Life on the (bumpy) road


Traffic waiting in line at a construction zone

It is sad to say, but the grandly named Eisenhower Interstate System is a mess. In the past year we have driven the entire length of Interstate 95 from Florida to the Canadian border, and Interstate 40 from North Carolina to California. In general, the road surface is like driving on corrugated iron. Driving a section of I-40 near Statesville NC, the noise of rattling crockery in the motor home drowned out Jimmy Buffet on Sirius XM. This part of the road was surfaced in concrete, which would be OK if someone had actually bothered to smooth it out when it was laid. But no, it felt more like the concrete was poured from a fast moving truck and left to harden. And then there are the blacktop sections with more patches than Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. At least the concrete ripples are predictable. Driving a 26,000 pound vehicle with a car in tow on patched blacktop induces a hop skip & jump kind of feeling. On some sections, never ending convoys of tractor trailers have created deep ruts that rival the Chisholm Trail. Changing lanes becomes a case of jerking the wheel over hard and hoping like heck that the little Honda on the towbar can make it out of the trench.

“Construction Zone Ahead, Speeding Fines Doubled” says the sign, which is then followed by a 10 mile crawl on a single lane delineated by half a million cones and barrels. But there’s not a single worker in sight. Double fines? For what? Running down an innocent orange cone? Down in Florida every cone and barrel on I-95 is stenciled “Bob’s Barricades”. I’m going to buy me some stock in that company.

The State of Maine has had the audacity to make part of I-95 a toll road! Fortunately it’s a fairly short section since Maine is a small state. I recall driving the road yelling “I want my seven bucks back!” at the top of my lungs and being drowned out by the noise of falling objects behind me. That experience was trumped, however, on I-40 in California when a particularly loud crashing noise caused us to pull off at the next rest stop. Turns out, those little plastic nut things that hold the toilet seat in place had vibrated completely off, causing the seat to go into freefall as we passed over a particularly deep pothole.

Talking of California, that cash strapped state has come up with a low cost alternative to highway maintenance. Instead of fixing their roads, they just throw up “Rough Road Ahead” signs and walk away from the problem. They could save even more money by just putting up one of the signs at the State Line and be done with it.

Well, we finally made it to a campground. Time to tighten the loose wheel nuts, replace some broken light bulbs and pick up all the stuff on the floor.