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Road Trip 2015

by Eric, Nicoline, Frank, Mark, Jenny

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May 4: Driving to New Orleans

The day starts early—really early. The alarm goes off at 2:50am, literally in the middle of the night. We have breakfast, load the car and are on the road in just about an hour at 3:55.

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The first leg of the journey is from Maryland to Ohio, where we are to pick up Mark and Jenny. We see the moon set down the road in front of us while the sun starts to rise behind us. We cross through Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia again and finally two thirds through Ohio to arrive in Columbus at Jenny’s place by 10:30.

The original plan was for Jenny to bring her things to my house to take to Cincinnati. Instead, I brought my suitcase to Jenny’s, which was much easier. As a consequence, however, the hard drive Dad gave me to back up his photo archive moved between houses within Columbus by traveling through New Orleans.—Mark

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Jenny is leaving to study abroad for two months a few days after we get back. She will be leaving from Cincinnati and since we’d be passing there anyway, we use the carrier we still have from the 2007 road trip to carry some of her stuff back to her parents’ house. The carrier is designed for a roof rack, but it also works strapping it straight to the roof of our car.

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There is not really much to tell about the drive down. Five adults in the car does not leave us with a lot of room, but it works. We stop every two hours to change drivers, stretch our legs and switch seats. We all take turns sitting up front and in the back, and all of us but Jenny (who doesn’t drive stick shift yet—we’re working on that) take turns driving.

In Kentucky, we change into the Central Time timezone, which gains us an hour. Unfortunately, we lose that hour in rush hour traffic going through Nashville.

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By the time we enter Alabama (which, appropriately enough, has a Saturn 1B rocket at its welcome center), it’s getting to be time for dinner, so around 6:30 we stop at a Cracker Barrel. Actually, Mark had found what looked like an interesting barbeque place but unfortunately that had closed at five, so we went with Plan B instead.

After dinner, we figure that it is going to take until past midnight to drive all the way through Alabama and Mississippi into Louisiana. Since Mark is the only driver who didn’t get up at three in the morning, he gets the last shift and Frank the one before that.

We have dilligently been taking photos of all the state signs, even the Mississippi one where we were able to stop at the welcome center, but it was too dark to capture the Louisiana sign. That’s why Louisiana is missing from the collage at the top.—Eric

We finally arrive at the condo in the Treme neighborhood in New Orleans at 1:20am. Checking in is easy: a parking spot has been reserved for us, there is a gate for which we get the key from a lock box, and the condo door opens with a code. We have two bedrooms, with Frank being the lucky one to sleep on the couch. We have driven a total of almost 1380 miles (2220 km) in 22½ hours.

Thank the gods for your directions on paper, so you don’t have to fiddle about with a cellphone in the middle of the night in the middle of an unfamiliar city, with the signal being spotty or non-existent!—Nicoline

Sleeping on the couch wasn’t that bad. There were blankets and everything provided and I brought my own pillow. Moreover, especially on night one, I was dead tired anyway so I fell asleep immediately.—Frank

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