Weekends with Claire (Part I)

Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Friday, September 23, 2011

After the open mic with Jen, I left Chicago at about midnight since I still had some energy.  I only made it about 2 hours and slept for a while at a rest stop in the middle of Indiana.  Shortly after sunrise, I woke to an overcast gray morning and the windows of my truck camper glazed with condensation.  Like usual, a quick piss and a wet-wipe shower and I was on my way, still 750 miles and 12 hours short of my destination.  Through the rest of Indiana (I am now kicking myself for not taking a 10-minute detour and dipping in to Michigan just to check it off my list... oh well), skirting the top of Ohio, through my old boss's town of Erie, Pennsylvania, and entered New York in one of the thickest rainstorms I have ever witnessed.

I've dreamt of seeing Niagara Falls since I was a child, and did not even think about it until I was reminded by passing signs that they were right there.  Even though I had already been on the road for 9 hours and had 5 to go, I could not pass them up.  Buffalo.  Wow.  You have a couple cool-looking buildings, but otherwise you look like a shithole.  Sorry.  The rain down to not much more than a misting, I parked (the attendant was not happy with the $5 in quarters I gave him, but sorry dude - I didn't want to pay an extra three dollars for an ATM fee just to get enough money to pay for parking) and strolled on down to the falls.  Amazing.  Insane amounts of water rushing like a million lemmings to edge of a cliff and tumbling over and down, down, down into a cloud of mist and stone.  Back when the earth was flat, I imagine this is what its edges must have looked like.  Everyone knows the view from the Canadian side is better, but even if I wasn't short on time I'm not sure if I would have gone based on my prior border crossing experiences.  Although maybe not being in an old converted pickup truck wouldn't draw as much attention.

I made it out of Buffalo just in time to miss rush hour traffic and continued east on highway 90.  And, by the way - why the hell are the tolls so damn expensive out east?  In the west we don't charge people to drive on the roads yet the roads are in better condition!  I don't get it.  However, I'm sure that instead of having tolls the gas taxes are just higher and it might actually come out in the east's favor.  I'd be interested to do the research... but more interested if someone already did and just pointed it out to me.  :)

Blinded by the dark and rain and driving almost exclusively on faith, I made it to Albany a little after 9pm.  I was warned that she was in a very rural area and after taking an exit 10 miles past city center, weaving over a few miles of back country roads and down a dark half mile driveway (she wasn't joking), I believed her.  The 2-story old country house was dimly glowing from a few lights inside.  I parked behind a VW hatchback that matched the description of her car, was relived that I had actually found the place, and shut of the engine and lights.  Nothing but the sound of a thousand crickets and other nocturnal insects and creatures.  Huge trees canopied over the yard and house, blocking out [non-existent] light from the sky.  The ground insulated with a thick layer of soggy leaves, the air humid and evident of recent rain, the leaves high above glistening here and there, illuminated by the modest home.  Claire came out to greet me, already in pajamas.  I too had put my pajama bottoms on hours earlier (one needs to be comfortable when one drives for 17 hours straight).  We laughed at our similar sentiment - "sorry, but I wasn't gonna dress up for you..."

She had made homemade calzones for dinner.  Mine was not terribly warm any more, but still delicious (although, to her admission - she overcooked them and the crust was a little leathery).  A side of whiskey made a fine compliment.  Her father wasn't home, but I met her sleepy step-mother or New Zealand origin (they met on a train).  We retired shortly after hanging out, catching up on travels, and figuring out logistics for the wedding the next day.

I went for a jog in the morning.  After spending most of the prior 4 days driving I was crazing a little exercise.  Short, just down the driveway and back, I got to see some of the beautiful countryside that I had driven past the night before - huge trees and rolling cornfields, modest country homes and a lethargic stream.  The wedding was almost at the very end of Cape Cod - the hook at the end of Massachusetts that looks like it is picking a booger out of the ocean (Boston?).  Right on the beach - most of us were not even wearing shoes, letting the soft sand massage and smooth our feet bottoms, the ceremony was literally about 3 minutes long.  Hey, y'all.  Thanks for coming.  Do you take her?  Yes.  How bout you?  Yes.  Cool.  Let's drink!  Two kegs were provided, and we already had a couple down the hatch.  Soon after the bottle of Turkey I picked up made an appearance, of which Claire and I almost singlehandedly demolished.  Lobster, steak, or chicken, along with a bag full of steamed mussels, potatoes, corn, and sausage.  De.Licious.  On with the drinking.  A couple games of cornhole, a bonfire on the beach, music (no dancing yet - nobody was drunk enough), and perfect weather.  The forecast was for rain all day long.  When I met the bride and groom I told them, "You don't know me, but my gift for you was the sunshine for your wedding day."  At one point, after it was dark, Claire told me that she needed to take a nap, went to her car, and told me to wake her up in 20 minutes.  A third of an hour later I returned to find her conked out in the back seat.  I tried to wake her but she didn't want to get up yet.  Perhaps it was the whiskey talking (that whiskey likes to talk), but I decided that maybe I could benefit from a short nap as well.  I shoved her aside and somehow managed to squeeze myself between her and the seat.  Mind you - this was the back seat of a VW Golf - not exactly roomy, but somehow we managed to sleep.  We have no idea how long we slept, but by the time we woke up, not only had the dancing begun, but it was pretty much done.  The crowd was thinning.  15 minutes?  2 hours?  Not a clue.  After saying goodbyes, we drove to our campground a couple miles down the road and slept like rocks.

Morning.  Amazingly not hung over.  Not exactly bright eyed and bushy tailed, but not hung over.  Just a few miles down the road lie Provincetown, at the very tip of Cape Cod.  As we were eating breakfast on an outside patio (slight hangovers beginning to set in), I was looking around and realized that, not counting families, we were about the only non-same-sex pair in the town.  Huh.  I mentioned this to Claire and she responded, "Of course.  That's the only way I knew you wouldn't run off on me!"  Apparently everyone knew this of Provincetown but me.  Please know that it does not bother me in the slightest, it was just one of those "...huh..." moments.  Or maybe only I have those.  Neither of us had ever been to Rhode Island, so we decided to make a trip down to Newport, stopping at an historic lighthouse on the way.  The stateline snuck up on us and, despite her best efforts to grab her camera, power it on, remove the lens cover and snap a shot at the last moment (all one-handed, mind you, since she was driving), she missed the Rhode Island sign.  "Fuck!  FUCK!  I can't believe I missed that!"  She tries to get a picture of all the state signs, as I usually do.  We got food in Newport.  It wasn't that special.  So much water in Rhode Island (hence the name island, I guess) - rivers and inlets and bridges.  "Nicely done, Rhode Island.  Nicely done."  On the way out of town we passed a salon called "My New Haircut."  I am kicking myself for not getting a picture of it.  Into Connecticut and through Hartford as the sun set brilliantly to the west.  Neither of us desiring anything romantic, thus relieving the pressure to "be" someone and the fear of saying the wrong thing, the drive back to Albany was accompanied by an abundance of good conversation and stories, realizing that we have somewhat similar views on life and lust.

The dad was home that night.  Dads are always scary, no matter what, but other than that - he wasn't scary at all.  Much more of the "nice hippy" she had described him as.  We all talked for a long time, she and I told about our adventures with whiskey and back-seat napping and Newport.  Joined by crickets and a light mist in the air, we sat on the wet lawn filling our mouths with whiskey and our lungs with cigarette smoke.  Thus ended the first weekend with Claire.
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Mom on

You mean the earth isn't still flat? When did that change? How come no one ever tells me anything!?!

normon66 on

It's true. And your pet dinosaur - she's extinct.

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