Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2021

Archive for the tag “Driving”

Too Many Miles

THE LAST FEW MONTHS have been rather busy. Since last October my wife, the lovely and excellent Navigator, Dawn, and I have driven from Indiana to south Texas and back three times. At roughly 1250 miles each way that adds up to… (Musical Interlude while doing the math)…7500 miles. Most of it on various Interstate Highways, but we also had to deal with some State and local roads.

We saw Speed Limits vary from 50mph up to 75. Of course, the adherence to these limits was a purely mythical exercise. We did see cars pulled over by The Law now and then but only in certain states.

Mississippi: Lots of Speed Traps

Arkansas: Lots of Speed…

I don’t mind moving along at a brisk pace, but I don’t like feeling like I’m pedaling a Marx “Big Wheel” compared to the Monster 18 – Wheelers that are roaring past me at 100mph. I’m not exaggerating.

During our first trip south last October we drove I-30 across Arkansas from just outside of Memphis to Texarkana. Drivers on that road look upon the speed limits as a challenge. That night I got on Amazon and ordered a 2021 Road Atlas. I wanted to find an alternate road home. That had our return trip go along I-55 through Mississippi. That is my new favorite road. We could move along at a zippy rate without having to challenge NASA re-entry speeds.

One other thing that we noticed as we moved from State to State: The number of roadside billboards advertising “Ambulance Chaser” Attorneys. They must be keeping that branch of the advertising world alive. In Illinois alone I counted nine billboards screaming at us from some Personal Injury Lawyer who calls himself “The Hammer.”

How dignified.

Not that I’m making any snap judgments, but “The Hammer” has his picture on his billboards, and to me he looks like a refugee from any number of Gladiator movies… in a three piece suit.

Each state has its own crop of these lawyers who seem to be loitering along the road just waiting for an accident to happen. I bet that they would arrive on the scene of the crash before the ambulance.

I recall that there is one in Mississippi, a woman, who advertises herself as “Mama Justice.” How Quaint.

I don’t mean to say that there is nothing worth seeing along the roads of America. There is beautiful countryside and towns and cities. It’s just the tacky billboards that bother me – those and the surprising number of truly bad drivers that are out there cluttering up the Interstate System. Maybe it’s them who have spawned those shyster’s billboards?

We covered a lot of miles in the course of our three trips to Texas. Covering that much territory is tiring no matter how pleasant the conditions. A good meal along the way can lift your spirits and keep you going. I think we discovered the best way to achieve this traveling Nirvana.

We covered 7500 miles without once stopping at a Waffle House.

Mipissssissippi, Misippiss, Mippiississ,…Texas

SOME DAYS THINGS WORK OUT FINE…and then other days – well…

Mipissssissippi, Misippiss, Mippiississ

I do believe that we have become “Snow Bunnies” of a sort. Consider that we have made three – count ’em, Three trips since October from our home in Terre Haute down to south Texas. It is only a two and a half hour flight, but we have done these trips earthbound. In these days of Nasty Viruses we feel better avoiding both Airplanes and Airports.

Driving to and from Hoosierland to the Coastal Territory near Corpus Christi, Texas is about 1200 miles each way. I say “about” because it depends on your route. You can save a few miles by driving through Arkansas and squeezing your nervous system through Downtown Houston. We have done that a couple of times and I will do almost anything to avoid doing it again. On this last trip to see the family and to NOT see Midwest ice and snow we followed a different route. It added about 100 miles each way, but it lowered my blood pressure and my heartbeat significantly.

Rather than drive through the Arkansas Pinball Machine of Route 40 where Big Rig Semis outnumber cars 25 to one and the speed limit is restricted only by Einstein’s Theory about the speed of light. Instead we cut straight south and went through the lovely State of Mississippi border to border.

Interstate 55 in Mississippi is my new favorite stretch of highway. It is well maintained, not overly busy, and goes through some beautiful countryside. They also had a Road sign that made my feeble mind drag up some old cliches and stereotypes. Hopefully, nobody will be offended, but if they are…too bad. I can’t let a joke get away from me so easily.

This is the sign that we saw posted every few miles.

What caught my jaundiced eye was the part about throwing trash on the highway. I read that and my twisted sense of tacky and tasteless humor kicked into high gear. It was a good thing that we made no stops inside Mississippi other than the obligitory rest stops to… relieve ourselves, shall we say.

As we plunged southward through the Magnolia State (As I learned from another sign) my mind concocted this short monologue.

