Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Road Home

Yesterday, we were up at 6:30 AM. As I loaded the van in the dark, I could see a ring around the moon. Scott and Margot were up and about and we shared a coffee and goodbyes before pulling out and heading northbound. There was a brief stop at the WalMart so Sandy could get some flavoured coffee creamers in individual packages (not found in Canada). Gary picked up some Cherry Coke for Norm and Leo and I got new road atlases. My old one was both out of date and falling apart.

We hit the I-95 North on-ramp at about 8:00 AM. There was a quick stop at a Mickey D's in Melbourne to grab some breakfast to go. They had my favourite steak bagel, but I passed on that because of the long drive ahead of us.

Near Cocoa, I was in the left lane when something went across the road from left to right ahead of me. As it plastered itself across the grill of a silver Lexus in the right lane, we saw it was a thin piece of sheet metal about three feet by two feet. The Lexus driver either didn't notice or didn't care, because he kept on driving. A ways north, as we were back in the right lane, the Lexus came by us with the metal still in place. Without thinking too clearly, I pulled out to follow him around a transport. This was the precise moment that the air turbulence dislodged the metal and sent it back towards us. A hard swerve left and then right put us around it but it felt like we were within a hairs breadth of rolling over. Lucky I didn't touch the brakes.

Progressive had a billboard up as we approached Daytona Beach. It said "Daytona Beach Welcomes Bikers. All others, it's not too late to turn back." I liked it. There were also highway signs saying JAX xxx miles. I wondered how my friend Jax McGuigan rated a sign and then I realized they meant Jacksonville.

I couldn't believe the number of drivers, usually with Florida plates, hogging the left lane. Is this some plan to piss off northern drivers or are people to lazy or unaware to get out of the road? It wasn't just women or old drivers, either. Makes me wish I had a push bumper on the van.

We stopped in Hardeeville, SC for gas and had a quick lunch at Wendy's. Gary or Leo (I can't remember which) took over the driving and we motored up I-96 to I-26, across to I-77 and north to Wytheville. On I-26, the left lane hogs were now logging trucks. Very annoying. We hit Charlotte about rush hour but weren't held up too badly because we were able to use the HOV diamond lane. Most of the cars had only one occupant, so we zipped along with little traffic in front of us. Outside Wytheville, near where we stayed at the KOA in June, we stopped for fuel and more McDonalds food to go.

I took over driving again and took us north to Beckley, up US19 and onto I-77. At the next gas stop in Canonsburg Pennsylvania (where the Visa machine was screwed up and I paid cash), Gary took over and drove until he wore out near Mercer. At a rest area, Leo took over and got us through Erie, onto I-90 and to the service centre at Angola NY. One interesting thing was that, on the way down, the snow line was part way through WV. On the way back, we didn't see snow until Mercer, evidence that it had been a mild week in the north.

I resumed driving at Angola since we were all burning out and driving shifts were getting shorter. I had my toll money for I-190 but the booths were closed for upgrading. The young lady in the only open Canadian customs booth asked a couple of questions and waved us through without checking our ID. Still better than 50% not requiring any ID over the last twelve months. We ran up a quiet QEW, 403 and 401 to Toronto where we helped Leo find his car, which had been left on the way down.

Breakfast and coffee were acquired at the TH on the 400 in King City. I drove until about Moonstone, where we got off so that Gary could take over the wheel, and then fueled in Parry Sound where I took over again. Leo had pulled off somewhere to take a nap and we were getting pretty tired. The last 100 miles were a blur, but we finally pulled into Gary's place about 9:30 AM. Then it was home to unpack and flake out for the rest of the day.

No comments: