101404traffic.jpgBack in the days when the body was younger and the waistline slimmer, driving 600 miles in a day was no big deal. I’d happily get behind the wheel and put 750 miles or more on the odometer before the day ended, even in rough-riding sports cars that could jar the jockey shorts off a dinosauer.

No longer. My butt can’t take that long sitting in one position. A 600-mile day trip from Arlington to Floyd and back Wednesday tells me the body can’t handle such drives like it used to.

Northern Virginia’s usual traffic gridlock added to the stress of trying to get out of town Wednesday morning. A massic backup on I-66 West forced me onto U.S. 50, another traffic mess with longlines on the road’s too many stoplights. It took 45 minutes to cover 6.5 miles. Fortunately, traffic on I-66 was moving by the time I got back on at Nutley Street beyond the Beltway.

With the cruise control set at 73 and 60s music blaring from the Jeep Liberty’s speakers, I made up some time from Manassas to the junction with I-81 South.

After a quick stop for gas and coffee in Woodstock ($1.95 a gallon for 87 octane regular, $1.25 for a large cup of full-leaded, high-caffeine black coffee), I slid back into traffic on I-81 and settled behind an 18-wheeler moving along at 75 miles per hour. We moved through the traffic with relative ease (having the large truck clear the way helped), battled on and off again rain along with fog on Christiansburg Mountain Southwest of Roanoke but I stayed behind the truck for the 175-mile segment from Woodstock until Virginia Route 8 where I turned off and headed the final 25 miles into Floyd.

It wasn’t until I got out of the Liberty at the studio that I realized my butt was alseep and my legs stiff from the 300 miles of driving (with that one brief stop for gas and coffee).

Two hours later, my business in Floyd concluded, I headed out of Floyd on Route 8 and started back. Rain and picked up, pelting the Liberty in sheets between Floyd and Christiansburg and traffic, both heavy and slower, greeted me on I-81 North and prevented any steady speeds for the first 30 miles or so.

Hit a Mickey D’s drive through at Hollins (hadn’t tried the new Chicken Selects yet. Won’t do so again) and headed back on I-81. The rain let up for a while, traffic thinned and I put the cruise control back on 73 and enjoyed some more 60s music on XM.

The reserve light for gas chimed on just outside of Harrisonburg. Gas was $1.91 a gallon at the Chevron Station on Route 33. Refilled the coffee cup and headed back out onto I-81 and more rain. Tooled along at 73 when four black Chevy Suburbans with government plates swooped by on the left, probably running about 85 or 90. Somebody important? Who knows? Who cares?

More rain at the I-66 turnoff. Traffic increased steadily as I approached the Washington SMSA (which now starts about 45 miles out). Switched XM over to the traffic channel. No delays reported on I-66 Eastbound. That’s good.

Turned into the garage at 8:07 p.m. Not bad. Covered 300 miles in rain with two stops in four hours, thirty-seven minutes. Opened the door. Left leg wouldn’t move. Asleep. Then the tingling started. Spent several minutes massaging before trying to get out of car.

I’m getting too old for this.