Road Trip USA II or (I hate Texas)

So much has happened in the last two weeks that it would be impossible and tiring to document all that has happened. So I will focus on the “highlights” and let you piece it together. The trip looked like this: Went East for Christmas. Picked up the rallycar and drove it to Maine. Stopped for tires and tax free shopping in New Hampster. Spent a few days in Maine then drove back to Jersey. Celebrated Christmas. Packed up and left for Irvine with the rallycar. Cape May ferry. Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Stop in South Carolina. Stop in Mississippi. Stop in Texas (twice). Six Flags over Texas. New years in Tucson, AZ. New years day we got home to Irvine, CA.

Don’t take a ferry when there is a 40 knot crosswind and 8 foot seas. Halfway to Delaware we start lashing port and starboard. I want to say 30 degrees but I’m not sure if that would be too much or too little exaggeration. When we hit a big wave the tables and chairs that they have setup all slid left. At that moment I could see nothing but sky from the windows on the right and nothing but Atlantic to my left. Little kids puking. Gift shop destroyed. Christine and I were doing okay. Having rode the T in Boston for most of my life I have my “sea” legs. I crossed the deck and grabbed a fistful of napkins for the father of the little girl that hoarked all over him. “I’ve never seen it this bad” mumbled one of the ferry operators. The rocking started to subside and soon we were protected by the breakers and then the jetty. First ferry ride for me… Check.

I think I know why Texas is so wide. Louisiana is mostly flat. Very fertile. That fertile earth dies off when you get into Texas. Arid petroleum wastelands. Once the elevation changes and you begin to see mountains, you are in New Mexico. There is almost nothing in between. Just about every town on I-10 is there because of oil. Just the following would not constitute hating it. No, I would need a better reason than that – and a diagram.

texas.jpgWhy I hate Texas: Here is every intersection off every highway in Texas. You’ll notice that they took time to build an over pass but not the exit ramps. When you exit the interstate you are greeted by on-coming traffic. You are then hit with a two or four way stop roughly 30 yards later. An intersection where stopping is optional – apparently. Then to get back onto the highway you must swerve into on-coming traffic again. Wind your way to the on ramp that tightens right at the end. This slows you down to about 22MPH. A good speed to merge onto a highway with a daytime speed limit of 75 don’t you think?

The Neon was not happy above 2,000 feet. It would cruise fine, but when we stopped for refueling she would stutter and run really rich. Crappy Texas gas didn’t help this. I still don’t understand why the one place in the US where refineries and oil wells outnumber people they have 85 octane gas. So I bought 87 which is “mid-grade” gas in Texas and “swamp gas” everywhere else. Then dumped a bottle of octane booster in.

Six Flags Over Texas was an added downer. They had literally like 4 rides open. The thing that sucks is they post this big board outside stating that A LOT of the rides will be closed during the Christmas season. Yet no mention of it on the website. We were able to ride Titan and the train that goes around the park… I have never spent only 3 hours at a Six Flags.

We celebrated the new year in Tucson. We lucked out with a room that had a hot tub. Filled the tub, pressed the button, and nothing happened. I picked up the phone to try and get some help with the lack of water jets. “Did you press the button on the back of the tub?” “Yes.” I explained that the only reason we upgraded was because of the hot tub. They took the $119 room off the bill. :) Drinking bad pre-mixed Long Island Ice Tea in a huge bathtub is rather anti-romantic. Taking the complimentary soda, popcorn and bath items from our free room was the next order of business.

Saturday we made the dash from Tucson to Irvine. I was excited to be home. Felt good to have the Neon in Cali. I have a lot of projects ahead of me and taking Sunday to do nothing was just what the doctor ordered. It could have been better. It also could have been a lot worse. Drive across the country again – check.

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