Recovery? What recovery?

Ace admin “Purple Avenger” recently had to drive from Florida to NY State on account of a sudden death and funeral in the family. His, admittedly anecdotal, observations from the road trip make it seem like the “recovery” is still some distance away outside Washington DC:

– A lot of billboards are still empty. This was true on I95 as well as some of the alternate routes (like rt17 and various back roads through WV and VA I wandered off onto to avoid rolling into the D.C. vortex at 5pm rush hour. I guess out of business businesses aren’t buying advertising.

– Many still existing painted billboards are quite faded and haven’t seen fresh paint in a long time.

– At some exits, once thriving large truck stops doors are shuttered. This is usually when there’s another competing one at the same exit.

– Many rest stops are closed. It looks like some states have taken to closing rest stops to save money (all the FL rest stops on I95 were still open).

– Observed McLame bumper stickers outnumbered Ogabe by 3:2. In 3,000 miles and seeing many thousands of cars, I saw exactly 3 McLame stickers versus exactly 2 for Ogabe. Actually, political bumper stickers of any sort were uncommonly scarce. I take this an ominous sign of growing widespread discontent.

– The Birchers were out of the closet with a “Had Enough Change Yet?” billboard just outside York PA.

– One of my friends in NY has been an over the road trucker all his life. He hasn’t been able to get a load or run for over a year. This is a guy who’s qualified to haul anything from apples to any hazardous placarded load, including nuclear weapons. Times are tough in the trucking business. The “bigs” like J.B. Hunt have canceled major fleet upgrade orders they had planned. They’re hunkered down, hard.

– There seems to be an uptick in bogus “work zones” in some states to enhance the number of miles over which enhanced speeding fines apply. Toss out a few orange barrels, setup a work zone sign, even when there ain’t a lick of work going on for 20 miles, and let the troopers do the dirty work. Slick. Sneaky.

– There seemed to be an uncommonly large number of cars from NJ/PA/NY loaded with household goods headed south for this time of year that did NOT contain spring breakers. I wonder if all that global warming this past winter is prompting a bunch of people to flee the northern states for good?

The comments are also quite interesting. Even in Texas, which has weathered the storm better than most states, things are not well:

164 I know Texas closed a bunch of rest stops years ago because of an ADA lawsuit. Rather than spending the money to bring them up to compliance, they just closed down the non-compliant ones.

Lots of empty bill boards here too, which has gotta suck because Texas is very very strict on billboards. Almost impossible to get a permit for a new one, and costly to keep existing ones permitted.

What strikes me is all of the for sale signs on homes. There is not a neighborhood anywhere in the Austin metro area that doesn’t have multiple for sale signs up on every block. One street I drove down, it was literally every other house.

Texas has fared better than the rest of the country, but times are definitely tough. This is my second year of unemployment. House was foreclosed on in February, only reason we could afford to move is that the apartments are so desperate to rent that we got a $199 move in, $199 first months rent and $805 a month on a three bedroom apartment. (Cheaper than than the house payment was.)

Thinks it’s gonna be a long time before it gets better.

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