Mrs. EMS Artifact and I took a longish road trip starting the first week of March. We were headed for north South Carolina to spend some time with the grand kids while their parents took a vacation break.
I have enough airline points to fly around the world, or at least part way. My most used credit card is tied to a major airline so I get points whenever I use it. Since the last time either of us boarded a plane was in late 2019, there are a lot of points sitting around waiting to be used.
Given the additional PITA that flying now is, we opted to drive. I planned out a two day drive with an overnight stay in northern Virginia along Interstate 81.
Driving at this time of year can be dicey as the weather is still unsettled. It’s March, but early March can have some wild weather as anyone living north of about Florida can attest.
Fortunately, weather was a non factor for the most part.
We started out and followed a route that was mostly interstate highways. We got on I-84 along the MA/CT border and headed west. Gas prices were higher than a few weeks before, but not horrible. Well, not yet.
If you’re taking a route through CT, NY, or PA try to fuel up before hand. Ironically, NJ has pretty good prices, even though you’re not allowed to pump your own gas. Well, on paper because we stopped on Matamoras, NJ and I forgot that quirk of NJ law. I pumped my own gas in New Jersey! I’m a criminal. Well, not really as the attendant must be used to that because he gave me a thumbs up and walked away.
We took I-84 across New York to Pennsylvania. The New York State Police are very active with traffic enforcement. Waze is pretty good about safety alerts, but the troopers like to sit on the median waiting for a scoundrel to come along.
Crossing into PA, we found the PA State Police to be using pretty much the same tactics, but there are fewer of them. We didn’t notice any local agencies in either state doing traffic enforcement.
PA is cold in early March. We had some light snow.
Restaurants are open, but many will only do delivery or take out. People were walking around on the streets wearing masks even though they were alone. The Mrs. and I have eschewed wearing masks unless there is no other choice, so we notice what people are doing.
We continued on south towards Virginia and noticed that the further south we went, the more tractor trailers we noticed. At one point the Mrs. counted 25 trucks traveling in the opposite direction during a one minute period.
EVERYTHING travels by truck at some point. Diesel prices are up almost a dollar a gallon since the first of January. That’s going to effect us all at some point since everything we buy, including gas, travels by diesel truck at some point.
Be sure to thank President Biden for that and the increased price of gas for you car or truck. Prices on everything are going to rise.
Crossing into VA I set the cruise control to exactly 5MPH over the speed limit. They’ll give you that, but if you go faster you run substantial risk of meeting a VA State Trooper. Or a Sheriff’s Deputy since local agencies do traffic enforcement as well.
I think it’s 10MPH over the speed limit where they can arrest you and require you to go before a magistrate. Or so I’ve been told, but fortunately have never had the experience.
We also found that restaurants are, uh, different in VA. Some are open, but with limited seating, some only do take out or delivery. The websites aren’t all accurate, so we found out (the hard way) that a phone call is prudent before pulling up to the door.
We found an open Waffle House for breakfast. A typical WH has 2-3 cooks, 4-5 waitresses, and at least one person busing tables. These are not normal times. The one we found was empty at 08:30 except for two employees. They were taking orders, cooking, serving, running the cash register, and busing tables. Two people.
Which was okay because one other couple came in while we were dining. Mrs. EMS Artifact asked if this was normal and our waitress said that’s how it’s been for a year.
I suggested that their governor was a moron, and despite the fact that she probably wasn’t supposed to, she laughed. We felt bad and were more generous than usual with the tip.
We passed through VA into North Carolina without incident. Traffic enforcement wasn’t as vigorous there as it was in VA, so I just went with the flow of traffic. Based on a previous experience last summer, we opted not to stop in NC and drove on through to our destination.
South Carolina has far fewer restrictions than any other state we went through. Masks are only required in larger stores, restaurants operate pretty much as normal, most people don’t seem to care if you wear a mask or not.
Oddly enough, people were not keeling over in the streets from the virus. Covidiocy was really at a minimum.
After a week visiting, it was time to head back. The return trip was much the same, only with much more expensive gas prices. They had gone up about $0.50 per gallon over the week we were there. South Carolina still had the cheapest prices, but they weren’t cheap.
Thanks, President Biden.
On the return trip, we noticed even more big trucks on the road. There were very few tractors without trailers, “deadheading” as it’s known in the trade. Oh, all of the big companies had signs on their trucks looking for drivers. Which either means that they are very busy or people are leaving faster than they can replace them. One is good, one isn’t.
We’re planning another trip and unless things change dramatically in terms of what you have to do to fly, we’re likely going to do this drive again.
Here’s a hint if you ever plan to travel with firearms. AVOID the New York City area and all of New Jersey. Swing inland a bit and drive worry free as normal states don’t care if you are transiting with legally owned firearms.