Road trip day 1

Every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.   Or so they say.

Well, it’s just over a thousand miles from Staten Island to Montgomery, depending on which route you take.  My favorite clocks in at 1,066 — the date of the Norman Conquest of Britain.  That must mean something.

Ours began this morning at about 10:30, about an hour or more after Mr. NYer would have liked to start, but just about right for me.  It gave us time to have some eggs, feed the cats and trim one set of nails, pack up the car and host the appraiser who will, please God, help our buyers get their mortgage loan.

To accommodate my clothes I purchased those “as seen on TV” wonder products, Space Bags.  It’s a marvelous thing.  You pile the soft goods into this plastic bag, zip it closed, attach your vacuüm cleaner hose and, voila! you have a plastic brick.  The largest brick stayed firm; the two smaller ones seemed to gain air during the night, but a quick reapplication of the vacuüm this morning drew them down in size, allowing Mr. NYer to jam them into the trunk of the newly washed Honda Civic. 

On top of that went the boat bag full of shoes, the bag of jeans and the backpack with toiletries, including a year’s worth of 30-day contact lenses.  I had rigged a rope line across the backseat and on that went my suits and blouses on hangars.  Throw in the two traveling bags, the large tote  filled with jewelry (a girl can’t live somewhere for 6 weeks without some pizzazz), my books and laptop, and we were pretty much full.

I tried to have some special time with the cats.  The Mush got some cuddling as well as a last-minute pedicure (I am the designated nail trimmer).  For the Lunatic, the packing of the bags, combined with the general commotion and the appearance of the Appraiser signaled danger; he hunkered down beneath Soon-to-be-Abandoned bed and refused to say goodbye.  I waved instead.

I had a teary moment with Soon-to-be-Abandoned last night, but he assured me that everything would be all right.  I hugged him hard, and said good night.

This morning at 10:30 we pulled away and headed off-Island.   The weather, dry, warm and sunny, would have tempted me to keep driving even if that hadn’t been my intent.  We headed south to the Outerbridge Crossing, through New Jersey, and into Pennsylvania. 

Nothing much to report en route except that before noon I dozed on and off.  I’m easily put to sleep by motion, be it of the automotive, train or airplane variety, and not alert enough to operate heavy machiny prior to noon anyway.  I am literally unable to stay awake while driving in the morning for more than 20 minutes.  Fortunately, Mr. NYer is the exact opposite.  He rises around 7:30 am, incapable of returning to sleep once he wakes, and drives alertly as long as it’s before 2 or 3 pm.    

Once the day is half over, however, we switch places.  I wake up and can drive well into the night.  Mr. NYer becomes  drowsy.  We’re perfectly matched and have long since assigned the driving duties accordingly.   

So about halfway though Pennsylvania we shifted seats.   Having stopped and fueled up on some coffee, I was ready to drive, and Mr. NYer was ready to ride shotgun and nod off occasionally.  The thaw we felt on Staten Island affected Pennsylvania too — the outside temperature registered at 49 degrees, and the aroma wafting into the car told us that the cow pastures we passed were warming up as well.

Through Maryland and into West Virginia, and I realized that the remainder of the journey would be through the landscape of the Civil War.  We’d glimpsed it as we passed the exit in Pennsylvania for Gettysburg, the only battle on northern soil, and the bloodiest battle of the war.  Just  before exiting the state, we passed the birthplace of President James Buchanan, one of the sorriest excuses for a chief executive we’ve ever seen.  Soon, every exit evoked the cataclysm: in Maryland, we could  visit Antietam.  The signs for Harper’s Ferry sprung up in West Virginia.  Upon entering Virginia, we were flooded with signage for the multiple Shenandoah campaigns, with battlefields, cemeteries, museums and memorials abounding at each stop. 

The Shenandoah Valley, sandwiched between the Blue Ridge to the east and the Appalachians to the west, is beautiful,  and was the loveliest landscape we passed through today.  They got a lot of snow in that storm just before Christmas, and a layer of the white stuff still iced the fields and pastures we passed.  We decided we’d stop, after 360 miles and one-third down, at Staunton, the birthplace of Woodrow  Wilson and a town that bills itself as both historical and hip.   As we approached, we saw a rainbow in the sky ahead of us.

Oh, one more thing.  We had the iPod on shuffle.  About twenty miles into the Shenandoah Valley up comes Van Morrison singing “Oh Shenandoah.” 

Now, we’re bedded down for the night at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton, having dined at a restaurant that features locally grown food.  We enjoyed a bottle of local wine, too, and can recommend the pinot gris from the Jefferson Vineyards. 

We’ll try to do at least 400 miles tomorrow — unless  we decide to stop midday and explore.  Maybe in the morning we’ll detour over to the Blue Ridge Parkway/Skyline Drive. 

It’s a good trip so far.  Just hope Soon-to-be-Abandoned gets home soon and feeds the cats.

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4 Responses

  1. and I believe it’s time to gear up for photo documentary mode…willya please?

  2. You’re right. I saw some great shots … while I was driving. Tomorrow!

  3. Buchanan may have been a sorry excuse for a chief executive, but he did far less damage than others. Can you say Dubya?

  4. Thanks for the tour! Your trip sounds meant-to-be.

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