Day 4 of the Grand Road Trip…finally, Wasshington D.C.!
The day started with a choice against doing a detour through the Blue Ridge Parkway for two reasons. First, I felt I could use the extra rest after an extra-inning playoff game that defeated my plans for an early bedtime.
Second, the weather this morning was pretty bleah. The idea of me, a lifelong flatlander, riding across mountain roads in rain and fog seemed a bad concept. Keep that in mind for later.
I got off to a rocky start, forgetting to fill up before leaving. This wasn’t so bad, since I would never make it to Washington D.C. on just one tank of gas anyway. I left a little around 6:30 am and it was still night-time dark.
Riding on those self-same undulating roads I enjoyed so much in the middle of the day yesterday was less fun this morning. It was actually kind of eerie as I watched red tail lights dip away, then turn, then rise, then turn and then, just for yuks, dip and turn at the same time!
Remember that weather I talked about earlier. Sure enough, about 40 minutes into the trip, the rain came down. So now I’m undulating, turning, rising and dipping in the dark in the rain.
But wait! There’s more! What happens early on a cool morning when it’s rainy? Yup, sound the horn and bring on the fog! Thick, pea-soup variety. So let’s do the list: dark, check! rainy, check! Undulating, crazy turns and mountainous, check! Thick, already reduced-sight reducing fog, check!
But wait! There’s more! Now we’re on a mountain road with a grade that must be…well…steep. The car kept increasing its speed on the foggy, wet, undulating, turning road. Not by a little, mind you, but sometimes 10-15 milesper hour. Add in the trucks, with their flashers on, going 35 mph in the right lane and I was in a nightmare!
If yesterday’s drive felt like a carnival ride, this one felt like Space Mountain on steroids, dark and fast. Of course, I could have slowed down more, but even I am on a schedule. My host here in D.C. warned me to get in before 3 pm or suffer the wrath of the worst congestion in the nation.
I had to unclench my hands several times during this period of the drive, as they were nearly claws on the wheel (very similar to my reactions to being on a roller coaster).
Further dangers were provided by several cars in front of me constantly braking in excess of even the grade of road. Digression: I’m impressed by my easy use of the term “grade” for the steepness of the road. Like I would know anything about that, considering Florida’s roads are probably a “C” grade (as in sea level).
With the constant riding of the brakes, I somewhat sardonically compared the driving experience to being back in South Florida. In fact, at one point my terror-addled brain misread an exit sign for Old Fort Rd as Old “Fart” Rd. Shows as much about the state of my head by then.
Obviously, my typing this proves I survived the experience and recovered my wits (what little I owned, I suppose, but consider, owning so few, they are precious to me).
I thought much about the causes for the harrowing ride and understood that most of it is caused by driving in darkness. I imagine I could always wait and have a relaxing breakfast and then leave. The problem with that is you ultimately get to your destination with only enough time for a relaxing dinner. The entire day will be wasted by travel. My way, I get into town with a full half day of activities still available.
Leaving Washington will be easier, then, since the parking garage doesn’t allow you to pick up your car before 7 am. Sheesh. So much for having a full day in Charleston.