chapter lx

Posts Tagged ‘on the road

Here I am, destination found. It was another lovely clear day for driving – blue sky, rolling roads, pines everywhere, look out for deer and moose. My friend John has offered a room until I find a place, so I am in West Dublin, down by the Lahave river, close to the sea. We went for a long walk on Crescent Beach when I got in. Felt good to be stretching my legs, feel the fresh air.

Now it’s time to prioritize. Find a place, get a health card, register the car, get a phone, get a bank account. I think address is first and move ahead from there. Of course, the other one is find a job – anything for now until I get settled. I know it takes time to meet people, see what’s out there, where do I want to be, what do I want to do. But I also know that if I keep my eyes, ears and heart open, things will come into focus and it all works.

I had forgotten how dry cold weather is. I have been reaching for lip balm and hand lotion since Pennsylvania. There is more snow on the ground here, but the air has that tinge of spring. The numbers here are so extreme: 110 on the highway, -4 overnight, 86 for a litre of gas. I do kilometres, celsius, kilograms ok but never did get the conversion for liters. I think that gas is about 30 percent higher here, based on the cost of a fill-up yesterday.

Good news on the Mazda in Berkeley – the oil had been overfilled, it was burning off excess oil. An oil change will fix that, and the woman is still interested in buying it. What a relief!

Crescent Beach

Crescent Beach

The Sea

The Sea

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St. John, New Brunswick, mile 4990. Hah, here I am finally in Canada, cleared Customs and Immigration and here I am in a Holiday Inn! Left Maine mid-morning after a nice breakfast at that sweet Village Inn. The border is about 2 hours from there, a winding two-lane road through mountains, but first I stopped once more to find boots in Calais – did find some, not beautiful but practical, although they are short but fine for now. Next winter I will look for tall warm boots, but for now I don’t anticipate trekking through knee-high snow. Also a stop at duty-free; hard to decide but finally got a bottle of Kahlua. No room in the van for a two-four and I was afraid if I went for a bottle of Jack, we’d get too friendly. By mistake though I was across the border before I had done that shopping, so turned around, and had to go through the whole ID, how long have you been gone, where are you going to US Customs just to go back and do my shopping. Anyway, it took about 1-1/2 hours to clear into Canada. First, was what am I bringing? I can hardly remember what I have brought – it’s been almost a month since I saw any of it. Outside of the usual, clothes, household, personal memorabilia there is not much else. He did want the serial numbers from the camera and laptop. The problem was the car. I don’t have the actual title – it arrived in the mail at Mary’s yesterday – my mail is being forwarded to her. There is no way she could have faxed it today while I was there – she wouldn’t be home from work until 10 this evening here. So my man was very clever at working the papers, and somehow issued everything I will need to register the car in Nova Scotia, I hope. So, I am officially a resident again, and feel so happy. It was after three (I lost another hour today, Atlantic time) and I decided St. John is far enough. I thought I would take the ferry over tomorrow, but it would be $120 and I’m sure it won’t cost that in gas, and an easy five hour drive.

The drive from Calais/St. Stephen was clear, glorious blue sky, watch for deer, little traffic and lots of dirty snow, pines, lakes and rivers. Coming in to St. John was confusing and finding a place for the night even more confusing. I have been out in the country so long. But I did stop for a coffee and donut at Tim Horton’s, and asked where is a motel nearby.

The biggest problem now is my Mazda 3 back in Berkeley. Someone wants to buy it, phoned Sunday, we made a deal and she needed to take it to her lender today for the lender to inspect. Well, she phoned as I was leaving the border to say that she took it from the Buggy Bank and it started smoking white smoke out the rear and seemed to have some trouble accelerating. What can I do, 5000 miles away? I told her to take it back to Buggy Bank, and spoke to Jerry there. He is going to take it to Oakland Mazda tomorrow, and see what is going on. I can’t imagine. That car never gave me one minute of problem and is still under warranty. I just want to sell it, now! I don’t want to keep making payments, don’t want to keep insuring it. I feel like I’m so far away, and don’t know what to do. Wait and see what’s going on with it I guess. Aaaaarrrghh.

Roadside snow

Roadside snow

Northern Maine

Northern Maine

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

Near Hartford, Conneticutt. 4425 miles. A good day, sunny and clear but getting colder. Came up the east side of Pennsylvania across the Alleghenies, east through the bottom of New York and the Hudson River Valley, and into Conneticutt. Pulled out the warmer coat and I guess leather shoes will be ok now. No allergies since Atlanta – it is not spring here yet. Probably not above 40 today, and looks like more of the same. We’ll see how Bella likes cold weather. This is another one of those cheap motels with spotty internet – frustrating so I’m going to sign off now. More tomorrow

Hudson River Valley

Hudson River Valley

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania

Greenbelt, Maryland, mile 4040. Holy cow, eighteen days and 4000 miles. I feel so lucky on so many counts; that I have time to do this, that I have so little, and so little to worry about, that I have so many friends and family, that this is a beautiful world, that life is good. I am filled with contentment and gratitude and look forward to what’s coming next.

