By Veronica H. Hart
Writing Blogs are supposed to be about writing. This month mine is about NOT writing. For the past month Spouse Person and I traveled up the east coast and throughout New England, staying at hotels, and more importantly, with friends and family.
The intention was to continue to write on works in progress, but it turned out my word processor doesn’t like our traveling laptop, so I took it as a sign that I ought to take a complete break from my seven days a week writing schedule and really have a vacation.
Some people take photo after photo after photo on their journeys. I always think I’m going to, but I get lost in the moments and forget. SP took several and I’ll see if I can add a few here to demonstrate why I am in awe of this country.
First family stop was in Warwick, New York. To get there, we asked our GPS lady we call Mabel, to avoid highways. We drove through Pennsylvania and New Jersey on scenic backroads, past farms, through small colorful villages, and on winding country roads right up to their front door without ever seeing an eighteen-wheeler or paying a toll. We did see fields of corn, cows, barns, hundred year old farmhouses, some in disrepair, some standing proudly with fresh coats of paint. American flags abounded in these small towns.
Then we spent four idyllic days on a farm outside of Cooperstown, New York, where the weather cooperated with clear sunny skies and mild temperatures. We had to pull ourselves away
Schenectady, New York. Stayed with friends of forty years and met with other writers at an old fashioned diner. Kind of reminds me of “Same Time Next Year.” We’ve been doing this for several years, catching up on our writing activities. Recently, Keith Willis, a new member of the Champagne Books Group, joined us and participated for the second year. At this good old fashioned diner, we spoke of books, travel, mutual acquaintances. As we passed tables, couples discussed domestic issues, kids, broken lawnmowers, and new cars. No one carried on about the political scene. How refreshing.
The flowers bloomed in our hosts’ garden, hummingbirds hummed, and chipmunks sat at the door waiting to be let in.
The city of Schenectady itself has changed over the years. No longer the mainstay of General Electric, it has had to redefine itself. With Proctor’s theater, it brings in major entertainment, so now, instead of empty storefronts, upscale bistros and shops line State Street. A massive casino and new hotels are replacing old iron works that had remained idle for years. While I find it tragic that an industry that caters to addiction is the cause for the revival of a city, I also applaud the concept of changing directions when necessary.
Continuing north and east, we stopped to stay with more family in Niantic, Connecticut. Because it rained, we did not get out much, but we did attend our grandson’s high school graduation. The beaming faces of over 200 students, so many of them receiving scholarships and heading off to college, restored my faith in the youth of today. Happy, wholesome families joined together to celebrate decries the tragedy of the nightly news about the state of our youth.
Once again we packed our bags and told Mable to guide us to Palermo, Maine, avoiding highways. A trip of four hours on the interstates took us over eight on the backroads, and we enjoyed every minute of it, from seeing a two hundred year old abandoned inn, to the Old Shaker Village, crossing a river in Manchester to see waterfront properties that were once mills, now housing upscale apartments.
We asked Mabel to show us eateries and wound up at a hole-in-the-wall diner that seated, one a good day, maybe twenty. An air conditioner over the front door dripped water onto the sidewalk. The interior appeared to have not changed since it opened, most likely more than fifty years ago. It also looked like nothing more than the table tops had been cleaned. We were hungry, so we stayed. I asked for the rest room and our tattooed waitress led me to the back of the building through an old kitchen, to a door.
“The light switch is a push button,” she said and then left. I stood in the dark groping for a push button, not knowing exactly what to expect. It turned out to be exactly that, an old fashioned push button light switch. Two buttons. One for on and one for off. When I returned, a man sitting at one of the tables working out figures on a small notepad said, “If you found that interesting, your husband might like to see the old gas pipes that fed the gaslights in the building.” I sat down and told SP, who also wanted to head for the restroom. The man sat waiting until he returned to take him back and explain the age of the building and point out the original tin walls. Meanwhile, he proudly explained to me that the diner remained the same as when Aunt May opened it. “Aunt May was the mechanic-next-door’s aunt and wanted something to do.”
Two women sat near the front of the diner reading a newspaper and periodically calling out the size and rent of a variety of houses to the couple who ran the diner. A large black man, dressed formally in black, with a vest and tie, wearing a black beret, sat alone eating a late breakfast and reading the newspaper.
Our grilled ham and cheese sandwiches arrived with potato chips on the side. We ate it all and left that old part of America behind.
Mabel led us to the Glass Horse Farm in Maine on a hillside, with friendly chickens and turkeys welcoming us, along with two dogs and of course, our family, Don and Pam. We ate lobster at a lobster pound where one perceptive lobster bonded with SP as he tried to take a photo of it. Every time SP moved, the lobster followed him across the tank. Was he saying, “Get me out of here!”? Or was he simply following the shiny lens? We spent nearly two hours watching a contraption with slings move a 130 ton yacht – two feet!
One more stop back in Connecticut and then we were headed home. To our amazement, the interstate highways were not the nightmares we were used to. By traveling on Saturday and Sunday, we managed to avoid the horrendous truck traffic down US 81 and I-95. We’ve been saddened to see our “secret” little connector road between 81 and 95 has become a major thoroughfare. When we first began our journeys, it was a lush country road with only a few cars.
So, we’re home again and back to writing. I haven’t written about the trip, about the characters we saw, or the places we visited, but they are like a photo album in my mind. One day I’ll “develop” them.