Thank you, John Cleese (P365 for January 15)

I drove today.  Not simply place the shifter in ‘D’, set the cruise control, and point the wheel toward Point B, but I actually drove.  Real two-hands-on-the-wheel, row-the-gears driving.

I have a new GPS.  The old one had a voice which sounded like Sir Alec Guinness, so it had earned the nickname Obi-Wan.  I still miss Old Ben, and I’ve not found a similar voice for the new one.  I have, however, found a John Cleese voice for it.

Today I drove to Pennsylvania.  The reasons why should become evident in tomorrow’s post, but today was about the drive.  I gave John my destination, and let him do his thing.  I wasn’t worried, as I know all of the major interstates and there are no Oregon mountain passes around here.  John churned away in the memory banks for a while, and then off we went.

Interstate 95 through Connecticut is a dismal, boring road, second only in misery to the New Jersey Turnpike.  I was thrilled to see that Mr. Cleese avoided it entirely.  He led me down the Cross and Merritt Parkways, the Hutchinson, the Cross County, and a few others I cannot remember.  For those not familiar with the parkways of NY and CT, you are missing out.  They were built before the interstate highway system, and they’re different.  Commercial traffic is not allowed, but that’s only the beginning.  A standard interstate uses bridges and cuts to achieve the straightest possible route between two points, but a parkway sits on the land.  They feature wonderful arched Art-Deco overpasses, hills, curves, and even the occasional tunnel.  The medians have trees in them, and the road generally runs through woods.  They’re just fun to drive.

It’s not a European mountain pass or the circuit at Lime Rock, and I’m not driving a supercar.  But my little sedan is nimble and has a wonderul 6-speed manual transmission.  With the sunroof open and lots of random good music on the stereo, the day was good.

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John took me down the east side of the Hudson.  We touched the ground briefly in Manhattan on Riverside Drive, before climbing up onto the George Washington Bridge.  The traffic was light, and even the bridge was beautiful.  Thank you, John.

Then we were dumped into the 12 lanes of industrial wasteland that is the New Jersey Turnpike.  My dad will drive hours out of his way to avoid it, and I understand why.  You can’t win them all, I guess.  I got through it by putting the Sopranos CD on the iPod and briefly wishing for my truck.  New Jersey may have an undeserved reputation, but the Turnpike does nothing to dispel it.

I made it to PA in one piece, and the hotel has decent WiFi.  More details in tomorrow’s post.

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