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It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.

November 27, 2006, 9:06 AM

Whenever I go to Washington, this line spoken by Elwood in The Blues Brothers comes to mind. Reason I mention this is because, aside from the cigarettes and the sunglasses, it’s fairly accurate for me. When I leave on my bi-weekly trip to Washington, it’s dark, I have a full tank of gas, and it’s 100+ miles to DC.

If you want to get somewhat specific, it’s roughly 150 miles. That accounts for four miles on I-64, 79 miles on I-81, and another 62 miles on I-66. That comes to 145 miles right there. Then when you consider the distance traveled on local roads, meaning the distance from my house to I-64, as well as the little bit of driving on Saintsbury and Vaden Drives in Vienna to reach the North Garage, it comes to slightly over 150 miles. I’ve been meaning to actually measure the distance with the Sable’s odometer, but by the time I think of it, I’m too far downrange for it to be worth setting at that point.

The only time I’ve actually reset the odometer to measure the distance was for my August 31, 2005 DC trip, which meant that it was the Previa’s odometer and not the Sable’s. You may recall that the August 31 trip was characterized by a confrontation with some Metro employees who basically wet their pants when they saw me photographing trains, which led to a meeting with a Transit Police officer. Regardless, it didn’t work out. The reason was twofold. First, I forgot to take the reading at the end of the trip, and made a few trips to work and back before realizing this. Secondly, even if I had remembered to take the reading, it wouldn’t have been accurate, since there was a detour around a work zone on westbound I-66 on that return trip, as well as the next one. Traffic was funneled off I-66 at exit 47, sent down some dark local roads, and then funneled back onto the highway at exit 43.

Still, one of these days I’ll do it. And depending on the way my work schedule ends up falling, my next DC trip will be either this Tuesday, November 28, or some time two weeks from now. Next week, which is my regular DC week, my schedule is such that I can’t make it up. I need either another day off following a DC trip, or a shift the next day that starts in the afternoon to make it happen. After my two nonconsecutive days off in that week, I have early-morning shifts the following days. And if I tried to pull DC out of that, I’d get either no sleep or very little sleep. Either way, it’s no condition I’d want to be in while working. One of my days off is followed by a shift that starts at 6:00 AM. That’s early by my standards. If I did a DC trip and then came back to that, in a worst-case scenario where the return trip runs long, I would basically have to go to work directly from Washington, and not go home until after work. And that would be a bad idea.

By the way, the longest return trip that I’ve ever had was on my March 30, 2005 trip, which ultimately became the linking material for If These Streets Could Talk. I wasn’t feeling the best on that trip – I was recovering from a cold, and didn’t have my full voice, and that’s evident in the movies. On trips that I make when I’m sick, the illness usually adds to the fatigue level, and I have to stop to take a nap on the way home at one of my stops. On that trip, I left Vienna at midnight (as usual), and had to take two naps. I took one nap at Sheetz in Haymarket, locking the doors, reclining the seat, and taking a snooze in the car. Then I had to take a second nap in Woodstock. I didn’t get home until 6:30 in the morning. That was an awful trip home for that alone. And it’s often a sign of a rough return trip to come if one has to take a nap before one’s even out of Northern Virginia.

Web site: Speaking of DC trips, this was a fairly memorable one

Song: None

Quote: Haven't I said enough?

Categories: DC trips, Driving