Only a few more days. I hope by now you know that we are home in Minnesota again. Did not get dresssed until 4 yesterday afternoon. Started laundry today. Lots of clothes to wash. Hugs to all, Lauri
The Adventures of Rose and Lauri on the Road in America
Day 12, June 24, Friday
This should be Day 13 and a Friday the 13th to boot. Talk about things going wrong! Today ranks right up there with the day we got hit head-on. After coffee, juice and a muffin, we left of motel in Hartford with directions to the capitol via the freeway system. I am getting really, really tired of driving freeways, and those in Hartford are enough to make you want to pull the bed covers over your head.
We managed to find the capitol, but when I attempted to drive around the block to find a place to park, I found myself on the on-ramp for Interstate 84. I had no idea what direction I was going. I only knew I had to get off right away. That took some doing as we entered from the left. So, I had to cross four lanes of traffic, which I managed to do as I left a trail of honking horns behind me. Look at the plates, dummies. I am out of state and have not a clue where I am going. Give me a break!
I pulled off, made a left turn (because I was in a left-turn only lane). At the next corner, where there was a signal light, I turned left again. I was on Capitol, a street that went right back to the capitol building. Well, it actually led to the Legislative Office Building (LOB) and its parking ramp. Yeah!! That’s right where we wanted to be. I drove into the parking ramp and found a place to park in a handicap reserved spot right by the door. We sat for a moment collecting our shattered composure. Finally, Mother got her walker out of the backseat, and we headed for the LOB. We asked for directions to the capitol from someone who was walking through the lobby and were directed to an under-the-highway concourse. Along the concourse we found the Capitol Newsstand. We browsed the tiny shop and were delighted to find Connecticut mugs, pins, postcards and a magnet for Mother. In fact, she also found a New York magnet and pin that she had been unable to find in Albany. The little shop was run by a man who was blind. His guide dog Nellie keeps him company in the store. He was a very friendly, pleasant person. He was surprised to learn that we had come all the way from Minnesota.
We tucked our packages into our oversized purses and walked the remaining distance to the capitol itself. We are both getting a lot of exercise on this trip. At least this pathway is smooth and easy to travel.
After we entered the capitol, we made our way to the main floor to pick up brochures for a self-guided tour. We walked around the main floor and viewed several remarkable statues and other historic memorabilia. On upper floors we viewed the House and Senate chambers. Like some of the other state capitol buildings, this one has distinctive Moorish touches. We thought that was very interesting.
After our tour, we headed back to the car. Mother was trying to figure out where to go by looking at the map. There are two major freeways that run through Hartford. We wanted Interstate 91 north, but it was hard to figure out where to go. I returned to the LOB and asked one of the security guards for directions. He wrote them out. It seemed simple enough until we were on the highway. I needed to be over one more lane to the left to get our exit to I-91. Since there was a car in that lane, I could not get over soon enough. So, I suddenly found myself on surface streets in Hartford.
This was not a good thing. I was not sure where to go, and Mother was frantic beside me. I made a left turn (there I was in that turn only lane again). I drove up the street as Mother fretted. She kept telling me I was going the wrong direction. She was right about that, but getting turned around was not easy. She kept telling me to turn off the street and turn around. Well, I made a quick left turn onto a one-way street the wrong direction. Thank God nothing was coming, but then looking at the ramshackle houses, I doubt that many cars drive down the street at all. I pulled into a “driveway” under the suspicious gaze of an elderly black man sitting on a front porch.
I whipped back out on the street and around the corner onto the main road as quickly as I could. I kept driving on a road that turned out to be Main Street right through downtown Hartford. Mother was panicking, I was getting frantic. I drove several blocks in heavy traffic before finally pulling to the curb so we could look at the map without moving. We still were not sure where to go. I pulled back into traffic knowing we needed some help. To make matters worse, someone is honking behind us as soon as the signal light turns green. I have never seen such rude, impatient people. There is no mercy for out of state drivers.
A few more blocks up the street I pulled into the parking lot of a busy Midas Muffler shop. There were a couple of Hartford Police officers doing some sort of emission inspections. I figured the cops would know where to send us. Well, they thought they gave us good instructions. Another man picking up his car added his directions to the cops’. Too bad the two did not agree.
