Getting My Subaru
Chapter 2

     It was now mid-November with the holidays coming up fast. I had to get to Philadelphia and pick up my car. With the low price I paid it was tempting to pay the $1,100 and have it shipped home. Still, part of me was looking forward to the adventure of driving it home. I have driven hundreds of thousands of miles in the 26 years I have had a license. Many of my hikes are 250 mile round trips. I drove 15,000 miles just to hike in 1992. With all that the longest trip I had ever driven was to Moscow and Lewiston, Idaho many years ago. I was looking forward to seeing what a fast 3,000 mile trip would be like.

     Within a few days of the auction I wired the funds to the seller in Philadelphia. Now I was fully committed. Serge was good about storing the car until I could get there and I began to plan my trip. With Thanksgiving just a week away I arranged with Serge to come into Philadelphia the day after so I would have a three day weekend to get started on my trip home. The weather was deteriorating as it often does that time of year. I watched as the temperatures dropped rapidly along my planned route. I decided to forget about taking I-90 all the way home as there was already lots of ice and snow on the mountain passes in Montana. Instead I planned on going through Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho. It was about 300 miles longer but farther south and with much more gradual passes over the Rockies. The final problem was getting to Philadelphia. A morning flight out of Seattle takes about 5 hours and eastern time is 3 hours ahead. That means 8 hours to get there. I could not find an early enough flight to get me there before the lot closed. That would mean staying overnight and picking up the car on Saturday. I kept looking for a better way.

     There was a better way. Jet Blue has a flight from Seattle to JFK in New York City. It leaves at 1:05 am Seattle time and arrives at 9:05 am. When I worked for EF Hutton I took two trips to New York and spent 5 weeks in Manhattan. I had not been back in 16 years but I know how to get around the city. The subway goes from near the airport to the Port Authority building and buses go from there to downtown Philadelphia. I arranged to be picked up on Friday afternoon at the Philadelphia bus station and bought my plane ticket. The Internet made it easy to plan in great detail. I printed out subway and bus schedules. I printed out the locations of truck stops and motels along my route. Now I was all set to get going.

     The family got together at my brother Alan's place for Thanksgiving. He agreed to drive me to the airport that evening. The day went well and at 10:45 we headed off. The airport was about as quiet as I've seen it. Nearly midnight on a holiday evening is a great time to catch a flight. I took a big backpack I checked and a carry on bag. I was told that a single man traveling one way cross country would be checked out thoroughly and I was not disappointed. For the first time I was pulled out to be searched from head to toe. All went well and I was the last person to enter the airplane. I was very pleasantly surprised by Jet Blue. For a super low price airlines they had the best service I have ever experienced. The plane was clean, the employees were friendly and competent, and they offered free television at every seat. I had planned to sleep as much as possible but I was too keyed up and did not sleep a second. Not the way to prepare for all day driving. My final concern was to make all my connections. If I missed the bus to Philadelphia I would not be in time to get the car that day. Thanks to Jet Blue we came in more that 30 minutes early. New York had a little fresh snow and temperatures in the upper 20s.

     I had not been to JFK before but had no problem getting my bag and getting to the bus stop. The day after Thanksgiving was as quiet a day in New York as I will likely ever see. I caught the subway train at the Howard Beach station and had a direct ride to the Port Authority Building. Several levels higher I was at the bus station and bought my ticket. One last phone call to Serge to confirm when I would be in Philadelphia and I was on my way. The bus ride across New Jersey was fun. I had nice views of New York City and had a close up view of a state I have flown over but never seen from the ground. By 1:00 pm I was at the Philadelphia Bus Station waiting to be picked up. It was very cold. After a long 20 minutes at the curb my ride arrived and we were on our way. Serge's business is located in a small building with a small lot. I recognized my car immediately as we drove in. The paperwork took longer than I figured. My brother is my insurance agent and when Serge called to verify my insurance he was not only out to lunch but so was everyone else. Serge finally relented and finished up. Serge said he would send in the warranty information first thing on Monday. That would turn out to be important. By 3:30 I had the keys and was on my way.

     It was now an hour before dark and I was in a strange city 3,000 miles from home. Oh, and it was 35 degrees and cooling. I made it onto the freeway and headed out along the Delaware River. I passed the airport and turned off onto Highway 476. Just before total darkness I reached the Pennsylvania Turnpike. There was a little snow along the side of the road. I had been driving a Saturn Sports Coupe for the last 9 years and this station wagon was much bigger and heavier. I was glad to have the all wheel drive but hoped the conditions would not make it necessary. The first thing I noticed was that the temperature gauge seemed to be reading higher than I had seen on any other car I had driven. It had just been checked out so maybe that's normal for a Subaru I thought. My plan was to get to around Washington, Pennsylvania that evening. It is south of Pittsburgh near the West Virginia border. I crossed the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg. I was surprised by the mountains and tunnels in the western part of the state. There were several long tunnels.

     I left the turnpike just before Pittsburgh as I turned onto Interstate 70. When I reached Washington I felt good so I kept on going. I crossed the border and took the bypass around Wheeling. West Virginia is narrow here and I was in and out of the state in short order. After entering Ohio I stopped at a highway rest stop. It is not OK to sleep there but it was already 10:00 pm so I considered it. What the heck, I still felt good. I decided to keep going. The highway through eastern Ohio seemed straight and flat. The miles kept rolling by. By midnight I was only 22 miles short of Columbus. I pulled into a truck stop and filled my tank. I used the restroom and went back to my car. I packed an airbed as I planned to spend a few nights in the car. It was by far the warmest night I would see for the rest of the trip as the low was a balmy 34 degrees.

     One humorous event occurred here. At least it's humorous looking back on it. The car came with a security system. I didn't know much about it yet. As I was pumping up the airbed in the back of the car I unknowingly activated the system by bumping the remote in my pocket. As I moved around in the tight confines of the car I rocked it too much and set off the alarm. The doors all locked and the noise was deafening from inside. A few heads poked out from the truck stop store. It took me what seemed like a long time to remember that I could deactivate it with the remote. 

Chapter 3