austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Tea when the weather's fine

Neither bunny_hugger nor I habitually do a lot of long-distance driving, which is surely going to serve us well and not at all hilariously when we get around to carrying out plans to drive US Route 66. Although she's got a few frequent destinations that call for multi-hour drives, I haven't needed to regularly since I was in grad school and might drive between central New Jersey and Albany, New York, and I only did that a couple times a year, with considerable padding of the time, usually, so I could pause at this used book store near New Paltz or the hobby store near Upper Saddle River. So we were well set for a roughly six-hour drive from Chicago to Lansing, expecting to end after midnight, after a weekend of convention activity.

But our only real challenge was getting out of the Chicago area, since inter-urban transit would be by a series of Interstates pretty painless to navigate. The first struggle is that bunny_hugger's satellite navigation system has a strange desire to have her drive through the heart of Chicago, which she resists doing. She got around these heart-of-Chicago plans by lying to it about where she wanted to go, since no consumer appliance is complete until the users have to lie to it to use it. Despite the navigation thingy having a false belief about where we were to go, we got lost, when the exit lane from the highway managed to be the wrong exit lane from a slightly different part of highway in one of those infrastructure tangles that make you wonder how much time highway designers spend lost in traffic. Maybe the navigator was seeking revenge.

But we were soon back on our way, with me tucking dollar bills into the sun visor so as to make them easier to grab whenever we needed toll payments. (bunny_hugger and skylerbunny had missed one earlier and had several days to pay the fee online.) With a stop for refueling at a service plaza actually elevated above the highway, the way a 1959 General Motors film promoting driving in the FUTURE would have it placed, we were sure to have no trouble the rest of the way.

So the trouble came a couple of hours later, as we were starting to get tired and a little hungry and the coffee-tea-sugar hybrid I'd cooked up was satisfying yet finished, and we figured it would be a good spot to stop, stretch a while, and swap driving roles. Our first attempt to follow the signs to a place that offered ``RESTAURANT'', according to the sign, lead us on a desolate, hill-climbing narrow road with almost no signs of light or life. We did pass soemthing that looked kind of like one of those stand-alone restaurants where my father's generation would hold wedding receptions or blood drives, which is probably what triggered the sign, and we gave in and went back the other way looking for some signs of life, somewhere in the western half of Michigan's lower peninsula.

Somewhere around Benton Harbor, which surely pops into the mind for its House of David religious commune and barnstorming baseball team, we found a gas station which sufficed to offer a chance to stretch, a bathroom break, sodas and candy bars to buy, and even a local newspaper of an enchanting name (the Herald-Palladium). For the next couple hours, I'd have the chance to drive bunny_hugger's car. There would be some minor adjustments: it's been a while since I drove anything but my Scion; and before my big weight dropoff of the past year I probably wouldn't have fit in the driver's seat competently. Also it's been a long while since I've driven a car without cruise control (her car's original owner, apparently, wanted the most basic vehicle available after the year 2000), although I got the hang back of how hard to press the accelerator, eventually.

And then the bigger problem sank in: the fog. A bit of fog can be fun, especially in adding depth to the indifferent night. That night, the fog was overdone. It got thick enough that at the speed limit of 70 miles per hour there'd be less than two seconds of visibility ahead, which I was not comfortable with. I slowed down, naturally, but how far behind me would the tail lights be visible? I also discovered that New Jersey's habit of putting reflectorized plates in to reinforce the existence of lanes even under impaired visibility has not become a universal thing on highways in southwestern Michigan. I also knew I was getting fatigued, but ... well, it couldn't be too much longer a drive, could it? And the fog would have to let up sometime, at least to turn into an honest rain? Sometime?

It did let up, eventually, whole minutes before reaching Lansing and the last couple of turns which were surprisingly familiar to me considering I'd been there for only a week in the past and hadn't been driving then. We got to her house, safe and sound and just in time for bed. My electric toothbrush worked perfectly well.

Also we learned that bluerain and company had returned to the miniature golf place and not been able to locate my lens cap component, although they were able to get whatever it was they had gone back for. Where they did fail was in finding an ice cream place for dessert. I don't wish to necessarily claim superpowers for me and bunny_hugger but I bet we could have found someplace that sells ice cream particularly considering she told them exactly where to go and they would have to start from exactly where skylerbunny went to sleep every night.

skylerbunny did not mention the water bottle, despite baiting.

Trivia: Satchel Paige played for the House of Moses baseball team; he met the beard requirement by wearing a false, red beard. Source: Know-It-All, A J Jacobs.

Currently Reading: Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History Of Strunk & White's The Elements Of Style, Mark Garvey.

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