I headed the direction from which I had come, turned where the cops told me to turn and could not find a ramp to the freeway. Mother could not understand why I had turned where I did. I tried to tell her it was where the cop said to go. But, the other man had said drive until you see the Interstate signs, she said. Well, I had to make a choice, didn’t I? I found we were driving some back streets nearly devoid of traffic and no sign of the freeway. I pulled into the parking lot of some sort of government services building and got directions from a guy leaving. Turns out his were the best we had. We finally found the ramp and were headed out of town. I was thrilled. Mother had thought we would have time to see a few more tourist things, but I did not think there was any way we could have found them.
We left Connecticut without our Christmas ornaments, so I will have to do some long-distance shopping to see if I can find something after we get home. I did that when we could not find any ornaments in Pennsylvania last year.
We made a couple of stops along the freeway in Massachusetts looking for coffee mugs and ornaments, but had no luck. More on-line shopping, I guess.
We entered New York and approached a toll booth for the turnpike. Unfortunately, I was in the wrong place again! I ended up in one of the easy pay or express lanes, or whatever it is called out here. You are supposed to have some sort of tag to go through the lane. Well, there I was in the wrong lane with a car behind me. I threw up my hands and pulled through. Now Mother was really going through the roof.
Just up the freeway, she spotted a New York Highway Patrol building. “Pull off here!” she ordered me. We went inside and explained what happened to the officer. He said she would get a warning letter, but no ticket unless it happened again. That’s certainly not likely. I don’t think we will EVER be out here again. We told the officer we had no toll ticket. He told us to pull around the building and exit through the rear service gate. We could find another toll booth just up the road where we could re-enter and get a ticket. I headed out the back gate dodging a highway service pickup truck. At the next cross street, I decided we better get some gas. The station was just to the right.
Mother’s well-used credit card would not scan in the pay-at-the-pump slot. So, I took the credit card inside, she pumped gas and then went into to sign the slip. When the numbers were hand entered into the authorizing device the credit card worked just fine. I double checked with the cashier on how to get back on the freeway. In no time we were headed north, toll ticket in hand. Ironically, there is no toll to pay between where we first got on and where we got off. Neither of us could figure out why we needed to get a toll ticket in the first place.
Somewhere along the line, Mother decided she should take over the driving. I gladly gave up and handed over the keys. Mother keeps saying that she can do the rest of the states she needs to visit on her own. She will just get someone to take her to the airport, and she will take a cab from the airport to the capitol and then to her motel. Next she was telling me that she is capable of driving to the west coast on her own. Well, I might just let her do that. This has not been a good two weeks. Mother is calling the trip a disaster. She is not far from wrong.
Mother had driven another stretch of toll road in New York before we exited toward Albany. We wanted to ask the woman in the toll booth for directions, but there was another one of those rude drivers honking at us to get moving. So, we just took off. I was fairly certain where we were going and that I could direct Mother there. It did not take too much longer, before we were heading north on the right highways. We had only about six or seven miles to go, but when you are no certain about where it is you are, that can seem like a long way. We had not been though this area, so it was not familiar and a lot busier than I expected. I was worried we would end up in Albany. But, finally, around the bend there was the friendly Econolodge sign. We pulled into the lot relieved to have made it through the day.
We checked in, and the same nice woman was at the front desk that helped us the last time. She is such a sweetie. She apologized that she did not have a room equipped for those with handicaps for us, but we did have one on the first-floor. That was just fine, we assured her.
We found our way the room and unloaded the car. We just unwound for a while. Finally, we decided to go for supper. The front desk woman had recommended a buffet place up the highway, but we drove right across the highway to Yips, a Chinese restaurant. The food was all right, nothing to rave about. But, it was hot, generous and filling. We returned to the motel and our room. I spent some time catching up on my writing and got on-line using the motel’s high-speed internet connection. I sent messages home and to my online friends. Then I relaxed with some on-line pinochle. Mother had gone to bed and was sound asleep before I turned off the computer.
Tomorrow we head across New York and cross into Canada for a night in London, Ontario. I think the worst of the traffic is behind us. Home is getting closer all the time.
"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.