Thursday, March 9, 2017

Before I start today’s blog, let me acknowledge that today, March 9, 2017 would have been my Mom’s 101st birthday. Hard to believe she has been gone almost 6 years, having died just a month after her 95th birthday. She was a great lady, a great Mom and Grandma, and I’m sure her love of travel was passed on to her only child, and is part of the reason Susie and I have traveled so much since my retirement in January, 2016. Thanks Mom for the life lessons, and indeed for life!

So, this was a road day, as we covered 355 miles from Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Spartanburg, South Carolina! We pulled out of the driveway of the Hampton Inn a little before 10 this morning (after having a very nice breakfast…well done Hampton Inn East Tuscaloosa), filled the Sonata with $1.97 a gallon gas, and headed back to eastbound Interstate 20. During the course of the day we drove through a lot of road construction areas, looped around Birmingham, enjoyed our fellow travelers, crossed into Georgia, and as we crossed into Georgia, we also crossed back into the Eastern Time Zone.

We were supposed to loop around Atlanta too, but our GPS friend (the boys said we need to name her so we have somebody to bitch at when the directions go wrong) was a bit off! She told us to avoid the upcoming exit for I-285 and to continue on I-20, but then as soon as we passed the I-285 exit, she told us to take the ramp for exit 52B and I-285 North…unfortunately, exit 52 A and B were one exit, and once we passed A, we could not get to B, so we had an unexpected tour of Atlanta, Georgia!

In Atlanta, we bid farewell to our friend Interstate 20, and transferred to Interstate 85, which heads in a more North/Easterly direction. We were still in the throws of Atlanta for about the first 20 minutes on the road, so traffic was heavy and slow. Soon, however, we’d made it to the outskirts of Atlanta, and the traffic opened up and speeds increased, until it stopped dead for 25 minutes because of an accident ahead! Unlike yesterday, we were 2 and a half miles away from the nearest exit, and basically sat for 25 minutes as the road was effectively closed! See my rant below for more about that!


                                                    Our View for the 25 minutes we sat still


Eventually the road did re-open and we were off, but now our nice 4:30 arrival at our hotel was delayed till after 5 because of the time we’d lost and the fact that once we got to South Carolina, we were in early rush hour traffic!


We continued on I-85, crossed into South Carolina, passed Greenville and eventually reached Spartanburg and our Comfort Suites hotel. Interestingly, we are still reaping the benefits of our 9 week trip last fall, and for the second time on this trip stayed in a Choice Hotel for absolutely nothing. If you travel, and you do not belong to one of the many (or many of the many) Hotel Clubs, then you are cheating yourself out of some great perks. Belonging to the clubs, plus having the hotel app on your smart phone or tablet, makes traveling so easy these days. No more looking through the AAA Tour Book, and hoping the listing is accurate. Now you just input where you want to stay, and you’re presented with a number of options, where you can see the price, see what other travelers say about the accommodations, and make a reservation be it weeks or hours before you arrive. In addition to the Choice App, we utilize the Hilton, Marriott, Best Western, Wyndham and the Holiday Inn App! A traveler tool that nobody should be without!

As has become our routine on road trips, after checking in, I procured ice, and made Susie and I our usual Sailor Jerry and Diet Coke. Then, while enjoying our drink, Susie started dinner research, and I started working on the blog. We both felt like Italian tonight, and we found a place just down the street, that was recommended in everything we read. It was called Olive Garden, and it was nothing special, but exactly what we felt like tonight.

After dinner, it was time for a field trip. Where else do you go in South Carolina after dinner? Why, where else but Walmart!


Susie said she saw a couple of “Walmart People”, but I didn’t…but we did see lots of locals…’nuff said.

And that’s how our Thursday went. How was yours?

Okay…here is my rant I mentioned earlier!

In the past 2 weeks, we have traveled over 3000 miles, most on the Interstate Highway System. The one conclusion Susie and I have come to is that as Americans, we have become shitty drivers. I don’t care if the car has New York or New Jersey plates or is from Louisiana or Georgia, people can no longer drive! Is it a matter of the way driving is taught, is it the influence of video games and smart phones, is it that folks just don’t give a damn anymore, or is it just that the citizens of these United States have collectively turned into assholes?? The things we have seen in these 3000 miles are incredible. From changing lanes without the use of a directional signal (remember those), to driving close to 100 when the speed limit is 75, to passing on the right, to cutting off drivers because you want to be where they are, to running so close behind that you can’t see their headlights, to actually driving into the entrance lane to pass someone in the right lane….we have seen it all! I mentioned that today we sat absolutely still for 25 minutes on I-85 because of an accident ahead of us. If you read yesterday’s blog, you’ll remember that we sat yesterday on I-20 for close to 20 minutes, again because of an accident in front of us. We have seen these shitty drivers many times weave in and out of traffic, cut off other drivers, and only through the good grace (and driving skills) of other drivers, NOT cause an accident. One night last year on the LIE, we were passed by a couple of Japanese imports with loud mufflers, doing exactly that. About a mile after they’d buzzed us, the road stopped, and as we came over a hill, we discovered one of these bastards and 5 other poor souls who’d done nothing but be in the wrong place at the wrong time spattered across the Expressway, and I’m sure the accident was caused by the actions of these jerks. Between the last 2 days, we have lost almost an hour in travel time due to the actions of folks who have no concern about their fellow drivers. As are so many people in today’s world, all they care about is themselves, and frankly couldn’t give a damn about who they hurt or inconvenience. My Dad used to say when I was a kid, that he’d love to drive around with an old banged up truck, and not bother stopping for the jerks on the road that cut you off, turned in front of you, or changed lanes without signaling. Perhaps not much has changed, but I for one am tired of these jerks taking the lives of myself, my family, and friends for granted. I am tired of the selfish assholes the world seems to be populated by, and I am especially tired of the jerks who think they can drive, and who create accidents for which the rest of us have to pay!!!

Okay…rant done!