Friday, March 30, 2012

Road Trip in Record Time...ew

Well, we just spent 7 days driving from one corner of the country to the other (almost. Oregon isn't quite the opposite corner). And back!

I don't ever want to do that again, really.

Jamie drove most of the way, with his mom and I taking shifts while he slept, or tried to. The first time he relinquished the wheel on the way to Florida at about 2am, we were stopped by Utah police and had a very nervous few minutes which of course seemed much longer than that. Jamie's mom was driving, the first time she'd been behind the wheel of this particular car, and as I understand it, she had to merge to the left to avoid the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle on the right shoulder. She didn't have space, so she had to wait for the guy on the left to hurry up and pass, while the speed limit was dropping and she was behind a semi truck. From what I understand, the police officer that pulled us over said that she ALMOST went over the solid line when she changed lanes, and that she was following closely.

In an unfamiliar car (I think we'd gone only 30 miles from the hand-off, and you can't learn a car very well going one speed on a highway in pretty straight lines) I don't think she did anything wrong at all. I believe instead that there might have been some poor hopeful guesswork going on when the guy saw Washington plates on our rental car. Perhaps he thought he'd get lucky and nail a drunk driver, but his questions led us to believe that he was hoping for a drug bust. He ended up asking Jamie's mom to come back to his police car with him, which freaked all of us out, of course.

Luckily, another officer pulled over as well, and this one was a little more chatty. He got more details on our situation from Jamie and I than the other guy had, and got our licenses, which he then walked back and waved at the guy in the car with Jamie's mom. The first guy didn't take them, but after that they wrapped things up. The jerk, for I am entitled to my opinion that the man is a complete jerk, wrote Jamie's mom a warning for Failure to Operate in One Lane (she only ALMOST went over the line, so that's not fair) and Following Too Closely. Or however they are officially worded. I think it's bunk, but whatever. Jamie took the wheel again for another long while, and then he gave it back to his mom far away from Utah.

I got to drive what was affectionately called the "early morning bus route" hours. On the trip to Florida, this meant the wee hours of the morning from about 3am (I get up at 5:30 to get ready for work, not that different) until whenever Jamie felt rested enough to take back the driver seat after the sun came up. On the way back, Jamie's mom didn't manage to rest enough to be able to safely drive for very long, so both times when we shifted to her, we shifted to me fairly quickly. With 3 drivers, there is no point in getting embarrassed or trying to prove anything, just pass it on and be ready to try again when the next person flags. Jamie ended up doing nearly all the daytime driving, and me nearly all the night driving.

Coming back to Oregon, I got some really dense fog to make things difficult. I found a pair of steady brake lights that didn't act idiotically, and I followed them pretty intently through the mountains. I was able to keep up speed while feeling safe enough. Otherwise it was the kind of heavy fog that I would have driven 30 through the entire way. It was a lot of fog, so I'm glad I didn't. That little white car seemed to know the curving up-down mountain road well, so thank you little car!

I was also proud that my efforts to give everyone a smooth napping experience made a difference. I tried very hard not to go around turns too sharply, to make them smooth and easy, not accelerate or slow down suddenly. Not hit any raccoons (The last road trip we had, I hit a raccoon and there was a loud bump. Jamie of course woke up thinking we were dying- I didn't get to drive again because he never went back to sleep- that trip wasn't as long as this one). Most of all, I stayed carefully centered in my lane to avoid the rumble strips. I hate those things so very much because they work very well in a small car. BBRRRRR, VIBRATE VIBRATE YOURE GONNA DIE BRRRRRRRR!!!!! So yeah. I don't like them. For my efforts, I think everyone got at least a few hours of solid sleep- as much as you can with 5 people, a pit bull, a poodle, and a cat crate stuffed into one moving car can. Everyone made a small comment at one point or another that made me feel very good about myself, even though I was only driving for a small part of the whole trip. Yay me!

It took us 44 hours to make what Google claimed was a 48 hour trip to Florida. Since I don't think that Google gives you any extra time for fuel stops, this was impressive to me. On the way back, our stops were longer for more people to stretch and use the restroom, plus the animals, and there was usually some rearranging going on. Whoever sat in the front passenger seat was the next-most comfortable other than the driver, but they had to carry the bag of foodstuffs in their lap. Depending on who was driving, the back seat people had a huge cat crate on one side, a pit bull on the other, and there was a stupid hump for the middle person where feet couldn't be placed anywhere comfortable. Being smaller, I ended up in the middle most of the time except when I was trying to rest, when I got the front. In general it's not something I want to try again anytime soon. Still, we left at 5pm Saturday from Florida and arrived at 6:30 on Sunday I think. Jamie made up a lot of time by speeding, hehe. We had time to unanimously fall into sleeping arrangements before we had to return the rental car Tuesday at noon.

The bad part is that our little rental house is not ready early as we had hoped. Actually, we should be able to start moving things in today, which would be great. As always, I am reminded of how awesome our friend is as she has crammed 3 additional people and another 3 animals into her tiny 2 bedroom home "for temporary". Once we get our little rental, the Pathfinder games will be hosted there and they can have the alone-time that has been lacking since June last year. I love you, Tig! <3