Trip to Oklahoma

Monday · December 08, 2003 · 04:56 AM

Well, here’s what I remember from the trip to Lawton. I’ll try to get this posted (which is a silly thing to say, if you can read this, then I obviously figured something out).

Day One

10:45a I got the van.

10:47 Officially lost for the first time. I got the van at the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square. To get back to my house, I normally make a right and a left and walk for 15 minutes. Seems some of those roads are one-way.

11:00 Took care of a few things (not sure how legal they are, so I’ll skip the details) and got coffee, a bagel and a glazed donut (I really wanted some “donut hole treats”, but they only come in boxes of 100 or something).

11:30 Hit the road. Dave had his great CD collection locked up in his car and I only had time to grab four CDs. I have the books on tape, which I’m really looking forward to.

11:30:02 My first construction-related traffic. Not to be my last.

11:35 Panic when I see an orange light on the dashboard. Looks like the low-gas indicator that I had in my old car. I figure out the “D” in it means the car is in Drive. I worry about the light a couple times a day – I catch it out of the bottom of my eye, just a glimpse of the color.

12:30 I open my Dunkin Donuts bag and find that my toasted bagel has no butter on it. I should have checked earlier, but it’s too late (it’s an hour and a half to get back to the Dunkin Donuts – the bagel will be too cold to spread butter on). I spend the next 20 minutes trying to figure out how to make butter using the drive shaft as a makeshift butter churn. I’m filing for patents and will update you on my progress.

12:40 I get a phone call. I’m trying to talk and eat a super-dry bagel at the same time. I drop part of the bagel and it somehow wedges itself under the brake pedal. Luckily I don’t need the brake, but I get off the phone.

12:45 I realize the van has no tape player. I pull over to the shoulder and weep. Then I throw the tapes into a ditch and burn them. The winter season sure dries out the shrubs on the side of the road. Not that I’m implying anything.

12:50 I drive past the town of Belcher, which makes me giggle. For three minutes.

12:53 I drive past Chicopee. “Chico” means boy, so I start giggling about that.

12:55 I sober up when I hit serious traffic around Springfield. It may be Six Flags over New England related.

1:15 I see a construction worker picking up the white lines off of the road. Seriously. I didn’t know they could do that – it’s like some sort of asphalt velcro. I consider getting my camera to prove it’s true. The traffic is stopped, the camera is in my bag in the back…

1:20 The radio gets poor reception (stupid Allegheny Mountains), but it’s not so bad since I’m listening to a rap station. In fact it almost fits in. I’m sad about the current state of rap and hip hop, then decide to write my own rap song.

1:25 I realize that rhyming “gellin” with “felon” is quite clever. Not so sure about the other commercial that rhymes gellin with “Magelen”, which isn’t so good.

1:30 Get distracted by driving through the town of Lee. There’s a Lee Maintenance Facility sign (and I think about the trip from foreplay to climax). This gets me giggling again for 20 minutes. Then I remember about the lack of tape player. Now I’m sad again.

2:00 See a car that’s from the “Cocksackie DOT”. I need to look this up, it can’t be for real.

2:10 I pass Albany, which has a sign proclaiming it to be an “All American City”.

2:20 The radio is annoying. It’s some digital deal that doesn’t have a normal volume knob. When I set the volume level to 6 it’s too low. Seven is too loud. I open the windows and set it to seven.

2:22 My ears get cold so I close the window. I decide to write my own “perfect album” song list and start thinking about which songs that I know by heart. The static from the radio is interfering with my concentration, so I start to shut it off. Somehow it changes station to something that’s playing “The Girl From Ipanema” and it’s coming through clear as a bell.

2:24:04 I finish rocking out to The Girl From Ipanema and add that to the perfect song list.

2:45 The perfect song list is getting too long (and contains far too many 80’s song for me to be comfortable with). I decide to list perfect albums. Start with Guns and Roses “Appetite for Destruction” and Meatloaf “Bat out of Hell”. Realize that list is too 80’s as well.

2:50 I notice the radio displays the call letters of the station that’s playing. There’s an info button that shows the current program. Cool. This high-tech radio also has a CD player in it. I consider pulling over to see if I can find the latest Pink album, but had a vision of the truck stop employee telling me they have both kinds of music – “Country” and “Western”. I stick with my four CDs.

