Perhaps because of the clutter of my apartment and the commotion in my (adopted) home town, the thing I most love about a cross country drive is moving rapidly across the open spaces of our great nation. While I frequently listen to books on CD as I drive, sometimes I’ll switch off the stereo and let my thoughts wonder. Oftentimes, it is the ideas expressed or images evoked in the narratives I hear which inspire me.
Well, those thoughts only seem to come when the traffic flows. And after some tense driving to get out of Chicagoland, a pleasant drive across northern Indiana and northwestern Ohio helped set my mind to rambling. I hardly listened to the Barnes and Noble Portable Professor “Course,” When Gods Walked the Earth: Myths of Ancient Greece that I love so much and have listened to before (even as I disagree with some of lecturer Peter Meineck’s interpretations of some myths).
All until I hit bumper to bumper traffic, worse than my experience in LA last Friday in north central Ohio, the state (but not the region where I was born and grew up). I thought there had been a major accident that was difficult to clear. But, no, it was just very poorly managed road construction.
So, poorly was it managed that twice, I turned off the engine, got out of the car walked around. I wasn’t the only one.
Now, I could blame this on the state’s Democratic Governor, but recall that in my 2003 cross country drive, I encountered the same poorly managed road construction (though on I-71, not I-80). That time, though, we didn’t stop long enough to allow me to get up and walk around. The state had a Republican Governor back in ’03.
What is it with Ohio and road construction? I have encountered a lot of road construction on this trip (our “stimulus” dollars at work perhaps?) and found that while Indiana, Iowa and Nebraska seemed to manage it pretty well, Colorado definitely did not. But, bad as it was in Colorado (and trying as it was in Illinois), it was a dream compared to what I experienced yesterday in the Buckeye State. I practically had to wait until I got into the Keystone State to find the thoughts flowing again.
Well, Thursday was the roughest leg of my journey so far, the first real “haul-ass” drive on this trip (arriving in my hotel after 11 PM). I had vowed after my 2007 drive (when heading east I did three such drives back to back to make it from LA, CA to Charlottesville, VA in under 72 hours, including overnights in Santa Rosa, NM and Lakeland, TN) never to do such a segment again as it detracts from the purpose of the trip, focusing so much on the day’s goal that I lose sight of the beauty around me.
All that said, am I reading too much into things to wonder that the drive became so bad in my native state?