Well after the longest, hottest, most tedious summer in recent memory, we’re finally mobile again. I realize that it’s been three months plus since our last post, but the sad fact is, there was just nothing new or interesting to write about. We were basically just putting in the time until we could get going again.
And then there was the train.
The effing train.
There is a train crossing less than a quarter mile from Mike’s mother’s property, and on colder nights, they like to park the engine just off the road and leave it running all night. Apparently it’s too difficult to get the diesel motor started in the morning when the temperature drops too low.
I have no idea how low ‘too low’ is, but it felt like we listened to that thing rumble and roar all night, every night, since the cooler fall temperatures have arrived. The shine wore off that real quick, and the sleep deprivation was getting on our nerves. Our departure date just couldn’t get here fast enough.
So finally, finally, finally on Halloween morning, with (mostly) everything packed up, tied down or otherwise taken care of, we said our goodbyes, satisfied our growing hitch itch and hit the road.
(I’d be lying if I claimed not to flip off the train engineer as we drove by. I’m not proud, but there it is.)
(And I’d do it again.)
Pulling Pete is a completely different animal than pulling Lonestar. Pete is longer, higher and wider, and I think it caused Mike no small amount of stress wondering about how it would haul until we actually got on the road and rolling. There is definitely a different feel to towing this year, but Hank has proved he’s up to the challenge. His mileage is a just a bit lower than before, but we’d anticipated that. But thirsty or not, Hank answers the call with attitude. He’s my Little Engine That Could.
Once across the border at Houlton ME, we immediately hit what we’ve come to call our American Baptism. I’m talking rainfall in biblical proportions. Over the 30+ years we’ve been together, we’ve made several dozen trips to New England, and I can honestly remember only one trip to Houlton where we weren’t immediately soaked upon entering the country.
We were out on a weekend tour with Buddy, and since it was a beautiful summer day and we were close to the border, we thought we’d pop over and have lunch at a favorite restaurant in Houlton. It was warm, the sun was glorious, the day was just perfect. We even joked that there’d be no ‘baptism.’
And five minutes after we arrived, one of Buddy’s exhaust pipes broke. After a quick On-The-Road-MacGyver-Fix, we turned around and headed home. Apparently, no water, no luck, lol.
So we accepted our dousing with a grin and continued on, making it as far as Bangor for our first night back on the trail.
The next couple of days saw us weaving our way through New England, completely at the whim of Rabbit, our GPS, who was doing her best to avoid highway tolls. Anyone who has done any amount of traveling in the northeast knows that this is no mean feat.
Yes, it would have been simpler to just stay on the turnpikes, but with a tandem axle trailer in tow and what seems like a toll booth every 5 miles, the tolls can add up quickly.
It felt like it took hours to make any headway, but our second night found us at the Connecticut Welcome Center, the third at a rest area in Loganton, PA.
Running diesel trucks surrounded us on all sides. But we’d been so used to the train roaring all night, that really, it wasn’t too bad. And there was no engineer to flip off.
Our fourth day found us traveling through Scranton, PA. Scranton has always been on my list of want-to-sees. Not necessarily for tourism or shopping, but because I’d heard about it in a favorite song.
As a young woman, I worked at a record store, which expanded my musical tastes to several artists I hadn’t been familiar with up to that point in my life. One of those artists was Harry Chapin. I knew Cat’s In The Cradle and Taxi, but working here, I discovered a love for Harry’s songwriting style and his wonderful way of telling a story.
One of his songs is ‘30,000 Pounds of Bananas’ (click to listen), a tongue-in-cheek tale of an inexperienced truck driver who underestimates his brakes delivering a load of produce to Scranton.
You see, the road leading into Scranton is about 5 miles of downhill twists and turns, leading to the city nestled in the valley below. Suffice to say, ol’ Harry didn’t exaggerate. This hill is an ass-kicker. But I can see why it inspired him to write the song, and I’ve ticked it off the bucket list.
The next day found us traveling in hard rain squalls through Indiana, Illinois and into Missouri.
But this year our timing was better. Just as we hit the Illinois/Missouri state line, the rain eased, and I was able to capture a much better photo of the famous Arch than the one I snapped through a rain-soaked window last March. We didn’t bother to stop, pulling Pete through downtown anywhere isn’t nearly as easy as pulling Lonestar, but I’m happy with my photo.
By dusk, we’d reached my brother’s place midway through Missouri. Here we’ll stay for a few days visiting and taking a break from the road. We love to travel, but it feels good to settle for a few days too.
Next time: Fudge packing in Uranus.
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