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On the road


It’s been a busy few weeks for us– we visited Sabra’s parents in Denver, my parents in Chicago and our daughter in Indianapolis.
Some notes from the road:
The speed limit on the freeway in Nebraska and Colorado is 75 mph, although there seems to be little correlation between what’s posted and what is driven. I usually set the cruise at 79 mph and may nudge it up a little if cars are whizzing past. In every other state in the country, the speed limit is reduced in construction zones but not always in Colorado. While cruising to the mile high city– a great nickname that now works on a whole new level– one encounters big orange signs announcing, “Caution Road Construction,” and then orange speed limit signs reading 75 mph over the normal signs which also read 75 mph. By changing the color, they seem to be saying, “Come on guys, drive 75 and we mean it!”
No one seems to get the message.
In Denver, Sabra spent the day with her 94-year-old father shopping for and planting flowers around his house. It’s the kind of thing I dread doing with her, she can take forever getting things just right. I’m impatient with impatiens. Anyway, she spent the better part of a morning picking out just the right plants at a mega nursery with her dad in tow. Two hours into the spree her father commented, “We’re making pretty good progress, aren’t we?” And at the three-hour mark on the way to the cashier, he quipped, “Let’s put everything back and start over.”
Her father is a much better man than I.
Meanwhile, I used my off duty time to add to my list of favorite downhill bicycle rides. For just $8 you can take the city’s light rail system from downtown to Nine Mile Station and then bicycle 13 miles back on the lovely Cherry Creek Trail, dropping 500 feet along the way.
After the ride, I found myself at the Leela European Cafe. By European, I think they meant dirty, but I liked the place nevertheless. It’s in Denver’s theater district, and the clientele was Bohemian. I struck up a conversation with a couple of young men sporting dyed hair, piercings galore and jeans looking like someone was paid to make them look worn. Anyhow, I noticed one had a pair of tap shoes slung over his shoulder and found out he was a dancer in a nearby show. I gave him a couple of tips on soft-shoeing, and I could tell he was awestruck.
The orange hat strikes again.
Next, it was off to the Windy City, where my folks continue to putz along. Mom got her garden in. She had brother Bob slit a couple of tennis balls and stick them on the ends of pipes pounded into the ground at strategic locations for her to use as a rest. She was going to have Bob install more, but she found out the balls cost more than 50 cents new.
The drive from Chicago to Indiana was a real nail biter, especially in the stretch past the southern tip of Lake Michigan. One second you’re doing 70 with faster cars flying by on the left and right, and then the next you’re at a standstill with the same speed demons only one car ahead.
But the worst driving conditions of all are in Indiana.
In every other place in the world, road construction is done one section at a time. In Illinois, for example, they refurbished the stretch between the Quad Cities and Rock Falls last year. The year before they worked on the pavement between Rock Falls and Dixon. It may be annoying to hit a 45-mile stretch of construction, but it does seem like a logical and cost-effective way of going about it.
Not in Indiana, however. The best I could tell from our recent sojourn on Interstate 65, the Indiana Department of Transportation has a different philosophy on how to get things done. Instead of doing 40 miles of road repair, they work on every other mile over an 80-mile stretch. Plus, and this is even weirder, they seem to work on one lane at a time alternating between the inside and outside. This causes traffic to compress-and-spread and bob-and-weave like a drunk on a raft.
Those crazy Hoosiers.