Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Is Road Tripping Still Fun?

Even though we had a great time in Jacksonville over the weekend, Amber, Marla, and I were all a little cranky when we got back home from Jacksonville yesterday afternoon. Last Friday's drive to Jacksonville was great, but yesterday's drive back home was nearly the "worst case scenario" when it comes to long drives...

- Holiday traffic. I'm sure Monday was a busy travel day, but Tuesday? I didn't expect traffic to be an issue, but it was enough of an issue for me to say "screw this" and leave I-95 altogether once we got to North Carolina. I-95 traffic was much worse on the Tuesday after Christmas than it was on the Friday before Christmas, and in both directions, too. Then again, maybe this next point is to blame for the traffic...

- Weather. Well, I guess the worst case scenario would have been snow, not rain, but a heavy downpour will still cause its share of accidents. There were multiple accidents yesterday in South Carolina; thankfully, none involved us. We even pulled off and waited for a few minutes, which we almost never do because of rain.

- Marla turns five months old today, which is still a relatively easy road trip age, really. Friday's drive was smooth sailing; "stoppage time" (non-driving time between the start and end of the drive) only totaled 47 minutes, which for a 450-mile drive with a baby, is great! The return trip had 87 minutes of stoppage time, and most of that was a bit, let's say, "frenzied". We had to give Marla a new change of clothes twice mid-drive, for instance. And since the drive took longer than anticipated, we didn't have enough milk ready to go at the end, so we had to listen to a hungry screaming baby for the last 15 minutes of the drive. When you're only 15 minutes from home, you might as well just keep going, right?

So, yesterday's drive was not fun at all, but...let's not get discouraged. Road tripping with a kid or two can still be fun. (Given how much Amber and I enjoy it, it had better be!) The key is being prepared. Here's what we learned yesterday: 1) One backup change of clothes for the day isn't enough, apparently. 2) 'Tis better to have too much milk ready to go than not enough milk. 3) Between Christmas and New Year's, there will always be a lot of traffic on I-95 heading to and from Florida, even on Tuesday. 4) I was kind of in a hurry to get home yesterday, and that was a mistake. Being in a hurry takes all the fun out of a road trip, especially when you have a little one with you.

And that brings us to our next road trip...in two days! On Friday, we drive to Toledo for Christmas Part Deux, and on Monday (New Year's Day), we drive home. Both drives will start at around 4 AM on those days. And, we won't be in a hurry this time, so that maybe we'll enjoy the drive! This might be the last year we do back-to-back, Florida/Ohio road trips on Christmas and New Year's weekends, however.

In part two of this "road trip" post, I bring you random and statistical and "road geek" notes from the weekend.

Marla visited 3 new states and 26 new counties over the weekend, bringing her total to 8 states / 85 counties. That's a lot! How many additional counties she gets this coming weekend will depend on which routes we take to/from Toledo, but I can virtually guarantee she will get more than zero. She may even get a new state or two (Michigan? Kentucky?).

It takes about seven minutes longer to get to my parents' new house in Neptune Beach, than it took to get to my parents' old house in Jacksonville's Arlington neighborhood. (The numbers: from the I-95/SR 9A junction north of town, it was 19 minutes to the old house, on average. From that same junction to the new house, it took 27 minutes on Friday afternoon, and 24 minutes on Tuesday morning when there wasn't as much traffic.)

Road geek notes! There is always something new to check out when I go to Jacksonville, to the point where I'm starting to lose track. Was the I-95/I-10 junction finished last time I was there? I don't remember. The I-95/I-10 junction is the second picture posted here, as pictured from Margaret Street, which used to have a direct exit from I-95 Southbound before the interchange was rebuilt. I was hoping that there would still be at least a trace of evidence that Exit 351C (is that right?) once existed, but nope. Meanwhile, the eastern half of Jacksonville's beltway is still signed as State Road 9A almost everywhere, except (according to James) for a few I-295 signs in a few random places along the roads it intersects with, such as Atlantic Blvd.

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