Thursday, November 23, 2006

On the Road [never] Again

Maine lobsterA few posts ago I promised you a report on the Road Trip to Maine. Now that we are back I think I am safe in saying -- "You don't want to know." But let me tell you a little about it anyway.

Early in November we left northern Florida on a Monday and drove over 400 miles to Chattanooga and stayed in a horrible motel. For the rest of the trip the motels were better, but the weather turned on us. The first day was mostly gray skies, but the next day the rain and fog started and never let up. Twelve days -- and we had maybe three days without rain, totally overcast skies but no rain. And two sunny afternoons.

We missed seeing any of the beautiful, I am told, Shenandoah Valley, both ways.

We got to Maine on Friday after stops in Roanoke, Virginia; Wilkes-Barre, Pensylvania and Auburn, Massachusetts. Lunch was in Kennebunkport, Maine, at a wonderful restaurant in the heart of town, Alisson's, lobster rolls and chowder. Then on to central Maine.

My parents, both in their late-80s, were fine as was my sister and her family. On Saturday we drove to my sister's house -- about 90 miles away -- and had a turkey dinner. There were ten of us. Not only was I there but all her children could come up and most of them couldn't on Thanksgiving Day. So we did it early. Everybody had a good time. Everybody except Jack who stayed at the motel, feeling poorly. The long car trip was taking its toll on him. It appeared that he hadn't had time to recover from his hospital visit, and surgery, a few weeks before.

The next day was Sunday and we had plans to drive to the Maine coast for the scenery but the cold rain and lack of visibility made that a bad idea. So we went to The Weathervane, a nearby seafood restaurant, and had seashore food at least, but without a view of the sea. Although The Weathervane is part of a chain, it is a small chain and a local one, so the food is good. Very good.

By late Sunday afternoon the rain and wind was getting heavy. And the wet roads were beginning to freeze. Because of that, coupled with forecasts of worsening weather and Jack's continued illness, we decided to head south a day early. We left on Monday morning driving through a heavy storm that lasted for the next three days -- with overnights in Fishkill, New York; Chambersburg, Virginia; Max Meadows, Tennessee and Fort Payne, Alabama. We moved right along. The rain plus thick fog is nasty to drive through but we needed to get home ASAP.

If you find yourself in Staunton, Virginia, even in the rain, don't miss a meal at Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant And don't leave without a jar of her apple butter.

We got home on Friday afternoon -- 3536 miles, 12 days and 13 states: Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

Looking on the bright side:
We had a good, however brief, visit with my family. We got home, lame and tired, but safe and fairly sound. The cats were well fed and happy to see us.

PS How did we get to Maine and back? Here's the story of the car...

Although both of our cars are capable of such a long trip they are light-weight, compact cars. We knew that something a bit heavier would make for a more comfortable ride, especially one that's going to be well over 3,000 miles long. And although both cars are in good condition they are not new cars. The last thing we would want is car trouble on some far away Interstate highway with winter coming on.

So, it would be a good idea to rent a big, heavy car for the trip. It would be comfortable with a nice smooth ride. If there were any problems, all of the rental cars companies have branch offices along the way. Plus I had a coupon from American Airlines for a rental car upgrade. Standard to full size or full to a premium class car.

We decided to reserve a full size and hope for an upgrade, they said it would be something like a Grand Marquis (whatever that is). The afternoon before we started out I went to the car place and the person at the desk said he was sorry but they were out of premium class cars. But because of my membership in American Airlines' Gold Club, he could give us a double upgrade and I drove away in a light tan Lincoln Town Car with 140 miles on it.

The ultimate big ol' retired peoples' car.

I couldn't fit it into the garage. It was huge, but it rode like a dream and had features I had always scoffed at, like heated seats. Well, living in Florida a heated seat may not mean all that much but on a frosty morning in Maine, or even Virginia, in November it was very, very nice.

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