Monday, May 4, 2009

Random Road Trip Thoughts

That's random thoughts from a road trip, not thoughts on a random road trip, by the way. We returned yesterday after 3,700 plus miles, going to Oklahoma City (for grandson Ephraim's first birthday party) by way of Rhode Island (for nephew Chris' wedding). Here are some thoughts as I think of them.

- Arkansas has the most road kill per mile, by far. I say this even though only about 50 miles of the trip were in Arkansas.

- Gas prices are fairly equal from Oklahoma to New England. The lowest I saw was $1.779 per gallon around the Tulsa area. The most $2.099 in Rhode Island. That's only an 18 percent difference. In 1990-91, when we made a couple of similar road trips between North Carolina and Arkansas, the price varied by more than 50 percent.

- Many New England towns are quaint and pleasant to drive through. The area between Worcester MA and Woonsocket RI is filled with towns such as Grafton, Upton, Uxbridge, Milford, and Sutton that have some type of central core (not so much a village green as a downtown, but different than the downtowns in the midwest) that is full of old buildings--churches, government offices, retail, residential--that are pleasant to drive by and observe. At several places I would have loved to have had the time to stop and wander around on foot.

- Rhode Island has the worst roads of any state we drove in. The Interstate highways were fine, but the roads a notch below that, the state highways, left much to be desires, and the city streets were generally awful.

- Pennsylvania may just be the most beautiful state in the nation. I know other states have higher mountains, more magnificent rivers, and mixtures of landscape and climate. But I love to drive I-80 across Pennsylvania. This is the Allegheny mountains much of the way, and pretty good sized hills for the rest. You don't go through any towns or cities until the far eastern end, which we bypassed this time. Many times the road is on high bridges that tower above a river or stream below. Frequently the east-bound and west-bound lanes are on different grades, and you seem to be on a one way road. We took this in daylight both directions, and I enjoyed the 10 hours thoroughly.

- Judging by the truck traffic, the economic depression is not too deep. Except, the traffic is down on weekends and at nights compared to previous road trips I've taken. So while many trucks still transport their cargo on our Interstate highways, they are not pushing as hard as the did previously. Perhaps I'll be proved wrong about being in a depression that will last approximately eight years. But I'm not throwing in the towel on that yet.

- It's good to get off the Interstates some. We did so at Toledo, where we spent a night, and went on state highways to Fort Wayne. Aside from being confused by the place names (in rapid succession we passed through or saw signs for Waterville--also a Vermont town we know--Grand Rapids--Ohio, not Michigan--Texas, Florida, Antwerp, and three or four similar well-known places not expected in northwest Ohio), and besides fighting rain, we enjoyed the brief chance to drive at slower speeds and see a new part of the country up close. Even being slowed down to pass through the towns was not all that bad.

- The genealogy section in the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is all it is cracked up to be. What a fantastic collection! I planned to spend an hour there, doing the small bit of research needed for my article, and wound up spending nearly six hours, as Lynda had some work to do there for renewing her nursing license. Since I hadn't planned for that much time I was not well prepared for it, but hopefully used it well to search for one elusive line of ancestors and find more information on one of my well-studied ones.

This post is long enough already. I'll have more to day in another post or two.


Anonymous said...

RI roads are subject to rain and freeze-thaw cycling through half the year. When the corrupt state government, through its Dept of Transportation, builds shoddy roads to begin with, there's not hope of them being smooth and relatively pothole free. Did you know that in RI if your car is damaged by road hazards and you know a state legislator to put in a bill for you, you can get the state to pay for the repairs?


David A. Todd said...

Well, I knew one state legislator, the lawyer who handled Dad's estate, but insulted him, so I don't think he would help if I needed it. I think we had a classmate or two who were elected at one time.

All those tax dollars should give you something better to drive on, freeze-thaw or no.