Day 7: Falling into Springfield

Drove from Cleveland to Springfield today. Came out of the northeast corner of Ohio, crossed the short tab of Pennsylvania where Erie meets the lake, and turnpiked through upstate New York the long way before cresting the Berkshires and finding affordable lodging (after several tries along the way) a short drive shy of Boston, near Springfield, Mass.

I wasn’t on the Net this leg of the trip, but my main laptop was: on the lap of the kid in the back seat, who mostly searched for answers to questions about the Great Lakes, the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and lyrics for many other ballads (Battle of New Orleans, Sink the Bismark, John & Yoko…) while also searching for the same music on Jim Thompson‘s old 2nd-generation iPod, which was hooked up to a little Belkin FM transmitter, so the kid got to play disc (or file) jockey at the same time.

Some discoveries en route:

  • Verizon EvDO is pretty good through Ohio and upstate New York.
  • Verizon itself sucks in Kansas. It’s in “extended network”-ville there.
  • I’d gladly pay for soap to compensate hotels for providing non-abrasive toilet papers and facial tissues.
  • “Welcome” screens are always unwelcome. Especially when they intercept clicks for no reason other than to advertise the host.
  • Hotel variables that matter but never show up on website booking pages:
    • Room lights that are dark
    • Absent or concealed wall outlets. Worst are the ones hidden behind beds or cabinets
    • Bathroom fans that are loud as jet engines
    • Shower temperature controls that require a safecracker’s hands to operate
    • Air conditioners that blow directly on your bed
    • Color TVs with missing colors
    • “High-speed” internet that isn’t. (Just one hotel out of the six we’ve stayed in had adequate Internet service — including this one, where I’m on my own EvDO rather than the hotel’s wi-fi, which provides nearly zero signal into our room.)
    • Blocked outbound email
    • Desks so cluttered with crap (lamp, ice bucket, coffee maker and allied materials, ash tray, hotel guidebook…) that there’s no room for a laptop.
    • Noisy or absent refrigerators
    • Towels so stiff and rough you could sand wood with them
    • Sheets with a lower thread-count than canvas.
  • The country is huge.
  • No coffee shop chain (and, for that matter, almost no coffee shops, period) know how to make a proper cappuccino. Nearly all of them are too milky. Your best shot: “double short cappuccino, very dry.” If it’s not milky enough, add your own afterwards.
  • We’re growing a helluva lot of corn out there.
  • Upstate New York has a lot of pretty barns, half of which are falling down. It’s also a beautiful place.
  • Food is a lot cheaper in your flat states.
  • Stores called ADULT are as common as gas stations along some interstate.

That’s tonight’s brain dump.

Tomorrow morning we’ll be “home” one week to the day after leaving home on the other coast.

4 comments

  1. Jason Anderson’s avatar

    Just wanted to say that I’ve been enjoying your travel posts, I’ve been on the road since April myself and have been fortunate enough to discover many of the same surprises. The hotel toiletries, for example, were interesting enough to me to qualify for a photo archive: http://jayscott.com/mediagallery/album.php?aid=3&page=1

    Too bad you were rushed in KC though, some excellent BBQ to be found in lots of hidden places.

  2. Jim Thompson’s avatar

    One of the guys @ Vivato used to constantly sing this refrain:

    The Captain wired in he had water coming in
    And the good ship and crew was in peril
    And later that night when his lights went out of sight
    Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

  3. Doc Searls’s avatar

    The Edmund Fitzgerald, like certain companies, was both named after a company notable and failure-prone from the start. When the lights went out for the Edmund Fitz, it already had a checkered history.

    Or so we learned when the kid read the story to us from Wikipedia yesterday.

  4. Russell Nelson’s avatar

    So what I’d like to see is more georeferenced audio files, wherein people talk about their hometowns, and things you might see from the highway, or things you might miss if you don’t get off the highway. It would be a simple hack to connect an MP3 player with a GPS receiver, to play those files at the appropriate time.

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