Dearest Rachel –
So much has changed, even since the last time we drove down to see Kevin. Sure, last year already had so many things different about it, between your departure and Chompers in a wheelchair. But now, the old boy is gone, and suddenly, there is so much more space in the car, since we’re lacking yet another passenger – and his gear. It’s noticeable to the point that I feel like we’re forgetting something, since I can actually see out the back window for once.
To be sure, I am leaving behind a few things we always used to make a point of bringing, such as the Wii and its assorted accessories. That was something that you, me and Kevin would play together – usually just as the week was coming to a close, and we realized we hadn’t done much with it, so we needed to get on with it, and make up for lost time. At this point, we’ve (or rather, I’ve) decided it was more your thing than either of ours, and to dispense with bringing it anymore. Come to think of it, I can’t remember if we bothered with it last year, either.
I will admit to having brought something extra that we hadn’t in past trips, though; a box full of snacks from the pantry, both savory and sweet, to use up while we’re here (and hopefully not have to cart as much back come next week). I just felt the need to reduce the amount of stuff being stored downstairs. And besides, we’ll probably be shopping for certain provisions today; at least what we brought down might reduce the need to duplicate purchases.
Some things haven’t changed, though. The folks have still promised to stop by on occasion in order to make sure that our mailbox doesn’t overflow. Granted, this time around, they’ll actually encounter people at the house already in the form of the construction team.
The real change yesterday came from just getting fed up with the traffic jam just before getting to the Illinois/Indiana border. Four lanes of highway is still not enough for all the traffic trying to get through, even at a non-rush-hour time like one o’clock. Google Maps (as Daniel was wielding – wish you could be here to see how we’re managing to use that en route these days to get from point A to point B) indicated that the traffic tie-up was going to continue for another 10 miles, so I simply gave up, and got off on route 395, rather than dealing with the slog to get to Interstate 65.
So, rather than traveling on the interstate, we were taking mostly state routes; routes 41 and 63, referring to the map app periodically the whole way down. Instead of negotiating our way through metropoli like Indianapolis and Louisville, we were driving through relatively small towns like Terra Haute, Vincennes, Evansville and Hopkinsville.
The skin around every city looks the same / Miles of flat neon selling well-known namesBruce Cockburn, “Silver Wheels”
Yeah, that’s what was going through my head as I drove through several of these places. Granted, some of the names were unfamiliar, but you could pretty much guess what they were selling. And, having eaten both breakfast and a relatively substantial lunch (in order to try and clear out leftovers from the refrigerator) before leaving, neither of us was at all curious about any of the more unfamiliar names of places we were driving by.
Still, the trip was shorter in terms of mileage, with very few complete stoppages due to construction and what not. Oh, there were the occasional stretches that went down to one lane, but for the most part, traffic was thin enough that it really didn’t make a difference. And as far as being slower in terms of speed limit, given that Kevin wasn’t going to be home until midnight, we were in no hurry in any event.
Apropos of absolutely nothing, I should mention that several of the towns had buildings that were clearly built to be restaurants, but were now serving as fireworks stores. Considering how the pandemic (and the subsequent lockdowns) broke so many restaurants over the last few years, it probably shouldn’t have come as any great surprise, but the specific repurposing had me thinking “only in Indiana” as we drove past them. Of course, I’m sure there are other states in which this is an equally common occurrence, but here in the Great Lakes, this seems unique to this one particular state; that one Mexican restaurant on Wilke that tried open juuust before the pandemic – only to be crushed by it – is never going to be used for this purpose.
In any event, driving down to Kevin’s almost requires us to pass over these places in favor of stopping at a Waffle House; this is a tradition that, if only for Daniel’s sake, I’m more than happy to continue with. Strangely enough, we never encountered one in Indiana, despite the fact that we know for a fact that there are several of them scattered throughout the state (and despite it extending further south than Indiana, we’ve also found that there are absolutely none in Illinois. I might speculate about the reasons why, such as the regulatory environment in our home state, but that would require going into politics, which I’d just as soon not do this morning). My guess is, we weren’t going to see one until we actually got on (or more specifically got off) the interstate, which we didn’t do until we were practically within sight of the Tennessee border.
Which, as I mentioned before, was perfectly fine with us. We were barely hungry until after eight, so this worked out well. We also delayed leaving Clarkesville until we picked up a few supplies that I meant to back at home, in order to spend a minimal amount of time sitting around outside Kevin’s house waiting for him to come home.
As it was, we did sit around for just a bit less than an hour. It was weird, realizing that we didn’t need to do anything like walking the dog while we waited (indeed, I found myself marveling at that when I stopped to fill up midway through Indiana), but that’s how things are these days. So we’re here safely, and ready to enjoy a few days of doing a whole lot of nothing.
I doubt that you’d take this dig at me, but I can understand someone else reading this, and asking ‘how is that different from how you spend your time at home?’ To be honest, it’s a fair question. Of course, you know the answer; it’s different when you’re visiting someone else. You’re doing all that nothing (or, more to the point, not doing it) with them, rather than just not doing anything at all.
Anyway, I’m gonna let you go for now; I’ve got all that nothing to do, after all. Keep an eye out for us, and remember, I love you.