My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Hayley's excellent exhausting roadtrip

On Friday, my daughter, Hayley, decided to drive home from school. No big deal except for the fact that Hayley's school is in Arizona, her home is in Connecticut, her vehicle has over 130,000 of hard miles on its odometer, and her sense of direction is challenged.

After trying unsuccessfully to convince her to reconsider, I Google mapped her roadtrip and spent the next 2.5 days guiding her across the country via her cell phone.

Here are the "highlights" of her 2759-mile roadtrip (from my perspective).

Hayley left Tucson Friday evening. I "accompanied" her through Arizona and southern New Mexico and guided her through the tricky switch from I-10 to I-25 in Las Cruces, NM.

Hayley discovered that she did not have her driver's license. She assumes she threw it away with the ticket and boarding pass from her last air flight.

After she was safely on her way north up I-25, I went to bed at approximately 2:30 AM EDST (all the times mentioned in this blog entry are EDST).

Hayley phoned home early Saturday morning to inform us that she had slept 3 hours in the Albuquerque airport parking garage and that she was back on the road.

She phoned again to report that her car was acting funny; the battery light was lit and the car was running sluggishly. It sounded like an alternator problem to me. (I'm no car mechanic, but the original Land Barge suffered the exact same fate on a roadtrip a few years ago, so I guessed the problem was the same.)

As luck would have it, she was in the middle of nowhere in northeastern New Mexico. The closest populous place was over the state line in Trinidad, Colorado, so I hoped she could make it there.

Hayley managed to get her car to Trinidad, found a garage that fixed the problem (the alternator), and was back on the road in about an hour. (Thank you, Les's Services in Trinidad!)

Saturday afternoon, I guided Hayley from I-25 in the south end of Colorado Springs to State Route 24 and, 66 miles later, on to I-70.

Hayley says she loved the scenery in Colorado.

As the Kansas state line approached, Hayley was tiring fast (at about 6 PM) and she checked into a Comfort Inn in Downtown Burlington, Colorado, for about ten hours of sleep.

She phoned home early Sunday morning to ask me how to add air to her tires. She had never done this before and I had no idea how the air pump at the gas station worked, so it took awhile, but we did manage to check the pressure and add air.

Back on the road, she crossed the Kansas state line and while she was talking to me, she mentioned that she was being pulled over by the state police! I started worrying. She did not have her driver's license. Her car was packed with so many personal belongings that visibility was limited. I started concocting the worst-case scenarios. As it turned out, she was "only" speeding (80 MPH in a 75-MPH zone) and received a $140 ticket. (When she pays the fine, she has to send back a photocopy of her driver's license.)

Hayley found the scenery in Kansas, "boring, but pretty" (not pretty boring).

Since the next 686 miles of her trip was straightforward (I-70 straight through Kansas and Missouri), I took a break from navigation and did some yard work.

Hayley made excellent progress and passed the I-270 bypass around St. Louis before I caught up with her late Sunday afternoon, so I guided her through the city and over the Mississippi River. At least she got a great view of the Gateway Arch, which she would have missed if she took the I-270 bypass.

It was more I-70 straight through Illinois, Indiana, and half of Ohio, so I took another break.

Hayley reported that in Illinois, she discovered the "grossest" restroom of her trip.

I was exhausted and was ready for bed at 10 PM, so I phoned Hayley to give her explicit directions on how to get through Ohio's Columbus, Akron, and Youngstown, to I-80. In my opinion, the I-76 leg between I-71 and I-80 in Ohio is the most poorly marked roadway I have had the displeasure of driving, especially westbound. Driving to the Dayton Hamvention in the past, I estimate that 2 out of 3 trips, I manage to take the wrong exit or miss an exit in the Akron area due to the poorly marked highway, so I was a little worried about Hayley traversing that area.

Fatherly instincts at work, I awoke at 1:30 AM and found Hayley approaching this "dangerous" leg of the trip. I talked to her on the phone until she was safely on I-80 heading toward the Pennsylvania state line two hours later.

Hayley called early Monday morning to say that she was very tired and was looking for a place to rest. She finally found a rest area in Snow Shoe, PA, and slept in her car.

By the time I arrived at work at 7:30 AM, she called to say that she was back on the road. The rest of the trip was relatively easy (I-80 to I-81 to I-84 to home), well marked, and the only "gotcha" being left-hand exits. I briefed her on the directions and did not hear from her again until she was on I-84 with Port Jervis, NY, in sight.

Since using the cell phone in hand is illegal in Connecticut (and maybe New York), she did not call during the rest of her trip except for a brief call telling me that she was almost in Waterbury.

She is home now and we are both exhausted!


    1. I am re-reading this now, and now the story is kind of funny isn't it? You wrote it well, Dad!