OMW: I-95 (And I-81) Adventures, Vol. LXII
Those of you who have known me for at least 10 years know that I have been up and down these interstates nearly 100 times in my life. As much as things change, they seem to always stay the same (i.e. the dreadful drive through Virginia, regardless of which route you take — the scenic, via Route 1 and the series of bridges and tunnels on the Chesakpeake Bay expansion; the urban, via I-95, or the extremely rural I-81). One thing is for certain, something ridiculous always happens every time I get on the road. Thankfully, never anything affecting my life, health or my mode of transportation. Thank God for my parents who stand in agreement and pray both before I leave to go visit them, and when I am coming back.
This time, I wanted to have time to actually stretch out and relax, without rushing to shuttle everywhere while visiting, so I stayed for a week. The trip got off to an inauspicious start, which was no shock. I was slated to pick up the rental car at my usual location on the Upper West Side, which I am locked into. I get to the Hertz, only to find out that the system switched me to some spot on the Upper EAST Side, which I never even bother going to, given the headache that it is to get there from this side of Harlem. I had to work with three reps at Hertz, get them to make two calls, and waited 45 minutes before I actually got my vehicle — which of course wasn’t the one I reserved — a BRIGHT RED Toyota Camry SE.
And yes, it was “GROUNDED TO THE GROUND… YES!!! GROUNDED TO THE GROUND!!!”
Talk about state trooper targets. Thankfully, no pulls, no tickets, even though I routinely did 20+ over the speed limit when I had the opportunity.
I live two buildings down from a funeral home, and next to a delinquent facility. One of them nearly caught the fair one trying to break into our building a few days before I left. I thought about setting a booby trap that would have ensured whoever the person was would have broken their neck had they attempted it while I was gone, but I decided to trust God and leave the place in order. My beloved Raquel (my Devil’s Ivy plant that now has stems of over four feet long) lost a couple of leaves while I was gone, which crushed me. But otherwise, all is well.
With regards to the trip, I had to hustle in and out, because there was a funeral taking place as I was leaving, which cost me about 10 extra minutes to get off 7th Avenue. I zoomed down from 134th to 125th, where they are hanging all the lights for “Christmas in Harlem” (playing the Kanye tune as I type this) decorations for the annual season’s greetings. Traffic galore. More than usual on a Sunday. Took me 20 minutes just to get out of Harlem. I did 65 down the West Side Highway, eschewing the George, because it is always brutal going outbound on weekends.
Little did I know.
It took 20 more minutes to get through the Lincoln Tunnel, and traffic was at a funeral procession’s pace for about 5 miles on the Turnpike before I hit the clear near Elizabeth. Naturally, I forgot to get cash before leaving — remembering that there are not Chase bank locations south of central Virginia — so I ended up getting caught in a detour in PERTH AMBOY, costing me another 15 minutes to get back to the Turnpike, and STILL incurring the external bank fee for withdrawing from a non-Chase ATM.
I did about 80 the rest of the way down the Turnpike, got through Delaware in my typical seven minutes flat (ha) and did the 110 miles that I-95 runs through Maryland to get to my cousin’s crib — a full two hours later than planned. Naturally, I could not sleep that night, and got up with basically a 90-minute “nap” before spending the next 10 hours driving. I made a few stops for gas, food and Starbuck’s in Virginia, before zooming through Virginia in good time. I reached North Carolina around 3 PM, and my uncle apparently was not home, so I went to Raleigh, which has become my initial destination whenever I go southward nowadays.
People were acting funny style, so I went to New Bern Subs (formerly Miami Subs!) and had my normal #1 meal and wolfed it down while steering the car with my knee, and looking out for the cops. I get to my parents’ house right around 6 PM, only to end up spending two hours attempting to jig the TV/VCR/DVD recorder to record my mother’s aired episode appearance on “Wheel of Fortune” on November 20. We failed. Thankfully, I could remotely set my DVR to record back home here, so we at least have it recorded, but that wiped me out, after less than two hours of sleep the night before. The brutal “Monday Night Football” game only helped induce my slumber.
I slept for 11 hours that night, something I don’t think I’ve done in months — given that my super has a daily Hog Calling Contest in the stairwell of our building to the… well… HOG who lives downstairs from us. I was refreshed on Tuesday, but RESTLESS, because people who I had planned to see were either tied up at work, or already traveling to their Thanksgiving destinations. Other than to see my parents and a couple of relatives and college buddies, I don’t plan to make any trips to NC for any other reason for years to come. I intended to spend more time with my parents this time, instead of ripping and running up and down the roads, and I did so. No annoying broads, no drama from clowns who see outta town tags and think they can catch you on the foul. Just calm, family time.
