This week’s Spin Cycle is about taking a car trip. We have taken so many car trips that I can’t even think of one to narrow it down to. I have driven straight through from Virginia to New Orleans and vice versa. I’ve done the trip solo and with our oldest and my brother in law and those trips took in excess of 20 hours. Usually around 22. It was always exhausting but we always tried to do it straight through except gas and bathroom breaks otherwise it would eat up 4 days of our vacation and we’d only have 3 days to spend with family.
Once we moved to Georgia we cut the trip in half and then once they changed the speed limit from 55 to mostly 70 then we shaved off another hour or so and then improvements to the interstate system and other roads have saved us probably another hour. And the trips are always interesting even if they are sometimes monotonous.
I know I’ve shared before the worst trip for me was once when I lived in North Carolina and my parents still lived in Virginia and we planned to make a trip to see my sister in Ocean Springs, MS and then we were heading over to Louisiana to see my brother. The plan was for me to drive from North Carolina to Virginia on Friday evening and then we were going to leave Saturday morning to go to Mississippi but when I got there they decided to leave right away to go to MS and it was a horrible, miserable trip because I had just driven 5 hours just to turn around and get back in the car and drive another 18 to 20 hours. Needless to say it was NOT a fun trip.
Alas, I can think of one that was even worse than that. I had just recently moved from North Carolina to New Orleans to help my brother out with his company. I had put all my furniture and stuff in storage and stayed with my brother until I could afford an apartment. Unbeknownst to me, he had hired his brother in law, who had previously been my fiancé to work with him also. He (my brother) had decided that since neither his brother in law nor I could afford an apartment by ourselves that we should rent an apartment together. Ummm…. Not such a good idea. It might have sounded good on paper but theoretically it had a few flaws. I mean we were totally platonic roommates but after you’ve been engaged it’s a little awkward living together NOT in a romantic way (although it would have been worse in a romantic way!).
Anyway, we rented a two bedroom apartment and he had brought his furniture with him but mine was still in North Carolina so again at my brother’s urging, it was decided that his brother in law and I would drive to North Carolina together to get my furniture out of storage. Considering it was an almost 20 hour drive one way we knew it would take at least two days driving which meant spending the night in a hotel. It’s awkward enough staying together in a two bedroom apartment but staying in the same hotel room (even with two beds) was super awkward. But we managed and we survived without killing each other and got up fairly early the next morning to go and load my stuff in the Uhaul truck.
We finally got it loaded without injuring ourselves or each other too badly and got on the road a little after lunch time. We decided we were going to drive straight through to New Orleans because we were both poor and couldn’t afford another hotel room (never mind the awkward situation). We figured if we drove straight through except for gas, potty and food breaks we should have been able to get to New Orleans by early morning. And it probably would have been a good plan if we had known more about Atlanta. I didn’t move to Atlanta until years later and knew absolutely NOTHING about Atlanta.
All I knew was that my brother warned us we did NOT want to drive straight through the heart of the city, especially if it was anywhere near rush hour. Well, you guessed it… we hit Atlanta in prime rush hour traffic and neither of us knew a freaking thing about Atlanta. This of course was back in the pre GPS days so you had a road map and a prayer and that was about it.
At our last gas stop before hitting Atlanta we mapped out that we would take I 285 around Atlanta and then hit I 85 on the bottom end and head on to Montgomery before we had to change interstates. This was also during the time that I think they had just started construction of “Spaghetti Junction” AKA “Malfunction Junction”. It was called (and still is) Spaghetti junction because there are so many exit and entrance ramps winding around and up and down and around again that it looks like strands of spaghetti. And Malfunction Junction…? Pretty self-explanatory! AS a side note, after we moved here we decided that the entire engineering department that put that highway junction together must have been smoking some whack weed every day because literally the entrance and exit ramps would change daily!
Anyway, we get to Atlanta and we get on 285 and neither of us realized that I 285 goes ALL THE WAY AROUND Atlanta. My brother in law calls it “ring road” because it actually forms a ring around Atlanta and if you’ve ever lived here then you know it as “The Perimeter” and people are known by whether they live ITP (Inside the Perimeter) or OTP (outside the Perimeter). So here we are cruising the perimeter, both tired, both nervous (because we both hate driving in confusing Atlanta) and probably talking a mile a minute because we are nervous and we are just driving along and after a while we realize we’ve been on I 285 for.E.V.E.R….
Seriously? I guarantee we had been driving at least 2 hours around and around the perimeter. I estimate we drive all the way around it at least twice because we couldn’t figure out where to get off of it. Even after we moved here I found it extremely confusing figuring out where to get on and off of it. Add to the confusion factor that it was rush hour AND we were in a huge ass moving truck that was hard enough to maneuver and in Atlanta if you’re not driving 80 m.p.h. you will get run off the road! Some things never change!
If I remember correctly, AFTER we had driven entirely around the perimeter at least twice we finally gave up and got on I 85 on the top end of the perimeter and ended up driving straight through the heart of the city anyway and then he almost got back on 285 at the bottom end which would have started the whole mess over again! The only consolation was that we spent so much time driving AROUND Atlanta that by the time we drove THROUGH it rush hour was WAY over!
Needless to say we did NOT make it to New Orleans early morning… it was more like lunch time. I guess that trip should have been a warning as to how it was going to be to be roommates. Oh, well, no harm, no foul and you live and you learn.