One minute you’re life is so boring that you’re one the phone arguing with Time Warner Cable because you can’t get the 2-minute long “Behind the Scenes: Entourage” clip to play on HBO on Demand, the next you’re taking an Mad Max-like journey to Maine . . . again. Although this time without the kayaking – or the stopping for that matter. That’s right – on Wednesday, The Girlfriend and I did what she termed as “something no one else has ever done before in history,” (and I believe her) when we left New York City at 8:00 in the morning, drove to the upper reaches of Maine and back in the same day, getting home at 1:20am. One more time, for those of you that fell out of your chair or fainted – we drove to Maine and back in a single day.
To quote my mother: “Oh dear God.”
Mind you the trip wasn’t conceived as a fun-filled, single day getaway in a rented Dodge Stratus. It was a family emergency for the Girlfriend’s mother who was visiting us in New York, and she needed to get back to Maine as soon as possible. So The Girlfriend and I did what we had to do, taking to the road again (did I mention we had just finished driving there a few weeks ago?)
So what was it like? Not so surprisingly, it was very similar to the time we drove there a in June. Not much has changed in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire or Maine in that time. But we did have a different car this time around, springing for the intermediate upgrade (Dodge Stratus) instead of the economy model (Dodge Neon). What are the differences? Well, here are three important ones:
1. Maryland license plates instead of New Jersey Plates, to which The Girlfriend comments: “Oh good! . . . Wait, is that better?”
2. Sirius Satellite Radio. This alone made the $10 upgrade worth it, although we lost the signal about half an hour before reaching our destination in Maine. (That’s how far up north we were – a friggin satellite couldn’t even find us. I’m convinced our international enemies don’t even know that Maine exists.)
3. The most reclining seats ever. I’m talking straight back, into a bed-like state. Made catching a couple of hours of sleep while The Girlfriend drove that much easier, although I was still woken up periodically by exclamations like, “Come on asshole, move it,” or “Whoa, that was close.” (My friend BJ and I could have used this car when we took a driving tour of the Southeast back in college for spring break. Instead, we made do with a Saturn in a Park and Ride somewhere on the Florida panhandle, with blankets pulled up over our heads and shots of codeine cough medicine to fall asleep. Good times.)
Other than that, and the occasional delirium induced conversation (“Where are we?” “Hell.” “Is there a Dunkin Donuts?”) the trip was wall to wall driving, almost 18 hours in total., with Maine being, by far, the worst state in which to drive. After a studied review, I’ve come to the conclusion that Maine has three redeemable qualities:
1. It’s motto: “Maine – the way life should be.” Slow, inexpensive, and kind of trashy. It’s cocky, but I like bravado in a state.
2. A very small, if any, police presence. It makes sense for many reasons. One, if you were a cop, would you go out patrolling the highway, where it’s a minimum of 15 miles between exists in most places, knowing that you just have to drive back at some point? Me neither. And second, getting pulled over for speeding in Maine would be like going into an empty restaurant and getting shitty service. Why would you drive people away when there’s only like 200 people there to begin with?
3. Fresh air. If you like that sort of thing.
By the time we made it home, we were both so over-tired and hyper on the surplus of caffeine flowing through our bodies, that we just sat there contemplating what we had just done. We slept a few hours and got up to go to work the next day (where I fell asleep at my desk seven times – five times more than usual). Before work, I returned the rental car, and as the attendant noted the mileage on the car he commented, “Damn, where’d you go, Florida?”
I thought about replying, “I wish,” but then realized that all I could say was, “Doesn’t really matter, I’m back in New York now.”