Why stay in one place when you can move about this great country? It only took me 9 1/2 hours to drive to Florida today. That's including two major traffic tie-ups, one in Charlotte (thanks to an Inmate Work Crew - grrr - they really didn't need a whole lane to themselves) and another in Jacksonville at rush hour. The Department of Homeland Security van that stealthily crept by me in Georgia didn't slow me up at all, but it did unnerve me a bit. Are Durangos on any kind of watchlist? They should tell you these things.

When my friend and I made this road trip in our college days, it always seemed to take 11 or 12 hours. I know we pushed her '86 Toyota Celica to its limits. Could it be I'm more a leadfoot in my old age?

Or could it be that, hyped up on Cherry Coke, McDonald's fries, Swiss Cake Rolls, and bad pop music like Big Country and Sinead O'Connor, talking a mile a minute from the time we left Greensboro to the moment we pulled into the first driveway in Orlando, we were too distracted to make good time? Perhaps we just plain forgot to press the accelerator pedal a great deal of the time. I could believe that.

And it could be that I'm simply more efficient, focused, and dedicated to task than my younger self. Instead of rotting my brain on sugar and MTV music, I learn things about the world on NPR (today: Conservative Christians and Why Birds Sing on the Diane Rehm Show), and I listen to books on tape (today: Primary Colors). Instead of futzing with a radar detector, I just maintain a sane speed 5-8mph over the limit.

Now that I've mostly eliminated Cherry Coke from my food pyramid, the stops are a lot less frequent, too.

But geez, wasn't it SOMETHING to be 19 years old, with all the windows rolled down, talking about Buddhism, the probability of an afterlife, and cute boys, giving each other shit and laughing until you snorted Cherry Coke out your nose?

Yes. Yes it was.

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