December 28, 2014

Greetings from Osceola, Iowa.

I'm 2/3 of the way home.

At last night's "Greetings from Kansas" post, I was complaining about driving in Austin:
My most harrowing driving experience was yesterday, just trying to get downtown in Austin. The highways there are evil, and there are local fuckers doubling down on the evil, making it a nightmare. I will never drive in Austin again. Whatever good there is in Austin is severely diluted by the hell of its roads.
With Chef Mojo's prompting "Austin drivers are just plain mean," I practically broke down:
It's so crushing, the feeling that one's fellow human beings are assholes. It makes life hard. I am trying not to be like that. I move over to let cars into the lane that is "mine." There are a hundred opportunities, every day, to show another person that you care how they feel. Maybe that's the most important thing we do. Maybe that's how God is keeping score. I won't specify the things I've done because of that thought, but please, people, think about it. Why are we here?
Ken in tx said:
Austin traffic is intimidating. Whenever I can get her to do it, I let my wife drive. She is more aggressive than I am. I had to use the GPS to find the driver's license office and the boat registration place. You got the Mopac expressway, the Capital of Texas Highway, the Ben White Expressway, and I-35, all with spaghetti junction intersections. I once lived in DC and survived that, but I was younger and thought I was invincible.
Yikes! I need a trigger warning before "Mopac expressway, the Capital of Texas Highway, the Ben White Expressway, and I-35." I've got PADS. Post-Austin Driving Syndrome.

Fortunately, Meade said:
[T]ake comfort knowing only one more day on the road and then you'll never have to drive again ever.
Which made me think of "Chauffeur Blues":
Going to let my chauffeur
Going to let my chauffeur
Drive me around the
Drive me around the world
Then he will be my lover boy, I will be his girl
Only a half day left on the road, and I'm going to see my baby tonight.


C R Krieger said...

It can't be THAT bad. What about Naples, Italy, and Bangkok, Thailand.  Those are challenges.

As this article, "Sex and the Italian Driver", makes clear, you have to know you are the driver, you are a person of consequence and all others are not.

Back in the '70s there was a major intersection in Naples, known to Americas stationed in the area, as "Chicken Corner".  There were no traffic control devices.  You just drove through.  And, three of the approaches were up hill.  I have heard the Italians put in traffic control devices and now it is a nightmare.

Remember, it is about who you are as a man or woman.

Regards  —  Cliff

Humperdink said...

I used to drive through the city of Pittsburgh everyday to get to work. It you started 10 minutes late, I-376 turned into a parking lot. No fun.

My daughter lived just outside of DC for awhile. Visiting her was as you described. Your basic nightmare.

Now I live in the northern Pa woods, 4 miles up a dirt road. Maybe see 10 cars per day. As good as it gets.

PS: Daughter fled DC and lives 15 minutes away.

Michael K said...

California drivers are pretty good although not as courteous as they were 50 years ago. Chicago drivers are bad, mostly incompetent.

London is bad but tolerable. I would never try to drive in Rome but have driven all over Italy and France.

Ireland is sketchy as many drivers drive on the "wrong side" of the road so they can see and then flip back to the proper side when a car is coming. That is very confusing for the oncoming tourist.

Australia is tricky as they don't have all the warnings about which side to drive on that England has.

It is easy for me to avoid Austin so thanks.

"There were no traffic control devices. You just drove through."

San Francisco had no red lights or stop signs on most intersections when I first drove there. That was in the late 50s and the rule was "The first car in the intersection has the right of way." That made for interesting driving on hilly streets.

Los Angles was pleasant except for the smog in the 50s.

paminwi said...

Does your son know you bitch so much about traveling to/from Austin? Does that take any joy out of the visit in any way?

Maybe you just ought to have him visit you in Madison or does he hate traveling as much as you do?

I guess I am always so excited to spend time with my kids that I am willing to put up with almost anything because an "in person" hug is SO much better than an "I love you" on the phone!

The Cracker Emcee said...

I always thought Boston was a freaking nightmare. Wasting huge chunks of my finite life sitting in traffic decided me against any sort of long-term urban life.
Pacific Northwest has, for the most part, the sanest drivers I've encountered.

BDNYC said...

Traffic is Austin's fatal flaw, and in fact says a great deal else about Austin's general weakness. Austin is crowded and growing, but the infrastructure lags badly. It's the sort of place where you think you should be able to get around with public transportation, but you really can't. So you depend on your car, and you are forced to use clogged streets with few east-west options.

