chapter lx

Posts Tagged ‘DC

Brewer, Maine. Mile 4820. Okay, good connection here. I’m staying at another independent motel – great rate, beautiful room and friendly staff. I keep hoping that these lovely little motels can survive the next few years. They just have more character than Econolodge – nicer pillows, towels, more thought in the decor. Right next door is a home-cooking restaurant where I had a delicious dinner with grapenuts custard covered with whipped cream for dessert.

Back to yesterday. Took awhile to figure out how to get out of DC – by mistake I got on the Washington-Baltimore Beltway but that turned out ok – little traffic, and got me to Baltimore, where I got lost for awhile. I thought I was following signs for US 1, but then the signs disappeared and I drove around blocks of row houses, block after block, some renovated, some boarded up. I knew if I kept going, eventually I would find some highway. I decided to take the 83 to 81 to avoid New Jersey, New York. Been there, don’t want to do that again. Anyway, Pennsylvania is rolling and pretty; Wilkes Barre, Scranton, got off the freeway now and then to see some towns. It got colder and colder as I headed north – the heater works great. But it was also very windy, work driving. Today was windy all day, too and cold. Water was frozen mid-stream falling down the rocks at the side of the road, and today the vestiges of snow banks left by the plow lined the roads and parking lots. Ah, I remember March, and all the filthy snow.

Nevertheless, I felt elated as I drove into Maine. This is the final leg, and it is beautiful and clean and good. The sky was so blue and clear all day, and the pines tall and fragrant on both sides of the road. I spent some time looking for winter boots, but no luck. Too late in the season even for clearance. They all have spring sandals out now, and the few boots lying around are ugly and still too expensive. I did see a beautiful pair of shoes but even on sale they would have been more than $100 and I really don’t need shoes. They were so nice.

It has been a good trip. I’ve only been to Starbucks once, and haven’t eaten once at a fast food place – it’s possible to eat good real food even when you don’t know where you are. I have stayed at chain motels only half the time, sometimes because it was time to stop and I couldn’t find anything else. I’m so grateful the gas is not $4/gallon. I have had wonderful visits with so many people and now it’s on to new beginnings.

I am only a couple hours from the border, and looking at tomorrow, I think I will have to see how long it takes to clear customs. If it takes very long, it will make a long day so I may go as far as St. John and take the ferry in the morning – one a day, at 9 am. If it goes quickly, I may press on and get all the way tomorrow. Have to wait and see.

March snow

March snow

Still in Greenbelt. Spent the past few days in DC at galleries and museums. Thursday, the National Gallery where I saw an exhibit of Robert Frank’s America, a book of photographs he published 50 years ago after spending a couple years traveling the US on a grant to capture the American spirit at the time. Some of them were quite moving, and most were very good at telling a story. Also an exhibit of illuminated manuscripts. I love them, they are such small gems. This collection covered about five countries and two hundred or so years. Beautiful. Then took one of the guided one-hour quick look at the American painting collection up to the twentieth century. It was worthwhile, letting someone point out the highlights and give context.

Friday, back to the city and the Renwick Gallery, which had an exhibit of the work of Greene & Greene, architect brothers who were designing homes in California the early years of the twentieth century and were very influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, Morris’s philosophy of beauty and utility. They not only designed the homes, but the gardens and furniture. It was well presented, and very beautiful. That gallery also has an entire room of paintings by someone (I’ve forgotten his name already, maybe Calen) who traveled the US during the 1830’s to 50’s painting native Americans, their dress, their customs and ceremonies and wrote a little about each tribe, how they lived, how many were left, etc. He knew that it was important to record those things, and it was very impressive, the thoroughness that he brought to the project. There were probably 200 paintings on the walls, from eye level to ceiling, and the variety that he captured was wonderful. Then down to the Smithsonian American History Museum, which was entertaining and interesting – spent a lot of time in the inventions and inventors section.

Coming home, my cell phone died – when am I going to remember to keep that thing charged, I think it’s time for a new phone – and I got on the wrong bus to get back to Joan and Stephen’s. They began to worry when I wasn’t back by 7:30 and I had been traveling the wrong direction for about an hour.
We went to the Zoo today and saw many wonderful things.

Magnolia in DC

Magnolia in DC

In the inventions hall

In the inventions hall

Stephen, Joan and Amina

Stephen, Joan and Amina

At the zoo

At the zoo

More zoo

More zoo

Underwater

Underwater

So beautiful

So beautiful

Burlington, North Carolina. Mile 3600. No pictures today, it rained the entire day. Sometimes so hard that I had to slow way down, scary where the heck is the road? Stopped at an outlet center somewhere along the way, looking for winter boots. I don’t ever have much luck with those places, but there was a Timberland store, and I thought maybe. But no. Why would I be looking for winter boots in the South in the spring? I didn’t thing the prices were all that terrific either. Took the US route for awhile, before it rained so hard, and missed a turn, got totally lost and when I stopped to ask for directions, no one really knew where US 29 was, couldn’t read a map – I didn’t even know what town I was in, but they were very sweet and told me how to get to the Interstate. I found 29 again by accident, so stayed on that for awhile. I had reserved a room at a motel that was not a chain, a little out of the way on 29 in Reidsville, but the rain was so hard as I got to Greensboro that I missed the turn, probably went 20 miles too far, stopped again to ask directions, and they got out a map, another one knew exactly where I wanted to be and said it was probably 45 minutes away. It was nearly dark by then, I was tired and just wanted a good dinner and rest. As I headed back, into the deluge I passed an exit with the whole cluster of cheap motels, and thought, why am I going another 45 minutes just to be in a non-chain? Get off now. So I’m at an Econo lodge despite my desire to support the independents. Oh well.
I have been so lucky with food along the way. The desk clerk told me about a buffet near by that serves home cooking – they prepare all their own food, so I had barbq, biscuits, collards, white beans, green beans, roast beef, grits, gravy and apple pie. It was all delicious.

On to DC today. It looks clear, and I think I will take the US route up there – adds an hour but could be pleasant, up through Virginia.

Atlanta in the fog

Atlanta in the fog

I’m still in Atlanta, having a lovely visit with Meg. It has been raining and cold since I got here, just as well not to be on the road. We spent all day yesterday getting a new couch for Meg. She has been looking for a long time, and we made the decision yesterday. We finally decided on Ikea, so had to rent a pick-up to get it home, and then put it together. After all that work, moving the old one to the porch, rearranging the living room, we went to see He’s Not Really That into You, fun with a good cast. Brunch with one of her friends this morning, and just hanging out. I actually had a little nap this afternoon. Off to North Carolina tomorrow, and then off to DC.
It will be good to get some more miles behind me, but I really feel so not-rushed. All the time in the world. My car hasn’t sold yet, which is a little worry but at this point I don’t know what I can do. There it is, and here I am.

Meg's couch

Meg's couch