I ended up driving aimlessly around on Tuesday, ended up nearly in Kentucky before I realized the Knicks were playing and zoomed back to my parents’ house. At least they won that game. They didn’t fare so well in the other game later in the week. I took some browses through old foto albums and had a few laughs, posted a few on here, and just talked with my parents, as usual. We’re basically a bunch of old folks, and I’m probably in more pain than both of them combined. SMH. I have broken down so badly, after being in all-world shape for most of my life. I need more HG… uhhh “Adderall”, apparently.
Wednesday was cool, I had a ton of errands to run, and began to prepare for cooking. Finally got my box braids from my hair magician cousin, and I’m going to let my hair lock. I’m tired of concerning myself with it daily. Time to focus on law school and let the hair do what it do.
After driving to and from Raleigh twice in 24 hours, I went back to help my mom set up the menu and season the chicken, which people devoured. I am proud. I love cooking, even though my mom ended up frying my specialty chicken — as I had to go back to Durham once again, to pick up my sister — and drove back once again that night. Talk about doing everything but what I planned, regarding rippin’ and runnin’.
Then I spent Friday running errands, Saturday doing the same, before nearly breaking my LCD due to Florida State playing like a bunch of horse’s necks, only to have to go back to Raleigh AGAIN that night.
Five trips to Raleigh. I need to build a house there so that I don’t have to travel so much when I visit from New York. It’s getting to be tiring.
After about five hours of sleep, I embarked on the most bizarre trip I’ve had to make in years.
I had decided before I even left home to visit the south that I would take I-81 back, because the Football Giants played on Sunday Night Football the day that I was returning. With the usual core group being there to tailgate at the stadium, and a couple of friends in town from Arizona for the game, I was determined to be there to tailgate for a couple of hours AND to meet Stephen Baker, a childhood hero.
ALL FOR NAUGHT.
The first part of the trip, US220, was not bad. Caught a few lights, but that is to be expected. As soon as I got onto I-81, the foolishness began. Trucks driving on the left lane, speed limit 70, trucks doing 63. Some FOOL on the right lane, riding in these dumb truckers’ blind spots, preventing you from passing, which ended up costing me a good 45 minutes for the 250-mile extent of I-81 before reaching the Maryland border. I figured despite losing that 45 minutes, that I would be good once I got to the farm country of Pennsylvania.
NOT SO FAST, MY FRIEND.
I literally spent 2/3 of the I-81/I-78 extent in Pennsylvania either in 1st or 2nd gear, doing less than 25 MPH, or completely stopped as if I were in a drive-in movie. I lost another hour. Easily. I had left at 8 AM. 81 takes me 7 hours flat to get to New Jersey. It took me NINE this time. I made decent time on I-78 once I got into Jersey, even though this clown was holding up about a 20-car trail on the left lane by not even doing the speed limit. Once I cleared that imbecile, and after dropping about 374 F-Bombs and other expletives and creative name calls and hand gestures at people, I get to Newark, where I thought I could avert the Turnpike and Route 1 traffic by taking 21 up to 17, and catching 3 over to Giants Stadium.
So I ended up pulling some wild illegal moves (having lived in Newark way back) and made my way back onto 78, shot over the Pulaski, hit Route 1 and zoomed through Secaucus, made about 7 loops at the Meadowlands, before finally parking.
AT 6:45 PM.
I walked nearly a mile to get to the lot where we normally tailgate, with no sleeves, my Cruz jersey not even cold (because I was so pissed, maybe?) and had a cold one, while choppin’ it up for a few. Missed The Touchdown Maker, threw out my back (still in pain two days later) from the overexertion, made the mile walk back to the IZOD Center parking lot, zoomed over to Harlem, unpacked, zoomed down to 110th to get gas from the Ahk’s, zoomed down to 95th to drop the car off, caught the break of being on Sunday night cab time, meaning it is one of the few times you will get a yellow cab to take you to Harlem, just in time to see Andre Brown jaunt into the end zone.
I was nearly in traction the rest of the night, but after having some warmed over leftovers, a couple of cold ones, and seeing that Giants victory, I felt somewhat better.
I am still in some serious pain, and need some PT and a true massage, as well as begin my old workouts. I am in ridiculously poor shape (for my standards) and it is showing.
See you people in a few months, I am not visiting for a while. Tired of tracking down people, and I need to go westward for a change. Or Puerto Rico. Or Japan. But I am tired of wasting time on lazy yokels who can’t even get on a car for 30 minutes to see people who they only see once or twice a year as is. I am still planning to go to Atlanta for the Giants/Falcons game, but I may need to get a golf cart as well ha. The last time we drove down there for a game, we walked over a mile and a half (this was prior to breaking my back a couple of weeks later, in 2007), but the thought of doing that again, after hurting my back Sunday night, gives me pause.
All in all, a enjoyable trip, once I was around my parents, a few relatives and old buddies from college.