Thursday, August 25, 2011

Next exit: over 45 miles

I read today about a couple in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania who chose to get married last weekend. They set the wedding date, invited their friends and family to the celebration of their new life together.  They said their "I do's" then exchanged rings and a kiss.  But the kicker is that they chose to shoplift over $1000 (£610) worth of food at the local convenience store, wheeling out the grocery cart without paying.  They actually went back for a second trip to order seafood and were apprehended...  And yes they missed their own wedding reception sitting in jail with a $2500 ((£1,530) bail. 

Somehow I bet this newlywed couple began to wish for a way to get off the highway of bad decisions but couldn't find a way to turn off or turn around...  And I wondered the response from those sitting at the reception hall with no food, waiting for the bride and groom to join the wedding party. 

Have you ever been driving down a highway and have your gas tank beep at you, only to find that the next exit with service is a ridiculous distance away? Or you recently passed the rest stop and now have a child desperate to use the facilities?   I know the answer now, but I incorrectly guessed that the longest stretches in the USA would be found in states out west (like Utah or Nevada) or the drive across the Dakotas towards the west coast.  Err.  Thanks for playing.  In fact, I learned that Florida has five of the top 16 longest stretches between stops. And No.1 longest stretch in the USA is in Florida along state Route 91.  Ironically this highway (also called the Florida Turnpike) bills itself as "The Less Stressway."  Sure -- if you plan ahead, have a working car with full tank of gas, a car full of people with comfortable bladders and if you wanted to be going that way!

I can tell that you're riddled with curiosity, so here's the list.  According to TomTom, the portable GPS navigation system maker, here are the 16 longest distances between freeway exits in the USA: (Note: Asterisk indicates exit gap exists in both directions)
1. Florida 91 (Fla. Turnpike), Exit 193 (Yeehaw Junction) to Exit 242 (Kissimmee/St.Cloud) : 48.9 miles. *
2. Florida 91, Exit 193 (Yeehaw Junction) to Exit 152 (Ft. Pierce): 40.5 miles. *
3. I-80 in Utah, Exit 4 (Bonneville Speedway) to Exit 41 (Knolls): 37.4 miles. *\
4. I-70 East (Pennsylvania Turnpike), Exit 110 (Somerset) to Exit 146 (Bedford): 35.5 miles.
5. I-75 (Alligator Alley) in Florida, Exit 80 (SR 29) to Exit 49 (Snake Rd./Government Rd.)): 30.6 miles. *
6. I-335 (Kansas Turnpike), Exit 147 (US 56) to Exit 177 (I-470): 30.3 miles. *
7. I-90 (Mass. Pike), Exit 3 (Westfield) to Exit 2 Lee): 29.9 miles. *
8. I-44 West in Oklahoma (WIll Rogers Turnpike), Exit 283 (US 69) to Exit 255 (E. Will Rogers Blvd): 28.4 miles.
9. I-40 in California, Exit 78 (Kelso) to Exit 50 (Ludlow): 28.4 miles. *
10. I-44 East in Oklahoma (H>E> Bailey Turnpike), Exit 53 (US 277) to Exit 80 (US 277/US 81): 27.6 miles.
11. I-70 West (Penn. Turnpike), Exit 146 (Bedford) to Brotherton Rd. Exit: 27.3 miles.
12. I-75 North in Florida, Exit 23 to Exit 49: 26.2 miles.
13. I-70 West in Colorado, Exit 75 to Exit 49: 26 miles.
I-75 South in Florida (Alligator Alley) Exit 49 (US 27) to Exit 23 (Snake Rd/Government Rd.): 25.7 miles.
15. I-76 (Penn. Turnpike), Exit 226 (Carlisle) to Exit 201 (Blue Mountain): 25 miles. *
I-80 (Indiana Turnpike), Exit 144 (Angola/I-69) to Exit 121 (Howe/LaGrange): 23.8 miles. *
From a family who lives in their's my sage advise that has a sermon about making good choices wrapped into it if you look closely...
A) Choose your direction and route carefully.  Will your route get you to your goal destination?
B) If you're the driver, actually read the signs along the way.  Double check to make sure that you aren't off course periodically.  If you see that it might be a long time for a chance to turn around, share that information with others going with you. 
C) When you switch drivers, make sure the next person knows where you are and where you are going.  Then double check before you curl up to sleep.    For instance, we learned that if you head east not west at the turn in North Vancouver, you end up nowhere near Whistler.  And I'm dense because we did something similar two years later on our way to Montreal when we switched drivers.  Yeah.  Hopefully we don't need to "learn" this again.  For all the driving we've done over the past 15 years, I'm actually surprised it hasn't happened more but it doesn't mean it wasn't a complete waste of time, gas or without major frustration.
D) Don't assume you always get a chance to stop, get help or turn around.  Plan ahead.  Pack well. Don't wait until the last minute.  Maybe get gas at 1/8 tank and not wait for the EMPTY light to come on.
E)  Communicate your needs to the person in charge of your trip:  If they would have known you would need to stop soon, maybe they would have stopped rather than going past the "last chance" turnoff.
F) Some decisions have consequences that good intentions after the fact simply can't fix.  Sometimes you simply can't turn around or get off once you start in a certain shoplifting wedding reception food...