July 16, 2011: Beginning the Drive Back

Medifast Status: Day 75, Down ~38.5lbs

We got up and showered this morning and were more or less ready when the Toccos arrived with the truck and trailer.  Dominica’s parents drove out with Francesca so that she would not have to be alone with all of the kids while driving.  It took about an hour and a half to load the trailer.  We got the necessarily items in and discovered, as we had pretty much expected, that there was a lot of spare space available so we scrambled to load up things from dad’s house that have been waiting for a truck to bring them down to Texas.

We got the largest item – the seven foot square bed that Art had made for Dominica and I for our house in Geneseo.  I really miss that house and that bed and the bedroom large enough to hold it.  That remains my favourite house after all of these years.  Sure, our current house is a full stand alone house and not attached but we had an end unit and felt mostly private and we had that huge basement and everything was new and clean.  The space was so well laid out for the way that we used it.  It was great.  Maybe I am just nostalgic because it was our first house.

It is hard not to be nostalgic, though, when you are loading up the stuff that you owned while living in that house.  I can’t believe that we sold that house so long ago and that we are still living without our stuff that got packed up when we moved out of there.  We’ve been living out of boxes for as long as I can remember, it seems.  We lived sans house for a while, then had the house in Peekskill and then lived in the apartment in Texas and now have had our own Texan house for eight months and still we don’t have the stuff that we packed up while moving out of our first house!

In many ways that house in Geneseo seems like it is from so long ago.  It seems like forever.  Dominica drove past it early this week to sneak a peak at it.  She was not going to tell me until I told her that I did the same thing last night on my way back down from Bushnell’s Basin.  The garage got repainted – apparently they didn’t like the Burgundy wine colour that Dominica had used out there.  The cheap, temporary screen door that we had put up between the garage and the house so that we could get a breeze when the garage door was open is still there, though, and still not painted.  The development was completed some time ago, but this was my very first time driving through it when all of the houses were built.  Our house was part of the first two buildings to go up in 2002-2003 and they only finished the project a year or two ago, I think.

We managed to get the bed, as I had said, which was the huge item that we’ve been struggling to figure out how to move all of these years.  We got the Christmas tree that Dominica has been pining for as well – now we will have it up for the first time since we lived in Geneseo, five years without a Christmas tree at home.  Both Dominica and my golf clubs were able to fit as were several plastic bins which mostly contained books, of course.  This time not really work material but novels, comic books, knitting books and the like.  The other big thing in the trailer for us, but not coming from dad’s house, is an antique dresser (well, an old one at least) that Dominica’s grandfather had been working on refinishing before he died.  It is already stripped and just needs to be stained.  Liesl needs a dresser so this is going to be hers.

So it was around nine thirty when our party set off for our long drive.  First off to Batavia and on to the New York Thruway from there.  We are talking the I70 route that ultimately takes us through Oklahoma.  Emily and Liesl are riding with me in the Acadia.  Everyone else is riding with Francesca in the Sequoia which is pulling the trailer.

It took hardly any time before we discovered just how quickly the Sequoia is going through fuel.  Francesca is having to stop every one hundred and eighty miles to fuel back up.  Between all of those people packed in there, the car top carrier and that large U-Haul trailer they are just burning fuel like there is no tomorrow.  We are barely going through a quarter of a tank before they have to fill up again.  Stopping twice as often for fuel is not going to speed up this trip nor is needing to drive about ten miles an hour slower than normal.

I had bought and downloaded “Anne of Green Gables” to my iPod in the hopes that Emily would enjoy listening to it in the car.  She isn’t into books but I was thinking that in the car when there was nothing better to do that she might find it enjoyable and Anne is such a good book I was hoping to get her hooked.  I should not have been surprised, though, that before our heroine even made her first appearance Emily had fallen asleep finding the book as boring as anything.

The one thing that I did manage to find, thanks to the wonders of XM Satellite radio, was Garrison Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion.  I turned on PHC right as they were kicking off the News from Lake Wobegon and she managed to listen to that – right at the end of the show.  It’s only fifteen minutes but at least it was something.

We did okay on today’s drive although the progress was painfully slow.  Ohio took forever to cross.  We were in Ohio around noon and it must have taken us nine hours or more to get across.  Crazy.  Every stop turns into a massive food, shopping, bathroom break that lasts easily forty five minutes.

We stopped on the west side of Indianapolis and it was late.  We were all tired so I called ahead to Terre Haute and made a reservation at the Econolodge at exit 7.  We figured that that would be only two hours or less away and that we had just enough energy to get there and collapse for the night.  Both Francesca and I are completely exhausted.  This slow driving and trying to stay together and frequent, long breaks is really taking a toll on the drivers.

We were at mile maker twenty on Indiana’s I70 westbound when we ran into stopped traffic.  And I mean stopped traffic.  We sat for an hour before looking up the news.  The Terre Haute news was reporting that the road had been closed due to a truck fire and that it was closed for the night.  The road is closed but no one is being diverted?  The accident was five hours before we arrived and they didn’t have a single cop or emergency vehicle, cone, sign or otherwise.  Indiana DOT just left the road wide open for everyone to just get stuck in the unannounced disaster.  The backup was already seventeen miles deep when we got there and much deeper, probably nineteen or twenty miles, by this time.

Finally I called the state police and they claimed that the road had been opened ahead of us but that there were so many people trying to get off of the shoulders and median that it was causing the traffic to move through very slowly.  That seems unlikely as there is no movement whatsoever.

We sat for many more hours before we were told by a trucker that they had heard that the police were not going to look to open the road until seven in the morning!  There are thousands of people stuck out on this road and the police are doing nothing.  The road is closed but no one is being told.  This is insane.

We finally figured out that all of the traffic that we were seeing in the eastbound lanes were actually people from our traffic jam driving through the median and heading back in the other direction.  All movement forward on our side was caused by the same thing.

We finally gave up and drove through the median ourselves for a while and headed back to exit 23, got fuel and drove to Terre Haute via the empty backroads.  Empty because the police weren’t warning anyone that the road was closed ahead.  All of these empty, deserted Indiana roads easily able to handle the overnight I70 traffic but being left empty for no apparent reason.

It was nearly four in the morning when we finally reached the Econolodge where we had reservations.  They said that we were lucky that even though we had given a credit card and got the usual threats about not being able to cancel that they were about to give away our rooms anyway – they were just giving us twenty more minutes before they left us with nowhere to stay even knowing that we just be out in that traffic jam.  At least they hadn’t done it but we were pretty furious that they were planning on it.  We needed those rooms pretty badly at this point.

The reservation person that took our room reservation (the same one who made such a point of telling me that I couldn’t cancel my room at this point and that I would be billed if I showed up or not) didn’t let the Econolodge desk know that we needed a pack and play for one of the rooms.  So, of course, they did not have one – anywhere.  It took nearly an hour before we had everything squared away and two rooms that we could get into with enough space for everyone to sleep.  They did eventually find a pack and play for Clara.

I walked Oreo and it was straight to bed for me.  I was totally exhausted.  Emily, Liesl, Oreo and I slept in one room and everyone else piled into the other.  We are going to be in rough shape for the second part of the drive tomorrow.

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