Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Crosstown Traffic (do-do-do-do-do-do-do)

Mr. Loman's Wild Ride, Continued

In northern New England, all of the interstates run north/south. And they are quite nice, well-maintained and uncongested, and supplemented by an equally nice, well-mainatined and uncongested state route system. But there is apparently no trade or other need to move things swiftly east or west, because there is no way to get from upstate Vermont to Bangor, Maine, except on one of those winding back roads. The state routes with the very high or very low numbers - but never "Route 35," or anything like that. The two-lane highways with the very infrequent passing lanes - the kind where people see you have a New York license plate and respond accordingly, with a deep-seated mistrust and fear.

Hey, I'm Jewish, too! Lookit that! A New York Jew! Ho-lee damn!

My Google directions suggested it was going to take seven hours to get from Glover to Bangor (that's what she said, hardy-har-har), and they turned out to be pretty accurate, which is pretty amazing when you consider that I got lost on a complicated route number trade-off near Waterville, Maine, and spent about forty-five minutes eating breakfast at a celebration in wood paneling whose name I can't recall, but claimed to be a Chinese-American Restaurant.

This sit-down eatery - located in Lancaster, New Hampshire - also has a spot for the local kids to come and rock out, an upstairs lounge noted by a flyer for "Lancaster's best funk-rock band," coming Saturday. In the bathroom hung a framed image of a wolf overlooking a town in the moonlit snow, which was made all the more poignant when I noticed that it was, in fact, a jigsaw puzzle that had been completed and then proudly glued and hung for all to see. Well, for all the men to see. The colors were also a little off register, making it one of the grandest works of found art I've seen in years. If I could have gotten out of the place alive with it, I would have taken it. But the restaurant was too full of thickly grey-bearded, overweight and flannel-plaid-shirted men, and I hesitated to think what fate an outsider dressed in shorts an a Green Lantern t-shirt would face for the crime of stealing the bathroom puzzle.

I'd found the place not two minutes up the road from the gas station where the female cashier had professed total ignorance as to a place I could get breakfast along the route east.

Now, Glover, Vermont - again, where the Bread and Puppet homestead is - pretty much defines 'the ends of the earth.' The Canadians admitted as much by naming a town just over their side of the border "Magog." So I didn't expect the drive to and from Glover to be swift or steady. In fact, all the driving once north of Connecticut went very well, blessed by beautiful weather and, in the case of the Vermont leg, breathtaking scenery. I kept struggling with wanting to take the camera out, but I wanted to just stay focused on the drive. In fact, I thought about having pictures for the Rambler, but then I decided that the drive that morning was just for me to see. Lovely. LIke a misty green and hilly Heaven.

As mentioned, when I reached Waterville, Maine, I got confused by some poorly noted - or perhaps poorly seen, at least by me - route swapping, and got lost just where Route 2 crosses 95. I finally got back after buying a map from an Exxon (and marked the second time that day when a gas station employee indicated to me that not only did they have no idea where they were, they just didn't care at all) and made it to the Bell School by 1:30 Saturday afternoon. Now, how's that for timing? Thanks, Google!

Next: What the Hell is "The Bell School?"

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