilling as a Boca Raton workplace park. Bathroom breaks have been a fair larger impediment. For coffee-lovers, hours in the automotive means countless pit stops. My choice would have been to skedaddle behind a tree. But even should you did danger pulling over, it seems that these toll roads are lined with boundaries with few tree-shaded nooks. So on the hour, we pulled the automotive right into a relaxation cease and I donned my masks and gloves, speed-walked into the women room, flushed with my foot and sprinted out of the stall holding my breath.

Somewhere in Indiana, I obtained the sensible concept to exit the freeway searching for an iced latte and extra glamorous rest room. This detour ended at Cracker Barrel, which was a nicer possibility however not price the 30 minutes we then spent idling at a damaged tollbooth. Lesson realized.

After eight hours we made it to Pittsburgh, the place I picked up a Toyota 4Runner geared up with an E-Z Pass and never a lot else. Car rental corporations declare a rise in coronavirus cleansing protocols, however my automotive had what appeared like blueberry muffin residue caked to the gears and in the seats. When I pointed this out, the cleansing crew took one other cross. I nonetheless wiped each floor down with Clorox, encased the driver’s seat with a seat cowl (I take advantage of these on planes, too), and positioned a towel on the passenger seat. I didn’t discover the dank Marlboro scent or damaged Bluetooth system till I had pushed away.

This was not a part of the plan. Even once I plugged my cellphone into the automotive and pressed “go” on the maps app, no audio may very well be heard from the automotive audio system. Would I’ve to drive the subsequent 246 miles, with out voice-guided navigation? That wouldn’t be good for me. I might, nonetheless, entry Siri’s dulcet-toned instructions when the cellphone was not plugged in. So, I’d drive with the cellphone on speaker and cope with a drained battery each 80 minutes or so. To protect energy, I’d must swap my traditional rock playlists for native radio. Another crack in my fantasy.

However, this primary leg of solo driving wasn’t unhealthy, save the music state of affairs and the undercurrent of tension I felt every time I had to make use of the toilet or gas up. I used to be off the boring, never-changing Midwestern roads. Pennsylvania relaxation stops have been shaded and nice. Each hour, I whipped out my elastic exercise band to stretch. In 4 hours, I used to be at my sister’s home, and the subsequent few days have been spent mountaineering, cooking and singing karaoke to 1980s songs.

Next up: the Connecticut city of Sharon. Google Maps had the 321-mile leg at five-and-a-half hours, which I rounded down to 5 hours (I have a tendency to hurry). When I hoisted myself into the driver’s seat, I virtually retched. The humidity had intensified the automotive’s rank odor and regardless of the burning warmth, I needed to roll down all of the home windows. Thankfully, a good rock station helped me cope with an hour’s price of visitors as I left Washington, however then MapQuest directed me to vary highways in what felt like each few miles. Through Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York the journey required hyper-attentiveness, one thing I had in brief provide since my sister’s smoke detector had gone off at 2 a.m.

After two hours, even with Salonpas ache patches affixed to my shoulders, I felt the telltale spasm at my scapula. It would inevitably explode into migraine-like waves of ache radiating from my neck to my tailbone. When it did, I needed to pull over.

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