“We were driving through Yalobusha County, heading south, when I saw a sign along side the road. Do you see that sign? The one about there being a $250 Dollar fine for throwing trash on the highway? Well, I saw it and it has brought back a sad memory that still haunts our Family to this day.

Seeing that sign made me remember about that unpleasant day when our beloved, though hard to live with, Cousin Billy Bob Beaureguard ran afoul of The Law. It was not that he hadn’t done the same thing dozens of times, but this time he got caught doing it in front of that State Trooper.

Billy Bob was caught up in a technicality when he was driving along and got into an argument with his youngest son, Jasper, and threw him out of his truck while driving down the highway just outside of Coffeeville. That boy, Jasper, was no good to begin with and everybody knew it. The Judge knew it too and instead of charging Billy Bob with any ‘Attempted This or That” he nicked him for that $250 dollar fine because everybody knew that boy, Jasper, was trash.”

You can see why I would not want to say that out loud in front of any Mississippians. They might either be offended by the cliches or upset that I was airing the Families dirty laundry in public. I thought of it and we wisely chose to continue driving until we were across the State Line.

(We are just skipping Louisiana here. I’m in enough trouble.)

 

 

 

 

 

There Has To Be A Better Way There

I MAY NOT KNOW WHERE I AM ALL THE TIME, BUT I’M NEVER LOST.

At least that is how I like to think I’m getting around in this world. One method that I use to find my way is with maps. I like maps. I love maps. I have always loved maps.

Maps are Functional Art.

Just before we started off on our latest One Conestoga Wagon pilgrimage to Texas I noticed that my Road Atlas was severely out of date. A 2015 Road Atlas ain’t gonna get me anywhere but lost. I needed an update. I toddled off to Amazon and ordered the 2021 edition of the “Rand McNally Road Atlas.” I was going to be up to date in The U.S., Canada and Mexico. All those maps would be like tossing candy bars in front of a crowd of kids. I wanted to curl up and look at them all, go over each page and imagine myself there. Did I mention that I love maps?

My Amazon order was not going to come in time for our Indiana to Texas trip so I had it sent to Texas for us to use – hopefully to get us a better routing for our way home. Driving from Terre Haute to just north of Corpus Christi is a little shy of 1150 miles and it’s not a fun drive. Our route took us from Indiana into Illinois, south into Missouri (boring), and then across Arkansas on the most crowded road I’ve ever driven on. Route 30 in Arkansas has about 25 fully loaded Semis for every car. The speed limit was…irrelevant. There were times when, just to keep from being run over, I was going close to 90 MPH. At that speed trucks with over-sized loads passed me like I was standing still. It was like being inside a Japanese Pachinko Machine.

My brand spanking new 2021 Road Atlas arrived the day after we arrived at our destination. For me it was an early Christmas Morning. My new toy had arrived!

OK…The way I look at it is that instead of driving through Houston again on the way north (Another Pachinko moment) and having to scream through Arkansas again like a .22 Caliber bullet in the middle of a Howitzer barrage we will drive East on I-10 into Louisiana and then north through Mississippi. It may add a few miles overall but it should significantly cut down on my stomach acid production and jaw clenching bad dreams.

Here’s Hoping.

Once our trip back to Indiana is complete I will report on how and if things went. I hope that there will be no “Film at 11!” links about our trip. It’s the Holiday Season and I don’t need any more Drama. I am already craving boredom.

Down at the end of today’s offering I have posted a link to a song that, to me, talks about maps and, again to me, about driving through Houston and Arkansas. It is called “Columbus” and is performed by an incredible Irish singer, Mary Black.

Driving, Driving, Driving

Driving. Driving. Driving. Changing Lanes. Changing States.

It’s a long drive from Indiana to Southern Texas and back to Indiana. We just finished making that round trip and we are about to do it again.

We break each half of that Great Circle Route into a three day journey. Long gone are the days when I could spend 12 hours behind the wheel. These days after about 300 – 400 miles my brain turns to fudge and my butt turns to cheap plywood. Going on a trek of approximately 1150 miles each way is not to be taken lightly.

Driving. Driving. Driving.

Day One: On the road from near Corpus Christi heading north. After a full day of playing Dodgeball with 18-Wheelers and “Wide Load” Haulers we are still inside Texas. We drive from Corpus north through Houston on a Sunday afternoon. The roads are jammed and beyond comprehension. When I realize that I am beginning to babble we stop for the night in Lufkin, Texas. That is all I can do with my Old Geezer eyes and reflexes.

