A day late.
According to most folks here, I’ve been goofing off in South Puffin for the last couple of weeks. OK, I did goof off there some of the time, but I spent a month on the road over the past three days.
Rufus had left his truck at my little island house (y’all understand how nice it is to live on an island you can drive to, yes?) And I volunteered not only to drive it off the island but to take it all the way north.
Traffic on the southbound 18-mile stretch into the Keys had backed up to Homestead. The great state of Florida has finished eight-years of the five-year project to rebuild most of that two-lane highway into a wider two-lane highway so it can handle more traffic without tie-ups. They have about two-years to go before they finish.
The planning proved itself Saturday. Traffic on the new single-lane southbound 18-mile stretch into the Keys had backed up to Homestead because one lane was blocked by an accident and its emergency vehicles. A fire truck, an ambulance, and a bunch of police cars had parked around a couple of scrunched cars.
Fortunately, I was northbound.
Oddly, none of the emergency folk was working on any of the cars as I flashed past. They were all looking over the pastel green concrete guardwalls into the marsh below.
I love road trips. Sights I have never seen before, people I’ve never talked to, expensive gasoline. I have to wonder why, though, when it hadn’t rained for six months in South Puffin did Rufus’ truck need ark building lessons just a couple of hours after I re-entered the United States?
Some of that rain slowed me to 30 mph on the Interstate when most of the other cars were going slower. Many pulled off. Other than the rain, the boat dragged up on a flatbed tow truck, half a dozen other accidents, and a few micronaps, the first day on the road was uneventful.
And the truck got really clean.
It is unusual to see a V-bottom boat lying on its keel and chine on a tow truck bed when there is what appeared to be a perfectly good boat trailer right there on the road. Of course, right behind the boat trailer was a sedan with its nose and its tail stove in. I’m thinking the car rear ended the boat, knocked it off its trailer into the road, and got itself rear ended in turn.
I landed at a AAA-rated motel in Walterboro, SC. I have no idea how they got a AAA rating. I had planned to stay in the Country Hearth until they stiffed me by not honoring their coupon or their marquee price; I won’t stay there again. The motel I did choose had an easy and fast Internet connection and a micro fridge but I didn’t find the ice maker until morning.
Late arising, I missed the Continental breakfast (dried bread with a dollop of lemon Jell-O).
The best part of the trip came by mistake. I like the (lower case) blue routes meaning the real thing, not the website, but this trip needed speed so I planned to bang it out on the Interstate. Until I got to Richmond and found nothing but traffic. I hate traffic. I hate traffic lights. The roads should clear whenever I need to drive.
Anyway, Rufus routed me onto 301 North. Our family drove 301 most weekends when we kept the boat on the Eastern Shore. I drove across the Bay bridge and up. Good looking corn. Golden waves of grain. Brick mansions and horse fences and development houses. Kent Island looks built up beyond its ability to support concrete but the rest of the ride showed me you can go home again.
I stopped in Chestertown, MD. We had kept the boat at Kibler’s Marina (now the Chestertown Marina) on the Chester River and most weekends went no farther than Devils Reach to drop the hook. A fellow washing down his boat and I talked a bit. He had not known Joe Strong.
I met Joe Strong in 1960 or so, about the same time my folks did. He and my dad were contemporaries so he was an old guy to me. The lifelong Chestertown resident was a 1938 graduate of Chestertown High School; my dad was a 1937 graduate of West Chester High School. During World War II, Joe enlisted in the Navy and attained the rank of lieutenant; my dad enlisted in the Army and attained the rank of lieutenant. Joe was assigned to Cape May, N.J. where he flew patrol missions over the Atlantic. After the war, he returned to Chestertown, where he owned and operated C. W. Kibler & Sons, selling coal and fertilizer and lime and seeds. He also owned Kibler’s Marina and opened the Old Wharf restaurant next door where he helped the 11-12 year-old me collect Coke™ bottles for the deposits so I’d have some change to bowl ducks when my folks were working on the boat.
Joseph Wilbur Strong Sr. died in Delaware in 2005 just 4 months after my dad died in Florida.
The marina has changed — Joe’s old CCKW truck that he used to haul boats on the shallow railway was replaced by a Travelift years ago — but people still work on their own boats there.
This was also Bentley weekend. I passed a Continental GTC with the top down somewhere in Georgia and chatted with the owner of a Mulsanne at a gas stop in Virginia. I don’t know if he was a lawyer or a politician. By the way, it is rather a joy to spend some time on the Bentley Configurator. Even if spell-check doesn’t think so.
Perhaps the oddest part of the trip came on Monday when Rufus drove me from his Bucks County, PA home to Newark to catch a plane to Philly so I could catch a plane to Vermont. USAir priced the Vermont flight alone at over $600, but by flying into Philly in a propeller driven aircraft, I saved $500.
It’s been decades since I flew out of Newark. They have added gates but they haven’t found much new space so it is a very cramped airport. USAir tagged my carry-on for gate check (obvii) but I snagged an exit row seat in Row Two, and I ended up playing footsies with the aft-facing passengers in Row One and trying to disguise my laptop bag so they wouldn’t gate check it, too.
The second leg was not only late but oversold by three seats. I made it aboard although they gate checked my carry-on again.
So, here I AM™ in North Puffin.
I had some issues getting the laptop hooked back up in my desk dock. I can’t find my good keyboard, so I’m using a spare with goofy Home/Del key placement. My good Yamaha speakers got stupid while I was gone and couldn’t remember how to make noise. I plumbed in a spare pair which work fine, so I’ll have to figure out why the Yammies don’t. And I still haven’t found my webcam. It’s packed somewhere. Or gate checked.
And !@#$%^ Comcast turned off the Internet just when things were getting good last night.
I missed walkies during the trip so tying up my sneaks felt good this morning. I did a little property inspection here and down the road. The state probably figures it is done with the flood cleanup. They have shoveled out most of the debris and have spread new gravel over the road shoulders. The neighbors have cut up a few of the washed up trees into firewood size chunks. The southernmost camp looks fairly clean of the big stuff although their shed is now sitting, orphaned, almost by the road and their docks are still scattered and demolished. The family next to them has removed the skirt from their trailer which looks pretty ratty. The high lake waters drained last next door, so there is some debris and a lot of silt on that lawn. About all I have to do as a result of the flooding is mow.
And this morning, I learned how to say nothing at all by investigating what ontologists do.
Internet is up again. I gotta get back to work.