Fastest Migration Yet

August, 2019
By Jack Welsch


Sadly, this trip didn’t pan out as it was originally planned.  While we normally take circuitous, scenic routes when driving to PA for the summer, we generally drive directly back to AZ at the summer’s end. This year, though, we’d planned on traveling from PA to AZ via Seattle.  While that’s a LONG way around, we wanted to visit some very dear friends who will no longer be able to winter here in sun City. 

Sadly, the recurrence of my vertigo attacks, three times while we were in Portugal during the summer and once afterward, made that very long trip a daunting prospect as they debilitate me for several hours. In fact, our three sons and my brother, Tom, all mounted a campaign to change our plans.  In the end, their suggestion was to have Tom drive us directly to Arizona and then fly back.  We felt it unnecessary for Tom to do that but readily agreed that it was wiser to forego the detour to Washington.  That was a painful decision but one we felt was wise.

Monday, August 26

Having winterized the cottage and packed the car before going to bed, we were up at 6:30 & on the road at 7:15.  Taking the back road to I-86 at Damascus, we grabbed breakfast at a McDonald’s in West Windsor.  I had anticipated issues in the loooong term construction project in Binghamton, but we blew right through.  This is was the first time we’d gone west via I-86 and it was a dream, especially compared to truck-infested I-80.   Shortly after getting on I-90, we grabbed lunch in a Wendy's around Erie.  I was also concerned about traffic in Cleveland but I-271 saw us through and onto I-71 towards Columbus without issues.  About an hour north of Columbus we hit rain and it was mostly heavy all the way to.  Dayton.  A lot of &$#&@ construction made it even more fun.

We arrived at the Drury in Dayton about 5:15.  We stay in Drurys whenever we can because a) their suites are true suites with a door between bedroom and sitting area and b) the room includes access to their “Kickback”, where you get three drinks and a modest dinner buffet.   On this trip, that was especially important since Linda was concerned about the possibility of a vertigo attack in a restaurant.  So, we ate at the hotel, then hung in the room.  Checking e-mail, I learned that my book will be the text for “my” course at Wilkes

Tuesday, August 27

We had hoped that the day would dawn sunny but awoke to dark skysand drizzle.  After breakfast at the hotel, we were in the road at 7:30, enduring rain for much of of the morning. Our “gourmet” lunch was at a subway somewhere east of St. Louis.  Last year we’d followed I-55 through the city and it was a disaster.  This time, we took I-255 around the city and it was sweet. 

While I find driving through much of the Midwest incredibly boring, I must say that the Ozarks are beautiful.  Perhaps that’s because they look so much like Pennsylvania.

We got to the Drury in Springfield. MO about 4:00 and, after killing a little time, had drinks and tacos at the “Kickback”.  While riding down on the elevator we met “Mike" from Denver and ended up sitting with him at dinner.  He is a consultant on railroad construction.  Nice guy. 

Wednesday, August 28

We were up at 6:15, had breakfast at the hotel and were on the road at 7:15.  On previous trips through Oklahoma, we’d been frustrated at the many toll booths and the need for cash on those on the Kilpatrick Turnpike.  We’d hoped to get a “PikePass” at a rest stop, like you can get EZPass and SunPass. Unfortunately, that is not possible in Oklahoma, so we stopped at the PikePass store Tulsa to get one. PikePass is sweet; better than tossing hands full of quarters!  Since we had an easy driving day planned, we stopped at and P. F. Chang’s in Oklahoma City for lunch.

I must admit that I LOVE the lane discipline in Texas.  In PA as in many states, you are supposed to stay in the right lane except to pass. That is largely ignored with people driving mile after mile in the left lane, sometimes well below the speed limit.  In Texas, people really respect that law and I’ve rarely seen anyone slogging along in the left lane. 

Having said that, the roads in Texas were a real pain; in several places, they had the road marked as a work zone for miles and miles (once 12 and once 25), but with no evidence of any work other than occasional cones and barrels off to the side of the road and periodic work zone speed limit signs.  No work, no lane closures, no people, no machinery, nothing but the need to slow down, possibly so the county mounties could score some fines.  Where there WAS a lot of construction, of course, was in Amarillo, which has been a construction mess since we first came out here in 2015.  I think that is a welfare project and I hope to live long enough to see the end of it. 

Anyway, we arrived, exhausted, at the Drury in Amarillo at about 4:45, just in time to rest a bit before the ”Kick-back”  I rather wanted to walk next door to a Mexican restaurant but Lin was still nervous that I’d have a vertigo attack so we ate at the hotel again.  I’m not a huge salad fan but their Asian sesame dressing was so good, I had three helpings!

Thursday, August 29

We were up a bit after 6:00, ate in the hotel and were on the road at 7:15 again.  I-40 in Texas and the first part of New Mexico was a treat; at times I had it almost to myself.  Once it got hilly, though, the trucks slowed down and started playing leapfrog.  That was compounded by the jerks, including truckers, slogging along in the left lane.  Stressful is an understatement. 

In Albuquerque, a car kicked up a stone which hit my windshield with a loud crack but, I thought, no damage.  A bit further along, two lanes were closed due to a crash but, fortunately, we got through relatively quickly.  Still later, I noticed small pock mark near the top of the windshield; I guess that rock was not without consequences.  We stopped for lunch at a Mickey D’s in Gallup and, when we got back to the car, noticed a huge crack emanating from the pock mark.  By the time we got home, that one was larger and another had formed.  Ugh!

We had planned on spending the night in yet another hotel but, when we did the math, we realized the 2 time changes (once at the TX/NM border and a second at the NM/AX border related to DST), we’d be home before supper.  So... we skipped Gallup, skipped Flagstaff, and headed home.

As we approached Flagstaff, we saw a number of huge rain storms off to the south and extending westward.  While we missed the worst of it, as we headed South in I-17, we encountered horrific rain; almost impossible to drive in.  As all the cars were struggling along, on 18-wheeler FLEW past, barely missing us.  How he didn’t cause a multi-car accident is a mystery and miracle.
We arrived home about 4:40, unpacked and ate at Dominick’s.  This time it was REALLY good to be home!!