Posts Tagged ‘driving’

General notes on East Coast road trips, or: More morning motivation

June 17, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 17, 2017

I recently made one of a number of hometown pilgrimages that I undertake each year. On Wednesday, the eve before my return to North Carolina, my Parental Unit and I were discussing what time on Thursday I planned to depart. (I’d asked to be awoken by 9 if I wasn’t already up and about.)

P.U. then asked if I was trying to get back to the Old North State for any particular event. “Nope,” I responded flippantly.

Actually, this answer was in the nebulous realm between truth and untruth. I typically play free bar-league poker in Raleigh on Thursday evenings, and I prefer to arrive in time to participate in the early game, which begins at 7 p.m. (There’s a 20-minute grace period for late arrivals.) So there was that incentive for returning to Carolina by a particular time.

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Crash bang pop! (In which nothing much happens)

March 11, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 11, 2017

So about that car crash…

North Buchanan Boulevard is a quiet street; even more so at night. And as previously noted, this particular moment on this particular Saturday evening, things were especially quiet. So I was quite surprised when, as I crossed the intersection of Buchanan and West Knox Street, I heard a loud POP! and glimpsed a shower of sparks in my rear-view mirror.

I wasn’t sure what had just happened; rather incongruously, it seemed like someone had set off a single pyrotechnic item. Had a street light or maybe a transformer exploded?

The good samaritan in me felt the need to report this. Was this a matter for 911, or should I call the power company, or perhaps the police department’s non-emergency number. I didn’t know, in part because I did not know what had just happened.

I turned left at the next intersection, parked on Englewood Avenue, exited my car and began walking briskly back toward the site of the…well, whatever had just gone pop.

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A short drive through downtown Durham

March 9, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 9, 2017

Author’s note: The day after this blog post was original published, I adjusted one paragraph after realizing that I’d driven through the Brightleaf District closer to 7:40 p.m. than 8 p.m. As usual, additions are marked with boldface text; deletions, with a strikethrough line. MEM

I inserted myself into the wake of a car crash on Saturday night. This is the story of how I maneuvered myself into falling just short of actually witnessing the collision.

I’d spent much of the afternoon participating in World Tavern Poker’s North Carolina Central East Regional Championships at a hotel in Southeast Durham County. I’d played decently for much of the tournament, but I was never able to recover after I misplayed a hand during the 4,000–8,000 level.

The event had started with around 225 players, of whom the top 10 percent, or 23 players, would qualify to play in the National Championship Finals this spring. When I was eliminated, there were four tables of players; they weren’t keeping track of the exact number, but I went out around 35th or 40th — not bad, but not as good as the finish I’d had in the previous regionals.

Anyway, I was feeling somewhat morose and contemplative as I drove home that evening. When I left the hotel, I headed north on North Carolina 55 until I reached North Carolina Central University. I haven’t written at all about NCCU on my blog, but it has the distinction of being the nation’s first public supported liberal arts institution for African-Americans. I don’t pass by Central much — it’s on Durham’s east side, as opposed to Duke University, which has its main campus on the west side of the city and is much closer to where I live.

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Sisyphus, with car, in winter

March 7, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 7, 2017

Back in the 1990s, I saw something that subtly but permanently altered the way I engage with the world.

I was working my first job out of college, a position that I’d held for more than two years at the time this happened. For some reason, I’d gone to the office to work for a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. It was a bitterly cold winter day. Earlier in the week, a storm had passed through, and some ice and snow remained on the roads.

The company where I worked was located in an obscure office park a stone’s throw from the New York–New Jersey state line. The park was situated on a hillside, and so the roads and the parking lot were graded. The angle was not particularly steep, but it was enough to come into play when your car’s tires were struggling to get traction.

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Roadside mechanic: One man’s heroic battle to open and prop up car hoods and refill his radiator

August 15, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 15, 2016

A few weeks ago, I took a long drive that got interrupted by something pretty annoying. The interruption was then in turn disrupted by something rather amusing.

This was one of those really hot days that we’ve having this summer. Roughly two-thirds of the way into my trip, I noticed that the air conditioning in my car was no longer working. This was annoying, but it wasn’t an interruption.