It was a beautiful day, rain finally stopped and although it is chilly and was overcast most the day, it was a wonderful drive. I avoided the Interstate practically all the way – a little to Durham, and then coming into the DC area – at rush hour! I have done most of this without a map – some places I knew how to get there, and some times it is just asking locals how they get from here to there. This morning I asked the desk clerk about US 29 or US 501 and he suggested 501 but didn’t know much about it in Virginia, so when I got to Virginia, asked how they would get to DC and several people in the little store had suggestions, so I found 29 again, and both roads were easy, no traffic, very few TRUCKS and pleasant to drive. That whole area – North Carolina, Virginia is rolling and winding, the bottom of the Smokies. One of my favorite places in the states. I also love Kentucky but probably won’t see Kentucky this trip. Finally drove out of the allergy zone yesterday, as not much is blooming here yet, but as I came around a curve in Virginia this afternoon, there on a hillside in front of me was a whole pink tree, standing against the grey hill and surrounded by all the other stark naked trees. It was breathtaking. I am sorry that I never got a photo of a redbud.

Tomorrow is the day I dress up Bella. I stopped at a custom car shop today that does decals on cars – it occurred to me that a decal might be what I’m looking for, but it would take a couple days. This was by the side of a road, gravel drive and inside two people huddled around a small woodstove and a stock car with decals all over it. All day I’ve been thinking of how to do it myself, and picturing what I want besides “Bella” on the hood. I will post when it’s finished. Last night when I went to dinner, there was a twin parked in the lot, except the other one was a little less battered. I asked the men at the next table if it was theirs, as they were the only other people in the restaurant besides a large noisy family but they had already left. It wasn’t, and then I realized that it probably is not the kind of van they would be driving – hunters, fishermen, they probably have a Ford pickup or some gallumping SUV.

The mountains in the East are so different from the mountains in the West. They are lower, softer, not so jagged and treed. There was the most incredible huge red sunset tonight. I am at Joan’s and they have the largest magnolia in the front yard that I have ever seen. Too bad I won’t be here when it blooms. I will stay here through the weekend – time to do laundry, see some of the Capitol and enjoy being with more loved ones.

Hills in Virginia

Hills in Virginia

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.

Here I am back online, in Atlanta at Meg’s. From Vicksburg to Eufaula, Alabama was a pretty drive. Mississippi was full of blooming trees. Every time I saw a red bud, though, it was difficult to stop so I still don’t have a photo. Hopefully I will get a good one here in Atlanta. We are past the 3000 mile mark – whew.

Alabama was a surprise. I don’t know what I expected, but it is rolling, green and beautiful. It could be Ohio or Ontario. The state park where Janet and John have a cottage was also a wildlife refuge, with many birds that winter over there, and alligators. The weather was perfect, warm and sunny. We started each morning with aquafit, a good stretch after days in the car. Did laundry, and just hung out. It was a lovely retreat with friends that are more like family. It is so good to have so many stops along the way.

Eufaula is interesting. The Union army was just outside the city when the Civil War ended, so they were spared destruction. Many antebellum mansions are still intact, as is the downtown. They still feel fortunate, and celebrate their heritage and history. During that time, it was a major trade center for cotton, being on a river and then a rail line. The population in the 1850’s – 70’s was somewhere around 40,000. Today, it is about 15,000. The whole town is very pretty, with huge lovely houses and tree lined streets. It still seems fairly prosperous and is a summer destination for locals as well as a winter destination for snowbirds.

Atlanta is a large lovely city. Also hilly and green, and blossoming. The weather is cooler today, and threatened rain this morning, but still no inclement weather. Cabbagetown, the neighborhood where Meg lives is an old part of town with narrow streets and small houses that are being bought and renovated. I think that this is the place where I will find someone to dress up Bella – some young artist. There is a street festival tomorrow that looks like fun. Lost another hour today – finally in Eastern time, only one more time zone to go. Still congested from pollen, but not as much as the past few states. I guess as I follow spring up the coast, though, it will still be an issue.

Blossoms in Mississippi

Blossoms in Mississippi

Eufaula

Eufaula

Wild Alligators!

Wild Alligators!

on Lake Eufaula

on Lake Eufaula

Antebellum mansion

Antebellum mansion

Another grand home in Eufaula

Another grand home in Eufaula

Janet and John and Elmo

Janet and John and Elmo