Moments later, really after a number of hours sleeping in a strange hotel bed it is time to get up, get gassed up, and coffeed up. Pulling out of the parking lot we head North again then veer to the East into Arkansas. We are entering a different world.

Yesterday I was driving North through the skyscraper forest of Houston and today it is rolling past

(c)Ken Steinhoff 561-727-9645

small town America – places like “Cooter,” Missouri. I don’t know the story behind a town named Cooter, but I can imagine anyone bragging about being from Cooter.

Driving. Driving. Driving.

The car thermometer says that the bright and sunny day is in the mid-80s, but for mile after mile along the side of the road it looks like there are the remnants of a wintertime blizzard clinging to the ground. It’s not snow that we are seeing but cotton. Along our route we have been seeing large trucks loaded with huge plastic wrapped bales of Cotton. For some reason the shippers have decided to leave the ends of each bale uncovered and the turbulent air along the highway plucks out a steady rain of Cotton onto the road.

Driving. Driving. Driving.

Most of our route is along the Interstate Highway System, but part of the way in Texas, Arkansas, and Illinois is on State Routes. That is where you can see the unusual and unique. Roadside attractions that are incredibly uninteresting. I’m sorry folks, but a historical marker and museum dedicated to an event or local hero I’ve never heard of just doesn’t make me want to pull over. To be truthful, the most unusual thing I saw along our trip was in Southern Illinois – a dead Armadillo belly up by the side of the road. I didn’t expect to see an Armadillo that far North. My guess is that it was hitching a ride on one of the Cotton Haulers and when he saw that he was heading toward Chicago he threw himself to the pavement in desperate attempt to avoid that.

It is a long drive from Terre Haute, Indiana all the way to Corpus Christi. I think the drive home is more difficult because of the curvature of the earth. Going from South to North is uphill. I wish that Carl Sagan was still around. I’d ask him about that.

“Billions and billions of bits of Cotton along the uphill drive through Texas, Arkansas, right past Cooter, Missouri, all the way to Indiana just made your trip seem longer.”

“Let Me Get You A Wee Map”

IF THERE’S ONE THING I CAN SAY ABOUT THE IRISH PEOPLE it’s that they are friendly and very helpful. They all seem to be working as unofficial Ambassadors of Goodwill for their country. If they spot us as being from overseas (The U.S.) they will do two things.

First they will tell you that they have been to “The States” and where. Almost always they have been to New York City, Las Vegas, and Florida. Florida can be translated as Disney World.

Secondly, they will ask if they can help you in any way. And they mean it.

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Merge, Merge, Merge

 

“LANE ENDS ONE MILE. GOOD LUCK.”

I’ve been doing a lot of driving lately on our illustrious Interstate Highway System. It’ll really be nice once they are finished with it. It seems that no matter where I go or in which direction I am faced with long slow moving lines of cars all wedged into one lane.

The System was started back in the 1950s. President Eisenhower, a career military man, saw the maze of roads as a way to quickly transport troops across the country in case of an emergency. It’s a good thing that there was no call to do that because, if today’s roadways are any indication, we would be in deep doo-doo (Technical term meaning ‘Uh Oh’).

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Drinking And Driving Can Go Together

 

I HAVE SEEN IT ALL NOW! Just when I think I have it all figured out and understand what is what and who is who, and what I can expect in my daily experience – Life throws me a curve.

My wife, the lovely and equally amazed, Dawn, were in Cincinnati last week. That, in and of itself, is nothing worthy of amazement. Cincinnati is, after all,…Cincinnati. If you’ve seen one fast food chili shop, you’ve seen ‘em all. But then we saw something that stopped us in our comfortably shod tracks.

We had stopped into a Kroger Supermarket to replenish our “Goodies” supply. Our shopping cart wobbled up and down each aisle ending up over near the Deli department and the in-store mini-St. Arbucks.

That is where we saw it.

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Buttons

SOME PEOPLE SEEM TO INSTINCTIVELY KNOW HOW TO PUSH MY BUTTONS. I wish two things: That they didn’t know how to do that, and that I wouldn’t keep running into those people. There is enough aggravation in everyday life that I don’t need any unsolicited donations.

But Life doesn’t work that way.

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Please, Don’t Let It Be The Squirrels

 

WELL, I KNEW IT HAD TO HAPPEN EVENTUALLY, but I was just hoping it wouldn’t make an appearance for a few more years.

The Toyota is starting to have “Issues.”

I guess you could call it “Mechanical Problems,” but the car is running and moving OK – I just better not try to go anywhere if it is raining or snowing heavily.

