The Commute

As I mentioned some time back, one of my primary concerns when we first considered moving to Chestertown was the long commute to Greenbelt, where we both work.  We now have a few weeks of experience with this, and have more-or-less settled into a routine.

We try to get an early start.  I’m up by 5 AM, and we aim to leave the house between 6:15 and 6:30.  I drive and she stretches out in the back seat to nap.  The drive goes like this.

Down Quaker Neck Road and through Chestertown.  The shops have their night lights on, and there are a few places where people are getting ready to open at 7.

Turn onto 213 and cross the Chester River Bridge.  Hit the cruise control and nudge up the speed as fast as we dare, and hope there isn’t a slowpoke in front of us.  Tick off the landmarks every couple of miles:  Royal Farms, Higgy’s cafe, Church Hill, Cassinelli Vineyard, Clabber Hill furniture store, roads with interesting place names (Spaniard Neck Road?).  If it’s clear, admire the pre-dawn light on the eastern horizon.

Slow down for Centreville (does anyone really do 25 MPH?).  Pick up speed again on the other side of town as we approach the Rte 301 exit.  Merge onto 301 and hit the cruise control again.  The landmarks are farther apart now, four or five miles: the merge with Rte 50, the Kent Narrows bridge.  Check the gas prices on Kent Island, generally the lowest around.  Get on the Bay Bridge, where almost no one seems to slow down even though the speed limit is 50 MPH.  Glance at the big freighters on their way to Baltimore.

Off the bridge and through Annapolis.  There are really two parts:  the peninsula, from Sandy Point to Bay Dale Drive; and Annapolis proper, from Rte 2/450 to the Rte 97 exit.  Once past 97, the speed limit goes up to 65, so bump up the cruise control.

Tick off the last few landmarks on Rte 50/301: the South River bridge, the exits for Davidsonville Road and Rte 3/301.  Exit at Rte 197 and head north through Bowie.  Hope for luck with the traffic lights.  Turn left onto Rte 450, and then right on Bell Station Road and Rte 193.  Drop my wife off at her office, and then head into Goddard.  With any luck, the door-to-door travel time is an hour and 20 minutes.

The drive back is basically the reverse of this.  We try to leave work no later than 4:30.  Usually my wife drives, and I try to nap.  The traffic is generally heavier, at least until we get across Kent Island.  We’ve had reasonably good luck most days, but one day this week there was a car broken down on the Bay Bridge eastbound span, and only one lane was open; that’s the worst drive home we’ve had so far.  Of course, we have not yet had to deal with the Summer bridge traffic.

The bottom line, I think, is that the commute is manageable, and especially in the morning, doesn’t really feel that long.  The afternoon depends a lot on when we get away from work and any incidents along the way.  We’ll see how this feels after several months or a couple of years.


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