The Hazards of a Road Trip

Whilst doing one’s best to put on x number of miles each day to reach a goal one finds that most of the day is spent looking at asphalt.

Now and then I pass a sign and say, “Oh, Rutgers Law School!” and that’s the end of that. I’ve passed signs for all sorts of schools. Princeton is probably the most elite. Bob Jones University made me wonder if the taxpayers actually support the place with Pell Grants and student loans.

Largely, roads mostly look the same, toll booths are pretty much the same, and the insides of Motel 6’s are mostly the same; although I have become a connoisseur of Motel 6’s – I think this one is probably one of the best I’ve been at.  It is a contender for top place with the one in East Brunswick, New Jersey.

I have concluded that pretty much all rivers look the same from an overpass. So it doesn’t really matter what the name of it is or if it has been mentioned in a song – because it is just another waterway.  Not only that, there is nowhere to park even if I wanted to take a photo.

I have driven through various states since leaving the hell-hole of NYC: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and now I’m in Alabama. Largely the parts I’m driving through on main roads pretty much look the same. The names of gas stations change and now and then some new eatery names pop up, but the forested areas around the roads could be photoshopped from one state to the other.

I get the feeling that if I wanted to really see the country I needed a big motor home and several months to poke along. And maybe a tour guide from each area.

Below:  It’s a river from North Carolina that looks like all the other rivers I’ve crossed.


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Abandon all hope ye who enter here

All I’m going to say about interstate Highway 95 is don’t take it.

I didn’t make more than a scant 200 miles today because we were going 7 miles an hour much of the time.

I’m going to get up in the middle of the night and try driving then.

Remember Highway 95 don’t take it! They should have a sign just before Tappan Zee bridge which says abandon all hope ye who enter here.

By the way there were no major accidents for some reason everybody drive 7 miles an hour on this road.

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New York City

I did my best to find a way to skirt New York.  The Gods had other ideas.

A large piece of heavy equipment of approximately the size of a D9 (but not a D9) was smashed half to bits, obstructing traffic. I hope there was no one in it.

That was just one bit of fun.  It took me longer to get from 7 miles before the Tappan Zee Bridge to the New Jersey line than it did to travel from Stowe, Vermont to Chatham, Massachusetts and all the way to 7 miles before the Tappan Zee Bridge.

I’ve been around NYC before and I always do my utmost to avoid it. I prefer to slide around the edges. Not this time. Between the closed roads, the re-routing, the traffic accidents, the cars stalled in random lanes, and more – it was my own personal version of hell on earth.

My impressions are of grime, garbage everywhere, traffic so stalled than homeless people were wandering through (sometimes pounding on car windows) begging. Note:  NYC  – if Utah can resolve it’s homeless problem so can you.  Children on bicycles weaving through stalled traffic on Interstate 95 sort of completed the picture.

I know a lot of folks love the arts and other amenities there. For drivers used to more rural areas. Consider staying far, far, far away. Perhaps a few hundred miles to the west would be good.

The wee little doggie and I were fried to a crisp by the time we arrived in New Jersey. The part I am in at this point certainly deserves the name The Garden State.

In a half hour or so I will take the wee little doggie for another walk before we get back into the car for another leg of the trip south.  Because of the 6 hours wasted in the disaster area that goes for traffic in the NY area we are not going to make it to our destination today – which means another night at a motel somewhere along the way.

Sometimes I have no Internet access or very limited access.  So I am only posting when I’ve got time, energy, and Internet.  It may mean more postings per day with several days between.

The photos below was from the last stop before my descent into the Traffic Inferno. I thought the truck was neat.  Now I realize it was a warning of things to come.  Vehicles that can’t be driven.  At least this was off the road.


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Massachusetts and New Hampshire

New Hampshire is where my spiritual home is – Grove of the Golden Leaves, Druidic Association of North America. Domi O’Brien – the Dean – lives in NH although the members of the Grove are scattered over a few states.

Of course, my daughter and grandchildren are in Massachusetts and it goes without saying a part of my heart will remain there with them.

And day before yesterday I met Dana Eilers, the author of Pagans and the Law (and other books).  What a joy to share time with her!

And of all places I’ve found in Massachusetts the Townsend Common lingers in my mind.


