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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Monday, September 1, 2014


    The news from a couple of weeks ago, that the speed limit on the Maine Turnpike would increase from 65 to 70 mph, brought some despair in these parts. Not only does this mean poorer gas mileage, more pollution, and rising seas, but also that people will now drive 80, with impunity. Yesterday, as I was driving back to Massachusetts from Maine, I indeed found this to be true. But I also discovered a hidden benefit in the disaster.
     Being a conscientious hyper-miler, and approaching codger-hood, I've been driving no faster than 65 on the Turnpike for some years now. I've added months, perhaps years, to my life, I'm sure, by avoiding the stress of all those autocidal maniacs in the left lanes, more than enough to offset the extra 20 minutes the trip now takes. A further goal, besides achieving 48 mpg and extending Social Security and calculating arrival times and trying to forget how much I'll miss Maine, is to hit cruise control after the toll plaza in South Portland, and for the next 35 miles, until the toll plaza in Kittery, never to touch a pedal, gas or brake, never to leave the nirvana of the right lane, passing no one even in steady traffic. It's well possible because almost everybody exceeds the speed limit to my left, leaving me pleasantly and calmly tootling along. I've done it, too, twice, and although yesterday didn't quite measure up - I had to pass a woman in a Prius and an ancient VW Eurovan camper stuffed with tents and hippies, all nice people, I'm sure, and so I forgave them for their ignorance of my mission - I can now see that the increased speed limit will greatly contribute to my hopes for more success in the future.For people were driving really fast, well over 80 (cars from Connecticut, especially Audis, being the main culprits, and New York and Massachusetts rounding out the top three), leaving the right lane pretty deserted.
     I did not calculate how many cars I was forced to pass after Kittery. There were too many merges, ramps, bridges, construction blocks, and New Hampshire drivers to attain heaven. For the hell of it, I tried the second rightmost lane in northern Massachusetts: and yes, I was steadily and frequently passed both left and right, in a kind of purgatory of impatience. And of course once one reaches the part of I-95 known as Route 128, bypassing Boston, the right lane becomes an invitation to suicide, and one must drive like a maniac just to stay alive.
     There is one potential drawback to the new and blessedly empty state of right-lane-ness. It was so open that a few maniacs were using it to pass immense blockages of three, even four cars insolent enough to drive under 80 in the left lanes. I'm sorry to report that these were mostly New Yorkers.
     Finally, I can report that your average peppermint lozenge, sucked at a moderate rate (no crunching), lasts 7.8 miles at 65 mph. Next time I'll try for 8 mpp.
     I guess I was really missing Maine, on the last day of August.

1 comment:

Aimee said...

Delightful. The first time I saw the 70MPH sign, I thought the same as you, that they'll just do 80+ now. Sure enough.......