H and I departed on the first leg of the trip. We sang physics songs:
"A hundred atomic bombs on the wall,
A hundred atomic bombs!
If one of those bombs should happen to fall--"
We traded off on the driving. For a while, when it was my turn to drive, H practiced a bit on the guitar while sitting in the passenger seat. It was very pleasant...
You're bored, aren't you? You don't want to hear about the nice, cheery parts. You want tragedy. All right.
Let's talk about micturition.
Remember those three cups of strong cups of Starbucks coffee that H drank before we left? As you might guess, before long we had to stop so she could go to the bathroom. We didn't want to stop too often, and she insisted that we only stop at those rest areas at which there was a Starbucks; it was the only "highway coffee" that she'd drink. Then before long...
Do you sense a pattern forming?
When I have a full bladder, it can be painful. But then my body adjusts somehow, and it settles to a dull ache which fades away. From that point on my sphincter seems to clamp down, and I don't feel anything. I sometimes have to remind myself to go to the bathroom by remembering the fate of Tycho Brahe, the great Danish astronomer. According to legend, he refused to excuse himself from a fancy banquet to relieve himself; his bladder was supposed to have become so stretched that it developed an infection from which he died.
Perhaps H bears Tycho's karmic burden. When she needs to go, she needs to go badly. The pain does not diminish. It increases until she's ready to scream.
And scream she does. She will scream at every car that's in the way.
H can curse. Now, I'm sure you think you can curse, just because you can put a verb after a noun and form an adjective. Take my word on this: no one can curse like H. She can invent new words on the spot that make you aware of anatomic possibilities that even Inquisitional torturers would regard as cruel and inhumane. I'd quote her, but not only would I run the risk of being banned from this site, I could not capture the inflection and conviction with which H blasphemes.
H can go through scatology and come out the other side. It's so artistic that even though you've heard her utter every four-letter word that can be pronounced in the English language, you're not entirely certain that you've been insulted.
In other words, H has got quite a mouth.
I should also say a word about driving. I regard myself as a relatively safe and sane driver. I won't go so far as to say that I've never done anything stupid while behind a wheel, but I try to learn from my mistakes and not put others at risk. I drive at the speed of the other moving vehicles, tend to go slower rather than faster, and am most often found in the right-hand lane if I feel that the average traffic speed is above my ability to drive.
To use H's words: I drive like a girl.
Now, H drives... oops. I should choose my words carefully. After all, I don't know who's reading this. Perhaps this is being read by one of the dedicated officers of the law, whose thorough enforcement of traffic regulations ensures the safety and well-being of us all. Huzzah to you, keepers of the peace! Your ceaseless vigilance of our highway speed deserves greater appreciation than it receives. Hip, hip, hurray! Hip, hip, hurray! Hip, hip, hurray!
All right, that's laying it on a bit thick. You may be under-appreciated, but you're not stupid. I just don't want to get H into trouble.
Let's say that H drives more efficiently than I do.
I shouldn't make fun of her driving. After all, as a traveling performer, she's had to drive though a half-dozen states in a single day, often by herself. Sometimes the only way to handle this without going insane (or worse, missing a performance) is to drive... efficiently.
There's one state in particular that must be mentioned. It's a state that is the most unfriendly to drivers with full bladders and little patience.
If you stop at a rest stop, you know there's a restroom there. In most states, if you get off at an exit at which there's a gas station or restaurant sign, you'll see the place within visual distance of that exit.
Not so in New Jersey. Outside of the rest stops, the bathrooms may be miles away from the highway exits, and without adequate signage to direct you to them.
In fact, the New Jersey traffic signs are the worst in the nation, according to someone who has driven in several states, sometimes a half-dozen states in a single day, often by herself, cursing loudly at every driver who's slowing her down in her attempt to empty her overly-full bladder. If you exit a highway to pursue a gas station in New Jersey, you may be hunting for a place that is well-hidden or quite distant from the exit in an unknown direction. If you attempt to turn around to get back to the highway, there may be no clear way to do so. If you manage to head back the way you came, there may be no road signs to get you back on the highway, or signs that cheerfully lead you back on the highway, but in the wrong direction.
The reason for the existence of New Jersey is to irritate the hell out of H. At least, that's according to her. When I'm sitting in the passenger seat with her as she drives efficiently, I dare not disagree. Not out loud, at least.
Apart from New Jersey, there is one other stretch of road that tried H's bladder and my serenity. Our basic route to the Virginia Ren Faire grounds from Nyack, New York was to take I-95 all the way down. Those of you familiar with that highway know that it passes through Washington, D.C. There's "loop highway", I-495, that encircles the city so you don't have to drive through it if you're not heading into the capitol.
Morning, noon, and night, that stretch of highway gets jammed in spots (according to someone who has driven through there many times, on her way through several states, sometimes a half-dozen in a single day). Mapquest may tell you that you'll spend a half-hour on I-495, but it's a lie. You'll be on there for at least two hours.
It can seem longer if you're with H, and she's stopped for a cup of Starbucks coffee at the last rest stop in New Jersey.
Actually, this stretch of the trip wasn't as bad as I've made it sound. I'll admit, I've exaggerated a bit for comic effect.
There will be no exaggerations when I get to Friday. However, we haven't arrived at the destination yet, much less the adventures the next day.
Next: Road Trip, Thursday July 24 (part 3).