Well, I'm back in Maryland. I survived training and the drive back.
I actually ended up checking out of the hotel a day early and driving up to South Bend after my class ended on Friday. One of my old college roommates is now a professor at Notre Dame, and I figured it would be a good chance to catch up.
Indiana is an interesting state to drive through. It's got two big interstates crossing it - 80 (the Indiana Turnpike) in the north and 70 in the South (which took me to Indy). It doesn't have anything going North/South though. So my tom-tom directions to South Bend made me scratch my head - I-476 (Indy's beltway) for a couple miles, get on Michigan Ave (RT131) and take it for 113 miles. It was especially puzzling since in Indy, there are lights every mile or so - it's full of office parks, strip malls, chain restaurants, car dealerships, and the like. It's like RT 1 in Baltimore County. But once I got out of the Indy area, it was like an interstate - 4 lanes, divided, no lights, except through Kokomo and a few small towns.
South Bend is surprisingly dumpy - the road to Notre Dame reminded me of Reiserstown Road or Northern Parkway near Pimlico - check-cashing places, abandoned houses, liquor stores. The suburbs are typical, though. It was cool seeing my old roomy, although we seem to have less in common - he's a professor, doing research, dating a grad student on the other side of the country - while I'm a working grunt and still single. It was fun reminiscing about college and drinking some beer, though.
So I got about 6 hours of sleep on an air mattress on his floor, grabbed breakfast, and started on my way East.
I made it in about 10 hours - left around 8:30, got back to White Marsh around 6pm. The drive was straight, the weather clear. I stopped four times - twice at rest stops in Ohio, once in PA at a Turnpike rest area, and once at a Sheetz in Fredrick, MD.
One of the more ironic moments was driving through Ohio, I passed the factory where my rental car was built - the GM Lordstown, OH assembly plant, which had a giant "home of the Cobalt and G5" banner. If I wasn't doing 80 in the right lane, I would have taken a picture.
So what did I think of the 20+ hours I voluntarily spent driving? It wasn't too bad. I did get tired at times, but it wasn't too bad. I enjoy driving, and it was nice being able to do things on my own schedule - if I had flown, it would have been tough for me to visit South Bend, to smuggle back the 4 bottles of wine and a 12-pack of beer that I did, or the Casio keyboard I found in a thrift shop. It was interesting seeing parts of the country that most people fly over, to see where the corn I eat is grown, past factories where car parts are built and conversion vans converted.
My biggest regret is that I didn't have more time - I passed a lot of places I would have liked to stop and explore, but couldn't on my schedule. I also would have loved to visit the Indianapolis race track and museum, but it closed at 5, so I couldn't make it with my class schedule. If I did it again, I would have either left a day earlier or stayed a day later.
So what did I do when I came back? I got home around 6, called my parents to let them know I survived, petted the cat, took a poop, unloaded the rental, got changed - and then hopped in my truck and drove to the college I work for for our American Cancer Society Relay For Life.
I had signed up but wasn't sure if I was going to make it. I wanted to - I had done it a couple years earlier, and it's fun to hang out with coworkers, as well as for a good cause. I also noticed that our CIO was signed up, so I figured it would look bad if I didn't show up. I went, but bailed around 12:30am, by which time I was exhausted - I slept from about 1am to 11:30. Most people (including OUR CIO) told me I was crazy for coming after the drive, and I probably was - I was tired.
It's surprising that driving makes you so tired. I got up around the same time I normally do, and did almost no physical activity - just sat in a seat and moved a wheel. But I guess it takes a certain amount of concentration to drive - too much inattention and you drive off the road.
So tomorrow I go back to work, and try to figure out how to make all stuff I learned (or tried to learn) in my class fits into our network environment and the tasks we need to perform.