We’ve been making trips to the Maine coast since the early 90’s. I can’t think of any in particular that we haven’t enjoyed. They’ve all been fun. Some bad weather from time to time, but never any serious problems. Well, maybe the time we were there in January and went out to the Nubble to see the lighthouse and damn near froze our butts off, but that was really a business trip and not a vacation. So maybe it doesn’t count. And then there was the time we decided to leave in a blizzard to head back home to Corning, but that was “business” as well. Talk about a long, agonizing drive. Spending almost 12 hours on the road (without being able to see it most of the time) was definitely not fun. I’m still amazed we made it. Not one of my better travel decisions.
What brings all this to mind is the trip we finished a couple of weeks ago. All things considered, it was OK, I guess, but it did have its “down” moments. On the way out, for example, we ran into one of those famous “parking lot” situations on the NY State Thruway near Albany. Everything just stopped. It seems somebody tried to literally run across 6 lanes of traffic the night before. They didn’t make it. I’m not sure what happens in other states, but in NY a death on the highway shuts that road down, usually for hours. Sometimes affected traffic can clear the area, but sometimes it can’t. We were lucky in a sense because we hit it right near the end of the stoppage. We only lost about an hour. Then it was on to the Mass. Pike and then to New Hampshire and Maine.
If that had been it, I doubt I’d have even mentioned it. But we were kind of just getting started with road problems. A while later, we ran into another major slowdown when a car ahead of us caught fire. I mean, the damn thing was burning just off the far right lane. The owner (at least I think it was the owner) was standing about 50 feet behind it waiting for emergency vehicles. If it had been me, I don’t think I’d have been anywhere near that close. We’re not talking about a little smoke here – there were flames shooting upward from the engine area. Kind of stunk, too. Like a combination of burning rubber, gasoline, and oil. What scared me was that I had to pass within a few feet of the thing while going only about 15 mph. The whole time I’m thinking that my wife, my grandson, and I are all going to be flame-broiled if that sucker decides to explode.
Again, we were a bit lucky. Just after I passed the burning car, I could see police cars and fire trucks arriving on the scene in my rearview mirror. I don’t know for sure, but I’d guess things really slowed down after that.
Now for us, 2 “road” problems on a single trip would be a lot. We simply haven’t experienced many of those kinds of events. And we travel regularly – a few times a year. So you might think that that was it. Nope. We had 2 other “events” on the way back to NY. Not as serious as the first two, but worth mentioning. Just slowdowns that I can’t really explain (we never saw the source), but they cost us time.
But stuff like that happens. It doesn’t make you very happy, but sooner or later you have to put up with it. In this case, it just added a little misery to a trip that wasn’t quite as wonderful as I expected. It was nice being there with our grandson and showing him the places his brother had seen a year before, but I have to say that the excitement I used to feel never quite materialized. Photographically, I only took about 200 images over a 5 day period. It was all the same stuff that I’ve done before. Everything looked the same and felt the same. The “newness” was gone.
It’s not that I don’t like being close to the sea anymore. The ocean is a wonderful place to just sit and look out at the world. It’s always just a little different than the last time you were there. But maybe not in this particular spot anymore. Maybe it has to be someplace else. If it’s Maine, it needs to be further north. Maybe Bar Harbor again. I don’t know.
Right now, I’d rather be looking at the desert, I think. In a couple of months, we will be. It’s those wide open spaces that beckon. The desert doesn’t have that salty air smell, but it does have its own aromas and its own attractions. And it’s so easy to get away from all those other tourists. The ones that run from one icon to the next with their pocket cameras and iphones. In a very short time, you can be out there – alone – with the lizards, the rocks, and the sun and your camera.
And the quiet. These days, hard to find much “quiet” in southern Maine.