I always thought it was a schizophrenic city. Or town. That's the issue. It can't decide if it wants to be a city or a town. It seeks the best of all worlds and gets flavors of the worst. Trustafarians move in and church it up, Californians gobble up hill country real estate, and Austin gets to feel more cosmopolitan and city-like. That influx also brings in an asshole personality that's very foreign to Texans. The locals resist the growth and change, the enviro-hippies ally with the old boy rednecks in a strange way. Building better roads or public transport only encourages the asshole Californians to continue their invasion.

ndspinelli said...

Althouse gets upset when she leaves her little cocoon. She's afraid to fly, and has difficulties w/ Austin drivers?? I have been in 47 of the states in this country. I have assessed drivers in most cities and states. Austin drivers are fine. Wisconsin drivers are some of the worst, thinking the left lane is theirs by birthright. But, that's home for the narcissistic homegirl.

Larry J said...

Austin is full of liberals and they're usually assholes. Same for Chicago, Boston, DC, and other liberal hotbeds - assholes on and off the road. It's who they are. It's what they do. You're bound to be disappointed if you expect otherwise.

ndspinelli said...

Cracker, Boston drivers and roads are some of the worst in this country. Good observation.

cognito said...

Obvious solution - don't come back.

ndspinelli said...

Is cognito her son?

Big Mike said...

Then he will be my lover boy, I will be his girl. Only a half day left on the road, and I'm going to see my baby tonight.

Hey you two! Get a room!

richard mcenroe said...

For all its "keep Austin weird" bushwah, Austin is basically NYC with better gun stores. Fortunately you can bypass most of Austin to get to Cabela's.

Terry said...

Did you know that Hawaii has no regular passenger service by ship between the islands or between the islands and the mainland?
You have to fly or stay put. The West Coast is a five hour flight, it's eight hours to the midwest.

James Pawlak said...

Aha! I now understand the value of a university, undergraduate, and law school education. It allows the "grad" to use such words as "fucker" as opposed to the many more elevated terms available in what should be our common language.

I have driven in Rome. As one of two uniformed US sailors, the Italian drivers seemed to go way out of their way to avoid us.

In my limited experience, the worst drivers I met were in St. Louis.

Zedediah Grimm said...

You think Austin is bad, try driving a motorcycle in Paris. A buddy of mine was so freaked out he had his passenger pull out the chain and lock he carried and swing it over his head as they circumnavigated the Arc De Triomphe. He still looked scared when he was telling me the story.
I had an accident in an underground garage at our hotel in Paris when a Parissienne blew through a stop sign and broadsided us. Luckily, the parking attendent saw the whole thing.
I'll take Austin ANYDAY!

Anonymous said...

I am from flyover country and spent most of my life in a town of 50,000 people. It did not require urban driving skills to get around town. If you were so inclined, however, you could learn how quickly a car could accelerate, stop, and swerve without losing control. This knowledge paid off when visiting Chicago.

I loved driving in Boston. One time the drivers cooperated and fit four rows of cars where only three lanes were painted. I thought it was a great display of team driving.

St. George said...

Well, you be a real good little girl.
Santa Claus is back in town

Got no sleigh with reindeer, no sack on my back.
You're gonna see me comin' in a big black Cadillac.

Hang up your pretty stockings, turn off the light.
Santa Claus is comin' down your chimney tonight.

"Santa Claus is Back in Town"

Tyrone Slothrop said...

It's the same driving in San Francisco. It's a nightmare maze to begin with, and the drivers are all assholes. So, let's see-- Austin, most liberal city in Texas, SF most liberal city in California. I detect a pattern.

ken in tx said...

Since we are commenting on driving experiences, let me tell you about Seoul, Korea in the 80s. Driving there was an exercise in military theory, force and mass determined the winner. Eight lanes of taxis, limos, and giant trucks arrive at an intersection from both directions. The ones who got there 'firstest with the mostest' got through the intersection first. The other side got to go when someone was brave enough to get out and block the intersection enough to slow the others down. Then those on the brave one's side would swarm the intersection until the process was reversed.

Kelly said...

I use to go to Austin from Killeen to shop, I don't remember it being any worse than Dallas which was pretty scary. After driving in Kentucky I felt as if everything was on fast forward in Texas, but you get use to it.

In Korea it was my responsibility to drive over to another post to pick up the mail. I would get up at five just to avoid the traffic. South Korean drivers are insane. They use sidewalks if they can. I once saw a bicyclist hit. As he lay unconscious in the middle of heavy traffic people honked at him.

Anonymous said...

