July 06, 2000

Florida vacation and driving

Whew. Lots of travelling in the last few days. We drove from Pittsburgh to Nana’s place in Chipley, Florida, stayed there almost two days, then drove to Rockledge, Florida. Stayed a day and a half then drove back to Pittsburgh. It was the longest trip of our relationship so far – so many people have horror stories – and we did excellent.

It was fantastic to see Nana -- it's been quite some time -- and Mike as well. We also got to meet Mike's wife, Nana, their two kids, Kaila and Rachel, and their posse of dogs that range from probably six to a hundred pounds. Nana and Mike's clan live next to each other in a very rural area. Very rural. Red clay roads that get slippery like ice when it rains, nasty critters around the area (rattlesnakes and scorpions), half-hour rides to get basics. It's really an adventure for her.

Nana got to meet Barb and we talked about the past and the present with a lot of emotion. I learned some things I never knew about my mom, my grandfather and Nana. (And me, too.) She's just an amazing person in so many ways that I never fully realized when I was younger.

Julie and Paul's wedding was beautiful. Everything went off without a hitch and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. It's interesting going to a wedding after you've already been to one, because you look at certain things much differently, particularly logistics. I also found myself paying more attention to the actual ceremony, since before I didn't necessarily know what everything was for and the history behind it. I got quite a few photos of their wedding and will be getting them developed in the next few days.

Julie and Paul decided to have the reception be a choose-your-own-seat type, which was interesting. (I suppose the goal of trying to get people to meet other people, while noble, doesn't often work out.) As a result, we sat near some really nice people. Both Julie and Paul grew up in Florida and they had a number of people they'd known since childhood at the wedding, which to both Barb and I was really cool because we don't have friends like that.

Driving through these different states was interesting. I get so used to the trip between DC and Pittsburgh that I forget how other states do things, and how lame they can be. First of all, extrapolating the interstates we drove to the country: I don't think there's a single interstate out there that's not under repair. What's up with that? Is our road-making ability so primitive that we cannot simply let these things exist for periods of time without shutting lanes down to replace or patch?

One example of lameness: in North Carolina on I-77 north of Statesville, there are a number of repair projects going on: no problem. All states have lowered speed limits in work areas: no problem. However, what if you're driving at 4 a.m. and no work crews are out and both lanes are open? Do people still need to drive the lowered speed limit (in some cases 20 mph slower) for the entire extent of the repair project? Lame. To make it worse, they'd have three miles of this, then the blessed orange 'End Road Work' sign. Three hundred yards past that would be the beginning of another road repair project, for which you'd have to slow down again. This happened three times in a row! Lame lame. One unfortunate result of this practice is that people will stop believing the signs that are put up.

And it's not like the first problem is insurmountable: West Virginia has the same signs for slowing down in the work zone, with two additions. There's a 'When Flashing' qualifier underneath the speed limit, and two yellow flashers atop the entire sign. Whenever the crew reports for work, they flip a switch and the flashers start flashing and people slow down. Easy!

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