To Maine and Back....Sort Of.

This week, my Grandfather celebrated his 70th birthday. It was during a recent visit, that I was reminded of a road trip he and I took when I was a teenager. The trip was supposed to be a quick run to Maine and back to deliver a van he had sold. It was planned as four days of solid driving, with stops only to sleep. I should have known the minute we left, however, that this plan never stood a chance...

The trip began with my second ever flight on an airplane. The first as it turned out, was also with my Grandfather, and also involved delivery of a vehicle...a firetruck from Louisiana to Florida. The van we were delivering was located in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the plan was to deliver it to a dealer in Maine, who had another vehicle which we would be driving home. After aborting landing at what seemed to be the very last minute due to an aircraft on the runway, we arrived in Greensboro and crashed for the night.

The next morning began with a stop at McDonald's for my beloved Sausage Biscuit with Egg. I was happy to learn Pop Pop loved them as well, so I was confident I'd get plenty on this trip. The only drawback was that in my position as "Navigator," I had the duty of putting not only jelly on this sandwich, but additional butter as well. Yes, it looked as gross as it sounds.

We made our way through Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, up the New Jersey Turnpike, and eventually the Big Apple. This was my first experience seeing the skyline of New York, and it was the only time I saw the World Trade Center in person. We made our way across the George Washington bridge, paying the $5 toll, and eventually into Connecticut. Driving a giant conversion van through some of the largest cities in our country probably wasn't the best of ideas, but the old beast made it just fine.

The next morning we made the final push into Maine. Our destination was Machias, a small town right on the coast. We had to make our way along U.S. 1 North, and I thought it unique that I was so near the end of this famous road, where I'd also stood at mile 0. We stopped along the way at this log cabin which was also a diner, where I had an awesome patty melt. I might have skipped lunch had I known what was in store for dinner...

Upon arriving in Machias, the owner of the dealership took us down to the local pier. We found one of the local lobstermen who pulled one of his traps out of the water. Inside were the biggest lobsters I had ever seen. I picked out a 4 pound monster, and began licking my chops. To say the least, it was phenomenal, and took me at least an hour to eat. I spent the evening climbing on a point of rocks that stuck into the ocean, and thought that the area looked straight out of 1990 and President H.W. Bush's trips to Kennebunckport.

The next morning we set off for home, but we didn't make it far. As we sat in the McDonald's drive through, Pop Pop suggested that it was silly for us to come all the way to Maine, simply to turn around and come home. He suggested we visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, and I naturally agreed. So as with Captain Picard changing course to a far off nebula, I whipped out my friend the atlas and started figuring out how the heck we would get there...

Cooperstown is located in upstate New York, and I quickly learned that there wasn't exactly an interstate from rural Maine to there. We would have to take a two lane road across Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, which would then dead end into Lake Champlain, requiring a ferry to cross into New York. This sounded really cool to me, and as the saying goes, I was more excited for the travel than I was for the destination.

We made it to Burlington, Vermont and Lake Champlain, and boarded the ferry to cross the lake.

I'm unsure why we had a pair of binoculars on a road trip to Maine, nor do I know what I expected to see on a freshwater lake...

Once we crossed the lake, the trip got a lot easier, as we were able to pick up Interstate 87 for a portion of the way into Cooperstown.

I wish I could tell you I remember anything about the Baseball Hall of Fame, but I don't. Don't get me wrong, I'm a baseball fan, and I know I found it interesting, but there is not one memory from the place that stands out in my mind. Thankfully we have pictures to serve as backup storage for our brain.
Mind you, this was before digital cameras, so I'm working with scanned photos from a disposable camera. And aside from my teenage awkwardness, I think they aren't bad...
And this one was for Dad...

With the Hall of Fame complete, we set off for home, but I should have known this was not the last of our detours. As we were making our way down I-95, the thought occurred to us that I-85 began in Virginia, and several hundred miles down her lay the promised land...Atlanta, and more specifically, The Varsity. We made a right hand turn onto 85, and I sat in bliss knowing the Varsity lay ahead, as well as disbelief that we were actually driving several hundred miles out of the way for chili dogs and onion rings...

As we made our way into South Carolina en route to Atlanta (properly pronounced Uh-la-nuh), Pop Pop said that we really needed to stop and see his sister and husband, as they lived not too far off 85. So we stopped and visited with them for a few hours, before heading back on the road. Finally, we arrived at one of the holiest of places....
During lunch, detour #3 was established, and that was a visit to another sister, just outside Atlanta. I enjoyed this stop, as their house was on a pond in the direct flight pattern of ATL, meaning I could watch the approaching planes while the family visited.

Detour #3 would be the last of our adventure, and we headed for home. In the end, the four day "up and back" trip turned into an 8 day, scenic road trip. I estimate a total of 25 Sausage Egg Biscuits were consumed, as well as the damage done at The Varsity. The more impressive total, however, were the memories that were made which I still carry with me today.

Happy 70th Pop Pop.

~Insert Dude-Like Closing Here~

Deej