August 15, 2004

What a Trip

LAST MONDAY, we can assure you it took us twelve hours to travel from Manchester, N.H., to New Stanton, Pa. As a result, we would like to thank the New York State Thruway Authority for their efficient and productive use of taxpayer resources. Yes, thanks to the New York State Thruway Authority, we spent more than an hour last week in a traffic jam near the Tappan Zee Bridge -- and all for no apparent reason.

So we salute the New York State Thruway Authority for its Strategic Traffic Cone Placement Decisions and its Well Thought Out Plan to Put Construction Vehicles in Inconvenient Places. It appeared to us that a full six construction workers were on duty at the time these plans were implemented. Five of them were standing around watching the sixth simultaneously dance on the pavement and smoke a cigarette. No, that's not a joke.

* We have read with interest the news reports detailing instances of alleged corruption in certain Northeastern states. Having recently passed through Connecticut and New Jersey on our trip back to western Pennsylvania, though, we can assure readers that not one dollar in kickbacks came from the managers of road-construction or driving-instruction companies.

* We submit the tourism people in Hartford weren't thinking when they came up with the Nutmeg State's tourism slogan: "Connecticut. We're full of surprises." That said, they weren't just whistling Dixie, either. Boy.

* In an unfortunate error, the good people at the car hire firm from which we rented gave us an automobile with Massachusetts plates. The car, we can assure you, was fine: it was a Chrysler Sebring sedan which handled quite well, even if we found the engine slightly underpowered for our tastes. Still, it had Massachusetts plates.

This proved to be both horribly embarrassing and strangely liberating at the same time. It was embarrassing in that our relatives Back Home, who already consider New England one amorphous morass, made plenty of jokes and couldn't remember where in New England we were from:

UNCLE BILL: So how're things going up in Massachusetts, or wherever it is?
US: I'm not from Massachusetts.
UNCLE BILL: Connecticut?
US: No!

However, the experience was strangely liberating in that we could drive our automobile however we wanted, and without fear or guilt. Therefore, we were able to just glide all over the roadway without using our turn signals, and merge aggressively, and generally act like crazy people. Yes, we knew full well that no matter how much that angry lady from Pennsylvania wanted to ram us with her sport-utility vehicle because she thought we "cut her off" on the Mass Pike, she could not hope to do so, because we were from Massachusetts, and such. Yeah. Move. Get out the way.

* We are proud to note that we had dinner again at Trainer's "Midway" Diner in Bethel, Pa. Also we had shoofly pie for the first time. We consider this a good diner pie for diabetics such as ourselves. True, diabetics ought not eat pie in the first place, but no annoying infirmity is going to stop us from having pie at a diner once in a great while. Besides, it has brown sugar and molasses as its key ingredients, and we have to think those have less sugar than refined cane sugar and commercial pie filling.

* We had one particularly different experience on this twelve-hour trip, which took place at the North Somerset rest area on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

OK, so dig this. Here we are, stretching our legs and relaxing after spending a few hours in our rental chariot in the rest area's parking lot, and we notice this guy sitting in the driver's seat of a car a few spaces distant from us. Said guy is sitting in a car which had its back bumper torn clean off in an accident. Said car is a rental.

Dude. Now you know that just had to suck -- being stuck like that out in the middle of frickin' nowhere, with a bumper-less car and very much wishing one had signed up for the Collision Damage Waiver Insurance. We have no idea how this guy's journey ended up, but we can imagine that somewhere, a battle royale between claims adjusters is going on.

* One last point before we close. We would like someone to explain to us how exactly we were able to get from Manchester, N.H. to New Stanton, Pa., without once looking at a map. You see, on the morning of Grandma's funeral, we got lost on the way to a Bob Evans restaurant in New Stanton -- a restaurant that was within sight of our hotel.

Hey, we still can't understand how it happened.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at August 15, 2004 11:35 PM | TrackBack


I'm truly sorry to hear about your grandmother, please be sure to give your family my sympathies. I can't imagine losing two people so close to me in the span of a year. You will survive, like always.

On a lighter note, I'm glad to read you saw the humour in the traffic problems near the Tappan Zee. That's getting a bit of attention around here. Sorry. I hope you had the biscuits at the B.E.

Posted by: simon from jersey at August 16, 2004 10:44 AM