The road to Indianapolis from Chicago (IN-9) cut through a sea of firm-standing corn stalks, and for hours I saw nothing but walls of cultivation interrupted by farmhouses and islands of clover.
Tag Archives: Maps
Ta da! Week 2 is complete. I stayed in Portland three days or so more than I’d originally planned, so my progress in terms of distance isn’t crazy impressive, but this week had some GREAT drives.
- Distance Traveled: Approx. 550 miles
- Gas Used: 2.5 tanks, about $75
- Highest Gas Price: $3.739 in Pittsfield, MA
- Lowest Gas Price: $3.739 in Portland, ME
- Week 2 Favorite Place: Well… Portland.
- Meal of the Week: House salad with Maple-Terragon dressing at the Chinook Cafe in Conway, NH – $5.25. Everything was fresh, the croutons and dressing were delicious… I don’t know why I liked it so much! It’s possible I was just really hungry.
- Dessert of the Week: Warm Brownie Sundae with one scoop chocolate gelato, one scoop hazelnut gelato and hot fudge from Maple’s in Portland, ME. I went there for a highly recommended ice cream cookie sandwich where you get to pick what kind of cookies and gelato you want, but they were out of cookies so I had to settle for what was available. How ANNOYING.
- Vista of the Week: I spent almost 100 miles on New York Route 20, a mostly two-lane road that cuts through the middle of the state. Although it was congested at times, there were long stretches when it was completely empty, especially as the sun was beginning to set. I was driving directly west around 7 or 8 when I hit one set of hills in particular that was covered in mist. It was so beautiful and so empty that I just stopped the car and stood in the middle of the road to get a picture:
- New Friend of the Week: Not including all the awesome Portland people that Tommy introduced me to, I’d definitely have to go with the lady doing the Hunt for Literacy in the White Mountains, she was chipper and fun!
Hooray! I’ve made it through week one without going crazy, crashing my car or running out of money. Behold my path thus far:
- Distance Traveled: Approx 700 miles
- Gas Used: 2.5 tanks, $80
- Highest Gas Price: $4.12 in Greenwich, CT
- Week 1 Favorite Place: Portland, ME
- Best Meal: Black Bean Veggie Burger with jalapeños, fries and salad + two Cambridge Brewery Co. “Spring Training” IPAs – Christopher’s in Cambridge, MA – $23 (ouch)
A bit of a slow and expensive start, but this week I expect to be moving much faster. Is there any other info you’d want added in the weekly wrap-up? I’ve been keeping track of how much money I’ve been spending, from now on I’ll try to also include “Lowest gas price”… anything else?
Fifteen miles north of Boston on Route 1, I found Danvers (later called “kind of a random armpit to wander into” by my friend). In Danvers I chatted for a while with the manager of the local Motel 6, Cindy, who gave me coffee from the back room and let me use their laundry facilities. After thanking her probably a little too sincerely for the much needed caffeine fix, I got Cindy talking about her own overcome caffeine addiction.
She spends most of her day working with learning disabled kids, so to power through when afternoons drag she used to drink a TON of Coke – sometimes even more than a six-pack a day. Despite an otherwise healthy diet, Cindy was diagnosed with diabetes a couple years ago and had to quit the cola cold turkey. She said she lost like 60 pounds in just a few weeks after cutting soda out of her diet. Crazy! A mid-size problem has been her intense fear of needles, since most people with her diagnosis need to receive regular injections of insulin. After a long negotiation, she got her doctor to agree to let her stay on pills as long as she kept a very regimented diet, which so far she’s been able to handle without a problem as long as no one steals her food at work (of course that can sometimes be a pretty big “if”).
With diabetes on the brain, I headed southeast to meet my friend Sarah at the Cheesecake Factory in Peabody for lunch. I got there a little early so I checked out the Northshore Mall off of Route 114 and ended up getting new hiking boots at EMS (Finally! And on sale!) and new sneakers at Journeys (Similar to my old broken ones! And also on sale!).
The Cheesecake Factory was large and crowded, but Sarah and I chatted semi-casually about long-term and short-term future plans. She’s currently teaching at a small private school for children with learning disabilities (maybe the same one where Cindy works? I forgot to ask…), while she works towards her Masters degree. She LOVES her job and lives in a town called Manchester-by-the-Sea, which sounds like it’s out of a romance novel or something. And this summer she’s heading to ECUADOR for five weeks to backpack with her boyfriend!
