As many of you who are regular readers of my column know, I am a road warrior. The pandemic has slowed my travels since early 2020, but my travel routine has resumed in recent months. I recently traveled to Charleston, WV; Cleveland. OH; and Danville, IL. Here are some of my observations from those trips.
Although I generally drive at or near the 70mph speed limit, I’m definitely in the minority. Cars, trucks and motorcycles pass by me at a speed that seems alarming to me. I want to scream, “What are you in a hurry? but I realize they were long past me by the time my words were said. I wonder where the highway patrol is when I need it most. I recently read that a motorcycle was pulled over for speeding 146 miles per hour. Yeah.
Did you know that from Charles Town, where I live, to Charleston, WV and to Cleveland, OH is almost the same distance. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. My trip to Charleston, WV was 336 miles each way, while my trip to Cleveland, OH was 376 miles each way!
I also find it quite interesting that going from Charles Town to Cleveland, OH and Danville, IL, I start in WV, travel to Maryland, back to WV, PA, back to WV, then Ohio. Looks like I’ve strewn that Welcome to West Virginia sign an inordinate number of times. Each time, it gives me the opportunity to sing the lyrics to “Take Me Home Country Roads” out loud in my car!!
As a young man, traveling by car, I always thought the rest areas were a bit too close together. I often jumped off at them. As an old man (I will be 77 in July) I find it interesting that I now think the rest areas are too far apart and never fail to stop. Still, I’m wise enough to realize that the rest areas haven’t moved. They are where they have always been. I know them all well and I’m glad to see the sign that I’m almost there.
An author friend of mine has his own driver. My goal is to be like him one day and have someone else who will lead me to my literary events. I like to drive but it’s gotten to the point where I’m tired and sleep about half an hour in the rest areas it’s annoying that when I wake up I’m still in the rest area. If I had a driver, I could continue to sleep and progress on the road.
I used to be able to stop almost anywhere for my overnight accommodation, especially when traveling on weeknights. But since the pandemic, the hotel industry has reduced the construction of new hotels, usually I have to book my reservation in advance to make sure they will have a room for me. The problem with that is that I like to drive until I’m tired and then stop at the hotel. Sometimes on these trips I have to stop at my assigned hotel before I get tired. I liked the old situation better.
I’m not the “fast food” type. I travel with a cooler and bring my own food and snacks. This way I can eat when it suits me rather than when I arrive in an area where there are restaurants. Most rest areas have picnic tables which are fine for me. My takeaways are mostly chicken tenders bought from Martins Deli or sandwiches that I pack at home. Sometimes, I treat myself to a sit-down dinner in the restaurant in the evening when I arrive at my hotel.
Being on the road is more than slightly overrated. My trips are all about talking and selling books, and aren’t exactly “holidays.” No matter the hotel, sleeping in a foreign bed is never as comfortable as being at home. Road noise and noise from the ice machine and/or elevator in some places require the use of earplugs to ensure a good night’s sleep. Normally I don’t stay more than one night in the same hotel, so I rarely feel comfortable with arrangements when I’m ‘on the road again’.
No matter where my travels take me, it’s always good to return to good old Charles Town and, as the song says, “where I belong, West Virginia.”
I am Bob O’Connor, the “road warrior”, and I have approved this message.