Tag Archives: driving

A trip home to the ‘burgh

I have been out of the loop for about the last week. I’m just now getting back to the normal routine.

Mrs. Poolman and I drove to Pittsburgh late last week to visit with my Dad, youngest sister and a multitude of nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. Even my brother drove in from the other end of the state for a few days.

We had a very nice time, but it was very busy. Mrs. P absolutely hates spending more than eight hours in a car. (“After eight hours, I’m just ready to cut my throat just to get it over with.” That makes a terrible mess, and you never get the smell out of the upholstery.) So we split up the drive both going and returning.

Our first stop was the Holiday Inn in Oak Hill, West Virginia. We didn’t know what to expect, but we were very pleasantly surprised. We ended up being upgraded to a suite-style room that was gigantic. We were tired, so we just ate in the hotel restaurant, and it was also good, and not just by Holiday Inn standards.

We got into the ‘burgh early Friday afternoon. I went to a Pirates game that evening with Dad, my brother in law and nephew while Mrs. P hung out with youngest sister and visited. I haven’t followed the Pirates since I was a child, but I know they aren’t the most successful team in baseball. They didn’t surprise anyone Friday night, loosing to the Rockies. But it was still a great experience to watch the game in the very nice PNC Park.

A good time was had by all.

On Saturday, my Dad hosted a party at my sister’s house. This is most uncharacteristic of him. I’m not sure about the motivation. In any case, he invited a bunch of aunts, uncles, cousins, etc; ordered ribs, wings, etc from some local restaurants; and put on a very nice party. Several of my cousins in the Pittsburgh area came with their families. There were a ton of kids. Everyone had a great time.

One of my cousins and his wife adopted a child from Guatemala about a year and a half ago. They live in the DC area, but came into town for the weekend. We had not seen little Anna before this weekend. She is a gas. She is three years old and very full of herself. She pretty much has all her cousins (all older, 6-18 years old) wrapped around her finger. The kid has it licked. Apparently, she has been totally absorbed into that large Irish-Polish family. Very cute.

We drove back to Savannah Sunday afternoon and Monday, again spending the night on the road. I turned it right around and hit the road for two days in Atlanta Tuesday and Wednesday. This morning I felt a little like I had “been rode hard and put up wet.” I had spent four to seven hours behind the wheel during six of the past seven days. I guess I piled it on by mowing the lawn and cleaning the pool and back yard when I got back to Savannah yesterday evening.  I’m turning into a wimp in my old age.

We have nothing big planned for this weekend, and I think we’ll keep it that way. I need to catch up on bills, laundry, and a little chillin’. The pool and a lounge chair are screaming my name.


Road hogs

I spent a fair amount of time driving up and down the interstate highways this week. I was reminded again why some drivers really should not be allowed in the road.

One of my pet peeves is the driver who is so in love with his or her cruise control that he/she won’t turn it off under any circumstances. They drive down the road, totally oblivious to the ebb and flow of the traffic around them, and never vary their speed by a single mph. They are frequently the same drivers who never figured out that their rear view mirror has another purpose other than applying makeup.

I typically will try to cruise the interstate about 9 mph over the speed limit. (Unless I’m in an area where the flow of traffic is even faster and I’m getting blown off the road.) On one trip this week, I came up on two cars traveling at the exact same speed, 73 mph, just 3 mph over the posted limit. The car in the left hand lane was about six feet in front of the car in the right hand lane. This wasn’t an area of heavy traffic. They had a wide open road ahead and behind. They drove along like this, like military aircraft in formation, never varying their speed or separation for about 20 miles, and effectively blocking anyone from passing them. Meanwhile the traffic backed up behind them.

Normally, I would flash my lights at the car in the left lane to ask them to move out of the way. However, I was driving a state vehicle with one of those “How’s my driving? Call 1-800…” stickers on the back. It would be just my luck I would get one of those sensitive drivers who consider a flashed headlight signal as an ultimate insult. I don’t need to take time out for a defensive driving course. So I just stayed in formation with these two totally oblivious drivers until the one in the right lane pulled off at an exit.

At times like this, I am reminded of an old WC Fields movie. I think the name was “The Road Hog.” In the movie, Fields plays the part of a wealthy guy who gets cut off by an unruly driver and plots revenge. He goes out and purchases about ten cars and hires nine drivers. He takes the first car out on the road, with the remaining nine cars following. He waits until someone offends him with their driving and then he just rams his car into theirs. He gets out of his car; tips his hat to the other driver; gets in the next car in line; and continues the process until he is out of cars. He is my hero.

Here is a segment from the film. Enjoy, my little chickadees!

Humbug to winter!

If I ever had any thoughts that maybe I am missing out on that “winter wonderland” thing by living in Savannah, I was thoroughly dissuaded this past weekend.

I took a quick driving trip to visit my father and Youngest Sister (and family) in Pennsylvania. I picked up Middle Sister in South Carolina along the way. Mrs. Poolman couldn’t rearrange her schedule, so she stayed home and took care of the critters.

