Saturday, January 29, 2011

On The Road Again: Dayton

"There is something-exciting-about leaving everything behind. There is something-deep and pulling-about leaving everything behind. Something about having everything you think you'll ever need sitting in the seat next to you.

And I watch another white dash / another white dash / another white dash fly beside us" -- Butterfly Boucher, Another White Dash.

My day job features a decent amount of travel: More nights spent in hotels than I can count in 2010 and it looks like 2011 will have at least the same amount of travel.

Previous years have been a blend of local and distance, but last year seemed to be mostly local projects -- Columbus and Pittsburgh ad naseum. I enjoy driving, cranking my iPod to an extent. Of course, the mileage reimbursement checks are nice given that as near as I can tell the actual cost of operating my vehicle is far less than the standard ($0.51/mile) reimbursement rate.

I enjoy driving highways for the first timeand long stretches on back roads and country highways, where the new sights keep me alert and intrigued. Driving the same roads over and over, on the other hand bores me*... honestly I prefer flying.

This week, though, I found myself in Dayton for the first time in a couple years and the wonderful sense of humor that some Southern Ohioans had amused me in between the passing of every other white dash: There's Newcomerstown, Mechanicsburg, and Mechanicsville (one wonders how many newcomers and mechanics habitate in their namesakes).

There's a county named Delaware -- for a long time the freeway side sign simply said "Entering Delaware", though on this trip I noticed a "County" has joined it. In Delaware county there's a town named Wilmington. It's quite startling for a road-weary driver to suddenly happen on a sign proclaiming that you're "Entering Delaware" only to be followed by a "Exit XXX -- Wilmington -- 1 Mile".

There's the perpetual road construction between Columbus and Dayton on Interstate 70; it seemed to be at exactly the same state of progress as the last time I drove to Dayton.

There's the hotel I always stay at when I visit that part of Dayton. As homogeneous as each member of that particular chain becomes on the inside; their environments are as distinct as ever. Last night when I checked in I was merely tired -- abandoning my normal "try something local" dining strategy for a quick fix. "There's a McDonald's right over that way, right?" I ask while checking into my hotel room and simultaneous gesturing over my shoulder. The clerk takes a moment to think, "Yes there is."

Fortunately on this trip the weather cooperated and there was only light snow on the trip down and a bit heavier on the drive home. I considered doing the back roads -- coming back from Ada, Ohio, for example, my favorite is to take the 2-lane "Old US 30/Lincoln Highway", where you can drive for an hour or more without seeing another car -- but especially with the cold temperatures I'm hesitant to venture too far from the well traveled routes.

And now I'm home.


*- Though when I moved to California to Cleveland I drove the 2400 miles at a rate of just over 800 miles a day with 10-12 hour days. My butt was sore, and I didn't want to touch a car for a week.

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