Like I said in the Day 10 post, we are now home. Lauri
The Adventures of Lauri and Rose on the Road in America
The June 2005 Trip, Day 11, June 23
After another skimpy muffin, coffee and juice breakfast, and loading the car, I slid behind the wheel and took a deep breath. This would be another day of challenging driving. I had no trouble finding my way west on US 20 through Watertown and Waltham back to Interstate 93 headed toward Providence. Interesting sign of the day: “Thickly Settled” in Waltham.
Thankfully, Mother has given up on taking “Welcome to …” signs at every state border. It would be taking life in hand to do it in the traffic here.
In Providence we found the capitol and an on the street parking place where we could park free with Mother’s handicap placard. We found our way to the main level of the building where we met the tour guide, a college student named Megan. She told us we were a few minutes early for the scheduled tour. Mother asked about a gift shop in the building. She said there was one in the lower level, but it was more of a coffee shop she cautioned us. She volunteered to take us down, so we hopped the elevator for the ride to the basement. The shop did have coffee mugs, pins and some postcards for mother. We were happy, but still needed a Christmas ornament. Megan suggested the Providence Place shopping mall across the street from the capitol. She thought the Westin Hotel gift shop might have something, and we could reach it via a “skybridge” from the mall.
Megan was a cheerful and well-informed tour guide, and we enjoyed our time with her. We learned that the capitol dome in Minnesota is the second largest of its kind in the world, second only to St. Peter’s in Rome. The Taj Majal in India is number three and Rhode Island is number four. One of the highlights of the capitol tour was seeing a wooden statue of Thomas W. Dorr, who led a rebellion in the 1842 calling for suffrage for all free men, not just those who owned property. The statue was remarkably life-like with Dorr dressed in a leader coat with fur collar, holding a book in one hand and rolled papers in the other. It is all wood. Along the seam of one leg of the pants is a small face. Megan said it is that of the sculptor.
I moved the car from the capitol parking place to the mall parking garage and found a space after a little confusion. We walked in and headed down the first level of the three-floor center. Mother found a couple more postcards and a magnet at one of the carts in the mall, but no ornaments. We walked down the center checking each cart. At the information desk, we asked and were directed to the Westin. It was a bit of a hike, but level and carpeted. It was much better than the streets of Boston. We found the shop, but there were no Christmas ornaments. There were other Rhode Island souvenirs including a silver bell with the Rhode Island Red Chicken (the state bird) on the handle. We decided we could figure some way to tie a ribbon to the bell to hang it on the tree. So, we each bought a bell.
We started the trek back to the mall. It was past lunch hour and we were both very hungry. There were several restaurants from which to choose. We picked the Napa Valley Grill and happily dined on a San Francisco crab melt that came with a small salad of field greens and a cup of clam chowder. I did not think I would care for the chowder, but it was all right. The open-faced sandwich was wonderful.
We headed back to the car in the garage and paid our $1 to park (for up to 3 hours) and found the Roger Williams Memorial that Mother wanted to see. We watched the 3 ½-minute video on Williams who founded Rhode Island and a 4 ½-minute 1979 Charles Karault “On the Road in America” segment on Providence. My goodness, he and Roger Mudd looked young. But, then didn’t we all back then?
We got back in the car to head for Hartford. The route took us on US Highway 6. Along the way I pulled off at a service station to use the restroom and parked where I thought we were out of the way. It only took me a couple of minutes to use the facilities. I came out and Mother was slumped over the back of the car almost weeping. Some guy in a big RV had backed into her car gently, but enough to make it move slightly. Since she was standing outside the car looking for something in the backseat when it happened, it was pretty unnerving. Fortunately, there seemed to be no damage. It took several more minutes to get out of the parking lot. This certainly was not a good place to stop.
We arrived in the Hartford area just in time for afternoon rush hour. What fun -- not. I clenched my teeth and managed to avoid getting hit has we moved from I 84 to I-91, but did manage to piss off at least one driver behind me who honked. Mother did a remarkable job watching signs to make sure we got off at the right exit.
The directions to the Super 8 off the freeway were excellent and we found the motel right away. Not interested in doing any more driving for the day, we ordered pizza delivered to our room. It was good and so easy. We are both really tired. We have just one more state capitol to tour before we head home.
"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.