Posts Tagged ‘road trip’

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

June 17, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
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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Smartphone reset, summer 2015 (part 1 of some)

August 29, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 29, 2015

The Great Phone Meltdown of 2015 happened at an inconvenient moment.

In mid-December 2012, my Parental Unit bought two Apple smartphones: A 16-gigabyte iPhone 5 for P.U.’s own self and, as a very generous gift, a 32-GB iPhone 5 for me. This was a very spiffy upgrade from my previous (and first) smartphone, an iPhone 3GS.

The phone served me well, from shortly before my second trip to the Rose Bowl (which happened to be my first in-person viewing of a Stanford Cardinal victory at the Rose Bowl) up until… well, up until Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015.

A close friend, M—, whom I refer to as my godsister, had invited me to join her family at a cabin in the mountains around Harrisonburg, Va. The rental began on the fourth Saturday of August, but since I didn’t wish to join them for the entire week, I planned on heading up there on the 19th.

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178 – car theft – add title-category-keywords-text

December 24, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 10, 2013

I grew up outside of New York City, the progeny of two honest-to-goodness city kids. Not only was I raised near what seemed to be one of the most dangerous places in America, it coincided with perhaps the most crime-ridden periods in the history of our nation. So when I say that I was instilled with a certain paranoia, I really mean it.

What habits did my parents teach me? In no particular order, here’s a list of things (not all of which relate to crime): Always wear your seatbelt. Always look both ways before crossing the street. Avoid showing or handling money on the street unless it’s absolutely necessary. Always read the fine print before signing. Always get, and keep, a receipt. Never ever ever leave your belongings unattended. Always keep a small emergency cash stash. Never leave anything of value — or, ideally, anything even remotely interesting — in plain sight in an unattended car.

These strictures have guided me through much of my life, although in certain cases, I’ve learned to relax them when appropriate. For example, if I’m repositioning my car — just moving it in or out of a driveway, say — I won’t always fasten my seatbelt. (I still typically feel guilty about this minor infraction, alas.) Also, I’ve become comfortable stepping away from my laptop computer if I’m at a coffee shop here in North Carolina’s Research Triangle and I need to use the bathroom or speak on the phone. (I rarely leave my smartphone unattended, however — both because it’s easier to walk away with one surreptitiously than with a laptop and because, um, uh, oh — because sometimes I need to look up stock quotes at a moment’s notice!)

Unfortunately, I paid insufficient attention to one of the rules last week, and I ended up paying a price for it.

On the day after Thanksgiving, after having breakfast with my parent in New York, I got in my 2000 Honda Civic (please form a line, ladies!) and set off for the return drive to Durham, North Carolina.

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Our odyssey: How one man, one parent and one dog made a drive that normally takes nine-ish hours in half a day

December 17, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 17, 2013

Sing, O muse, of that ingenious hero who traveled far and wide after a sojourn in the cradle of Big Tobacco and Duke University. Many roads did he navigate, and many were the highways with whose intersections and traffic he was acquainted. Moreover, he suffered much by the weather while trying to speed his own way and bring his carmates safely home.

I live in Durham, North Carolina, but I grew up in the exurbs of New York City; my parent and the family dog still live in the house where I was raised. Last month, I drove down Parental Unit and Lucky the dog for a week-long visit.

The SUV was packed and loaded and rolling out of my driveway for our northbound return trip around 9 a.m. on Nov. 26, two days before Thanksgiving. I am accustomed to completing the drive between one home and the other — a journey I tend to make at least four or five times a year — in nine or 10 hours. Little did I know that it would be roughly 9 p.m. before we would reach our destination…

The weather was supposed to be rainy all day, and indeed we had not been traveling northeast on Interstate 85 for very long before I had to turn on the windshield wipers.

Our initial bit of drama, however, derived not from the skies but from the game of chicken that I began playing with the fuel gauge on the dashboard. We were about midway between the North Carolina–Virginia line and the I-85/I-95 merge in Petersburg, Va., when I noticed that the indicator was edging toward empty.

My parent noticed it too and called it to my attention. When were we going to stop for gas? I was asked. Um… Up ahead, I replied.

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