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.