A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I just finished a 2000 mile plus road trip. Driving anyplace that long a distance is a trial but the fact that I had to do some of it over the worst roads in civilization made it even more of a trial. I went south and my trip included roads in Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee. Those roads in those states were fine. It was the several hundred miles of pot hole filled, litter fouled, almost impassable miserable excuses for roads in Pennsylvania that were tough. I live and therefore mostly drive here in NEPA. Because of this I must have become immune to what passes for infrastructure in the Keystone state. Once I noticed that my car was no longer vibrating like a jackhammer, my teeth were no longer so on edge and I didn’t have to swerve every ten feet to avoid road kill or worse I knew that I was in another state. It was almost eerie to ride along and not see dead things along the side of the road. Mile after mile we logged and no rotting deer with entrails stretched yards on the highway did we see. Nary a skunk to assault our eyes and make us swoon with stink. And clean? You couldn’t find so much as a tissue on the shoulder never mind the discarded piano cases and the like you see around here. And the road surface? Driving while tired and sleepy in NEPA is no problem. You are kept awake by the constant explosions of your tires hitting potholes big enough to house families. And where there are no potholes there are patches for those holes that are so poorly executed that you feel like your car is trying out for Olympic ski jump competitions. Why bother with alignment? Your steering will be out of true before you can say “bent rims.” Many excuses are made why the roads are so bad in Pa. The money is not there to fix them. The amount of truck traffic chews them up. The dog ate our road crews. All I know is that in Tennessee, a state where as near as I could tell there are more cows than teeth, the roads were clean, smooth and a pleasure to drive on. In fact I found the roads in the “Volunteer” state to be the most hazardous on my journey. Why? Because they were so good I had a very hard time staying awake while traversing them. And about that roadside litter. Swarms of men wearing orange vests that stated “Correctional Department” scoured the roadsides . A nice concept. Free labor and a day in the sun for the convicts. But then again I could be wrong.

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