As move-in activity continued, traffic in the rustic village surrounding the campus was still heavier than usual. Cars congested the narrow inbound streets, while the outbound streets where Clarence now drove the Camry were relatively empty; Clarence felt like a vacationer, leaving early from a resort at the height of tourist season.
Twenty minutes later, he stopped for gas. Checked the time (five to five) and the mileage to his hotel in Columbus (183) on his phone. He smiled, pleased with himself for suggesting that early dinner with Andrew, had given himself enough time, more than enough time, to follow through on his plan, and still get him to his hotel by eleven. He didn’t remember the exit when they’d passed on the way down that afternoon, but guessed it was about an hour away. He’d get there before nightfall, and even if he didn’t, the signage would be good enough for him to find it.
Clarence got back into the Camry, followed his phone’s directions to the interstate, merged with a sense of relief and freedom. The state and county roads to and from his son’s campus were confining, with posted speed limits as low as 25, stop signs and traffic signals sprouting like weeds, soft shoulders and curving roads preventing even the thought of passing a slow vehicle. All those constaints disappeared on the wide asphalt of the interstate, three lanes of uninhibited transport; he now felt he was getting somewhere, could drive at a speed he found comfortable, for as many miles as he cared to travel.
He saw the first sign within half an hour. Exit 135, Ten Miles. His gas station estimate had been off. Not that it mattered to him. Eight minutes later, he saw another side, Two Miles, and in another moment he saw the high sign he’d remembered from their trip down. He sighed, relieved to be almost at his destination.