Thursday, November 27, 2008

Joelogon's Theorem of Turnpike Conservation, and More Notes From the Road

Posited: Any time you save by avoiding the Delaware Turnpike, you will lose on the New Jersey Turnpike.
This Thanksgiving, I skipped the nighttime drive and came up from DC on Thursday morning (leaving later than I'd wanted, naturally). I also decided to try out the Washington Post's suggestion to skip I-95 and most of Delaware by taking Route 50 across the Bay Bridge.

I even cut through DC to skip the Beltway entirely. I almost got away clean, but made a wrong turn and ended up spending more time than I would have liked going through Capitol Hill neighborhoods at 35 mph.

Route 50 was fine, save for a left-lane Scion that decided at the last moment that he needed to exit to 495, cutting across 3 lanes, almost causing two accidents (me being one of them), and still missing the exit. Last I saw, he was sitting on the shoulder past the exit, no doubt getting ready to shift into reverse.

Confession time: I'd never driven over the Bay Bridge before. In fact, I don't think I've ever spent any time on the Eastern Shore. It, and the drive on 301 was uneventful -- I spent a little too much time going 35 through small towns, though on the plus side, I did accidentally avoid the Route 1 toll.

The Delaware section was mercifully brief, yet even then, I ran into some congestion at the splitoff for the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

Some other observations -- for a time, traffic was moving too fast to Twitter, so I recorded some voice memos for later transcription and further elaboration:

12:00 noon: Cherry Hill. The Cherry Hill water tower used to have the town name marked in big, red, block letters (all caps, of course). To be honest, it was kind of ugly, but now, as part of the ongoing march to a universally-branded America, it's also marked with an "American Water" logo.

Also, it was at this time, along the 4-lane stretch of the southern NJ Turnpike, that I restated my preference of surfing into those strange, empty stretches that sit in between two long packs of cars. They never last.

12:10 pm: iPod Isolation. In the old days, after we got tired of talking and ran out of music (which happened), we were forced to listen to the local radio landscape (corporate radio homogenization notwithstanding... but that came later).

With the iPod and satellite radio, now, you can travel in your own little audio bubble, with a soundtrack that's the same from coast-to-coast, north-to-south.

Would I go back? Probably not, though I did get perverse pleasure driving that stretch of the North Carolina/Virginia border that, due to geographic and atmospheric anomalies, only allowed you to get one country music station, and one Christian evangelist proselytization station.

12:51 pm: In full crawl mode. When you get old and resigned, you realize that, in a traffic jam, with rare exception, all advantages are momentary: It really doesn't matter what lane you're in -- you can't hit just the peaks of the traffic waves, and you end up seeing the cars over and over: The Cadillac SUV, weaving back and forth in its lane like a Formula One racer warming up its tires; the dirty Durango; the Nissan Versa; the Scion with the rear fender panel pushed in.

1:23 pm: Sign of the Times. The DJ, looking for contest winners, asks for, "The 92nd texter," not caller.

There were also a couple of Twitter posts with a florid lack of consequence (though, in a correction, the Fountains of Wayne TV ad song I mentioned isn't actually a Christmas song -- it's just used in LL Bean's holiday ad. I was probably conflating it with Alien for Christmas.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

re: sign of the times - yeah, that's crazy. I remember winning tickets to see a sneak-peak showing of The Net... by being one of the first 99 people to email WHFS.

This was, oh, probably 1996 or so. I was about 5 minutes from home. Gunned the Tercel station wagon, connected my 28.8 to CapAccess and go the email in.