Sunday, July 29, 2007

What Exit?

As I start into my fourth week in a row on the road, returning home on the weekends for barely more than a day, all that I can think about is, "so this is what jet lag feels like."

I'm in Edison, New Jersey this week, Exit 10. I've now driven once on the New Jersey Turnpike, and I think I'm starting to understand why the garden state is so frequently summed up in two famous words: "What exit?" I have never seen a road like this before. There are two sets of three lanes going in each direction. One set of lanes is for any traffic that feels like using it, and the other is exclusively for cars. Once you have picked a set of lanes, there is no changing your mind without getting off and back on the turnpike. Each exit is about two to three miles apart, but they each seem to be (in my mind, at least) a bit of an event. It's as if each region of the state is defined, at least in part, by its position on the turnpike. I know that's not actually the case, but that was the feeling I got for my brief trip today from the airport to the hotel.

As near as I can tell, the nearest restaurant to my hotel is at least a mile away. I don't know where exactly, because I have started my week by ordering Chinese food and having it delivered. This evening's orange beef is actually pretty good, perhaps the second best I've ever had. My only disappointment is the can of Pepsi that showed up with my order, alongside the bottle of watermelon Snapple that I actually did order. I don't know what I'm going to do with the vile concoction, but I can assure you that drinking it is not on the list. I guess I shouldn't complain about freebees, but it does make me sad that awful though it is, it will be going to waste.

My flight out had its joys and disappointments. Delayed flights seem to be a theme recently for me, with my flight from Baltimore to Salt Lake being delayed for over two hours due to weather, and my flight from Salt Lake to New Jersey being delayed by another hour for the same reason. But this plane had touchscreen TVs built into the seats, and I was excited to be able to watch Food Network for most of my flight (until we got close to our destination, and the signal more or less disappeared). Unfortunately, the first half the flight consisted of Paula Deen and Rachel Ray (an hour each), so I ended up watching what looked to be some great old Bogart film on AMC until Food Network Challenge finally came on.

Tomorrow I get to show up at the training center as early as possible, and try to get the classroom set up before the students arrive. I'm not sure what traffic will be like between there and my hotel, but my Utah-raised mind is expecting frightening amounts of traffic that make I-15 through Salt Lake seem like a soothing Sunday stroll. I hope I'm wrong. New Jersey, don't fail me now!

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