But the trip doesn't start there. It starts in an Alamo Rental lot at Boston's Logan Airport with me with my head stooped low in my own misery as the attendant explains to me that he can't rent me a car for our trip up the coast (that we've been planning for about seven months) because I don't have a credit card--only debit. You see, when I paid all of my credit cards off years ago, I shredded all of them. I have no use for them. Well, turns out, that my debit doesn't mean much to these folks because they're afraid that I'm gonna hop in one of their piece of crap Pontiacs and drive it off a cliff somewhere. I'd be doing them a favor if I did that. The dude stood his ground though. I fussed for a few minutes. I mean, I'm not going to leave with a simple, "I'm sorry, sir. I can't rent you a car." My lovely wife and I have been planning this trip for too long for me to just walk away and go sit on my thumb back at the hotel all day. I stand there like a complete moron until he offers some other advice. Eventually, dude caves. He leans to me over the counter and drops his voice, "I know that Budget has been known to take debit and I know for certain that Thrifty does." Thanks, homie. That's what I needed. I need the liberty to hop in a car that didn't belong to me, drive it into the ocean and walk away with no consequences. Not that I'd do that, but that's kinda what I'm looking for.
We walk next door to Budget and sure enough, they rent us a car. It would've been just as easy for me to find a credit card on the ground, take it in and drive off the lot with a car. We got a Pontiac. Didn't even know they still made Pontiacs, honestly. I thought they were extinct by now. They should be. It had XM though which was a pleasantry. I inspected it carefully. This tin can had about thirty different dents or scrapes. I noted every single one.
The next challenge was finding our way out of Boston which proved to not only be difficult, but expensive. Firstly, the scale of Boston is so tiny that, on the map, it would appears that you're driving miles, but really it's only feet. One thumb-width is about 500 feet and, before you know it, you're in Connecticut. You gotta have your eyes absolutely peeled because at 50 MPH, the map runs out quickly. We take one wrong turn out of the airport and end up paying a toll of $3.50 to drive about a quarter mile through a tunnel. Then, we end up on the Mass Turnpike heading due West (not North as intended) and square up at another toll booth and have to pay another $1.50. That's five bucks to end up West of Cambridge. We double back through the neighborhoods and downtown and finally get our bumpers facing North and South. When you see this bridge, you're heading in the right direction.
The premise of the trip was just point the car in one direction and step on the gas. Something I'm capable of doing and, armed with a keen sense of direction, distance and navigation, I figured there's not much that could really go wrong. The car was due back in 24 hours. No problem. We headed out on Highway 1 which maintains about a one to five mile distance from the ocean at all times. It would prove slow going because of morning beach-goers, but the view was much more rewarding then just hopping on the interstate and dashing up the way to Maine. We stopped in Newburyport, Mass so I could get me something to drink. I opted for some Dunkin Donuts coffee (which they call water in New England apparently) and we stopped for some photos just off of a dock in Salisbury just north of there. This is where I thought the steak was named, but had no evidence to support it. In fact, it didn't look to be a community of red meat eaters. Probably more seafood and vegetables.
It's was the perfect morning even despite a brush with Hurricane Bill that sent large waves rolling into the shores which made all beach-goers spectators not participants. Not that I really knew the difference between a rip tide and a regular Sunday morning because I don't usually see water puddling bigger than a playa lake, but the waves were pretty magnificent. My lovely wife tiptoed into the water. I stayed back and photographed.
Yeah, I suppose now looking at it, those waves are probably more of what I would expect from California. Not upstate Massachusetts. We continued up the coast to New Hampshire...Hampton to be exact. Not the Hamptons, but just Hampton. Nice beach community. However, I discovered that white trash migrates as far north as New Hampshire. I was surprised to find this cat riding alongside the main drag. The midriff is a dead giveaway. Either he's European or white trash. I diagnosed him as white trash. My lovely wife doubted my assessment saying that's he tan and looked to be in pretty good shape...suggesting that he might not be white trash because he looks to take pretty good care of himself. He's lean because he eats varmint and he's tan because he wears a midriff. That'd be the difference.