The wipers stopped working in Mid-Drizzle yesterday.

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Taking It Slow

 

BOY! THOSE ROADS ARE SLICK OUT THERE THIS MORNING! We had a couple of inches of that dry and fluffy snow last night and that has made driving a bit of an adventure. I’m fine because I am a perfect driver (Stop snickering!). It is the rest of those idiots out there that made things ugly.

This is Indiana in January. Are all of those other drivers imported from Southern Arizona where it never really snows? It’s like watching someone on ice skates for the first time only now they are piloting tons of steel on wheels.

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I Know They’re Not Listening To Me

I DON’T GET UPSET WHEN THEY IGNORE ME. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t surprise me at all. After all, while I’m talking to them, we are in different vehicles.Road Rage 2

Yup, I’m one of those people who talks out loud to the drivers of other cars on the road. I give them suggestions. I offer constructive criticism on their driving. I ask them if their car is equipped with things like turn signals, brakes, headlights, etc. I’m just trying to be helpful. Honest.

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Thank God For The Snack Bar

Sams Club crowdSOME DAYS YOU HAVE TO PUT ON YOUR BIG BOY SHORTS, grit your teeth and go into the eye of the storm. I did that yesterday. I made a conscious choice and, of my own volition, went into Sam’s Club.

Sam’s Club, the wholesale, really big box version of Wal-Mart, turns into a battlefield this time of year. By this time of year I mean that, while it is still early November for you and me, for Sam’s it is almost Christmas Eve. They are in full-tilt Christmas Shopping mode.

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Leaves of…uh…Leaves

covered_bridgeIT IS THE LATTER PART OF OCTOBER IN INDIANA. The trees are at their peak of Autumnal color. The leaves I saw this morning were red, yellow, gold, and blue. Blue? That turned out to be a plastic bag stuck on a branch.

People come from all over to look at the trees and go “Ooh” and “Ahhh.” After that they eat lunch and drive away. They never stay to help clean up the leaves as they fall to earth.

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Start Planning Your Vacation Now!

Casey windchimeIT IS PART OF HUMAN NATURE to want to excel, to be the best, at whatever one attempts. That is why we keep records of achievement. Sports keep records of just about every facet of a game, important or not. This mania for record keeping is why there is such a thing as the Guinness Book of World Records.

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The Oscar Meyer What?

20151009_095409

THERE ARE SOME DAYS WHEN THE WORLD JUST SHORT-SHEETS MY MIND.  I don’t take it personally. I know that the rest of humanity’s billions has it happen to each and every one of them too.

Today’s little, “Say What?” happened when I went to the pharmacy and headed back to the car. When I stepped outside I was greeted by what you see in the picture off to the right.

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More Questions Than Answers

bear in carTODAY IS ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE POSTS about the strange behavior of the human animal. If you have already heard or read about this please feel free to talk amongst yourselves or go get a piece of cake.

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I’m Exhausted, But Looking Good

wolfman-animotionIT IS NOT EVEN NOON AND I AM EXHAUSTED. This has been a busy morning. My internal alarm clock woke me up at 6:30 AM instead of the usual 7 AM. I don’t like being surprised like that.

Before I had even picked up the morning paper from its hiding place in the hedges, my wife, the lovely and standing erect, Dawn, was up and awake. This was getting spooky. The next thing you know lions will be lounging about with lambs and Marie Callender’s Banana Cream Pie will be a diet food.

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Eclipse? What Eclipse? We had An Eclipse?

EclipseWE WERE ALL SET ON SUNDAY NIGHT to watch the Super-Duper, High Octane, Bloody Eclipse. I made popcorn. We had a Thermos of hot tea, and I even cleaned the windshield on the car.

It rained.

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Get Well Soon!

dead deer get well soonHOW CAN ONE TRULY DEFINE what is, “Bad Taste” and what is not. Just as “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” the same can be said about humor. What one person thinks is funny another may not. In fact, I think you can be rock solid sure that for whatever one person thinks is funny there is another person who won’t laugh.

Such is the case of the picture to the right.

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Don’t Panic! OK, Go Ahead – Panic!!

THERE ARE SOME THINGS that Mankind should just not tinker with – Forces ofgiphy-6 Nature that, if disturbed, can have cataclysmic repercussions. It is foolish to think that you can control the weather or the motion of the planets. We have tried to go against Nature with things like The Designated Hitter in Baseball or continuing to bankroll Adam Sandler movies and the results have been appalling.

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