This summer I have accomplished something I wanted to do all of my life. I have traveled the country from one coast to the other. This first trip, which I have already written about, was a road trip from Virginia to Washington
and return. The second trip – recently completed – was from Virginia to Maine and points in between. The second trip was a camping trip involving me and Stacey the longhaired Chihuahua
. My wife didn't accompany me on this trip because her idea of camping is luxury accommodations in a Holiday Inn.
From Paeonian Springs, Virginia to Kennebunkport, Maine – my first camping stop – is a distance of 556 miles. The easiest route – at least by the map – is to take Interstate 95. I learned on this trip that maps can be deceiving ...
It was a pleasant enough drive from Virginia to Upstate New York where I crossed the Tappan Zee
Bridge north of New York City. On I-95 east of New Haven, Connecticut is where I had my first problem – at two o'clock in the morning.
My Tahoe has a range of sensors that alert you on various conditions affecting the vehicle that are important when you are driving what is equivalent to a small apartment. Driving along in the early morning hour – I always like to drive at night when I am "destination" versus "scenery" oriented – a warning light came on that told me that my right rear tire was losing pressure. When I checked the tire pressure monitor the tire was already at 5 psi. Not good.
Pulling over to the grassy area of the shoulder, I wondered if Triple A was even awake at two o'clock in the morning. Then I remembered that my vehicle had Onstar
– the GPS and satellite communications emergency service system. I started punching buttons on my steering column and eventually found the right one. An eerie voice from out of nowhere asked me, "Mr. Thomson are you alright?" Talking into air, I replied that I was doing just fine and had a flat tire. The voice notified me that according to my new car plan, I had GMC emergency road service for the life of my warranty. For this, I was grateful, but I told the voice that I had no idea where I was on I-95. The voice assured me that I was very close to exit 54 in East Haven, Connecticut and that the emergency vehicle would be there to assist me in less than 45 minutes.
When the truck arrived, a skinny guy who didn't seem capable of lifting a Tahoe tire, had me on my way in less than fifteen minutes. The tire was destroyed by a large piece of aluminum I had picked up going through road construction outside of New York City. I was lucky that my tires were of a design that minimized blowout, otherwise my problems would have been much more serious considering the amount of heavy truck traffic that late at night. I thought my driving problems were over…
On this trip, I have made a strong political decision based upon non-political data. I will never vote for anyone, Democrat, Republican, or independent who hails from the great state of Massachusetts. Roads, bridges, and driving regulations are a function of the decisions of lawmakers. Massachusetts is the scariest state I have ever driven through. Without going through the individual characteristics of the insane crazies I met on the road in that state, let me give you a flavor of what I'm talking about by describing one of their state laws:
Massachusetts – at least that part of it surrounding Boston – has a quaint law that allows motorists to drive on the emergency shoulder from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. I found this out as some idiot in an air conditioning van whizzes by me on the right side at 85 mph. First thought – what happens if you have to pull over onto the emergency shoulder because of a blowout caused by a three-inch hunk of aluminum? This continued until – thankfully – I crossed the state line into New Hampshire.
Coastal New Hampshire is beautiful and tranquil compared to frantic Massachusetts. There's not very much of it and then you are in even more tranquil Maine.
My camping reservation was at the Red Apple Campground
, Maine. This is a great place to tent camp
. If you have a camper or an RV, it's also great. The beach is only a few miles away and your fellow campers are quite civilized. Many of my tent camping neighbors were from Quebec. As my nearest neighbors – two lovely people from Montreal told me: Quebecers look at the beach in Maine as their Florida. The only thing that detracts from this picture is that the overnight temperature in August sometimes nears 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Two days of camping and beaching just about did it for me. It was time to see some wilderness. They have plenty of that in Maine. My spur of the moment route took me on state roads to near Bangor and then northwest to New Hampshire. You know you are in wilderness and the great outdoors when your only nasal pollutant is the intense smell of Fir and Spruce. Maine is beautiful state. You realize, however, how cold the winters are when you see chopped firewood piled to almost the eaves of peoples homes.
I don't have time in this article to describe fully the beauty of New Hampshire and Mt. Washington
, or the pristine beauty of Vermont. Both are places I will return to next summer, God willing.
One night I was tired of pitching my tent and bargained with a rural campsite owner in upstate New York to allow me to park my Tahoe and sleep on an air mattress in the relative warmth inside. The wake-up was neat as I watched anglers haul in trout from a nearby stream.
I discovered on the return trip that there were ways to avoid New York City, Connecticut, or MASSACHUSSETTS and not really be too much of a detour to do it.
By the way, Stacey is a great traveling companion. She hasn't quite made it to 10 months and already has visited 27 states.
Until next time…