Day 3 - (Friday, 23 December) Bremen, GA - Durham, NC (somewhat < 500 miles)
Oh, yes. a late start on Friday morning. I checked out of the hotel at around 9:45, but decided to stop at an auto parts store for some power steering fluid (my car was squealing most unpleasantly at sharp turns). So I did. No big deal, right?
Well. In the tiny little toyota engine, I DROPPED the cap/dipstick to the power steering fluid. It didn't fall out on the ground. I couldn't see it in the engine. I sighed heavily & went back into the parts store to see if they had a replacement cap.They didn't (or at least, not one that fit). So I poked around for a bit, and found an oil cap that looked like it'd work (I'm really, really good at Making Do). It DID! Yay! Vexed about the loss of the cap, but eager to be on my WAY, already...I put the oil cap on, closed the hood and started the car.
I could HEAR the original cap in the engine, rattling. Grrrr...
Put the car in reverse & skitter back a few feet, then slam on the brakes. Result? Rattle, rattle, rattle. Put it in 1st & try the same thing: rattle, rattle, rattle.
Turned the car off, popped the hood again. Asked one of the parts guys if *they* could see the damn thing in there anywhere. Nope. *sigh*
Decide I'm gonna leave anyway. Start up the car...NO RATTLE! Turned the car off again, got down on the ground, and finally found the damn cap. Pried the oil cap off, put the right one back on, threw everything back in the car, and off I went. By now, mind you, it's a bit after 11 AM.
Get off to a fine, fast pace, and then hit Atlanta. At around noon. The Friday of Christmas weekend. Yep, it was pretty much a nightmare. At least the whole ordeal was of shorter duration that I had expected; the biggest hold up seemed to be at the exit ramps, though there was some construction holdup as well (not active, but ongoing).
Oh, and a little side story: you know those places in construction where you lose a lane? And there are these great big signs sayng "LANE ENDS IN ____ feet, MERGE LEFT"? Well, we're at one of those. And everyone has merged, appropriately, left (except a few numbnuts from way further back, who just KNOW that everyone in the other two lanes of STOPPED TRAFFIC are idiots and just not smart enough to use the obviously open lane. Even they figured it out fairly quickly. So we're there, in stopped traffic. A car behind me (one or two cars, in plain view of the signs) pulls out to whiz on ahead of everyone else. A minivan in front of me (again, one or two cars) sees this and also pulls out. In order to BLOCK the jackass who pulled out from behind me! HAHAHAHAHA!!!! The person in that minivan in Atlanta is now my hero. The end.
Once through Atlanta (and I had by this point switched over from I-20 to I-85), cruising speed (in the slow lane) was 75-80mph. I blew through Georgia and South Carolina
So. I decided to take a bath, but I'd left my book in the car. So, I put my shoes back on, and my jacket, got ready to leave the room and...no card key. I looked all over the room, behind the tv, under the bed, etc, for the stupid thing, but couldn't find it. Thought about the options - back to front desk guy or the phone to same. *sigh* Decided that the universe had spoken, and I was staying right there, in that room, till time to leave in the AM. Had a lovely (but short) bath, curled up in bed & zonked out.
Day 4 (Saturday, 24 December) - Durham, NC to Philly, PA - (about 400 miles, if I had taken the interstate the whole way. Somewhat more, with my meandering at the beginning)
Packed up all my stuff in the hotel room, and found my card key! It was apparently in my hip pouch, where I had obviously put it as soon as entering the room. Given that I had/have no memory of doing that, it's probably a good thing that I hadn't tried to go anywhere the night before. ;/
Checked out, went out & started the car, scraped the frost off of the windows, etc. The hotel I stayed at (Comfort Inn) was somewhat off my route, I had followed I-40 when it split from I-85. I was going to use a lesser road (NC 55) to get back up to I-85, but...true to my nature, I went the wrong way and ended up in the town of Apex. Near a shopping area. Christmas Eve. *shudders* Eventually stopped & checked the map, and realized that just a bit further on, I could pick up Route 1 through Raleigh, and catch 85 from there (I could also have taken Route 1 all the way back home, I think, but it's a slower speed road with stoplights & signs & towns & all. Sadly, I was in too much a hurry for that). It was a lovely drive. If it weren't for the heat & humidity of the summers, I'd think of the area as ideal; the right kind of rolling hills and forested areas that I so love. The Kittrell, NC area was especially nice. In December, anyway. Heh.
Back on I-85, traffic was light & fast. Yay! Stopped at the rest stop/welcome area just over the line into VA (which is lovely, incidentally, they really put some effort into the stop), got a map, ate, checked in with various people, and headed out again. Zooooom! Traffic was superfast, it was great. Switched over to I-95 in Richmond. Made it in to Philly at around 6pm, got off the interstate in the wrong place (the signage sucked), and made my way (via scenic South Philly) home. HOME!!! Ahhh....
Where we unloaded the car, I had a quick snack and drank most of a bottle of wine and we headed off to the Troll-rents (I knew that if I took my shoes off, I'd be lost). Fortunately, *I* wasn't driving anymore. Ahhh...
We got back home around 3am on the 25th. Slept till around 11:00am. Watched a couple of movies (Strictly Ballroom and Madagascar, both gifts) and nibbled throughout the day while lounging around in bed. Went back to sleep at around 6:30pm. Slept till around 11 the next day. Puttered about the house, doing various things, saw Brokeback Mountain. Troll headed back to work on the 27th, I have been doing not much all week (haven't unpacked yet, though it's on the to-do list for today). Tonight at 7pm, I will have officially been home a week. Having been gone from the 9th through the 24th of December, I'll be really, really happy not to travel for awhile.