The Ride Across (Driving from Chicago to Ithaca in a Penske Truck)

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know that Lisa does something like 98% of the driving. She’s a pro. And she gets carsick when I (reluctantly, of course) volunteer to drive the winding, fun roads.

We’ve put 35,000 miles on our van in the last year. Of that, I’ve maybe driven, let’s say, 20 hours, max. Let’s also assume 60 MPH, so 1,200 miles. That revises my earlier estimate to be a much more official and accurate sounding 96.5% for Lisa. I’ve driven 3.5% of the time … at best … over 12 months … so 100 miles per month. Sounds low in that context but seems accurate.

Anyway, I, of course, volunteered for Penske moving truck duty on the Chicago-Ithaca leg. What a moron. Over the course of two days, I added another 60% to my previous 12-month driving totals (the trip’s about 700 miles). Goddamn.

Not to say it wasn’t entertaining. There’s something about losing the cord to your MP3 player / phone and just listening to it through its  straining speaker while it’s propped in a cup holder instead of piping it through the truck’s stereo. Just another reason to keep it under 70 MPH, actually. Too much wind noise drowns out the podcasts.

And then there’s the speed governor. Setting the cruise above 70 MPH isn’t allowed thanks to the on-board computer. Top speed is capped too — at 75 MPH. I don’t think I touched 75 MPH though. Anything after 70 MPH was terrifying enough. Little corrections to the steering wheel were magnified tenfold when a crosswind would hit. Yikes. For a while I drove it like I drove our old sailboat — riding the groove with constant left-right motion on the tiller, er, steering wheel. Meanwhile, the cruise was far from constant. The ol’ girl would downshift and rage over the crests of hills sending me careening down the other side, fighting for control, seat bouncing like a marshmallow on a sideways rocking chair.

There’s also something about getting the road-crazies all alone, in a bouncing, bounding, boring truck. And looking into the rear-view and noticing your wife has disappeared, then calling her and having her rant to you about how the spider on the dashboard forced her to pull over. Or splashing McDonalds coffee into your eye (while wearing glasses, of course), then drifting over to the rumble strip, your wife frantically beeping behind you, convinced she’s about to witness your death.

It ended up being a pretty big push. We packed up in the morning, then pressed to Toledo. After waking up early, we continued to Ithaca. We arrived right before the storage place was closing up, unloaded our van 80% faster than it took to pack it up, then dropped the truck in town. What a drive. I can’t wait to have a smaller car.

I thought we got rid of this shit? Packing in Chicago.
I thought we got rid of this shit? Packing in Chicago.
Our stuff's new home in Ithaca.
Our stuff’s new home in Ithaca.
Hasta la vista, Penske.
Hasta la vista, Penske.

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