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Journey Journal...

February 1st, 2003 - 12:34 a.m.

I'm Currently Avoiding: Mmm...Hmm. Going on the road again?

On the road again...I just can't wait to get off of the road again... I was driving nearly non-stop from 3:30 pm until...oh, 11:30 tonight? Something fairly close to that. I'm a big fan of not driving in the morning. In fact, tomorrow I probably won't check out until nearly noon. Because it's just the way I am. Mornings are to be avoided. So I shall. And before I go to sleep, I'll write a diary entry from a suburb (must be one) of Cleveland, Ohio.

I felt like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders though as I began to drive home. Well, most of it at any rate. The ruinous expense of renting a car, one-way, when you're under 25 is *not* really something I want to experience again. Especially after the car I'd arranged from Enterprise ended up not working because they don't do one-way rentals. So I tried Avis, they rent one-way, but not to anyone under 25. I knew Hertz didn't rent to anyone under 25 unless they had a corporate account so they were out. Dollar Rent-A-Car doesn't have offices in SD anywhere other than in Rapid City (I checked that earlier). So then I tried Budget (I knew they did one-way rentals since the nice Enterprise lady said so), and they did rent to those who are 21 but not yet 25, so that made them just about my only option. Plus, they had offices in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and Pierre (she predictably pronounced it Pierre like the French name and I knew what she meant anyway). But like I said, only option, so that's what I went with. I only have this car until Wednesday though because I wasn't going to rent it for a whole week at the price they wanted. Besides, for each day there's the one-way rental fee (which is bad enough by itself), plus the underage driver's fee, plus the insurance fee. And that's EACH day. All together, it's extremely expensive. Thank god for credit cards with rather generous limits is all I have to say. You *really* don't want to know how much I spent on the freaking car rental. But it's a nice car. It's a Ford...Taurus I think? It's a fullsize car, with a cd player in it that I haven't tried and it drives pretty well. The seat sort of leans too far back and I don't like that very much, but that's about the only thing wrong with it thus far.

The weather pretty much sucked while I was driving. I don't know what Pennsylvania looks like because I didn't really see much of it while it was light out. Trying to make it out of Philly on an interstate on a Friday afternoon is not an easy thing. And then it was cloudy to begin with before it was dark, so not the best setting ever for a drive. But I enjoyed the drive in the dark, even if it was in the drizzling rain in starts and fits. There was one point where it was misting rain, but foggy. That was weird. I didn't think you could do that. And then a little while later I saw I sign which said "Fog Area" and I laughed. I also think I said, "No shit." I was still amused.

When I was...looking at interstate signs I think it was, there was a sign which said, "I-76 Ohio and The West". Or something similar. I was amused. Because it's obvious that to most people in Pennsylvania (especially closer to the ocean), anything after Ohio is The West...until you hit, like California, and then it's the Pacific Coast (Pacific Northwest maybe). Anyway, I don't know. That was just the point right there. That The West, is some big all-encompassing thing to people in PA and it was interesting to see that fact reflected in the strangest of places.

Speaking of interstates...the Turnpike is evil. Not necessarily just the Pennsylvania Turnpike, either. Something that some of the states have adopted is the custom of making well-traveled interstate roads Toll Roads. So I spent hours on the PA turnpike before I hit Ohio and the total when I finally got to Ohio and the Pennvylania turnpike naturally had to come to an end? $12.75! Just for driving on the freaking road! (The cost thus far for the Ohio turnpike I-80 has been $3.10. I'll let you know what it ultimately costs later.) Oh, and to make it worse...they gouge you on gasoline prices too because you can't get *off* the freaking thing. Their solution are these "service plaza" things where you can get food, gas, hotel information, etc. Thing is, all the gas stations are owned by Sunoco and they can pretty much charge whatever they like for gas prices because it's not really worth it to pay to get off the turnpike, then have to get back on and pay more money when you *really* need to get off because you've reached your destination or whatever additional road will help you get to your destination. The upshot? Gas in SD: $1.45. Gas at the car rental place: $1.45. Gas on the PA turnpike? $1.51 a gallon. And that's just for regular.

Like I said, the turnpike is evil. Which is why I am displeased with Mapquest and shall now proceed to ignore their suggested route on "How to get where you need to go". Well, I'm not completely ignoring it. I'm still going to have to take I-80 again in the morning through the rest of Ohio. But then Mapquest has me *continuing* to take the freaking toll roads through Wisconsin (I-90) and then Minnesota (I don't think I-90's a toll road in Minnesota, but after going through 4 states of toll roads (due to Illinois' being I-80/90), it might as well be) to get where I want to go. Instead, I'm going to go through Illinois and Iowa on I-80 until I hit I-29. Then it's a straight shot north to where I want to go. Of course, that's going to take me two days. Anyway, it should be okay once I'm no longer being bled by the freaking toll roads.

This hotel room is quite nice. They have a special on the weekends so the price of the room was $20 less than normal. I was happy. And it's nice, as I previously stated. This place is geared towards business people and that's extremely evident in the hairdryer, coffee w/coffee maker, TWO phone lines, iron & ironing board, and especially in the data port thing which offers connection by ethernet, USB, or modem. Amazing. I'm going to set the alarm for...10 am I think. I might go for a swim tomorrow before I go. The pool and whirlpool is like...5 feet away from my door. Convenient. They don't have a free continental breakfast like most places, instead they have an all-you-can-eat thing for something like $8. I think I'll probably pass. I don't like breakfast that much most of the time anyway. Why change my mind now? Hopefully the bed will be comfortable. I rarely sleep well in hotel rooms. With luck, this will not be one of those nights.

Well, it's almost 2:30 in the morning now, and I have to have *some* sleep. I only had...5 hours I think it was last night. More than that is desired this evening. So I'm going to read a bit and then call it a night. Thanks for reading the long-winded journey journal entry. Ha. Alliteration. Always fun to sneak some of that in there. Remember, comments can be posted in like three places. So SAY SOMETHING ALREADY DAMNIT!

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