2:55 I see a sign that says “Emergency: Call 911”, which seems obvious to me. Below that it says “Free Call from Cellphone”, which is a good thing. If I rolled into the ditch (perhaps from an errant bagel) I wouldn’t want to waste my cell phone minutes on unnecessary calls.

3:00 The radio is playing “Everyone’s Working for the Weekend”. I heard that every Friday when I worked in an office. The song fools me into thinking it’s 5pm. The lyrics are weird, for example “Want a piece of my heart? Better start from the start.” I start working on my rap song again.

3:05 The oil pressure gauge has a weird icon next to it. Looks like a boat with a mast (no sail) in water. I can’t figure out what the heck it is. This distracts me for 25 minutes.

4:00 Drive past the Finger Lakes. The radio tells me what the weather there will be like tomorrow. I’m not sure there’s anything less important to me.

4:02 The Odometer doesn’t have a decimal place. This really sucks, since my directions say I have to get on I-90 in 361.55 miles. I’ll have to estimate that last 55/100th of a mile.

4:06 Drive past Baldwinsville. I’ve suspected such a facility existed – this must be where they harvest all those Baldwins. Reminds me of my theory that MTV VJ’s are being genetically bred.

4:10 It’s overcast, which is great for driving West in the evening.

4:11 It’s snowing.

4:38 Pass Six Flags over Darren Lake. There’s no traffic, but I don’t have time to stop.

5:07 The car beat me. I’ve been driving since 11:30 and need to go to the bathroom. Usually I only stop if the car needs to be refueled and there’s an eight of a tank left. I pull over and siphon it out onto the road, then stop at the next rest stop. The stalls were made by “Hiny Hider”, if you’re wondering.

I’m at 5 hours 37 minutes into the trip, 383 miles. Hm, that’s an average of 69 MPH or so. I’ll eat later.

5:13 I hit the road again. It’s suddenly complete darkness. I’ve got another 7 or so hours on the road and it’s like driving at night.

5:30 I realize that this van gets good gas mileage. I have to return it with an empty tank, so I start calculating where my last fill-up should take place. Basically it’s the amount of gas the tank will hold times the number of miles per gallon. Then fill it that number of miles from Boston. My math comes out wrong – I measure South and see that I need to fill up in Atlanta Georgia.

6:15 I pass Buffalo, which has a sign proclaiming it to be an “All American City”. I realize this is probably true for all of the cities (unless some were imported?)

7:40 Get to Pennsylvania.

7:45 Drive past the town of Mooreheadville. Too tired to giggle, so I made a note to giggle later.

8:15 Get to Ohio. It’s starting to snow a little more. Still not too bad – more of a sprinkling crossed with a drizzle.

10:00 Stop in Wooster, Ohio. Need to get something to eat, that bagel d idn’t tide me over as well as I thought it would. Realize that the town of Wooster is pronounced the same as Worchester, Mass. I’ve been on the road nine and a half hours and driven 689 miles (11954). 73 MPH average on the trip. I look for the Pink CD, but can’t find it. There’s an odd mix of music and it’s sorted by price – I figure she’s a $16.95 or $18.95 type of girl.

11:00 It’s snowing more, so I’m driving slower. The snow isn’t accumulating on the ground, but it’s building up on the highway signs, so they’re impossible to read. Luckily Ohio only has two paved roads, so it’s not a problem. snerk

11:40 I get to Columbus and need to take 271 to 71. I say this out loud over and over because it amuses me. 271 to 71. 271 to 71. Yup, still funny. This is also the section of road that had shootings and such.

Midnight. I drove over one of the Bridges of Madison County (according to the sign). I wonder if it’s Beau or Jeff. It’s been snowing all the way, but the road still isn’t too bad. I wonder if it’s snowing back in Massachusetts. I’m wondering if snow will put out brush fires. Hypothetically, of course.

12:45 I arrive at my room. Day one – twelve hours fifteen minutes 842 miles (MapQuest estimate twelve hours and 26 minutes) which is around 69 miles per hour. I’m in the town of South Vienna (maybe), which has the largest lamp shop in the midwest. I want to stop by there in the morning and ask them who’s number two.

Day Two

I check out and the manager gives me the “how are you” upgrade. I say “good morning” and he asks how I’m doing. “Fine,” I reply. He upgrades me by saying “Great!” If I’d said “great” he’d have upgraded me to “excellent”, etc. The pool was closed, so I ask for a discount. The manager has no sense of humor.