She’s almost done with school, and as things really start to come together for her she’s begun to have some anxiety. Which I think is kind of interesting! I know a couple other people who are having the wait-the-next-5-to-10-years-of-my-life-are-beginning-to-reveal-themselves-to-me panic. Or maybe panic’s the wrong word? The people my age that I know seem to fall into one of the following categories:
- Very definite plans for the future, staying on track, probably in professional school.
- Very definite desires for the future, not sure exactly how to achieve them, so trying all kinds of paths.
- Had absolutely no plans coming out of college, now a few years later they find things starting to fall into place in the form of a real, actual adult life. But are they ready to commit to making grown up decisions?? This is the question.
- Still have absolutely no plans, could be employed, could be unemployed, kind of nervous and floundering. (Idea: move to the opposite coast? Ok!)
So there’s anxiety all around if you think about it. Which kind do you have?!
I left Sarah and wandered deeper into Cape Ann. I got off at a random exit to check something on my car and ran into these kids sitting on a wall trying to get cars to honk at them:
What a fun mom right?? I decided to check out the the town that birthed this scene, so I wandered around turning down little side roads and taking them wherever they led me.
Almost all the houses had little magnolia trees in their front yards, it was so cool, if a little confounding. I soon realized though that I was in the TOWN of Magnolia! So it’s maybe a town mandate or something to have many Magnolia trees?
The best part of Magnolia by FAR is Magnolia Harbor, it was this tiny little man-made harbor tucked into the town. I found a place to park and went to sit on a rock near the beach. There were couples walking their dogs, older women exercising and chatting, and as I was sitting there a father pulled up with his 10 year old daughter for a picnic!
Across the harbor was this totally haunted house built right on the rocks, with waves crashing up against it and all these crazy spires and chimneys and attic spaces. Creepness.
I rested in Magnolia for a little while longer before winding my way around the rest of the cape and finally passing through Essex on my way up to Portsmouth, NH for the night. I’m lucky it was pretty late already because I passed this antiques shop called The White Elephant that I DEFINITELY would have had to stop in if it were still open. Check out this front porch! Did anyone else only learn the meaning of “white elephant” when they read that Hemingway short story “Hills Like White Elephants“?
My friend Eric told me a story today about a trip he and his family took in 1994. Driving though Texas along I-35, the carload of 5 stopped for a pit stop here:
This small map shows the small town of Pearsall, TX, population 7,157. Located just off of I-35 (you can see it on the left in the picture above), Pearsall takes up about 4.2 square miles and is home to the World’s Largest Peanut:
Sadly, Eric’s family missed out on the peanut–I will not make the same mistake.
This story has a happy ending though! As his parents rolled through town with three boys under 10 in the backseat, they stumbled upon a Dairy Queen- why not stop for some dipped cones, right? Little did they know! After ordering a kids meal, Eric and his brothers were each given a full size kite as a prize! And “not a crappy kite, but like kickass store-bought kites.” I really can’t imagine a better afternoon for a bunch of kids stuck in a car for what was probably a sticky few Texan hours.
So what’s up with that though, right? Dairy Queen giving out kites??? Awesome! Do they still do that? Was that just a Texas thing? Just a Pearsall thing? I looked into this a bit, and it turns out Dairy Queen has quite a legacy in Texas. In FACT, of the 5,600 Dairy Queen locations spread out over 22 countries, there are 900 franchises open in Texas. Furthermore, while DQ’s slogan globally is “Something Different,” in Texas it’s “What I Like About Texas.”
I’m not the first person to have noticed this, and in 1987, The New York Times addressed the trend. So I have to wonder, is DQ still the same town center it was 20 years ago? Giving kickass kites to kids, spreading news of deaths and births, providing a low key location for oil deals and hunting trip planning? With proclamations like, “The Dairy Queen is what Ernest Hemingway called a clean, well-lighted place,” and “All the wild horses are ridden in the Dairy Queen,” (what does that mean??), I have to assume it’s enjoyed at least some longevity?
Welcome to I think it’ll be fine! After living in New York for about 20 months or so, I decided to quit my job, pack up and move to Washington state. Do I have a job there? A place to live? Have I ever even been there? Umm nope! In order to distract myself from the coming disaster that’s sure to accompany this decision, I’ll be spending the next couple of months planning my drive across the country. With no job and very few goals, I’ve got some time to kill, so if you’ve got any advice for where to go or what to do, I definitely need it. Below is a map of the U.S. with my current route represented by a piece of string. My camera’s pretty awful, so it might be kind of hard to see….
So! Visit me often to see how the plans are going, and then of course sometime in early May I’ll be hitting the road and posting updates as often as possible.