Things I learned driving back and forth to Virginia:I'd known it was about 600 miles. Now I know that 1/4 of the way down is west of Danbury, 1/2 of the way is around Princeton, and 3/4 of the way is Baltimore.
This is from following our usual traffic-reduction route: 90 to 84 (Sturbridge) to 684 (Brewster) to 287 (Mahwah?) to 206 (somerville) to 95/295 (Princeton/Trenton) to 95 (Delaware). I thought about using GoogleMaps's route back, of NJ Turnpike to 95 to 91, but there was congested traffic in NJ and a sign warning of more delays and saying "Take Exit 4 to I-295" so I did.
In NY, skipping 684 and taking 84 all the way to 87 and then down to 287, is about 70 miles and takes about an hour. On the way back, taking 287 to the Tappen Zee and up 684 to 84 is about 55 miles and takes about an hour. Traffic, feh.
EZ Pass (aka Fast Pass) rules. Except there are now enough people using it that there was a toll plaza where the longest lines were to go through the two EZ Pass Only lanes. (Fastest lines, but still longest.)
After gods know how many years, they've (almost) finished the Virginia side of the Beltway-95 interchange. Even more surprising, it seems to work for traffic flow.
People don't travel on Tuesday evenings? There was empty space around me much of the time on 95 between Washington & Richmond. This Does Not Happen. Of course, coming back Sunday midday, that did not happen.
Coming back, there was an enormous downpour of rain in NJ, blindingly so. Travelling in a car without working A/C on a hot sunny day is bad. Travelling with all the windows rolled up is worse. But, after, there was a rainbow.
Things I learned in Virginia, about my mother's condition:The only uncertainty is in terms of time. Details (feel free to skip):
My mother's heart problems (valve stenosis) have gotten worse and that's what brought her back to the hospital. It limits the amount of oxygen flow and leads to fluid congestion, which makes it hard for her to breathe. The only fix is surgery and she's not a candidate, she's too old, too frail, too many other problems including near-total kidney failure, which means they even have to be careful about diuretics for the fluid retention. They have her on supplemental oxygen. She's not eating much at all, she claims she's just not hungry. In the rehab facility, they'd just started trying to get her walking again after the hip operation, but that's off the plate now. She's permanently bedridden. The dementia, the disorientation, is increasing, which isn't surprising as she gets shifted from one place to another, from one part of the hospital to another, as the level of needed care changes. She knows who people are, she can talk coherently to them, but she'll talk about how she walked outside yesterday or of someone who came by that morning (but hadn't) and she fades out, drifts off to sleep easily. The next change will be to hospice care, probably in-hospital, starting this week.
It's a downward slope but we don't know where the drop will come. It's not likely to be mere days, and that's why I came back, but they're not implying months.