10:00a Get on the road. Today won’t be as exciting since I’ve worked all of the kinks out of the trip.

10:05 I take my jacket off. It’s a near-death experience as I do Houdini-like thrashing to get the thing off.

10:20 The Christmas tunes on the radio are starting to get to me. I need something with a little more energy to keep me interested.

10:47 I get to Indiana. I wish I lived here, it would be cool to have a car with a license plate of “Hoosier Daddy”. Plus I could go home and take a nap right now.

11:05 I turn the radio off again. Blame it on the Chipmunks and their “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause” song. The yule tide’s turned.

11:20 I start wondering why there was never a “Bobby McFerrin on Ice” Spectacular.

11:25 I pass “Nameless Creek”, which seems silly. It’s obviously been named.

11:34 I get behind a cop car doing the legal speed limit. Not that I’m going too fast, I try to average 8 miles over the posted limit (the theory is that they won’t bother to pull me over and if they do the fine will be small).

12:05 The cop really slowed things down. I should be allowed to go over the speed limit by the length of time he made me go slow. Weasel.

1:00 My fantasy is about to be realized. Every time I drive to Oklahoma I see a sign for the Java Haute, near Terre Haute Indiana. Yes, I’ve mentioned it here before. I want to go to the 24 hour coffee place and get coffee. Usually I’m driving by at 11pm and I don’t want coffee. This time I’m looking forward to lunch there.

1:20 I give up looking for the place and hope they all die.

1:25 There’s a sign saying Terre Haute is the home of “Clabber Girl Baking Powder”. I’m surprised to find they’re not an All-American city.

1:30 I stop at a rest stop to get gas and something to snack on and some caffeine. I pass up the 32 oz “Chug a Mug” and the 44 oz “Chug a Lug” and go for the 72 oz “Chug a Jug”. I grab some Ranch dressing flavored Corn Nuts and wash the grime off the windows. Three and a half hours, 212 miles today (slowed to 60 mph so far).

1:35 I hit Illinois and turn on the radio. More Christmas tunes. I really must buy the Pink CD.

1:40 My mind wanders for a while here. I think about writing a new Christmas special called “Santa Lives in a Double-Wide” about Santa getting tired of the cold and moving south to a trailer park near Baton Rouge. He has a magic basement where the toys are made and delivers them from a pickup that has a primer on primer paintjob. He puts scratch tickets in stockings. He has all sorts of predicaments. It’ll star Jeff Foxworthy.

2:30 Turn on the radio and the announcer talks about music from Chicago. I’d love to hear some classic 80’s rock. Unfortunately, he means showtunes from the musical. Buh-bye.

3:05 I see an “Entering Pocahontas” sign. This starts a while new world of fantasies.

3:20 I wonder who won the celebrity poker game. I bet Keanu Reeves could win – he only has one facial expression, so he wouldn’t give anything away.

3:45 There’s one of the weirdest detours around a city at St Louis. I always have trouble. First I’m looking at the arch (which looks sort of like a McDonalds sign) and then there’s a split in the road. Winds up they merge back together, but it always confuses me.

4:00 Six Flags over Mid America. Is that my third for the trip? Where will it end?

4:45 See a hearse for the Null Funeral Home. Somehow I want to work that into a NULL Pointer thing next time I code.

5:20 Some hunters are returning from somewhere. They have several deer strapped to the back of their camouflaged pickup.

6:15 Gotta Pee. Almost 5 hours since my last stop and I’ve been on the road eight hours and fifteen minutes (582 miles and back up to 70 mph average). I stopped at this rest stop on a previous trip – I recognize the graffiti in the bathroom. Written on a condom vending machine: “Don’t buy this gum – it tastes like rubber.”

6:30 See a sign for Meremac Caverns. During the Summer they were proud that the caves are cool. Now they’re saying the caves are warm. Seems the temperature is 60 degrees all year around. Clever marketing.

7:40 Get to Oklahoma. There’s a sign announcing “Still The Worlds Largest McDonalds”. At some point I need to go there and check it out. Good news – the speed limit is now 75 (up from 65 for most of the trip).

9:35 I’m leaving out the part here where I got lost in Tulsa. Stupid Tulsa.

10:40 I get to Oklahoma City and “Six Flags – Frontier City”.

12:00 Bed. And bathroom. Fourteen hours and 1000 miles (Mapquest estimated fourteen and a half hours). Gotta busy day tomorrow – need to buy some CDs.