Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stupid Cars

First of all, I apologize for the spotty postings recently. There was vacation, then I was sick for a couple of days...

Speaking of vacation, this recent trip was really the final straw for me regarding car travel. 10 hours in the car (plus stops) is just too much for a rational human being. Your back aches, your butt is going numb, you are bored out of your skull, and there is really nothing you can do about it. Maybe you can nap a little or play some road games, but you can't get up and walk around or do anything fun. If you're like me, reading or watching movies in the car makes you queasy. Even with two people along, you still have to do a lot of driving. Highway driving. Which is very stressful, so you spend hours suspended in a state of anxious immobility.

I'm a pretty good long distance driver. I have lived in the country before, where everything was an hour away. And I've had times in my life when I was making long trips almost every week, for various reasons. I still appreciate aimless drives through the countryside.

But in this case, driving was a nightmare. And expensive. And I realized there are better options. I have sworn never to do it again. Any time I can, I will take the train as far as I can, then rent a car or catch a bus. On the train, you can walk around, relax, read, or wander down to the dining car for a snack and a beer. That's traveling in style... If there's no train, maybe I will fly. Worst case, I'll break the driving up into two days.

To add injury and insult to, um, something, my water pump failed in "east boondocks North Carolina". We spent 5 hours and a couple hundred dollars getting it towed to Rocky Mount and repaired. The repair shop was just a few blocks from downtown Rocky Mount, so we had a little time to walk around and explore. There, we discovered a grand, historic train station that served 9 or 10 trains a day! It was right on the New York-Florida line. Just as we walked up, a couple of guys were bicycling away from the station. And a train to Florida was coming through in 30 minutes. Boy was it tempting to hop on board! But no, instead we had to head back to the garage, get the car, and drive until 5 in the morning.


  1. I just checked the Amtrak website...8 trains a day! I thought we were doing great with 4,where I live. I ride Amtrak as much as possible. You can even get Amtrak points and save them up for free tickets. We are headed for Boston for a week using Amtrak points to cover the cost for one of the tickets.

    If you have a folder or plan ahead you can take a bicycle with you too.


  2. I feel your pain with the car breaking down. Mine once broke down in the middle of nowhere in rural AL - the alternator went out AND drained the battery as it went. I kept saying that I felt as if the lights were getting dimmer and I couldn't see, and sure enough, they were - the entire car eventually died and I had to coast off the road onto the shoulder. We also had to be towed almost an hour away and spend the night in a hotel waiting for it to be fixed. But this was after we basically hitched a ride with a stranger who stopped to ask if we needed help. Thank goodness he wasn't a serial killer (although he did have a shotgun in the window of his pickup, as most people in rural AL - haha)! It was before the age when everyone had a cell phone, so we didn't have much choice. Even better was the fact that the car was practically new but was just over the mileage for the warranty - ugh!! I hate cars! I'm with you and much prefer not to drive if at all possible.