Standard question upon discovering that we only drive to Michigan:
"How long does that take?"
"Fourteen hours if you stay in the US. You can shave off an hour or two if you cut through Canada and don't get held up at the border."
I like road trips. Rich will tolerate them but for the most part, he's not a fan. I enjoy viewing different landscapes and the numbness of the road. There's also the sense of being away from it all but technology has certainly changed that. As I consulted maps on my iPhone, relied upon Waze for the quickest route to our destination and checked work email on my Blackberry, that fact hit me hard. Between 1999 and 2002, my friends and I embarked upon countless road trips to see our favorite bands. Living in Massachusetts, we are somewhat in the middle of Northeast Concert Territory. Show in Albany, NY? Sure, we don't even need a hotel. Syracuse, Buffalo, Long Island, Philly, DC, New Jersey. Obviously, the shows were the main point of the road trips but it was more than that. We became different people on the road, disconnected from work and home. Back in those days, when you were on the road, you were truly on the road.
I was working in public accounting when the road trips began and back in 1999, email was used probably 1/10th of what it is used today. If you needed to ask someone a question or talk to a client, you picked up the phone and when you were out of the office, you changed your phone message to say that you would be out of the office. The majority of the time, the caller wouldn't leave a message asking you to return their call, they would call the next person in line because all good business models have back up people and back then, when people were away, they weren't connected. I couldn't check work email unless I was sitting at my desk.
Cell phones did exist back then but not how we know and use them today. Imagine a world where texting didn't exist and calling plans were limited and expensive if you called long distance or went over your number of minutes. Yes, minutes! Remember those days? Plus, it wasn't the norm to call someone on their cell. Social rules were different.
So now it's 2015 and I have an iPhone and a Blackberry. And kids. But I still prefer to hit the road versus flying.
We had planned to leave before the crack of dawn on Saturday, the first day of August for our 2015 Michigan Family Fun Trip. I had taken the day before, Friday, off from work in order to pack. Here's the thing - getting up at four in the morning is absolute torture for me. I'm not a morning person. I just don't function well, I feel sickly and it kind of sticks with me all day. I suggested to Rich that we leave at some point on Friday, drive until whenever (somewhere in upstate NY) and then find a hotel for the night. Shaving three to four hours off of our drive would make Saturday so much more bearable for everyone. (Think of the children!) Years and years ago, Grammy and I did this very same thing when our departure was delayed and it had worked out well for us. Rich was playing in a golf tournament that day but unfortunately, it was in the afternoon so we weren't able to hit the highway until 6:50 that night. Hit some traffic on the Pike, had to stop for the bathroom, had to stop for food, stuck in construction traffic, had to stop for the bathroom again. The number of hours we were on the road should have had us closer to Syracuse but we were just outside of Albany in that section of the Thruway where there really are no hotels. After four and a half hours of driving, we finally found a hotel in Herkimer, NY. With only three rooms available.
So that part of the plan didn't really work out so well. I kept saying to Rich, "But Grammy and I had no issues. We drove until we were tired and right there was a hotel with rooms." It always works out when tired kids aren't involved.
Waiting to go to breakfast.
That was our room and on the other side of that guardrail is the Thruway. It was almost like camping on the highway.
I didn't get the memo regarding Backwards Day.
Because we had planned to stop in Canada on our return trip home, we had all of documents (passports and birth certificates) with us and so it was decided to cut across Canada to reach Michigan. Amazingly, there was no wait at all to cross the border into Canada and only three cars ahead of us to drive back into the US.
Bridge to Canada
Port Huron, back to the US, and Driving While Photographing (in the passenger seat.)
So how long did it take us to drive to Michigan this year? 13.5 hours.