Rose and Lauri’s June 2005 Trip
Day 6, Saturday, June 18
Mother noted this evening that I not given each of my day’s stories titles. If I were going to do that for today, I think it would be “Escaping Disaster.” As we sit in Bar Harbor, Maine, we are both feeling lucky to be here.
After repacking the car after our two-day stay in Montpelier, I drove down the hill (everything here is either up hill or down hill) to a gas station so we could fill the tank. Either the selection on the pump did not work or Mother did not get the button pushed hard enough. By the time she finished pumping gas and pushing the button for her credit card receipt she realized she had paid $2.29 a gallon for premium, not $2.03 for the regular grade she wanted. This was not a good omen.
Since I had driven all of the previous two days, I was willing to let Mother take the wheel for the first leg of our day. It was raining lightly yet again today. This is the fourth day, I think, that we have had intermittent showers. We really are getting tired of gray clouds and persistent drizzle. We picked out way out of town and found US Highway 2 that would lead us through Vermont and into New Hampshire. Mother still wanted to make a stop at the maple sugar works in St. Johnsbury, so we did. Unfortunately, they did not have the little $1 maple sugar cookbook I had purchased in Montpelier. I guess I will have to make copies of the recipes for her. Unlike the farm we visited at Montpelier, this is a factory operation with none of the charm of a small sugar works.
Mother continued the drive eastward. We stopped and took a photo of the entering New Hampshire sign. As we were driving along, I spotted a Santa Claus village along the highway at Jefferson. Thinking this might be a good place to find our New Hampshire ornament, Mother pulled into the parking lot, apparently too suddenly for the guy behind us who honked as he drove passed.
We looked through the cute shop, but everything is either general Christmas or has the Santa’s Village logo on it. This is a “theme park” that comes with a $19 per person admission fee. But, you can visit the gift shop for free. The clerk in the shop suggested we stop up the road a piece in the town of Gorham for our state souvenirs.
We found Gorham on our route and pulled into the parking lot of one of the small gift shops right along the highway. Mother found an ornament and pin on one shop and a magnet in the one next door. She did not like any of the New Hampshire coffee mugs. I bought a pin, an ornament and a couple of things for gifts in one shop, but nothing in the other one. I don’t think we spent more than 15 minutes shopping.
Mother insisted she was going to continue driving, so I did not argue. We crossed the state line into Maine. The sign at the border says just that, Maine state line. Not worth a picture. As Mother rounded a curve on a narrow, two-lane overpass in the town of Bethel, our plans for the day came to a dramatic stop. A young man from England was driving the wrong way on the highway. He was headed right toward us in our lane. Mother slammed on the brakes. I screamed and swore. He almost managed to stop before the two cars collided, but we hit with a bump.
Mother turned her car off. We sat there in shock for a moment or two. The other guy backed up a few feet then quickly got out and surveyed the situation declaring that no damage was done. There did not look like anything was damaged, but it is hard to know what happens behind the bumper. Mother opened her door and asked what he was doing in her lane. “I lost my concentration,” he said. I knew we needed to have his license and insurance information “just in case” there was unseen damage that would be detected once we were home. Getting the information took a few minutes, and we were causing a pretty major traffic tie up. Several people slowed down to ask if everything was all right. We assured them that no one was hurt. But, someone must have called 911, because we soon had a local firefighter’s pickup truck parked behind Mother’s car. I told him no one was injured. He told me that an ambulance was on the way. “It’s part of the package,” he said. “The cops are on the way, too.”
I was pleased with this information. It took making sure we had all the correct information out of our hands. The nice Bethel police officer showed up, assessed the situation, took Mother’s license and insurance card and told us to move the car to the parking lot of a bank at the bottom of the bridge. He told the other driver to go across the bridge, turn around and drive to the bank lot, too. I slid behind the wheel and followed the directions, but the other guy apparently was too flustered to comprehend what he had been told to do. We sat in the lot for several minutes. The cop said the other driver was not going far as he had the man’s driver’s license and passport. Finally, the officer figured the other driver was sitting on the other side of the bridge and went to get him. He told us to wait. Well, since he had Mother’s license we had little choice.
After the other driver and the officer showed up, the cop gave us a little more information that we might need if there was damage to repair. He told us he was going to issue the other driver a citation for careless driving since he caused the accident. Since there appeared to be less than $1,000 damage, Maine does not require him to complete an accident report, we were told. We were then free to go. I asked about a place for lunch as it was now after He asked if we wanted cheap or expensive. I said, “Calm.” The officer suggested the little café right across the highway from where we were.
I drove the car over to the restaurant and we collapsed into chairs. When the waitress asked how we were doing, we told her about the accident. “Sorry, I have no valium,” she commented. We ate good chicken salad sandwiches and hot tea. I also had a cup of very good homemade chicken vegetable soup.
Figuring Mother had had enough driving for one day, I took over the duties and got us across the rest of Maine with only one misstep in getting in the freeway headed for Bangor. Again, the problem is unfamiliar roads that are not well marked, heavy traffic, stress and fatigue.
We finally arrived at our destination about , but Mother had wanted a souvenir shopping stop in Augusta. I am hoping we can find what she wants in Bar Harbor.
We headed into town from our motel and ate at the West Avenue Café. Mother had lobster, and I had crab cakes. Both entrees were delicious. We polished off dinner with blueberry pie and ice cream. Num! Mother had thought about a boat trip tomorrow to see whales, but we were told you need winter-type clothing for the trip. So, I think we will pass. We are planning some shopping and a visit to Acadia National Park. I hope it stops raining.
"Go confidently into the direction of your dreams. Live the life you always imagined" Thoreau
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.