We left Arlington at 1:30 p.m. Friday, headed to Floyd. Stopped in Manassas for gas ($1.95 a gallon for 87 octane) and headed back west on I-66 at 2:15.

This would be tight. The reception for the Floyd County High School alumni show at the Jacksonville Center started at 7 and traffic is always heavy on I-81 on Friday afternoons.

The speedometer on the Wrangler said 70 when I came up on a slower moving car, but I had to wait until an 18-wheeler passed before easing into the left lane. Before I cleared the car, another 18-wheeler was on my bumper so I speeded up to between 75 and 80 to put some distance between us. The truck that had passed us earlier was about 25 yards ahead and the second truck stayed about the same distance behind.

Cradled between these two speeding beheamoths that never left the passing lane and never dropped below 75 mph, we covered the 153 miles from Strasburg to the scales at Troutville in under two hours. When the trucks peeled off for the scales, I relaxed for the first time in more than two hours. Once again, driving on I-81 was less a trip and more an exercise in survival.

We made it to the Jacksonville Center with time to spare but is keeping a schedule worth the risk? No, it isn’t.

I think we’ll take U.S. Rte. 11 back to Arlington after Memorial Day.