Summer traffic has arrived - be careful out there!

June 29, 2014

Summertime and the living is easy … or so they say. This lyric obviously was written before the invention of the Model T.

It’s officially summer, and that means folks taking to the highways and byways. Pretty soon the roads will be more clogged than an artery filled with disgusting plaque, except you won’t have had the satisfaction of having scarfed all those grilled sausages.

Of course with any car journey, you are going to have to plot out your bathroom break stops and food breaks. If your bladder is anything like those of the pipe people in the ads on television, try to at least get out of the driveway before you have to go. In other words, set goals.

As for food, it is advised by nutrition experts that you start your day with protein. You don’t have to actually eat the protein; a photo will do nicely.That way you will have plenty of room for those french fries that come in a paper holster at the nearest Roy Rogers restaurant.

You will find plenty of rest stops along any turnpike, except of course, if you’ve just had a cup of coffee. In that case, with the exception of people who have bladders the size of cantaloupes, you will have to drive for a minimum of a hundred miles before you find a toilet. At that point, the question will be moot.

It’s interesting that many of these facilities have been named after historic people, so you won’t have any trouble recognizing where to pull in. For instance, on the New Jersey turnpike, there are the Clara Barton and also the James Fenimore Cooper rest stops. Can you imagine distinguishing yourself in some sort of service that has a dignified meaning and then having your name adorn a building where travelers eat, drink and let’s face it, mostly pull in to relieve themselves.

The last time I stopped at an oasis on the turnpike, like the hundreds of other vehicles, I roared in narrowly missing a guy on crutches, a woman pulling a suitcase and a man with his legs crossed, hopping on one foot. Well, actually, there may have been one more person, since I heard a strange noise coming from under the car.

Like the other travelers, I made a beeline for the bathroom, which almost always has a service cone in front of it and a line snaking around the corner. You always think you can make it to one more exit before you need to pull in. Big mistake. It’s the Department of Transportation’s idea to give you a good laugh by putting up an extra sign that says, “Next rest area 50 miles.” You can just make that out in the rear-view mirror as you blow by doing 90 miles an hour. That laugh results in a side trip to the drugstore for a package of extra-large Depends. Coincidentally, the drugstore is owned by the Department of Transportation.

The crises being over, be sure and stock up on snacks before you hit the road again. This step is vital to your health and energy for the drive ahead. I left with a pair of designer sunglasses that came from a vending machine. Plus I needed a couple of bags of Cheetos that were next to a box of Oreos, that found their way into my bag. And when are you ever going to find a flag on sale? So what if it was the Armenian flag; it still counts and the price was terrific.

Once back on the road, refreshed and revitalized, you can look forward to the GPS voice telling you over and over again to make a U-turn and start over. How annoying is that voice anyway? Any other problems, “Tell it to the Marines.” Good luck and stay safe. OK, a little ramming speed might be in order.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.