Friday, December 28, 2012

Travelogue: 12/22-12/27/12

Sometimes, I write blog posts more for my own documentative purposes, rather than because it's worthwhile enough for actual internet publication.

Well, this first part might be worthwhile enough: this week's road trips were probably Marla's best to date! Yesterday, we made it all the way back from Toledo on four stops, which is pretty much the minimum. Perhaps not coincidentally, this was also her first trip sitting "forward-facing" instead of "rear-facing". (We've received conflicting information regarding when the appropriate time is to safely switch to forward-facing.) She rode rear-facing on the way to Toledo, and that was fine, too, but she seemed to enjoy the ride back a little more.

Really, I think the most important thing with this driving-with-Marla thing is to get to our destination as early as possible. Marla is always crankier later in the day whether we're driving or not, so it's in everyone's best interests to get "there" - wherever "there" is - by 4 PM. Which, when driving to Toledo, that means leaving at 4 AM. Hooray!

December 22, 2012: Northbound to Toledo

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Since we have to cut diagonally across Ohio to get to Toledo, and there is no direct interstate connection from Toledo to Charleston, there are countless different routes that we can take without adding a whole lot of time. Which gives me plenty of opportunity for new counties! That's the reason - the only reason - I picked this particular route. Four new counties later, and I'm up to 74/88 in Ohio. I am definitely planning on getting all 88, eventually, but that is still several Toledo round trips down the road.

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Nelsonville bypass: As I mentioned last week, they're building a bypass of the town of Nelsonville along US-33, which is the last remaining major holdup on US-33 from Columbus southeast to I-77. It's partially open now, but only the section northwest of Nelsonville, not the section that actually bypasses Nelsonville itself. Getting to the new bypass means taking a side road for a mile or so that you didn't have to take before, and according to my stopwatch, the new side road actually offsets the time savings gained by the new expressway. Of course, it'll be a different story once the entire bypass is completed (Fall 2013?).

December 27, 2012: Southbound from Toledo

I basically tweeted this ad nauseum, but yes, Toledo got some snow on the 26th (Wednesday).

The Toledo airport reported 2.8", and I unofficially measured 3 to 4" in Amber's parents' yard. (Most of the snow fell in the late afternoon / early evening, a few hours after the above picture was taken.) Hardly a major event by Ohio standards, but a few lucky locations between Toledo and Columbus fell into the 6-12" range.

Wednesday would have been a truly awful day to attempt to drive back. The snow moved out by Thursday morning, so at that point it depended solely on Ohio's ability to clear the roads in a timely fashion. Having never lived in Ohio, I don't know what the "norm" is, but basically, I-75 was in excellent shape, but US-23 still had snow on it in spots, especially in the passing lane. In hindsight, perhaps we should have waited until sunrise to leave...oh, right, gotta get home by 4 PM for Marla. (Which, we did!) It's not that the road conditions were unsafe, you just had to slow down, pay attention, and be patient. Even if there's a truck driving a ridiculously slow speed in the right lane, if the passing lane has a lot of snow in it still, too bad! You're stuck.

Because of the conditions, we stuck with one of the usual routes, even though the storm was mostly a rain event south of Columbus (except in higher elevations around Beckley, WV).

December 24, 2012: Michigan county collecting

Our usual holiday trips to Toledo involve a four-night stay. This one was a five-night stay. So what did we do with the "extra day"? Amber and her mom baked cookies, and I drove to Michigan. Merry Christmas to all!

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There are several scenic Michigan drives on my to-do list, particularly along the lakes. This was not one of them. Since I was going solo, I figured I'd save the interesting "bucket list" drives (e.g. M-25 around "The Thumb", US-23 by way of Alpena, anything involving the Upper Peninsula) for when we have the whole family, and spend this day touring the relatively less interesting interior of Lower Michigan, and visit as many new counties as possible along the way.

I don't mean to sell interior Lower Michigan short here, because it was a really nice drive, especially north of Flint/Lansing/Grand Rapids (where Michigan becomes less developed and more forested). But the thing is, I don't really know what there is to do in, say, Cadillac.* And that was the idea: go here now, so that those interior counties are already checked off my list. That way, when we have an opportunity to take the whole family up into Michigan again, we can stay along the lakes without letting my dumb statistical quests get in the way. Not that Amber would necessarily object to a drive up US-131, of course - or even the side trips to other new counties within a couple miles of US-131 (that's what points D, E, and F are on the map) - but given the choice, I'm sure she'd prefer a drive along Lake Huron. (We've already done the Lake Michigan side of the Lower Peninsula.)

(* - Actually, based on the advertising, I know exactly what there is to do around here: either go to a casino, or go hunting. Neither is that appealing to me.)

Some pictures I took along the way:

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