I drove to SC on Wednesday afternoon and Middle Sis and I took off Thursday morning for Pittsburgh. The weather was great, bright and sunny the entire way. MS and I talked the entire way, so the eight hour drive went quickly.

We had a good time visiting. While we were busy enjoying family, a major winter storm was wreaking havoc, mostly to the south and east of us. After dinner Friday evening, I took off for a Christmas party given by an old friend (same friend that we visited in NYC in September.) Randi put on a great party and I had a chance to reconnect with a number of old friends. I stayed to help clean up, along with several neighbors and some of the hostess’ friends who were staying at her house. When I walked out to leave, there was about two inches of snow on the ground. I knew I was in trouble when I found myself sliding down the road on the ice. When I was brushing the snow and scraping the ice off my car, I had to hang on to keep from sliding down the hill. I was parked facing uphill. I got about 50 feet and no more. So I hiked back up to Randi’s house and asked if she had a spare couch for a stranded traveler.

The next morning certainly was “winter wonderland.”

My car Saturday morning.

Actually, this is pretty.

Ooo, it's cold outside!

I’ve always told Mrs. Poolman, that heavy snowfalls may be beautiful, and can be enjoyable, as long as you don’t have to go anywhere.

Eventually the road crews came along with plows and salt and I was able to make it back to family, first to my sister’s and later to my Dad’s. What a pain in the rear!

Clear roads?

The plan was to drive back on Sunday. We were trying to get weather information from The Weather Channel, but surprisingly, they weren’t much help. They were so focused on the progress of the storm through the Northeast, especially DC, NYC and Boston, they barely mentioned anything in the rest of the country.

Bad berries to you, Weather Channel! You’ll get nothing but coal and switches in your stocking later this week.

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny.

The view off Dad's driveway.

Absolutely beautiful! After giving just enough time for the sun to work a little magic, we decided to chance fate and take off. The first half of the trip, especially through West Virginia was very picturesque, and fortunately the roads were mostly clear.

Somewhere in West Virginia.

The trip was uneventful. Again, MS and I talked the entire way and the time flew by.

All told, it was a good trip, with a short, but enjoyable family visit. For the future, I think I’ll keep myself in the south between December and March. For those of you who live through that all winter, I hope you enjoy it, because if you don’t the South doesn’t have room for all of you!

Monday rambles…

We had a busy weekend. We left for Florida Friday afternoon and didn’t get home until late Sunday afternoon. 48 hours of travel for a three-hour football game. Oh well.

Apparently, the controversy with this game (Florida-Vanderbilt), according to the announcers, was the stadium noise, or lack of it. Not counting my time as a student, I have been going to Florida home games since the early 90s. There is no problem with the noise. The fans get up and make noise to disrupt the opponent’s offense when there is a reason to do so. Sorry, ESPN guys, Vandy just wasn’t an opponent to really get everyone screaming themselves hoarse. The one time they actually did get into scoring position, the crowd got loud. Otherwise, the UF ‘D’ didn’t need the help.

*   *   *

I got a call late last week from one of the organizers of a local charity event, the Chili Bowl.

Chili Bowl 08 W

Chili Bowl III 2008

Mrs. Poolman and I have helped with this event for the past two years. It is an outdoor chili cook-off and multi-band concert in a large downtown park in early December. The idea is to raise money for one or two specific individuals who have serious medical issues and need help with the bills. Each year they pick a different person(s). We got involved two years ago when the beneficiary was the son-in-law of one of our friends, and a co-worker of Mrs. Poolman.

I can offer some assistance in advance publicity through my contacts. Mrs. P and I both go down the help out on the day of the event. The beer truck is the most popular work station. Wonder why? More on this as it develops.

*   *   *

I talked with the middle of my three sisters last night. She and her family live in South Carolina. I have been considering a short run to see my Dad in Pittsburgh sometime around Christmas. I didn’t want to fly due to the expense, which means driving, roughly 11 hours each way.

Mrs. P was not looking forward to making the drive at all. “After eight hours in the car, I just want to cut my throat,” she said.

I said I would just go on my own, to which Mrs. P said, “No way, are you going to drive that much in four days by yourself. I may cut my throat, but I’ll come with you.”

Knowing how unpleasant this would be, not to mention messy, I have been looking for alternative plans. So I asked Middle Sister if she would like to come along. Mrs. P can stay behind and keep the home fires burning, and I would pick Middle Sister up along the way. It looks like that is going to work. We’ll talk in a day or so to confirm.

*   *   *

I heard a report on Georgia Public Radio this morning that the state mental health folks are going to make all the state mental hospitals smoke-free in January. I don’t smoke and never have, so I don’t really understand the problem. However, a person-who-shall-remain-nameless, to whom I am very close, is a rather enthusiastic smoker. Judging from her reaction when she is deprived for as little as a couple of hours, I suspect if those mental patients weren’t nuts before they gave up their butts, they would be afterwards.

Maybe this is a job-security program for the mental health folks.