Sunday, October 23, 2011

When Driving is Too Much

Driving is okay when there is little traffic and I know the route by memory. I do not like driving on busy streets or highways and I hate driving on narrow roads or in cluttered urban settings. I also hate, truly despise, highways or freeways without sufficient exits and places to turn around when necessary.
I hate driving in Pittsburgh, enough so that I shake and get a headache after passing through the Fort Pitt Tunnel. I hate narrow, enclosed, claustrophobic tunnels. Two lanes, horns sounding, and tailgating. Horrible.

Today, we drove to Cranberry. I hated the last trip there and needed two days to recover. I hate the fact beautiful hills are being covered with townhouses. Narrow two-lane roads are trying to accommodate a flood of new arrivals. Yes, the economy in Butler County is doing well, but the roads and spaces were never meant to handle so many people.

We planned the trip ahead, knowing I hate the toll booths and most of the Turnpike, which is in a constant state of repair. While we made it to Cranberry in a half hour, I missed the exit because it didn't indicate it was the only exit. It implied the exit connected 76 and 79, not that it was the main route to Cranberry.

I was left angry, shaking, and barely able to function. For missing one exit we had to go through the toll booth and drive an extra 45 minutes to loop back right to where we had been. You should never, never have to drive 45 minutes after missing a single exit in a populated area. This isn't rural farmland — Cranberry is a booming shopping district. One stupid exit? Get real, Pennsylvania.

I am still angry. We had to pay to waste most of an hour? And the Turnpike is horrendous. Two narrow lanes, no exits, lots of construction, and flashing warnings that it floods easily. If it floods so easily, install drains!

By the time we looped around, I just wanted to return home. Home to California, where freeways have exits and are wide enough that the truck passing you isn't going to rip the mirror from the driver's side. Yes, I have seen cars "bump" on roads here in PA. It is insane not to have wider lanes.

Driving is bad enough. It often gives me a headache and any long drive leads to serious back and shoulder pain. I don't "like" my drive to work, but it is a lot better than living in a congested suburb. I do like the drive home — it is a relief to leave people and congestion behind me.

I am so angry that I don't want to return to Cranberry. It isn't worth the effort. I hate most of the shopping areas here. The roads cannot handle the traffic. There are traffic lights where they do no good, and signals are missing where they are most needed. Shopping near the city of Pittsburgh, the lanes to get on and off the expressway backup into the lanes trying to go straight. I've wasted 20 minutes trying to get through two lights and a stop sign that has no business being on a busy road.

You want people to shop, make it easier to get in and out of the areas. I don't mean the parking lots, either. I mean the roads to and from the suburbs are a nightmare.

By the time we reached Cranberry, I was screaming about how much I hate these roads. I was fuming at paying for the wasted time. Why isn't there a "loop back" at the toll plaza? Why isn't there a sign that indicates "Last exit before toll" as there is on the expressway? No, I'm not going back for some time. I hated the drive as much as I hate going into the city.

I still have a headache. I'm still tense. Though we "bought" $56 or so in office supplies for nothing but "rewards points" from OfficeMax, it wasn't worth the stress. Sadly, the only large bookstores are in these suburbs from Hell, too. If you want a decent dinner, you're stuck traveling into the Asphalt Abyss.

I've lost most of my day trying to regain focus. The idiotic notion that a short trip would help me recover from days in front of the computer? No way. The trip has left me in agony. Two painkillers didn't reduce the pain, but did upset my stomach more — and it was already in knots from the drive.

The traffic engineers in PA (if there are any) are in the direct employ of Mephistopheles.

Recovering from driving will take most of the next two days. So much for wanting to escape the house. I'm trapped, just like I was in Minneapolis. That really, really angers me.

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