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Monday, December 1, 2014

Destination: Route 66 in our '67: Almost heaven?

Starting time: 8:40 AM EST, Baltimore, MD
Starting mileage: 56922
Yesterday's mileage: 282 miles
Yesterday's average gas mileage: 13.2 MPG
Chris and Andrew just before today's blast off

Growing up, my family seldom ate out. Mom cooked dinner every night (don't get me started on that). So on a road trip to visit the extended family, it was a great treat to stop for meals in Denny's restaurants, where the paper placemats showed a map of the USA with little stars representing the chain restaurant's widespread presence. I used to use a crayon to X off the states we'd journeyed through.

Fast forward to 1992, when Chris took a job in New York and we relocated. I envisaged that Denny's placemat map and thought, YEAH! Just think of all those little bitty New England states I'll be able to easily cross off my list! --Well, the joke is on me: Not only are those states not quite as little bitty as I envisaged them, but when you live on the end of Long Island, it takes two hours to get off the island in either direction (west towards New York City, or north by ferry to Connecticut). Still, the first time we drove eight hours to Maine I joyfully crossed five states off my mental Denny's map. Imagine! Five states in eight hours!

I've since learned that none of the states are as small as they might look on that relief map of the USA we created of flour, salt and water back in third grade. Pennysylvania, Chris and I know from experience, takes nearly a whole day to cross east to west. And today we found that Maryland, which I used to think of as a little state, only a little bigger than Delaware, has a long squiggly comet-like tail on the west side of Baltimore that goes on forever. (Though a really pretty forever, I might is the gorgeous rolling landscape of West Virginia.)

My brilliant navigating first thing this morning netted us a Starbuck's on the outskirts of Baltimore. Problem was, we lost an hour trying to find our way back to a place that had highway access. (Score -1 to Apple maps for failing to note where the onramps are, as opposed to where streets simply crossed the interstates.)

The last three years we have done this cross country trip in our 2009 Suburu Outback, loaded with all the fun options available to it. All of which I have grown used to taking for granted. Until this trip. Examples:

Pro: The Duchess has extra comfy seats...actually more comfortable than the Subaru, even taking into account the latter's lovely heated seats.

Pro: I actually like the fact that you hand crank the windows, This means when the other person is pumping the gasoline (two seven gallon tanks, one on each side) or visiting the loo at McDonald's (where you can count on clean bathrooms), the other can actually crank the car window down without the key and get fresh air.

Con: No cup holders. (Where are those Starbuck's lattes supposed to go?!?) Note our work around:

Con: No CD player, no auxillary audio jack to which I can attach my iPod and/or Audible books on tape. Work around:a travel Bose system perched on the suitcases in the back seat. (Very cool: the ability to aim a remote over your shoulder and change or increase the volume of the music.)

Today's particularly appropriate lyrics:

Sharing horizons that are new to us
Watching the signs along the way
Talking it over, just the two of us
Working together, day to day...

(Sidebar: A question to other iMatch users--do you think they add songs to your playlists that they think you might enjoy, like Pandora does??? No way, no how (!!) that Mariah Carey or Elvis appear in MY iTunes library.)

From the time we merged onto Interstate 68 from Interstate 70, the rain began, and stayed with us the remaining six hours or so of our driving day. Rain is only second to snow as regards the sheer miserableness of driving through it, but I have to say the Duchess came into her own in the precipitation. Yes, the windscreens fogged up somewhat and the tiny (11 inches!) windscreen wipers slogged valiantly through the relentless rain, but I felt entirely safe and grounded regardless of the slickness of the highways. She's a heavy car, made heavier by our trunk full of luggage, but she's got a low center of gravity and hugs the wet roads as though she was made for them. (Which, of course, she was. After all, she was built in England, no stranger to rain.)

Noted on the drive today:

--The woman in Baltimore bringing the pink Christmas tree to work (with her matching handbag).

--Cumberland, MD, where "Chick-fil-A" is a destination worthy of special signage from the offramp through the town.

--also in Cumberland, MD: finding premium gasoline for $2.93 a gallon.

--Cresting "mountains" where the summits merited state highway signage proclaiming "Elevation: 2780 feet [above sea level] and the Eastern Continental Divide." ROFL. The primary reason we are taking this route west is to avoid the summits of Vail Pass in Colorado (10,662 feet) and even the high deserts of Nevada and California (the aforementioned summit of Cajon Pass is 4190 feet).

--Amusing place names: Flintstone, MD and Nutter Fort, WV.

--Billboard: "PIE HOLE: Delicious pie-flavored Whiskey!"(West Virginia)

--Billboard advertising a gym: "Pay Diddly for your Squats!" (West Virginia)

In my ignorance, I'd hoped to make Lousiville, KY, tonight...another 200 miles beyond where we actually stopped. In the Subaru, it was probably doable. In the Duchess, not so much. Especially in the rain.

Arrival: 5:20 PM, Huntington, WV

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