Taking the long way home . . . on purpose

The two Michigan cities on the sign in the middle have taken on new meaning.

I wasn’t looking forward to the 496-mile drive home from Michigan, so I decided to take the long way and add 90 miles.

Crazy, right?

I had my reasons, including avoiding border crossings in and out of Canada that can sometimes mean sitting in a long line of cars for a half hour.

But what I really wanted to do was to make the solo trip more enjoyable, less stressful. There was no rush to get home, and what did it matter if it took me 9 1/2 hours instead of  8 1/2?

It’s part of my new approach of trying to slow down and enjoy, rather than endure, even the most mundane activities.

I’m glad I went the long way. Those extra 90 miles, rather than looming as an added burden, were an opportunity to get some good mental and emotional work done.

The start was rather gloomy with a steady drizzle, minor construction and the signs for the city of Flint, which of course now is synonymous with America’s failure to provide safe drinking water to its children.

But the skies cleared, and Ohio arrived with signs for towns I associate with my old college friends from Ohio State — Perrysburg, Maumee, Geneva, Willoughby, Ashtabula. I shared an important part of my life with people from those places, and the memories came flooding back.

Nostalgia led me to listen to a CD by the ’70s rock group Boston, which I always associate with the college years. (I saw them in concert — for $3 — at the Agora theater in Columbus in 1977.)

The drive through downtown Cleveland on I-90 took me past Progressive Field, the home of the long downtrodden Cleveland Indians. That, of course, led me to another CD in my collection — a live recording of “The Green Fields of the Mind,” a classic essay on baseball by the late former commissioner, Bart Giamatti.

Yes, the game breaks your heart (it’s meant to) and it brings tears to my eyes every time I listen to it, but it does wonders for the soul. Baseball fan or not, give it a listen.

Giamatti acknowledges the superiority of baseball on the radio vs. television, so after I listened to his essay a couple of times, I turned on the radio to try to find a ballgame.

Sure enough, I found the Washington Nationals’ broadcast just in time to hear aging slugger Ryan Zimmerman hit a home run against the Detroit Tigers. The signal didn’t last long, as crackling static took over.

That sound, normally so annoying, was actually a comfort. It took me back to my youth and my early love of baseball in the pre-cable era when there was only one televised game on Saturday afternoon.

Listening to games on the radio before going to sleep at night was heaven to an 11-year-old baseball nut. (My dad and my mom both loved baseball, so staying up late to listen to games was allowed). And it was a bonus if the play-by-play announcer kept quiet often enough so you could hear the crowd, the peanut vendors and other sounds of the game.

Now there’s just too much talking, too much noise . . . and I don’t just mean during baseball broadcasts, of course. Unwelcome, grating static is everywhere.

I crossed into New York, the home stretch. For most of the last three hours, until I pulled into my driveway in the dark, I kept it quiet, with nothing to listen to except my own thoughts.


About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
This entry was posted in Baseball, Irish Investigations and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Taking the long way home . . . on purpose

  1. I love this piece of driving Jim. I prefer to take the longer road. To go by places I’ve never seen. Or like you, to see places that bring back floods of love. I’m glad you took the time. 🙂 And the road.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely piece Jim — the drive from Calgary to Banff can take 45mins – an hour via Hwy 1, or, an hour and a half by the old Hwy 1A.

    You’re piece reminded me to not to forget to take the old highway sometimes just to experience the quietness and the views — life is more gentle, calm and relaxing that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip down memory lane while driving home Jim. I love it! ❤
    Diana xo


  4. Mark Murphy says:

    Jim: I don’t think there’s anything “crazy” about what you did at all. If you don’t have a definite deadline for being somewhere and the weather is cooperative, why not?

    As I think you know, I often take long walks, especially these days. At the moment I’m working on another mystery story, and it’s amazing how, during my wandering, my subconscious or whatever will sometimes pipe up with the answer to a plot problem.

    By the way, Boston showed up in a crossword I was doing this week, in the Times, I think. The clue was something like “Boston’s big hit.” I spent some time thinking it was “Amelia,” which shows you how much time I spent listening to Boston during my misspent youth.

    One travel tip: If you’re traveling through Ohio by train, DON’T get off at Willoughby. (James Daly — and Rod Serling — could tell you why.)


    • Jim McKeever says:

      Ahh, Mark … is that the typewriter episode? (in which variations on a scene are accompanied by the sound of someone typing) … As for the crossword, I can’t think of a six-letter song title; could it be a baseball clue, as in F-E-N-W-A-Y?


      • Mark Murphy says:

        I think the answer was AMANDA.

        I don’t know about the typewriter stuff. As I recall, Daly plays a harried ad agency guy (from my experience that might be a redundancy) who is hassled at work and at home, and one day his commuter train begins stopping at Willoughby, an idyllic place with band concerts, ice cream socials, etc. One day when he’s had enough of the grind, he gets off the train and stays there for what seems like a happy ending — until the conductor finds him, dead of a heart attack, on the train.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Jim McKeever says:

    I forgot about Amanda! That was a later “hit,” I think. Less synthesized. And I definitely won’t stop in Willoughby!


  6. Deborah Kelly Tarbell says:

    I so agree about the constant noise in our lives… I am retired now,but even when I had the helm at Deb’s Grill in the CAB I would come home and not have television or music on. We need to embrace the quiet to restore ourselves.


  7. Boston is more than a feeling. They keep you feelin’ satisfied. They’re music to keep the engine revving, not cooling.. until it starts smokin’. OK… I’ll stop with the song references.

    I’ll share some music for thought: Checked out Eilen Jewell the other night in Homer. She has pretty great road tripping music.


  8. Jim nothing I like better than a road trip on my own, it does wonders for the soul and mind. Especially being able to listen to my music without the kids complaining its lame.


  9. reocochran says:

    I used to go to the Agora in Columbus and wish I had seen Boston. Up in Cleveland we saw Steve Miller Band, Todd Rundgren, James Taylor and Simon & Garfunkel. I thought it was also called the Agora, but hate to say I know the music hall I heard these people. 🙂 I really liked when Harry Chapin cane, still, guitar and stage. Not sure but probably more than $3 for most of the above, Jim.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. reocochran says:

    He came, stool, guitar, stage. I hate my cell phone! Sorry.


  11. markbialczak says:

    I still listen to baseball on the radio, Jim, and am thankful that a local Syracuse station has picked up my New York Mets games. Their crew doesn’t talk too much, but maybe it’s just me and my affection for the team. Anyway, they still greet me from the Bob Murphy Broadcast Booth, by name, at the top of the broadcast, which allows me to think back to the late, great seminal Mets man on the mike and his words after a win: “We’ll be back for the happy recap.”

    Thanks for giving me a moment to think back and reflect, my friend. Nice drive you had through college turf and years.


    • Jim McKeever says:

      Yes, memory lane is always nice, thanks! I always liked Bob Murphy. I can’t bear listening to the NYY crew, although they’re better than Vin Scully, who just can’t shut up. I know he’s a god, and has been doing broadcasts for 65-plus years (!!) but …. Glad I’m not a Dodgers’ fan.


  12. cat9984 says:

    Ohio State? Glad to see you showed a sign to Ann Arbor, home of my college memories.


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