Three months seemed like such a very long time when we started this Odyssey. I pictured leisurely drives through the entire Lower 48, along with a few Canadian provinces of our choice. We'd average maybe 100 to 150 miles a day, and just generally putt our way across North America. Reality has settled in to ride with us for the remainder of the Odyssey, and we're finding that he takes up a lot of space. Faced with an ever-expanding list of things we want to do and an ever-shrinking window of time in which to do them, we finally broke down and made an itinerary. This is tantamount to heresy for me -- I like to live fairly organically, letting things happen as they might. We've managed so far this summer with just three dates in three cities -- one in each month of the Odyssey. Circumstances, though, pretty much demanded it this time -- we need to be in California on 8/7 for our engagement party. That doesn't leave much time between now and then for dawdling on the roadside. We need to make our moments count.
Therein lies the itinerary. We actually planned out the days between now and 8/7. It was a little bit painful to do at first, but we trust and hope it will pay off in the long run. Sort of like voting Libertarian.
The first thing our itinerary told us was that Boston was too sedate for us. We craved the excitement that only small-town New England can provide. We wanted 'Hamptons, 'Boroughs, 'Cesters -- Anglophilia in all its varied forms. So, after a frantic morning spent itinerarizing (I made that word up...pretty cool, eh?), we pointed Otto westward into the wilds of Massachusetts, headed for Kristanne's old stomping grounds, Northampton, en route to the Home of the Wily Majewski, Middletown, Connecticut.
In case you didn't already suss it out for yourself, things are pretty durn close together out here. Out west, if you drive to another state, that usually means you've spent some time pounding the ole pavement. Not so out here -- during our drive from DC to Newport, RI, we passed through no fewer than 8 state lines. This is novel at first -- kinda quaint. Then, you start to get a little bit curious about the political ramifications of such a system. Every state gets two senators regardless of size, right? That means in a tiny little area like New England, you're talking about a bloc of about 14 senators (with a slightly liberal definition of "New England"). That's just sick. Kinda makes you want to examine voting records on matters of regional importance. Now, I already hear you out there muttering in your New England chowder about "checks and balances, ya stupid Northwest schmuck. And don't you get that the House of Representatives is based on population, not geographical area, ya hillbilly leftcoaster." Yup. I get all that. I took my civics class, just like you. That doesn't mean that I particularly agree that what essentially is an accident of history (ie, 13 colonies turning into 13 states that could probably all fit into Texas at once) is the best way to run a country. It just doesn't seem particularly fair. It ticks me off almost as much as the Eastern Standard Time bias for scheduling sporting events and primetime TV, let me tell you.
Soapbox off. The road to Northampton showed us some fairly interesting sights. Walden Pond (yes, that Walden Pond). Amherst, hometown to Emily Dickinson. The smalltown office of Calvin Coolidge before he became president. The church where Jonathan Edwards delivered his fire and brimstone, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" speech, articulating the fearsome Puritan philosophy. I quivered humbly just thinking about it. Because of that speech, you still can't buy beer after 8:00 in Massachusetts. Now, that's a legacy.
It also showed us that the irony curve is catching up with us. Retro 80s night at the Northampton Bowling Alleys? Dress me up in a skinny tie and put on a Kajagoogoo album -- I'm there.
|Time was getting tight, so we didn't stop in Springfield for the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame. I'll have to see Bob Lanier's size 22 sneakers some other time. Nope, we pressed on into Middletown, Connecticut, home of Wesleyan University. Not coincidentally, it's also home to our friend Jacek. You regular Odyssey readers will remember Jacek from some of our Boulder episodes. Now, Jacek has been a really good sport about us putting up the "floating head" shot of him that you can see here. So, in the interest of both fair play and increasing our female readership, we offer this beefcake shot of Jacek with his newly-grown goatee. Looking good, eh?|
|Jacek is a graduate student in biology at Wesleyan University, and pretty soon he's going to be a doctor. We give a big thumbs-up to higher education here at the Odyssey. In fact, Kristanne is starting grad school at the University of Washington this fall. She's been a little bit anxious about the transition to grad school life, wondering what it's going to be like. Naturally, we were hoping that Jacek, an experienced grad student, could provide a little counsel in this regard. We wanted to know what Kristanne had to look forward to.|
|It turns out that sitting on a couch, eating take-out, and watching Regis and Kathie Lee is pretty much par for the course. Kristanne is already an old pro, as you can see from the picture above. Hey, sign me up, too!|
Once Kristanne had the grad student life down, Jacek took us out to see the sights of Middletown -- all three of 'em. We thrilled to the foosball table at the Dugout Bar, ate overpriced chowder at the America's Cup restaurant, and played lackluster pool to the strains of Guns and Roses at the Red Dog, a biker bar that, curiously enough, didn't have any bikers. Jacek likes to give Middletown a bad rap, but we're not having any of it -- we had a good ole time hanging out and having fun. Plus, there's plenty of parking
See you tomorrow on the Odyssey as we head back to Boston for a Red Sox game with the whole get fresh crew. See you then!
Total Miles for 7/21 = 171
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