Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Travelogue: 5/25-5/29/12

Some miscellaneous notes from our trip to Toledo to see family last weekend. Most of these - okay, all of these - have to do with driving and/or statistics.

Marla car update: Marla is now 10 months old. Does she still handle long road trips like a champ? Yes!

Things are actually getting easier, or at least more predictable. If we leave at 4 or 5 in the morning, Marla is virtually guaranteed to sleep for the first two hours. Marla will nap again for a couple of hours around noon or so. In between, as long as we keep her somewhat entertained, change her diaper when it needs changing (which doesn't always happen in the vicinity of a rest area), and let her crawl around out of the car every so often, then we're good. Also, Marla always stays awake for at least the next two hours after we get to our destination, so it's good to finish the drive by 5 PM if possible. (We didn't get home yesterday until 5:45, but oh well.)

Of course, as soon as we think we have the system figured out, Marla will "grow out of it", and we'll need to adjust accordingly. Our next scheduled road trip is around the first week of July, and Marla might even be walking by then. (Right now she crawls, and can stand on her own if she has something to lean on.) But I don't think the basics will change: leave early, longer stops, mid-day nap, don't drive after dinner time if you can avoid it.

Actually, the hardest thing about road tripping with Marla is getting her to sleep at the hotel / parents' house / whatever. It's a little hard to get her to sleep in unfamiliar territory, we're finding. But that gave me a good excuse to do some roadgeeking while in Toledo. (See next section.)

Marla county visits: With this most recent road trip, Marla has now been to 186 counties in 11 states. And her first year isn't even over yet! Yeah, we're crazy. Even more impressive is that Marla has already visited over half of Ohio (46 out of 88 counties). We've taken Marla to Toledo three times since she was born, and we've taken six different routes through Ohio to and from, so there you go. (The main reason for the route variation is so that I can fill in some holes in my county map. I now have 66 of Ohio's 88 counties, including four new ones that we picked up on Friday.)

So...about that whole "getting Marla to sleep away from home" thing. Marla didn't take too well to the crib we had set up for her at Amber's parents' house. But she sleeps great in the car! So on Saturday, I put Marla in the car, and we drove to Michigan. The official reason for the drive was so that she would nap for a couple of hours...but the real reason for the drive was so that I could complete I-96. (I only needed the 44-mile stretch between US-23 and downtown Detroit; we drove all of I-96 west of US-23 on our honeymoon.)

With regards to my two main roadgeek quests (counties visited and interstate mileage), I'm finding that it's much easier to work a missing county or two into a road trip, than it is to fill in a chunk of interstate mileage. You can drive through a county in any direction, and all you have to do is cross the county line. But "clinching" an interstate from end to end requires you drive in one of only two directions, and there are no shortcuts. The only way to complete some interstates is to make a specific trip just for that purpose. So thanks, Marla, for giving me an excuse to do that last Saturday. :-)

I-96 is the 11th interstate I have driven end-to-end, and Michigan is the 11th state Marla has visited. She was asleep for almost all of it, but it counts!

Restaurant serving times: Someday I'd like to go to one of those two hot dog places in downtown Detroit. We've heard that they're a) eligible for my restaurant serving times competition, and b) like Toledo's Ideal Hot Dog, really fast! But it's hard to squeeze a trip to Detroit in to a vacation that's meant for family more than anything else, so instead we just went to a decent non-Olive Garden Italian restaurant in Toledo, and met John D. (an old college roommate of mine from FSU) at a Bob Evans in Columbus on our way back. Both restaurants had good serving times for the genre (19:09 and 10:53, respectively; anything under 20 is considered good for an Italian restaurant), but not good enough to contend for "fastest of the year" or anything like that. Cracker Barrel in Montgomery, AL, is still the best of 2012 (so far) at 8 minutes, 34 seconds.

Car mileage: It's been a busy month for my car, between the I-64 Richmond to Beckley drive (that alone was 600 miles), plus the 1,500 or so miles we put on it last weekend, plus all those drives to kickball games and such. May will likely end up with the 5th highest monthly mileage total in my Civic's now 55-month life.

Mini golf: I don't include miniature golf statistics in By the Numbers because mini golf scores aren't compatible between courses like bowling scores are. But, congratulations to Amber on winning our best-of-3 mini golf duel. Out of 24 rounds of mini-golf between us, I've won 15, and Amber has won 8. (We tied once.)

We went to this place called "Par 2 Golf" in Toledo, which was clearly a former Putt-Putt back in the day. I have to give them credit for keeping the course in excellent shape. Most old mini golf courses aren't as well kept as this one is.

So, in conclusion, we like driving, and we'll do more of it. But likely not until the beginning of July.

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