Austin drivers aren't that bad. They are fairly courteous- certainly more courteous than you will find in big cities in the Northeast.

The main problem with Austin driving is the design of the roads. For example, I-35 north of the river [downtown] has four lanes. South of the river, I-35 have three lanes. Result: bad deal for those who live south of the river.

The road system for Austin was designed for about a third of its current population.

CrackEmcee is right on the money: the worst drivers are to be found in the Boston area, inside 128. After my mother died, I drove a U-Haul from Florida to Boston. I saw no example of poor or discourteous driving until I got to Route 128. In a half hour of driving around and inside Route 128, I saw two examples of poor or discourteous driving.
Or the time I was a pedestrian crossing Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, with the light. A car drove into the crosswalk right at me, scaring the Bejeesus out of me. The driver stopped right in front of me, and laughed. Really funny.

Why do I consider drivers in the Boston area to be the worst in the country? Do the math.

RecChief said...

shoulda stopped in Osceola. There's 4 or 5 old houses on the National Historic Register, as well as the old Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy railroad depot. the last I was there, the old depot is still being used by Amtrak

Bill said...

I'm glad you mentioned this. In late 2005, I volunteered to work disaster relief for the Red Cross (Hurricane Rita). I flew to Austin, rented a car, and was given a map to Samsung headquarters, which was being used as a processing center for us volunteers.

Mitigating factors: the map was rudimentary, and it was nighttime. But it was by far the worst driving experience of my life. What should have been a 20-minute trip turned into two hours of frustration over poor signage and merciless drivers.

JSD said...

Boston is very bad because of the shitty roads. The drivers there are amazingly good. It freaks out the out-of-towners, because Boston drivers have their own code of the road. If they actually followed the rules, nobody would ever reach their destination. If you’re lost or in the wrong lane, you’re fucked.

Driving in Mexico is the absolute worst.

Rusty said...

. Chicago drivers are bad, mostly incompetent.

No we're not. You just don't know how to drive.

jaed said...

There's a good passage on Boston driving in Neal Stephenson's novel Zodiac. Go to the book's Amazon page, hit "Look Inside", and search for the word "Chadian" to find it.

(NOTE: possible trigger warning for Althouse.)

Joseph Blieu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph Blieu said...

Driving in Boston just requires a simple trick, don't look at any other car or acknowledge their existence. Never make eye contact with another driver. Leave them unsure and they will have to get out of the way.

Bob R said...

Blacksburg, VA is docile, low traffic, easy to drive in. Every August, the students come down from a summer in Northern Virginia and are jarringly aggressive. It takes them about two weeks to calm down and drive like the locals.

Miss Conduct said...

I lived in Austin for 20 years. I'm from the DFW Metroplex, where no matter how fast you're driving there's always someone furiously tailgating you. This has held true for me up to 90 mph on city freeways. When I moved to Austin I was apalled at how slow people drove. I'm talking 40 in the hammer lane with no traffic. I noticed that people didn't tailgate, though, and were surprisingly polite. The problem, as someone pointed out, is that Austin doesn't have a big-city freeway infrastructure. The SWPL bobos think everyone should take public transportation or ride bikes and are happy to moralize about it. Fixing the freeways is impermissible.

The whole entire world has moved to Texas in the past 20 years (with its crummy aggressive dyscivic carpetbagging ways) and DFW, Houston, and San Antonio have adapted just fine. It's the city run by liberals that is stuck in the 70s.

Anthony said...

Driving in Bogotá is an adventure. A slow moving one. There are rules of the road, and most drivers actually obey them. It's pretty much whoever gets there first gets to go first. Truck, cat, motorcycle, pedestrian, dog - first come, first serve. There aren't very many assholes by their standards, but if you're used to American driving where people actually obey signs and such, you'd think it a city full of assholes.

In the countryside in Colombia, people set up little table selling fruit or juice on the speed bumps where the main roads come in to towns. And they don't get knocked over - they wouldn't last 10 minutes in the U.S., if anyone dared try it.

mrs.e said...

It's so crushing, the feeling that one's fellow human beings are assholes. It makes life hard.

Yeah, news flash, life is hard. You've got a lot to be grateful for - try focusing on that. It'll change your outlook - guaranteed. If you want to look for crushing and assholes and a hard life, then, by all means keep ficusing on that. It's a choice.

RonF said...

Hah. I drove a cab in Boston while I was in school there. I know from personal experience that tops New York and Chicago. I cannot imagine that Austin can be any worse than Boston. Heck, I'm looking at a map of Austin and most of the streets go in straight lines!