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Entry date: 1-27-2022 - Part 3 of the October Trip - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

Part three of the October trip to Maine…

Driving just under 2800 is nothing to sneeze at under the best of circumstances. I did it in June with my dad as we drove Rhondi’s car and our dog, Bailey, out to Maine and Rick and I were about to do the journey back on the morning of October 20, 2021. The car was loaded, and we were ready to go.

I’m pretty sure Bailey knew what was up as we were getting ready to leave and she was not super happy about it. I hated taking her away from Rhondi, but it was also so good to have her back with me, too, and I knew Rhondi would be home in about 10 days. Bailey was despondent, though, for those first many miles. I was, too, really as I keep finding it harder and harder to leave Rangeley.

The sun was starting to come up as we headed down Rte. 4 to Rte. 16 which would take us out of Maine and into New Hampshire. It’s only about 30 miles, maybe not even that, until you are in New Hampshire as you head west on the 16. It’s pretty, too. Lots of trees.

If you haven’t been to Maine, it’s hard to explain how dense the trees are except to say that I definitely understand how people get lost in the woods now. They are beyond what I would call “thick” and if you didn’t have a compass or new what to look for, it would be super easy to get turned around out there.

As we drove into New Hampshire, we saw a moose cow just standing on the side of the road. She was huge and didn’t look particularly smart, but there she was. The third moose of the trip, just as the sun was really coming up. This was right before we entered an area known as the 13-mile wood. The beauty of the area made it easier to leave.

I’m a big fan of New Hampshire and I think Rick was becoming one as well. Driving through the woods in northern New Hampshire is pleasant and once you get out of the dense woods, you can relax a little bit, too. There is so much wildlife up there that you can never really relax on the road. You must be hypervigilant because of the deer, moose, wild turkeys, and everything else. I’ve driven up there enough to have had several close calls.

I drove the first day because I wanted Rick to be able to see an area new to him. For the first hours of the trip, maybe three, we were in New Hampshire driving through one small town after another. They do kind of begin to look the same, but they are so different from Arizona that it makes them all interesting in their way.

The route took us into Vermont next and while it is like New Hampshire, Vermont started to look different, and we were seeing a shift in how the fall colors were distributed as the trees changed. It was a lot greener in Vermont and you could sense the coming of snow as we drove through a couple of ski areas. Being a Wednesday, there wasn’t much traffic along the highway (91W) and we were making great time on our way to Erie, Pennsylvania where we would stay that night.

We dropped down into New York and met up with an old college roommate of Rick’s just into the Empire State. I took Bailey for a walk and the quest for poop was not fulfilled. On the way out in June, Bailey didn’t poop until the third day, so I was nervous again. No poop in upstate New York for the travelin’ dog and after about half an hour, we were on our way across the top of New York towards Buffalo.

Upstate New York is green and there are lots of rolling hills. We were driving along just far enough south of Lake Ontario that we didn’t get to see it, but there was plenty of signs that we were close by based on the road signs. Rick and I were listening to SMARTLess, which is an incredibly entertaining podcast featuring Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes. I highly recommend it and it makes a road trip go faster.

I’m trying to remember if we picked up any regional beer in NY and I think we did, but it must not have been super memorable. Typically, we would look and see what the store had when we would gas up. I know I bought some Yuengling, which I like, but that’s about it. Now that I think about it, I think Rick’s friend turned us on to something from the area, but again, those brain cells have failed me.

It was about dusk by the time we got to Erie, and we stayed at the same motel that I visited in June. Lots of hotels and motels charge you a ton to have a dog in your room so I stuck to what I knew. The place in Erie was right on Lake Erie and nice for the dollars, so we kicked it there and ate some of my leftover birthday lasagna and the last of our lobster rolls. I think the Suns were playing that night, too, so we watched a bit of the game before passing out.

The next morning, we were off to the middle of Missouri and were out of Pennsylvania and into Ohio before we knew it. We skirted the morning traffic outside of Cleveland, which was nice, and somewhere in northern, rural Ohio, Bailey took a shit on the top of a small hill. It was majestic and I was relieved.

We toyed with the idea of meeting another friend of Rick’s near Cincinnati, but it just wouldn’t have made sense with our route. I felt bad about it, but later in the day we talked about it and agreed that it would have taken us too far off out of our way. Rick drove on day two and we had a couple of fun stops along the way for regional beers.

While walking Bailey at one place, I found these weird fruit type things that had fallen from the trees. They looked like pods. See the picture and tell me what it is in the forum. I think that was in Indiana, but it might have been in Ohio. Who knows? The road is hypnotic in that way.

We listened the No Dogs In Space podcast that day and learned about the Cramps. Fascinating stuff, really, and they are an entertaining couple. I find the road in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri to be pretty, but not in a particularly interesting or exciting way. It’s just different from here and there are enough towns to drive through that you’re always seeing something somewhat interesting.

Eventually, towards the end of our day, we made it St. Louis and that is kind of a fun town to drive through. You go right up to and sort of under the arch on the highway we were on, so we got some good pictures. We had a fun chat about what it would be like to live in St. Louis during that stretch of road and I think we both could easily agree that we had no desire to call it home.

We were still an hour and change outside of our destination for the night and we couldn’t wait to get to Uranus.

Tell you about that when I see you tomorrow.

Bailey's paw in the corner for perspective. What is that thing? Am I a pod person now?

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