08 July 2009

IL to ME Odyssey: New York through Maine

Here is the final set of my observations on our car trip from Chicagoland to visit family in Northern Maine, part of the series of posts: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio & Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire & Maine.

Distance Traveled: 407 miles
Bathroom Breaks: 3

Since we took on New York in the early afternoon, everything was pretty well just dandy, so I have nothing memorable to report. This time.

The last time I went through New York was when we moved out here, and let me tell you: do NOT sleep in a hotel a few miles from the western border in Buffalo and then accidentally take the moving truck through the EZ-Pass lane on your way out of state the next morning if you don't have an EZ-Pass transponder. Those people will gladly spend $100 over the course of months making sure you satisfy the 42-cent debt you'll have incurred.*

Distance Traveled: 170 miles
Bathroom Breaks: 2

WARNING: If you live in Boston, or you love someone who lives there, you may want to skip this section altogether and mosey on down to good ol' New Hampshire.

• We had the good fortune to arrive in Boston** with perfect timing to take my wife's very good friend up on her longstanding offer to let us stay with her and her husband just outside Boston proper. We were so glad this worked out as well as it did, though despite numerous warnings against it, my 5-year-old son D- managed to quickly co-produce, direct, and edit --with his much-loved Corduroy bear-- the latest installment in the long-running reality show, "Where the F*** Did Corduroy Go??"

But just when he thought he was finally free, he got stuffed into an airless box and mailed on up to Maine. I'd love to see his happy-go-lucky spin on that chapter in the storybook.

• If you ask anyone who knows me, or who has walked past me on the street sometime within a few weeks after I've left Massachusetts, I hate the city of Boston with a passion that burns hotter than herpes in Hell. Don't get me wrong, I know good people who've lived in Boston, I was happy for the Red Sox when they finally won it all, but I dread and regret my every visit to their (generally) rude, horribly organized, urine-soaked burg.

Before you think I've judged Bostonians and their city too quickly, you must know that over the course of 9 years, I've passed through their airport dozens of times (and spent two nights in it, in fact...); I've made use of their bus station and both of their train stations, several hotels, and a hospital; I've walked along many streets of the city and surrounding towns, taken educational tours, and even spent nights in actual residents' houses on more than one occasion.

So, again, while some of the people (including my brother and brother-in-law) who live or have lived there may be very nice, competent, capable people, and while there may be a few good things there or from there, overall, I think this city represents some kind of horrific disease that must be contained. I pity the future of our country and its standing in the world if this is our city foreigners see first. Eight years of Bush/Cheney/Co. would have quite a battle on its hands in the contest for Worst Face to Show Potential Terrorists Still on the Fence.

If forced to say something pleasant about Boston at large, I suppose I could scrounge up the following items:

1. We have thus far been some of the lucky few not yet crushed to death under falling chunks of the shoddily constructed boondoggle that is the famed Big Dig tunnel.

2. I'd say I enjoy surprises, so having to guess 3 or 4 times, at 50mph, which split in the web of underground roadways we want to take --when the GPS navigator didn't indicate (before losing contact with the satellites, not unlike what would happen before "the good part" in a horror movie) any such choices for many miles-- provides potentially hours of spontaneous urban exploring fun. I'm pretty sure, though, that the Boston contacts at the GPS map companies just haven't told headquarters what really goes on in these tunnels, and no one has the guts to venture in to check on it.

3. If foreign armies were to choose Boston as their point of entry for an invasion, provided they were traveling only by road, we would have literally months to prepare the defense of our capital, with the front likely centered somewhere as close as Brookline. Actually, we could probably just build a 20-foot-thick, 50-foot-high wall around the entire metropolitan area. Using only union labor. Imported from New Jersey. On foot.

Distance Traveled: 18 miles
Bathroom Breaks: 0

Nothing much to say here, given the short distance, except I'm happy to report that crossing the New Hampshire-Maine border bridge is much less stressful when you're not totally delirious from driving compulsively the 1400 miles from Chicago to Presque Isle all at once, as I did when I moved out there almost 6 years ago.

A view of the Piscataqua River Bridge through a windshield - from literaldan.blogspot.com

Distance Traveled: 345 miles
Bathroom Breaks: 2

• I gotta say, under these circumstances, driving the normally pleasant state of Maine is an absolutely soul-crushing experience. Not anything to do with the state itself, per se, it's just that moving through so many states so quickly and then hitting the southern border of your destination state in the afternoon, only to spend another 6 hours in the car, can be a bit much to ask of us long-haul travelers trying to get past all the lobsters, rustic sweaters, and salty sea air up to the calm, comforting expanses of potato fields, black flies, and that only-slightly-ornery air of self-sufficiency.

• We arrived. With no major injuries for any of us, self-inflicted or otherwise. Family was happy to see us, we were happy to see them, and we were doubly happy to spend only about 1 hour total in the car over the next two weeks.

I'll post a few pictures from the trip tomorrow, rather than make this post any longer. Longer than the above plus these two footnotes, of course... enjoy!

* Each stamp on the redundant notices they sent me exceeded the original debt, as did each minute of the time I spent on the phone trying to square away my options for avoiding the sizable penalties they automatically tacked on. What's best is I had to mail them a CHECK for 25 cents, and then mail them a SECOND check a couple weeks later for 17 cents when they realized they had quoted me the car toll instead of the truck toll.

** Note that I said "arrive in Boston" with perfect timing, not "make it across the city to our friend's house"... It was unfashionably late.


Russ said...

Gee, and just when I thought I wanted to go visit Boston... I have gotten lost coming out of Logan once. Fortunately, I was leaving for Maine.

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Christy said...

I like Boston well enough...it's no NYC, but it has it's charm. I'll give you road confusion though--getting around that city is the absolute worst! Often you can almost see where you're trying to go, but you have to take some convoluted path of one-way streets, and end up getting lost (or ticketed.)

Glad you made it there (and back) safely. :)

Mrs. B. Roth said...

All those back Easty places ... with all those people and randomly organized streets. I can't imagine the time wasted and marital conflicts it must cause.

-- Jim Morrison

Trooper Thorn said...

You guys are like Lewis and Clarke, only with crayons and sippy cups.

Heidi said...

I've been to New York and Maine, but never to Boston or New Hampshire - I would love to visit both one day. Sounds like quite the trip!

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