by Rose A. Valenta
Is it just me and logistics, or is Dayton the boondocks of Ohio?
Every other year, I go out to Ohio, to attend the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop at the University of Dayton. So, just this morning, I was online checking rates and times for United Airlines and Amtrak to Dayton, OH. Registration for the Workshop opens tomorrow, December 1st.
I don't know why I checked airfare; no one has been able to get me on a plane since I took AirSick Flight 19 to St. Thomas several years ago, and those Northwest pilots in Chicago probably got caught playing Facebook games on their laptops overshooting the airport.
I prefer train travel, but Amtrak only goes to Cincinnati via Kentucky where you can hail a taxi, hop a bus, or rent a car for the last 56-green-miles to Dayton.
Coach or room, the train arrives there at 1:30 am. I considered how dangerous it might be to find myself alone in a train station at that hour. I did that once in NYC and was accosted by a street person, who wanted half of my potato skin. It was dripping with butter, sour cream, and bacon bits. Not willing to give up my bacon bits, I gave him a small bag of Nachos instead. I nixed the train ride idea. Plus, on the way back, the only train leaves Cincinnati at 3:29 am Sunday, April 3rd, or else you have to wait it out until the 7th; at which time the train leaves the station at 3:29 am. The trip takes about 16 hours by way of Kentucky and West Virginia whiskey and paw-paw stops. I tried entering Ashtabula as my destination, hoping that the Underground Railroad would be faster, but it wasn't.
The plane, Tattoo, goes all over the eastern seaboard, with layovers in Hoboken, DC, and Atlanta; taking 5 to 6 hours.
How in the hell did explorer René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle manage in a dugout canoe during the 17th Century looking for a route to China via Ohio?
Since Dayton is only 545 miles away, I drew a straight line on a road map from Philadelphia to Dayton, and decided to check out Enterprise Rent-a-Car to drive. I've driven there in my own car before, getting it tuned up, tires checked, oil, brake fluid, window washer, and a fill-up; only to arrive at the same time as my friend, Joy, was leaving the Dayton Marriott bar in her bunny slippers and I looked as disheveled as she did, except I was sober!
It all started on Route 70 between Columbus and Dayton... you guessed it, flat as the world my Italian ancestor was told he lived in, right?
My Italian heritage stunted my growth, but I managed to get to be 5 feet tall. Consequently, I have to practically do a tarantella on the lug wrench to loosen the tire.
I detest lug nuts!
Do you remember the scene in "A Christmas Story," when Ralph utters an expletive while helping his father change a tire and ends up sucking on a bar of Lifebuoy?
That was me on Route 70. If there were any good Samaritans around, they all accelerated to get away from the crazy woman, who even looked like a deranged bunny out on the highway.
You have to know that the entire time I'm changing the tire, visions of Hervé Villechaize yelling "Mr. Rourke, the plane! the plane!" kept dancing in my head, while I'm berating myself with coulda shoulda woulda.
Try a little self-love, I thought, that always works. So, I priced the Enterprise leasing rate on a real classy Lincoln for a week. The cost is the same as airfare or room accommodations on Amtrak.
Oh yes! and a box of Godiva chocolates for the road. Whoo-Hoo!
Have audio books will travel.