Archive for January, 2020|Monthly archive page

Gallivan’s Travels: The Choices We Make in the World We Live In

In Gallivan's Travels on January 18, 2020 at 7:36 pm

Sometimes you have a destination and you want to get there as quickly as possible. Other times you just want to travel, so you can take it slow and enjoy the scenery. And sometimes you want to reach as perfect as possible a compromise between the two.
And then there are the times you think you you know what you want, but life steps in and changes your plans.
I am not a big fan of the interstates. Most of the time I prefer to travel the secondary highways and less travelled roads. So, before we left Lums Pond State park, near St. Georges Delaware, I consulted my road atlas (much more useful for this kind of planning than a GPS app) and plotted a route south on US 301. We had a destination – a state park just outside of Richmond, VA. We wanted to get there at a reasonable hour, but didn’t want to rush. Also, we knew that we were likely to encounter some messy weather along the way.
US 301 is nice road to take south if you want to avoid the interstates. From St. Georges almost to the Maryland line it’s a well-maintained 4-lane with a wide, grassy media separating the north and south lanes, and relatively little civilization along the edges. I imagine the trees and fields must be gorgeous in the spring and summer. There was one toll just before the state line (I generally like to avoid tolls).
The scenery began to change a bit in Maryland, but the road still moved along well with little traffic. As son as we began to see signs for the Bay Bridge, however, the road expanded to 6 0r 8 lanes, and it got a little crowded. All in all, though, it was till preferable to the stress and pace of I95. Things stayed that way until we got within spitting distance of D.C., when we turned south again, and the road quieted down.
And the weather turned colder and wetter.
But we had our destination, we were still making good time, and we were looking forward to a relaxing evening in the campground and perhaps a short tour of Richmond tomorrow.
Then we got a phone call from someone back home in RI.
Be careful in Richmond, she said, the governor has declared a state of emergency ahead of the big gun rights rally planned next week. The FBI just arrested four men who were planning on bringing military-style rifles to the capitol. There have been weeks of online threats of violence, including white-supremacist sites calling for a “bugaloo,” the precursor to a race war.
Now, quite apart from the political and constitutional issues involved here, we are not the sort of people who feel comfortable driving deliberately into a place where there may be people with large guns thinking about actually shooting people.
Suddenly, Richmond was out as a tourist stop this week. And our campsite just outside the city seemed too close to the action, too. Who knew whether it might be filling up already with people plotting violence.
Now, before anyone starts talking about good guys with guns and police presence and “paranoia,” think about this. How many people might choose differently about going to a rally, or a concert, or a theater, or a church or a school if they knew that there might be even one person there, never mind possibly dozens, who was threatening violence and would bee heavily armed? The original planners of the Richmond event claim to have wanted peaceful protest, said they represent responsible gun ownership; but somewhere along the line, they lost control of the situation. It is (to put it mildly) ironic that a rally to protect the rights of responsible gun owners could turn so quickly into a display of the most dangerously irresponsible use of them.
But that is the world we live in now – not just around gun rights, but around a lot of issues. We have to make what used to be simple decisions about where we go and what precautions we take based on the unpredictable behavior of people who want us to be afraid.
Now, our original plan was to hurry up to Richmond tonight, take a stroll through the city tomorrow, then make a leisurely drive to visit family in Greenville, NC. We would arrive early enough for conversation, games, and a special dinner. We’d have time to adore and exclaim over our obviously talented and brilliant grandson, and then sleep in a real bed one night before going on our way.
Then the texts started coming and going. There were scheduling conflicts. Complicated family dynamics meant juggling different sets of parents and step-parents on the same day. How many nights did we want to stay, could we arrive this time rather than that time, and, oh yeah, there’s this other thing happening if you wanted to come that night instead of this one. So the leisurely trip became a destination, and the desire to avoid the interstates ringing Richmond meant going the long way around.
And that also is the way of the world right now. It’s harder to be spontaneous, even with family. We live far apart, and we have blended families and broken families and too many permutations of our relationships. We can’t just call up and say, hey, we’re ten minutes away, just passing through, and how about we bring you dinner or dessert, or a nice bottle of wine, and we hang out for a while.
Now everything has been sorted out, of course. One of the advantages of traveling in a small motor home and not having to get back to jobs or other responsibilities is that we can be flexible. We can adjust. Richmond will, I hope, still be there on our way back north in a few weeks. Family can be visited again when we might hope for a smoother connection. There will almost always be a way to choose the roads less travelled if we want to, or take the highway when we need to.
The complicated can usually be simplified.
And that, to, is the world we live in.

Escaping the Cold — Well, Almost.

In Gallivan's Travels on January 17, 2020 at 9:10 pm

It’s January in New England. Cold. Last night the temperatures dropped to fifteen degrees. So, today we headed south. It’s got to be warmer, right?
Well, sort of.
We stopped for the night is northern Delaware – Lums Pond State Park.
And the temperatures tonight will be in the 20s.
But first, let me talk a bit about the travels of the day.
We set out at a reasonable hour – 09:30 am. We knew that it would be a five or six hour trip, just driving time, to get as far as Delaware. We also knew that we would be traveling some of the time on I95. So, traffic. But our GPS mapping app took all of that into account, right?
Yes and no.
The first part of the trip went fairly easily. We drove down 395 to 95 and on toward the NY border. We got off onto 287 and across the Tappan zee bridge.
Then things gotg strange.
We generally map our trip to avoid tolls. So, the GPS took us off of 287, through several unnamed roads, then back onto 287. It was actually kind of enjoyable. Nice scenery, rural, but not difficult roads, easy driving, but the long way around.
The real trouble started when we got finally around near Philadelphia and back onto I95. Suddenly, there were delays – accidents, traffic, general slowdowns – every 5 to 10 miles, for 5 to 20 minutes at a time. An estimated arrival time of 5:30 became 5:45. 6:00, 6:15. And the scenery became long lines of cars in the dark – their taillights glowing and dimming ahead of us.
We finally arrived at a campsite in Lums Pond State Park at about 6:20. Dark. Cold.
One of the advantages of traveling in Gallivan is that we can stop anywhere and don’t have to stay long, however. We had a quick bite of lunch in New Jersey, then right back on the road. We stopped for gas once. We got coffee. And we almost never left Gallivan. Into the cold.
The cold we thought we were escaping.
Eventually, of course, we will reach some warmer days, but tonight we will have the heat on and the blankets drawn close.
Tomorrow, we will head down into Virginia, where daytime temps will be – gad! – in the 40s, and nighttime temps will drop into the 20s. By the beginning of the week, we will be in North Carolina, where temps will struggle into the 50s – better than Rhode Island, but not exactly warm.
It is, I suppose, a characteristic of New England thinking in the winter, that everywhere else, especially south, must be not just warmer, but warm. This is why so many New Englanders head for Florida in the winter. Warm weather. Sunshine. Summer all year.
So, we are disappointed when we get anywhere south of New Jersey and it’s still too cold.
But Gallivan is warm. We have lentil soup for supper. We have blankets and a heater and each other. Not that bad a deal, after all.

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