Tuesday, July 12, 2011
A Long Way From the Cold North
Sitting in a Walmart parking lot taking a rest from the heat in Waterford, CT. We drove this far (about 180 miles) this morning from Salisbury, Massachusetts but the engine kept running hot, the road construction was everywhere, and traffic was terrible. We found this nice super Wally and pulled off to a far lot to just let things cool off. At this point we plan to rest here till about 11pm when the temperature is scheduled to drop below 85 and try driving across the Hudson into New Jersey. I don’t normally go for late night driving but the temperatures and the traffic are pushing me to try a new tactic.
In fact, this whole trip has pushed me to doing and learning new things – about towing, about driving with a flat, about my road service, about the weather (yeah, I thought it never got hot up north) and about my resilience. Somehow I have managed to get through every ordeal, big and little, and move on.
One thing I know for certain is that my goal to drive from Buffalo to Albany and on into Massachusetts in one day was a bad one and I paid for it. The roads were rough and we paid a heavy toll to ride on them. The toll was $48 to get out of New York. Then we got on the Mass Turnpike which was just as rough but the tolls were cheaper. And that’s where the tire went flat. I was able to limp up the road into Vermont where we found a truck stop to stay in for the night (running over 4 of those orange cones around some road construction along the way). From there I called my road service and within an hour or so the guy was there to fix the tire which turned out to not be blown but that the stem had busted out. He was able to put a new valve stem in for me which was lucky because while I do have a spare underneath it seems to have been there so long he couldn’t break the connection on the tire holder. Something I will get the guys at Bass Tire to take a look at when I get back home. Also had to get the service to send a guy out to jump start the battery on my car because I had left it sitting there with the lights on while I was worrying over the tire. Thank goodness for a good road service package. We ended up just spending the night in the parking lot of the truck stop and had breakfast the next morning at the 50s style diner there where we were entertained by the 2 waitresses’ discussion of IUD problems. Amazing what you learn on the road!
Things started looking up after that. We went on up the highway toward Ben & Jerry’s with a stop at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial at the Sharon, VT visitor center. It’s one of the best we’ve seen and we stop at just about all of them we come across. The folks at Ben & Jerry’s were busy but very kind. They had some special parking for RVs which was great. I thought the tour was a bit lame but the flavors we tried afterward were great. Ever heard of Bonaroo Buzz? The Goddess says it’s great. I had a 7 Layer Cake flavor with coconut, graham crackers, and chocolate. Yummy!! Before we left I walked up to the flavor graveyard and took some pix for Brenda since she couldn’t make the climb. Very funny stuff.
We left there and decided to drive toward New Hampshire. Went through downtown Barre which was the prettiest town but with the toad we just couldn’t find a place to park so we moved on down the 302. All along the way was beautiful New England scenery: rivers filled with big boulders and covered bridges and red barns. And so cool. We rode with the windows down and enjoyed it all so much that we were surprised when we saw the welcome to New Hampshire sign. We soon found a nice campground near Littleton, NH with a hot tub. After that long drive through New York and the rough night at the truck stop we decided we were due a treat. The next morning we slept in for a while then hitched up the toad and drove over to Mount Washington base camp to ride the cog railroad to the top. Many hardy souls actually climb the 2.something miles/over 4,000 ft. rise in altitude, but we decided to ride the train. There was only one other rv in the lot and the folks were from a little town in Georgia just outside of Chattanooga so we became fast friends on the ride up and down both.
I was really happy to get to the top of Mount Washington. Last fall when I visited the area there was so much snow already you couldn’t get to the top. It was in the low 40s on top with a wind gusting at around 45 mph which gave you a 32 windchill. We had chili for lunch. I wasn’t able to get a webcam picture of me on the observatory deck so I missed out on the find for a webcam cache, but I don’t care. I was there and had a blast. Once we were back down to earth and in the seeker we headed east again on the 302. We stopped at the pull off along the highway with a view of the Mount Washington Hotel which is supposed to be haunted so we could take a couple of pictures then moved on toward Maine.
I had to shift down into a lower gear to get down out of the mountains without being run over by my toad, but there were several opportunities to pull off and enjoy the view. Again the roadside scenery was like someone from Hollywood had set the stage for us all along the roadway. The only thing we didn’t see was a moose, and while I wouldn’t have minded seeing one off in the distance, I wasn’t keen on finding out if I could survive hitting one. Just outside of Portland Maine we found a super Walmart and decided to stop to shop and maybe stay the night. I got out to check the toad and made an ugly discovery: the cable that hooks the car electrical to the RV had come unplugged somewhere in the last 30 miles (the last time I checked things) and had dragged along the road all that time. In short, it was ruined. I checked Walmart and a couple of car parts places but only camper supply stores would have another one. Luckily there was one about 2 miles down the road. We just had to wait till the next morning at 11 when they opened.
So we boondocked at Wally’s for the first time. And actually it was fine. We were parked back in a corner near a pond and the frogs sang all night. The next morning we drove the Seeker to Yarmouth to shop at the Delorme store and for Brenda to see the coin vault and sign the log. Then we rode back by way of the Head Lighthouse in Portland. Lee’s Camping World was on the way back to the Walmart where we left the toad so we stopped and bought the new cable then headed back to get hooked up. Before long we were on the road and heading down 295 toward Boston. We found the Black Bear Campground at Salisbury, Massachusetts where we settled in for a couple days’ rest. That night we were in bed before the sun went down. The next morning we drove to the commuter station in town and took a train to Salem where we had a great lunch at a café called The Coven and then milled around some of the shops, visited the witch history museum, the Bewitched statue, ate some frozen custard, and ended up at the Burying Ground in the middle of town. Didn’t really do a lot as we were still a bit tired from all we’ve been doing, but we enjoyed it just the same. We wandered down to the train station and had a short and thankfully air conditioned train ride back to Salisbury. I took the laundry down and put our clothes in the wash then walked over to the pool and walked laps in the water while the clothes got clean. We’ve probably done too much sitting and driving on this trip and I’m taking every chance I get to help my leg circulation. After laundry and dinner we drove down to the Salisbury beach. Ugh. Too much like Panama City Beach in Florida. We just turned around and headed back to get some sleep.
We hit the road around mid morning today thinking of stopping and staying in Rhode Island then changing our minds and going a little further south into Connecticut. I had hoped to visit the USS Nautilus but it was closed today. Just my luck. We pulled off into the super Walmart just down the road to rethink our plans. The heat, the traffic, and the road construction are all bad here during the day. So we will just wait out all three and try moving down across New York and into New Jersey some time late tonight. Hopefully we will find a nice place to spend a day or two before leaving the area.
I’ll let you know later how this plan works out.