I applaud, though, his shamelessness. Dude rocked it like mad. We stopped at another beach and fired up a few pictures. My lovely wife built a small structure from the rocks nearby.
The waves crashed against the rocks and tossed a mist into the air. I told my lovely wife, "This is the kinda ish they make candles out of!" We laughed.
Onward through New Hampshire. It was the kinda stuff we only saw in magazines. Not used to seeing such natural beauty because I'm from the badlands of West Texas where it's an oddity to find a tree taller than twenty feet that hasn't been windblown to half it's height, water is virtually non-existent and it's stunningly flat and abandoned.
After crossing through Portsmouth, we arrived in Maine...the final state we'd be visiting on our venture. It was now past mid-day and travel proved to be pretty challenging because of the density of coastal population and its resulting traffic. Seemed like everywhere we pulled through was a thirty minute traffic clog. Knowing the interstate was only a mere two miles away at all times, we continued on Highway 1. Maine was more my steez. Less populus. More scenic. Densely painted with perfect coastlines, evergreens and puffy clouds. I'd live there in a second.
First stop in Maine was what is called "the Yorks" which consists of York Harbor, York Cliffs and York Beach. Because of Hurricane Bill's winds off coast, it was pushing waves over the roadway rendering it unpassable so we stopped off and got ourselves some grub. My lovely wife opted for the lobster looked ready to crawl right off the plate. We had to bludgeon it a couple of times just to make sure that it was cooked thoroughly. I had the prime rib and a Sam Adams which was spectacular.
Hunting for a lighthouse of up the coast, we continued through back roads and neighborhood streets until we dumped out into York Beach--a small boardwalk community with an arcade, a candy store and some clothiers. The lighthouse we were looking for disappeared somewhere in between. Rather than spending more time in the car looking for it, we parked at York Beach and took in some of the sights and the fat pale people in swimsuits. There must not be a great deal of sunlight in Maine.
After walking down the boardwalk, we hit up an arcade where we played a round of miniature bowling. You tossed these hard wooden balls the size of bocci balls at pins that were about halfway the width between a standard bowling pin and a broomstick. Place was so ill. I've made plans to have one installed in my home on the coast of Maine.
Despite my incredible form, I got owned by my lovely wife 47-43. Shaddup. There was a serious learning curve for a guy who sucks at regular bowling. The tendency to absolutely chunk this ball was assumed because it weighed only about four pounds. The harder you threw it, the less accurate you were, but physics would suggest that given the weight of the ball and the pins, you were going to have to throw it hard to ensure maximum destruction. It didn't work. She schooled me.
Listened to a spotlight on De La Soul on XM on the way up to Portland as we finally hopped on the interstate as daylight was becoming sparse with the clouds moving in. Portland would likely be our final stop as we wanted to see the Portland Head Lite...a famous lighthouse in South Portland.
Portland reminded me strikingly of Pennywise country...especially on this day. I was looking for ol' boy crawling out of a gutter. They all float down here, homie.
Thought about opening up a penny arcade and calling it Pennywise Arcade. My lovely wife thought of a few ideas for how we could make a living in Maine. Somewhere between a cupcake store and veterinary practice. Yeah, I have high ambitions. I'm gonna open up an arcade and make my millions one penny at a time just so I can name it after a fictitious clown from a Stephen King novel.
After about thirty more minutes of travel and enduring biblical downpour, we located the lighthouse. This was it. We spent about thirty minutes on the grounds. It was first lit in 1791 by using whale oil lamps. That's it in the background.
It was almost haunting as the Head Lite blew it's fog whistle conversationally with a nearby lighthouse to the north with the waves filling in the gaps. Hypnotized, I stood there in complete awe as moments passed.
It has been called the "most photographed lighthouse in North America." I guess I have to believe it because I'm not an authority on lighthouse photography.