Yesterday was a driving day.
Our goal was not to see specific sites but one where the whole idea was to see what sites presented themselves to us along the way The hope was that we would things we had never seen before especially it was a journey that we had never taken before.
I don’t mean this to sound zen or like some inner meditative journey. It really was not that type of trip. Our only goal for this trip was to get to Stowe, Vt. from Bar Harbor, Me. via by using as few Interstate Highways as possible. We were not interested in a speed journey but one that would take us through parts of the world we had never seen and are often to busy to slow down for.
However before we got on the road we needed to get to the car. One of the unexpected parts of this journey is the amount of stuff we need to tote along when traveling with a dog in the time of Covid. Rosie had her own suitcase full of toys, treats, a bed (she likes but uses only for naps) bowls, and food. I don’t resent this in any way although I do wish I had taught her to carry her own bag before we left. Our Covid supplies include several bags containing food stuff, an entire bag containing PPE and sanitizing products and perhaps a bottle of Basil Hayden that I considered medicine after a long days drive. Add all this to Elaine’s and my modest suitcases full of casual wear and it is a production going to and from hotel rooms. Thankfully, we have had a very helpful and friendly porter named Paul who is also traveling with us.
We were blessed for a beautiful day for this expedition. The type of day you pray for after a long hard winter. The type of day you wish for after being spending most of the last year inside your house wishing that the Covid would just go away. Sunshine, mild temperatures and nary a breeze. The beauty of the day also, oddly, reminded me of the first time I was in Florence, Italy. It too had been a beautiful day and seeing the light it case on the Arno, the Duomo and other sites of the city made my understand why the city had been so special to the Renaissance. It evoked a desire to capture it all in any way you could in their case oil paint. The same was true of this Maine day. It made me think of Jaimie Wyeth and his paintings of Maine. You could see his inspiration and color palette laid out before you.
I am not an intellectual and I don’t want the reader to get the impression from the previous paragraph that I am. However, I am always interested in what inspires people to do what it is that they do and seeing this beautiful day and the weathered environs of Maine made me understand a painter I admire better. And isn’t that what this trip was all about. Seeing the world again with new eyes and better understanding?
The first part of our Journey was on 95. The superhighway that links Maine to Florida. At this point in Maine it is nearly empty and straighter than the roads that line the American West. It has lovely scenary that often goes past to quickly to fully appreciate. This is when to the shame of Rosie Elaine and I turn on Sirius 17 “The Bridge” a station that broadcast mellow rock from the 70s and 80s and sing along. Elaine has a beautiful voice. My voice is best described as enthusiastic but we enjoy belting out the songs we know and even the ones we don’t. While I cannot see her I am sure our dog is cringing in the back of the car, paws over ears too mortified to howl.
After about an hour we jump off the highway and onto Maine Rt. 2. This leads through the rural heartland of Maine. Even though I have been to Maine many times, went to Summer camp here, I was surprised at the beauty of the forest, rivers, farms and lakes that I saw. It appeals to the part of me that loves to be surrounded by, nature and does not mind the solitude that it brings. I say to Elaine more than once that I could live around here even though I am not sure I could weather. It also reminds me of something we too often forget living so close to New York. Rural America where farming, logging, and small factories dictate the rhythms of everyday life. It is an enigma to me especially the support I see for Donald Trump that is evident from the lawn signs we see along the way. What is it that these farmers see in a man who could not be more different than them? I guess I could have stopped an asked people along the way but I don’t. Instead I resolve to delve into this more from the confines of my study at home.
One part of traveling the back roads that they do not tell you about in the guide books is the lack of fast food restaurants where you can stop and have a pee. This presents less of a problem for me than for Elaine but she is a courageous Braziliero and has developed a patented method for dealing with this issue. I would tell you how but it is patent pending but call me if you really want to know.
After a few hours we get hungry and stop near the Sunday River Ski resort for lunch. It is a ski town without a winter but we find a deli that makes wonderful roast beef sandwiches with horseradish. But there are a number of things that disappoint me. First, most people here do not take Covid here seriously. The best way I can describe their attitude is casual. It makes me double the amount of sanitizing gel that I use. Also, the gun laws. We see two relatively young men walk into the deli with pistols on their belt. Why? I understand the desire to own a gun. I own one. But to carry it around like a gunslinger I don’t get especially here where the need to protect yourself is mainly from moose. Also, you would think that gun toting and pot shots were not compatible but here in Sunday River there are lot of stores that sell each.
At Camp Skoglund where I went for a couple of summers, they had day trips to Mount Washington. My group was too young to go but I have wanted to see it every since. Especially when I learned that it had the most extreme weather in the United States due to it being the highest point west of the Rockies. It is an impressive mountain and today it is snow capped. We see a sign for the car road to the top but Elaine convinces me that is not something that we want to do. She provides me with the Brazilian equivalent of my father’s tried and true “Lets not and say we did.”
We reach Stowe around 4pm and check in to our new hotel. What I didn’t know before this trip was the amount of paperwork associated with traveling with your pet. They make you sign a disclaimer that is a full page long and tells you that if your dog does not behave they will charge you 250 dollars and for the privilege of your dog staying at the hotel you will pay a $35 fee. I can understand the fee and I can understand the charge if your dog is bad. But I cannot understand both together. If the dog is bad and more cleaning is required charge the fee or you got a little more for the room. Either or. Oh well, I guess that is the price you pay for having a dog who hogs the bed.