Sunday, October 18, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Let's start out with some observations:
- Rest Areas: Why do some states have many rest areas and others have virtually none? And is it just a coincidence that those that have fewer rest areas have the most that are closed? California seems to lead the West in this area where you can travel long distances with no rest areas and just when you think you're lucky enough to come upon one, those dreaded orange cones announce that your bladder isn't getting any relief just yet, and your muscles tighten for another long ride.
- Drivers who live in the fast lane, regardless of their speed. Most states post signs and have laws stating that slower traffic is to keep right. It just doesn't matter. People will drive in the left lane and stay there, slowing down all the traffic behind them. That increases the potential for an accident as drivers perilously swerve around them on the right to gain distance and get back in the fast lane to pass other slower vehicles and trucks.
- Speaking of passing, many drivers will pull out to pass slower vehicles and then simply slow down to the speed of the vehicle they are passing or a tiny bit faster and then take eons to make the pass, if at all. You know the ones...the speed limit is 65, they come up on another vehicle moving at 66 and then slow down to 64 to pass. Takes about a half hour but they don't care. They seem to have no place to go and all day to get there.
- Highway construction: Why the hell don't they take down the signs that tell you the right or left lane is closed ahead when they are done for the day and nothing at all is closed? They could at least cover the sign or turn it sideways or something. You have all these drivers switching lanes, or speeding up, or slowing down anticipating something that never happens. And the DOT wonders why motorists have such a blatantly "don't give a rat's behind" attitude toward road construction? Because it seems the road construction is a 24 hour issue that never gets settled or done or even properly delineated in many cases.
- Pavement: Ever notice how the right hand truck lanes are all beat to crap from the heavy duty trucks and the ruts from the heavy loads? So the trucks don't want to drive in the mess they created and move to the middle lane when they can and leave the right lane empty, thus creating the same ruts in the middle lane. Wonder where they will go when the center lane is all screwed up too? I don't blame the truckers for not wanting to bounce like a jack-in-the-box down the highway, but they did create the problem with their trucks. Lets see them force some action by the DOT and Congress to come up with a plan to fix the roads so they don't have these problems. Incidentally, why in hell would any state use blacktop on their highways anyway, knowing full well it won't stand up to truck weights? Might want to ask the northwest states that question.
- Speaking of poor roads, driving in at least one state, you find the lanes are crowned to the point that you must constantly fight the wheel to remain straight down the road. It's not alignment or anything else, simply that the road tracks so badly you can't remain in the lane without working at it pretty intensely. I know they call the BMW the "ultimate driving machine" but really, who wants to wrestle with the wheel for hundreds of miles on what's supposed to be a decent highway system.
- Motels: Why would anyone build a motel that backs up to the interstate so close that trucks make the building shake like an earthquake? We stayed in a Best Western that was a nice place except that I was sure we were on an earthquake fault, until I realized it was the big rigs going past. The funny thing is that we had to drive a ways off the interstate to get there, but it circles back on the highway and in the dark, you couldn't tell. Actually, from the courtyard it was not nearly as noisy as in the room! Sometimes being dead tired is a blessing...
- More on motels...doesn't anyone think there are likely families traveling along the highway and that there should be some really nice hotels available. At least some that don't appear outside like a truckstop or a no-tell-motel? Many we encountered had so many semi's parked outside it was difficult to tel if they were motels or truckstops. I'm not ragging on truckers, but if the motels expect family clientele, they need to have some that are family oriented, where you don't need to run through a gamut of tankers and 40 foot boxes to reach the front door. Then again, I do understand that most clients of the motels are likely truckers moving goods up and down Interstate 5 so that's who they cater to.
- GPS downloads: Incidentally, if you download the programs for your GPS that tell you that your favorite hotel chain has a hotel at the next exit, don't expect that it will be a decent place anyway. Just because it's a national chain means nothing. And those "diamond" ratings? In some cases they should be replaced by small piles of you know what, or perhaps cockroaches. That would better signify what the hotels are like. Sometimes I wonder when the last time AAA has been to the hotel to give it a rating at all.
- One more on motels...don't shampoo the carpets if you're going to rent the room out. It makes the customers feet wet and really pisses them off when they take their shoes off! Plus, the shampooer doesn't get the carpet clean as evidenced by the filth on my white socks. Nice clean room otherwise, but hold the shampoo for warmer weather!
- Road signs: Some states post road signs well ahead so you can be prepared to make whatever moves are necessary and safe to exit or change lanes. Others seem to find it amusing to place the signs where you have to either guess, or make evasive maneuvers to exit in a hurry. Take lodging signs. Why not use English that says HOLIDAY INN or BEST WESTERN or similar. Why use a logo that you can't hardly see at night especially when the reflectivity is mostly worn off. Do they expect you to get off at every exit to see what the hell is really there? I sure guess so, since that's how we found all the creepy hotels that we wouldn't stay at! As you're cruising past the exit, you see the eatery or motel that you wish you had stopped at...after it's too late. Then you're doomed to the Roach Motel at the exit from hell.
Back to reality, road trips can be fun, yet exhausting. If you have lots of time and can take in the scenery, stop often, and have an enormous bladder, you're good to go. Otherwise, road trips put a lot of pressure on you to get where you're going and then you can relax. But there's always the trip home.