April 19, 2008: Traveling to Syracuse

Today’s quote comes from Blaise Pascal: “If our condition were truly happy, we would not seek diversion from it in order to make ourselves happy.

I was up and moving before five thirty this morning. Today is a busy day with me covering the early shift at work and putting in more than a half day in the office and then I will be driving up to Syracuse at noon to go to Onondaga Community College for a panel meeting. Once again for yet another combination of origins and destinations I will be driving the northern section of i81. No matter what I do that road is my road. I wonder how many non-teamsters have driven any significant length of that highway as much as I have.

US Interstate 81 is an interesting highway – it is one of the few highways in the US interstate system that really has little to do with any major cities. US 81 starts at the Thousand Island Bridge in northern NY at a remote crossing point into Canada. It is a popular destination for vacationers looking to visit the beautiful Thousand Islands region an the St. Lawrence Seaway and it is the main crossing for traffic coming from the US Eastern Seaboard bound for the Canadian capital but in general it is not a heavy traffic area as it is so far removed from any major metropolitan area and Ottawa is a small and not tourist heavy city.

At the southern end route 81 stops in Knoxville, Tennessee. It is hard to imagine the traffic pattern that involves the Canadian capital, central NY, the Appalachian watershed and Knoxville, TN. I have no idea what they were thinking when they designed this road. No one from either end who gets on this road and drives it for any length of time ends up where they would imagine that they should. The only major cities, if you can even call them that, that exist along the route are Syracuse and Binghamton (fourth and sixth largest New York cities), Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Harrisburgh in Pennsylvania (Harrisburgh being the most important city along route 81 and the linchpin of the route) and then nothing in Maryland or Virginia until arriving at Knoxville which is the third largest city in Tennessee and about the same size as Syracuse.

I was planning to leave around noon but didn’t manage to escape the office until twelve thirty or so.  I headed west on route 78 and hit McDonald’s for an “on the road” meal.  I made good time heading north and got to Onondaga Community College around four thirty – a little under four hours of drive time.

The meeting went really well and lasted about three and a half hours which is about what it was last time that we got together about eighteen months ago.  I hung around for a little while talking to Tim after the meeting was over but we both needed to get home so I left around eight thirty.

The drive home seemed to take no time at all and I barely noticed the drive.  It was almost exactly midnight when I rolled into Newark.  I walked in the door and Oreo got out of bed to see who it was.  When he saw it was me he moved onto the futon in the living room so that he could keep an eye on me in case I didn’t go right to bed.  But I did.  I have to be up in just five hours and I haven’t gotten a full night’s sleep all week so I am pretty tired.

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