Click for larger imageFifteen years ago while on transiting the Indian Ocean, the cruiser I served aboard came across a fishing vessel in distress.  The small boat's drive shaft sheared in moderately heavy seas and the boat was now floating without power or means of communication.  Our launch reached vessel with some difficulty in the gathering seas, removed the broken drive shaft and brought the pieces back to the cruiser.  Our nuclear machine shop, using metal designed and priced for nuclear repairs, fashioned a replacement shaft.  With the new drive shaft the fishing vessel headed back to India.  Believing we saved Indian fisherman from likely doom, our commander indicated accolades from Washington would follow shortly.

Days later the fishing vessel equipped with a reactor-quality, Monel-alloy shaft arrived in India and the crew was arrested for smuggling drugs.  The boat contained heroin, not fish.  The Navy quickly forgot our efforts and we were advised to do the same.  Sometimes the best intentions end in bad press.

Click for larger imageI skip breakfast at the hotel as I prepare for a short trip to Kennebunkport and a visit to the Seashore Trolley Museum.  I plan to find a restaurant in the resort town made famous by Presidents Bush. After the hotel valets take turns driving the MINI, I climb in and head south.

The sunny weather of yesterday turns grey this morning and the rain starts to fall as I depart Portland.  I leave the turnpike at the exit marked for Kennebunkport only to find myself right back on the turnpike.  The GPS unit indicates I should be on a different road altogether.  I locate another exit ten miles further south and double back toward the coast.

Kennebunkport is a small, resort town populated by the uber-rich, flag-waving, blue-hair or stroller-pushing who drive big cars on narrow roads.  What few street signs exist are obscured naturally or intentionally.  I am completely lost thirty minutes after leaving the turnpike.  None of the road names match the directions to the Seashore Trolley Museum.

Frustrated and hungry, I call information with the intent of asking the museum for directions.  The museum's voicemail system answers my call and with a kind voice:  "If you would like to lClick for larger imageeave a message for the President, press 1...".  I am surprised to learn the President collects voicemail at a museum.  My mood darkens, and I leave a strongly worded indictment of the current world situation and hang up.

I decide Mister Rogers cured my interest in trolleys.  (In my growing black mood, I think:  "The proper name is streetcar, you dumb east coast fucks.")  I return to the turnpike and head south toward Boston.

Three hours have now passed since I left Portland and I am very hungry.  The highway sign indicates food available at the next exit.  I leave the turnpike and once more become lost in the wilderness of New Hampshire or Massachusetts, whatever useless East Coast state I'm in.  I can tell you the emotional state I'm in and it wouldn't be described by any nice term.  Lost, hungry and annoyed with the inability of New England to properly label or identify streets, I drive back to the turnpike one more time.

My blood sugar level plummets so low I can only think evil, evil thoughts.  No food is in sight and the radio announcers all drawl in stupid Bostonian accents.  Where did these people learn to shove their vowels through their nasal cavities while adding the letter R anywhere they please?  I shut off the radio because continuing to listen will cause me to slam headfirst into a traffic divider.

Click for larger imageMiles pass without the sight of food.  Then, like the sun breaking through clouds, the opening of the Eastern Gates of Jerusalem, the passing of a kidney stone, there...over the horizon...could it be?  Yes!  It is!  Golden arches!  I cannot recall a time when processed junk food made me so happy.  

This McDonald's is the ultimate freeway McDonalds:  direct turnpike access with two drive through lanes, each supplied with a conveyor belt from the kitchen. (No, once again, I am not making this up.)  I opt to go inside and am treated to mezzanine seating with a view of the falling rain outside and an unending conveyor of cardboard boxes to the remote order outposts of the drive through windows.

In chorus with my cholesterol level, my mood rises and I am restored.  I laugh: "Ha! Ha! Ha!" as I think of the last three hours of driving.  

The food arrived just in time as I will now spend two and one half hours traveling ten miles across Boston.  Boston appears intriguing and I have plenty of time to reach this conclusion as I sit staring outward from my personal traffic jam.  Boston is legendary for bad traffic and the city fathers are happy to provide me an excellent demonstration.  I resolve never to return to Boston in a vehicle I must drive myself. 

Click for larger imageTraffic clears and I sail down, out, up and around Cape Cod to Provincetown.  It is late when I arrive and the bed and breakfast is a welcome sight.  I have managed to arrive on opening night of the Provincetown International Film Festival which is the one time each year when straight people outnumber gay people in this uber-queer (10 points for using "uber" more than once) destination.  I don't mind.  I've been fed and the world is at peace.  Best of all, the Virgin Mary is in Maine.

What?  Oh, yes I forget to mention yesterday this one tidbit:  The Virgin Mary appeared in the condensation between the two panes in a double-pane window at a hospital in Maine.  The pilgrims coming to see the apparition have made it impossible for nurses to get to work or patients to reach their doctors.  Around the corner from Mary, between the panes of another window, pilgrims claim to see the image of an embryo.  According to the faithful, these two images are a warning from Mary for the hospital not to form an alliance with another hospital that performs abortions.  I thought of driving to see Mary for myself, but given my difficulty navigating New England, I thought it best to skip Double Pane Condensation Mary.

Anyway, every Mary I know is headed to Canada to get married.  And that, my dears, is a miracle for which we can all rejoice.

Tomorrow - a day in Provincetown.

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The Plan - Road Trip 2003
Itís time for a road trip - a really, really big-ass road trip...[More]
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San Francisco to Maine, twenty two states, two countries and 8,000 miles...[More]
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An itty, bitty car with just enough space for a suitcase, GPS unit and...[More]
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