Monday, December 20, 2004

Advice About Traveling By Car

Autumn In The Hills
Filed From Tamassee, South Carolina

When you've driven across the country as many times as we have, you pick up a few tidbits about long-distance travel by car. Some are common sense, and others are only learned from experience.

  • When you see those deer grazing by the side of the highway in Louisiana, you think about how pretty they are until you imagine one coming over the hood of your car. You then look at them in an altogether different fashion. The same goes for moose, elk, and antelope.
  • Last June, there were 1253 potholes in the east-bound lanes of I-10/20 in Texas. There are now exactly 1721 as of December 19th. We know the numbers, because we have hit every single one of them.
  • It is counter-productive to argue with 18 wheelers.
  • It is also counter-productive to stare at the women traveling with the drivers of 18 wheelers. (Unless the driver is also a woman, in which case it becomes the plot of an adult film.)
  • Check that the stall you are about to use has toilet paper before "dropping anchor."
  • Insure that your wallet is in your back-pocket when you are finished.
  • While dramatic, very little damage results from colliding with a tumbleweed at high-speed.
  • The Georgia Highway Patrol lives up to its reputation.
  • Any sort of Canadian cop is universally helpful, but their customs officers are idiots.
  • It is wise to let one's spouse know that any speeding tickets are their responsibility.
  • You will end-up paying their ticket(s) anyway.
  • No matter where you are, or how deserted the road appears to be, another car will always come along at the wrong moment.
  • Fuel gauges have been known to lie.
  • Forget using AAA for anything unless your problem is a flat tire, dead battery, or lack of fuel. (See above.)
  • Don't cancel AAA, as the discounts are legitimate. Even if you don't have AAA membership, most motels will accept your explanation of leaving the card on your dresser.
  • When traveling with kids, attempting to appease them with bribes in order to foster good behavior is a useless endeavor. Credible threats of bodily injury may work, but there are certain legal issues to consider. (These vary from state to state.)
  • In New Hampshire, only children in the front seat are required to wear seat belts. Their state's motto is "Live Free or Die," and they believe it.
  • California has more unnecessary traffic lights and four-way stop signs than all other states put together.
  • If you run that four-way stop sign in the middle of the California desert, there will be a cop hiding somewhere nearby.
  • Female cops give no quarter. This seems to be true everywhere.

And always remember, when your car quits 20 miles south of Nowhere, Nevada, and won't start again, beating it repeatedly on the hood is not going to get it to change its mind and suddenly start. But it will make you feel better. Until you realize how much it's going to cost to fix both the engine and the hood.

Update:(12/21) On a related note, The Pirate is giving some advice that may be of interest to those that work in retail during this holiday season.