Pharos-Tribune

June 13, 2013

ABBOTT: Are we there yet?


Pharos-Tribune

---- — Since May 1, I’ve been on three car trips — the longest covered nearly 2,000 miles and the shortest covered about 400 miles.

Travel stinks. It isn’t easy, and I’m not sure it is always worth it.

I’ve always loved experiencing new places. But, getting there always has challenges. Here are a few of my random observations about our recent stints in the car.

Gas prices. Monday we drove back to southern Indiana from West Lafayette. The price of a gallon of gas varied town by town all the way down the left-hand side of the state. We found our winner in Crawfordsville at $3.54 where every other Hoosier traveler also bought gas, so there was a wait.

Down the street, gas was 20 cents more.

We also witnessed one of my pet peeves. My husband growls at me when I bring this up. He is the better person. He gives the offender the benefit of the doubt.

This drives me nuts. When you pull into a busy gas station while traveling, I hate it when the person who just finished pumping gas leaves his car and runs in. The car sits there empty while there’s a line behind his car.

Coming out with his Copenhagen chaw and his Mountain Dew, he is still utterly oblivious to the line waiting for a pump.

Can I get an “Amen” now or am I out of line? (That was a terrible pun, and I apologize.) Naturally I’m so stressed that I have to go inside and buy Sugar Babies and a Diet Coke (the staple snack of the truly ignorant.)

Directions. You can’t fully trust the GPS, so for the longest car trip I ordered maps from a travel service. While trying to find our hotel in Charleston, West Virginia, we got lost and circled the arrival/departure points at the Charleston Airport. That was truly special, but this time it wasn’t our fault.

Turns out the turn-by-turn blow-by-blow map left out the street that the hotel was on, sending us about 10 miles in the other direction.

Abbott’s Principle. There’s a rule of travel that any seasoned road warrior knows. We’ll call it Abbott’s Principle. Abbott’s Principle is that if you urgently need directions, no one in 30 miles will have heard of the city you are in, the road you are on, or God forbid the Hampton Inn’s location.

However, if you do not need or want directions, everyone will advise you anyway.

As we’ve done for almost all of the last 25 years, we go to Indianapolis for husband’s family reunion on Race Day. Yes, we are the only people in the universe who go to Indy on Race Day and don’t go to the race.

After the race, we found ourselves in about five miles of traffic north of Indianapolis on the interstate, or log road as I like to call it. (I-65 has been in the repair stage since I moved back to Indiana from Florida in 1988.)

My brother and his family went to the race, and I wanted to call them from the car and see where they were. My brother’s girlfriend answered the phone, and I said, “Where are you in the world’s largest parking lot?”

They had just left the North 40 parking lot at the track. My brother’s significant other was distressed that we were on I-65 North and being a Lebanon native, wanted to counsel us about reaching 52 North. We were fine — we were in the three or four mile stretch where traffic bottlenecks after the race when lanes go from four to three to two. Everyone slows down for no particular reason and rubbernecks.

Most of my life I’ve lived in the Midwest. One of our great sports is the “short cut.” There are multiple ways to enter and leave Indianapolis, and most everyone has found “the way.”

Radio stations. Another aspect is that if you don’t have XM Satellite or an iPod in your car, you are doomed to listen to radio stations with poor reception. The radio stations available in West Virginia (which was most of our long car trip) represent “both kinds of music” as stated in the movie “The Blues Brothers” — country and western.

Thankfully, my husband brought his iPod, and we listened to everything from his collection, including about 30 minutes of French pronunciation. He’s been learning French for 30 years. I’m not sure if I liked our ugly American French pronunciation or an hour of Leon Redbone.

Now we are home sweet home with no car trips planned in the near future. Home is always the best destination.

Amy McVay Abbott is a freelance journalist and author of “The Luxury of Daydreams.” She can be reached at amymcvayabbott@gmail.com.