Sunday, July 8, 2007

On the Road Again

So far, I've driven back and forth to Lafayette every day for training in my new job for Indiana Legal Services. Trust me, this is not a commute you want to make on a daily basis. Wabash to Logansport isn't so bad now that it is all four-lane and bypasses the towns en route but Logansport on into Lafayette is a pure bitch. (I can just see the parents of Purdue students nodding their heads in agreement to this observation).

Highway 25 is two-lane and curvy. There are probably as many miles bound by single or double-yellow lines as there are that aren't. Lots of big trucks use Highway 25, especially lots of big tanker trucks, and the other day I was behind a hazardous waste-carrying truck that came to a complete stop at each railroad crossing (of which there are several although you probably wouldn't notice if you weren't behind a vehicle that came to a full stop at each one).

There are some tiny towns on 25 between Logansport and Lafayette, all with their slow-down speed limits. Not that I blame them. If I lived and had kids in Americus or Burrows, I'd want people to slow down too. But, as a commuter, having to constantly slow down and speed up gets frustrating. As it does when you get behind a slow-moving vehicle that you simply never have the opportunity to pass. It ambles on, going 45, seemingly oblivious to the stack of impatient drivers behind it.

You can tell the drivers who are either running late for work or simply have a nervous constitution. They swerve in and out, checking to see if the road ahead is free so they can pass. One kid was so frustrated, he passed three cars on a double-yellow line, evidently having decided that poking along was a fate, literally, worse than death. I know I was holding my breath to see if he would make it and I assume everyone else in our line was too.

There is one larger town on this route, Delphi. Delphi is the county seat of Carroll County and is typically midwestern with a town square facing the four sides of an impressive old Courthouse and some lovely homes bordering the downtown. I am always on a quest for good bakeries when I travel. There is a bakery on a main corner in Delphi called The Stone House that has great cookies and cinnamon rolls and pies. Something else I look for is a convenience store where you can get a fountain drink in styrofoam cups. I want styrofoam because I can nurse a 32-ounce pop for hours and the ice lasts that long in styrofoam. Seems like a small thing, I know, but there you go, it's important to me.

Another bad thing about this trip is that there aren't very many good radio stations available. I mean non-music radio because I haven't ever got into the newest rock and roll but after all these years, I've finally o.d.ed on classic rock. I think I can't stand listening to Stairway to Heaven one more time. And so, I have two choices. I can listen to National Public Radio. Sometimes NPR offers interesting political pieces but other times, their programming can put you to sleep right there on the road as you drive. I know I should care about the inflation in Zimbabwe but the fact is, I just don't. I can get one talk radio station on my trip - 1350 out of Kokomo. Depending on what time I'm on the road, I get to listen to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or Tim Heck, conservatives all and pretty much in lock step with one another on every issue. There is no hint that there could be another side to any story, no attempt at real discussion of an issue. Either believe them or you are an idiot, or worst a traitor to the United States! This Johnny-One-Note programming gets almost as boring as inflation in Zimbabwe or Stairway to Heaven for the umpty-millionth time. I think I am going to have to invest in satellite radio.

The upshot of this trip is that you flatly cannot predict exactly how long it is going to take you to reach Lafayette from Wabash. It can vary 15-20 minutes depending on traffic - anywhere from a hour and 15 minutes to a good hour and a half. Luckily, my boss, the managing attorney, is understanding about this, telling me to leave at my regular time and whatever time I get there is what time I get there. (He's traveled Highway 25 many times too).

Everyone at the office says the politicians have been promising to four-lane 25 between Lafayette and Logansport for many years. I tell them I can relate because of how long we had to wait for 24 to be widened from Wabash to Huntington. In a way, I'm surprised that we got our four-lane first because Lafayette is a bigger city with more political clout and then there is all that Purdue traffic. But still, we Lafayette commuters plod along, slowing down even more for towns and trucks and tractors.....