back from vacation. now i need a vacation.

We’re back from our trip to the South. Pictures and details later, but here’s a quick list of observations and such.


  • When you drive up the Eastern Seaboard, you have to just about take a mortgage out these days for tolls. Between the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, the NJ turnpike, and the George Washingtom bridge alone, I paid out enough in cash tolls to put about 300 extra miles worth of gas into the minivan.
  • I don’t know what goes on at 4am on a Sunday morning in and around NYC, but there must be some sort of local cop holiday or amnesty at that time. I got Fast & Furioused by dozens of cars, some of which were pretty high-dollar rides, and at least eight motorcycles. Three of those bikes passed me in the breakdown lane at triple-digit speeds. It appears that I-95 and the NJ turnpike are an informal racetrack in the wee hours of the Sunday morning.
  • New York City: your roads suck.
  • New Hampshire kids will physically start to melt when you take them on an hour-long walk of a Southern college campus in Southern spring weather.
  • Chik-Fil-A chicken biscuits are still pure crack.
  • A Dodge Grand Caravan is the best possible vehicle for 2,800-mile family trips short of a fully equipped rock star tour bus or RV. Three rows of seating, separated captain’s chairs for the kids with space to walk between, multiple outlets for recharging gadgets and plugging in coolers etc., lots of cargo space, seating for seven passengers…all in a stable ride that gets 26MPG on the highway.
  • iPods and iPads are lifesavers when traveling with kids.
  • Smartphones with 3G data access make trips vastly more survivable. You can look up real-time directions, phone numbers, and hotel information, email and message friends with updates from the road, post cutesy stuff on your TwitBooks, and generally stay connected to the world as you’re chugging down the road.
  • Delaware only seems small when you pass through its narrowest part on I-95. When you traverse it at its maximum north-south extension, it seems a lot bigger, especially when you’re going through half the state on state routes where the speed limit fluctuates between 55 and 40.
  • You don’t have to wonder whether you’ve crossed the Mason-Dixon line. Within a mile or so, you will see the first 100-foot vinyl cross by the side of the highway to let you know you’ve arrived in the South.
  • There are at least two dozen better names for the Mason-Dixon line. I suggest as alternatives “Sweet Tea Line”, “Waffle House Line”, and “Leave On Your Air Conditioning Or You Will Die Line”.
  • Don’t eat the country-fried chicken when you’re already feeling ooky from that GI bug the kids caught from their cousins a day into the trip.
  • When visiting relatives with kids, call ahead to make sure they don’t have GI bugs going around in the house.
  • When you pack clothes for the kids, don’t pack long-sleeved NH spring clothes for a southern spring climate unless you want to have to make a stop at a southern Wally World and spend $200 on shorts and t-shirts.

Other than the GI bug, which everyone but Robin was afflicted with for a day or so, the trip went fairly well. We got back half a day early because I elected to drive the return leg from southern VA to NH during the night in one go, so we had almost a whole extra day to decompress at the house yesterday. The kids are still asleep, doubtlessly happy to be back in their own beds. Or maybe they’re just tired from playing on the new playset that was installed in their absence as a surprise:


Today I have to pick up a new chicken condo at Home Despot, and then assemble the same. While I’m out, I’ll catch a matinee of that Avengionators flick everyone’s raving about. I’m fit and well-rested today–sleeping in one’s own bed after a week away is a pleasure that simply cannot be overrated.


11 thoughts on “back from vacation. now i need a vacation.

  1. julie says:

    sounds like a great trip … glad to hear you’re all home safe.

  2. Jeff/zeeke42 says:

    Am I the only one who initially thought the NYC police stopped Marko to sell him some guns?

  3. Kristopher says:

    Chickens are evil creatures.

    They are best purchased after their death and enshrouded in saran wrap at the butcher. That way you do not have to deal with chickenshit, their bad habit of killing each other when bored, or their inability to avoid harm cause by their own stupidity.

  4. libertyman says:

    Welcome back — yes, it is instructive to see how other people drive in other parts of the country. Also, tolls seem to an Eastern seaboard phenomenon.

  5. Lyford says:

    For me it was the “Stuckey’s Line”. A pecan-crusted log of pink nougat
    is not part of the normal Yankee diet.

  6. perlhaqr says:

    I’ve long thought that New Mexico should charge a varying toll rate on drivers from other states, in direct proportion to the tolls they charge per mile to cross their state.

    So the $5 that Delaware charges to cross their puny 15 miles of I-95 would translate to a $120 toll to people with Delaware plates to cross New Mexico. I mean hey, if they think pavement is really worth that much per mile, then fair is fair, right?

    Ok, I don’t really think it would be fair either, I’m mostly just annoyed and feeling petty over how much the goddamn tolls are on a piece of road I’ve already paid federal tax dollars to construct and upkeep.

    Glad you made it home safe, sorry to hear y’all got sick.

  7. Stephanie says:

    I gather that you drove US 13 down the Delmarva Peninsula? My recollection is that there were a number of pissant towns that dropped the speed limit by 30 MPH for maybe a quarter-mile. The speeding tickets comprised most of the towns’ revenue.

  8. perlhaqr says:

    Stephanie: Sounds like 95 in NV. 65 mph becomes 25 mph so the local constabulary can shake you down like the highwaymen they are.

    • Jake says:

      Perlhaqr: meanwhile, the rural bits of 95 – let’s say Hawthorne to damn near Boise – let’s just say Speedball Tucker’s issues with traffic sign identification would not be a practical concern.

      I’ve averaged 89mph through Oregon – and that includes a stop for gas!

  9. Peter O says:

    While I can definitely agree with the “Leave the air conditioning on or you will die! Line”, I have to disagree with the Waffle House signatue. Speaking as a resident of a certain Midwestern State Who’s claim to fame is burning down a good deal of the Area south of that line, We have 16 Waffle Houses within 20 miles of my current location, and a pilot 17th one being installed on campus at my University.

  10. Jake says:

    Marko, did you change the “notify me of follow-up comments” check box to default to enabled, or did wordpress?

    I usually read on a mobile phone so I rarely scroll *past* “post comment” – this came as a surprise to me to be getting email.

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