Monday, May 23, 2005

Driving in the U-S-A

The roommates of mine are quite a stubborn lot. They arrived in Natick on Tuesday and immediately set upon a goal to visit Niagara Falls over the weekend. Little did they heed my protests of mine, that i was not sure as to how i would be able to drive on the US highways where speeds of 100kmph was but on the slower side. They booked a full size van, a Ford Freestar & anxiety hit no bounds on Friday, when i was informed that the vehicle was brand new and had less than 500 miles on it. I didn't want to let the guys down.

The 'test drive' happened on Friday (May 20th) night at about 2300 when we drove back from the Chennai Woodlands back to the Hotel. I drove slow, but got a good hang of the car. Though i did not tell the folks, i was sure that riding here is much better than the traffic back home.

The real test lay ahead on Saturday morning when i got control just before 7AM and i planned to drive for atleast a couple of hours. I was anxious if i would be able to control the vehicle at speeds of 70mph. The car handled speed majestically and soon i was clocking in the range of 72-75mph and there was very little traffic either ahead or behind me. The same cannot be said, of my second drive when I-90 in New York state had a medium traffic going west but i gave me enough food for thought while overtaking other cars. After some time, the entire traffic playout seemed entertaining enough with the person behind you trying to overtake you (on the left lane) & come back into the right lane. Soon the right lane would get crowded and i would overtake some of these vehichles & the old ryhthm would re-occur and there was very little means of me falling asleep

On the return journey, a couple of new elements were introduced: rain & traffic on Masspike. There was a point some 30 miles from Exit 12 where there was a 'parking lot' scenario & i was in the control and i got a hang of the situation; the best thing was the assurance that noone will cut in front of you like they do in here.

A few highlights -
  • The first steep climb followed by the downward feeling of the descent.
  • The beauty of morning mist lazily streching across the road and blanking vision
  • The sight of mountains and valleys streching into horizon from point of persective
  • Straight long road ahead streching to near infinity (esp. without any traffic)
  • The humbling experience of seeing a police officer pulling up someone for speeding
  • The numbness/vacuum caused by lack of honking
  • The embaressment of first honking when found in error (infact, there was only 1 honking & i don't disagree with the guy/lady)
  • The companion-ship of the stranger keeping in company in the lonely highway (I remember vividly, a lady in Honda Pilot Jeep who kept me 'company' as well as slowed traffic on the left lane for quite a distance)

In all, the entire experience was quite satisfying. When i returned the vehicle on Sunday, the cell battery drained leaving Prasanna & me a good 3 miles to walk back to the Hotel. I have no comlains as rain was in the air and there were a few instances where droplets kissed my shirt before vanishing; thankfully the rain kept away as we reached the Hotel & not a moment more.

PS: I am unable to use Hello at my home for some issue and hence will update this post with a few snaps sometime in the near future.

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