Monday, November 28, 2011

Travelogue: Thanksgiving 2011

We're back from our weekend excursion to Toledo, and we are exhausted. With young children, I think we can forget about the idea of coming back from a vacation "refreshed". We did have a good time, though, and did enjoy showing off Marla to the Loucks side of the family.

I was going to cover the entire trip today, but that was before I wrote several paragraphs about just the road trip portion. Whoops! The rest of the stuff will have to wait.

The road trip portion: We won't be going on as many road trips now that we have a kid, of course. So in my quest to increase my counties visited count and such, I talked Amber into adding 30-60 minutes in each direction this weekend. On the northbound drive, we took OH-60 and some other roads through Southeast Ohio so that I could visit four new counties:

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Then, on the southbound drive, we took I-90 into Cleveland so that I could drive the northernmost 17 miles of I-77. This was the only portion of I-77 I hadn't driven before, so this makes I-77 the 8th interstate I've driven from end-to-end (10, 16, 68, 84 [east], 88 [east], 97, 99).

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This actually proved to be kind of tricky. There is no direct ramp from I-90 eastbound to I-77 southbound. So to officially "start" I-77 at the north end, I had to exit into downtown Cleveland and take one of several ramps that lead directly from downtown (near the Indians ballpark for those who know the city) directly onto the beginning of I-77. Normally this wouldn't have been a big deal, except that all those onramps were closed for construction! I eventually found my way onto I-90 westbound, east of the intersection, and took the I-90 West --> I-77 South ramp.

There will be more side trips on our drives to and from Toledo. But we've already done this sort of thing between here and Jacksonville and have already taken care of most of the scenic routes between here and there, sadly.

Of course, while we were at it, Marla visited all kinds of new counties. She's up to 59 counties in 5 states! Not bad for a four-month old. I don't think she'll get to 100 before the end of the year as I remember predicting, but she'll be above 80.

And finally...the traffic. Well, we left Durham at 4 AM Wednesday morning, and we left Toledo at 1 AM Sunday morning, so except for the roads leading north out of Columbus on Wednesday, we avoided traffic issues of any kind this Thanksgiving weekend. Yay! On the way back on Sunday, though, I was thinking that I would have rather slept in and gotten stuck in traffic, than left at 1 AM and had a free-flowing drive all the way home. But then after we got home, I kept an eye on Google Maps traffic just to see what it would have been like had we left Toledo at 4 AM instead of 1 AM, and...yikes. Apparently there was an accident on I-77 near Hillsville, VA, causing a massive traffic jam that surely we would have been stuck in had we left three hours later than we did. That stretch is already the most congested part of the drive, so having an accident there is pretty much the worst case scenario. Leaving at 1 AM was definitely the right thing to do, then.

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