That came about an hour later, when the check-engine indicator lit up on my dashboard. I was only an hour or so from my destination, so I briefly contemplated driving the rest of the way and bringing the car to a repair shop the next day. However, I quickly reconsidered after I happened to glance at the engine-temperature indicator and saw that it was redlining.

That would not do. Fortunately, there was a rest stop coming up. I babied the car for a mile or so until I could get off the highway and pull over on a stretch of gravel along an access road by a gas station.

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On speeding, free speech and youthful mistakes

September 17, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 17, 2015

A recent Gawker post was headlined “Court Affirms Your Right to Scrawl ‘Fuck Your Shitty Town’ on Speeding Tickets Received in Shitty Towns.” The only reason I clicked on the link was because I happened to notice the name of the town, which appeared on the Gawker home page in the image of the parking ticket on which profanity had been written: Liberty, N.Y.

Before I mention why that place holds significance for me, let’s attend to the Gawker writeup by Jay Hathaway. A Connecticut man cited for traveling at 82 miles per hour in a zone with a speed limit of 65 defaced the ticket that he mailed to the town court when he paid his fine. The court declined to accept the payment, summoned the motorist to appear before it in person and arrested him on a charge of aggravated harassment. The New York Civil Liberties Union got involved and helped get the charge dismissed thanks to free-expression rights established by the First Amendment.

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Unlit: A driving anecdote

July 30, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 30, 2015

The other evening, I was driving along a familiar road in New Jersey while on my way to the airport. It was after 9. The sky was dark.

It was a busy road, lined by multistory office buildings on the east side and a large shopping center and other businesses on the right. Two heavily trafficked highways feed into this road’s northern end; just south of this stretch of the road are major exchanges with even busier transportation arteries.

“That car’s lights aren’t on,” I murmured* to my passenger, referring to a boxy red sedan a few cars ahead of us.

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Revisiting Henderson, N.C. — another meandering travel memoir

May 29, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 29, 2015

Earlier this year, I wrote about the first time I ever noticed a small Piedmont city called Henderson, N.C. My early impressions were unfavorable: I was driving north along U.S. 1 Bypass, an unlovely stretch of road bordered by an immense Wal-Mart distribution facility and large churches. In January 2004, about four months after that trip, I ended up living and working in Henderson.

I transferred to a new job in Durham in March 2008; I actually moved to Durham a few months after that. And yet I pass through Henderson fairly frequently.

That’s because at least four or five times a year, I make the round-trip drive from Durham to my childhood (and young adulthood) haunts in the New York metropolitan area. I don’t travel on U.S. 1, but I do take Interstate 85.

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Driven: An anecdote (part 2)

May 15, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 15, 2015

Earlier, I wrote about starting to drive home from a restaurant in northwestern Raleigh. Having set the stage in that post, I now return to my mildly amusing anecdote!

There’s a relatively desolate stretch on U.S. 70 on the northeastern edge of  Raleigh-Durham International Airport where an array of two-lane overpasses hang over the road. I had a heavy foot on the accelerator as I topped the rise that leads to this section.

And then I lifted my foot from the gas.

There appeared to be a police car parked in the median. I was pretty sure that the speed limit on that part of the road is 55 miles per hour. When I topped the rise, I was going too fast.

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Driven: An anecdote (part 1)

May 15, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 15, 2015

Something funny happened Wednesday night on my way home from the poker game.

This is the 13th of 26 weeks in the current World Tavern Poker season. (Quick reminder: World Tavern Poker is free poker, with absolutely no buy-in or monetary outlay required to play; the business model depends on players voluntarily buying food and drink at the bars and restaurants that host games.) The midway point is when the circuit holds All-Star Tournaments. The winner of each venue’s All-Star Tournament, which is actually a pair of tournaments, gets entry into a national World Tavern Poker event along with a commemorative victory medallion.

I didn’t do particularly well in Wednesday night’s first tournament, finishing 18th out of 44 participants. After some early struggles in the second tournament, my hands started hitting, and my stack grew. At the end, I was heads-up against a young woman whom I’ll call M. (Heads-up refers to when two and only players remain; it can refer to a single hand or to the conclusion to a tournament, as in this case.) Lately, I’ve had a lot of difficulty winning heads-up matches, and that was the case this time: M. won the game, leaving me in second place with a respectable haul of more than 10,000 points.

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