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The Best Things About Vermont

Everything.  The mountains, the people, the lack of hustle and bustle. Of course, not all of Vermont is in the Stowe area, but any state that can elect and keep re-electing Bernie Sanders is a fantastic state. 🙂

I’ll miss Vermont. If it wasn’t colder than a well digger’s knees during the winter time (and expensive to live in) I could be happy there.  Reminders of some of my favorite memories in photo format:



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Who Needs International Travel When You Can Go to Stowe?

I admit that I’m somewhat mystified by some of the artwork on the streets of Stowe. I think I “get” some of it. Other things I can’t wrap my little pea brain around.

But when it comes to travel of the mind, there’s a place just off the Mountain Road that specializes in various art works for sale that can transport you just IMG_0109about anywhere you want to go. As long as you’re good with Steampunk, that is. 🙂

The small herd of giraffe make me smile. Somehow I missed taking a good shot of the elephant (you can barely see the trunk tip on the far left).

But you can also go mountain climbing with a blue-eyed goat IMG_0102that’s so cute I’d take it home if I could. If I had a home to take it to.

There are more, of course, perhaps I’ll have the Steampunk underwater feature another day.

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Cyclists – You Know Who You Are

There are bicyclists all over Stowe.  And good on ’em for being so athletic and enjoying the summer. There’s just one thing. Pedestrians should be able to enjoy the summer as well without having to dash for the grass as the cyclists tear down sidewalks and over bridges going full tilt.

I note that the Canadians are polite (no surprise there, eh?), but the local kids come flying down the hill to the recreational trail so fast that if someone was really unable to get out of the way in time (think wheelchair, walker, etc.) someday someone is going to be badly injured.

I’m not sure my old bike back in the day (before 3 speeds or 10 speeds) could achieve those sorts of speeds.  Then again it was flat farmland – no hills.

Supposed to walk the bikes downtown – and again, the Canadians are great about doing IMG_2497that (Yea, Canada!) Many others ride two abreast full tilt and pedestrians scatter for the grass or curb.

I find myself dragging little doggie off the sidewalk and yelling at the riders who don’t pause in their peddling. It’s like I’m speaking Martian. Imagine two cyclists and one old lady with a small doggie on this little bridge. Yikes!

If I was quicker on the draw I’d whip out my trusty iPhone and video the miscreants and then show it to the local gendarmes, but by the time I could get it ready they’d be gone. And I’m not really willing to throw my body into peril to stop them.

So, slow down already!

Thank God Bikers are limited to the roadways.  And so far I’ve no issue with any of the biking clubs that have been through the area. Good people.

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It’s a Dog’s World

One of the things I love about Stowe, VT is its plethora of little shops. Reminds me of when IMG_2518I grew up and there were no such thing as chain stores or big box stores.

I was looking for a pet store and came across The Dog and Cat on Mountain Road. It looks like a tiny place, but it’s actually quite large for a “Mom and Pop” operation.  There is the center part and the two wings – probably areas where other stores once resided.

The owner is a guy with “shop dogs” who are with him at work – senior black labs (I think) who are often snoozing the day away. He knows his stock inside out, upside down, and backwards. There is nothing – let me repeat that – NOTHING – from China. The closest is a cheese and milk treat from Tibet. Not only that, it doesn’t have slick tile floors – it is carpeted. Above are handmade dog cookies topped with dog friendly icings like yogurt and peanut butter.

Since I’ve been going there McKinley has acquired a soft hemp collar that’s half the width IMG_2414of her old one and probably ten times more comfy. She’s got a stylish new walking vest I can manage with my aching hand and troubled arm – it’s got velcro closures. It is bright red with reflective tape on it which comes in handy for evening walks. And he helped me fit everything to her.  And yes, she really is that small so that she’s down there with the leaves near the ground.  This shot is to show her walking vest.

He’s got a ton of samples of things I’d never heard of before. We found out quickly that She’s a Princess. Most of them she won’t touch, but we’ve found a couple that are  freeze-dried raw foods by Stella & Chewey’s – both beef. I suppose I should be happy she likes the “cheap stuff” and not the venison or duck.

There’s another story on the way about more than just dog attire and food.  I’ll tell you right now that you’ll never get this experience at a big box animal store, no matter how public service oriented they are.  But that story will come later in the week.  🙂

Meanwhile, there was this Art Fair downtown tonight.  IMG_2527 2


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The Little Farm Store

Out in the middle of the farmland, out in the midst of flocks of chickens, where there are cattle grazing, there’s a little farm store.  It’s not easy to find. It’s up a long dirt road that winds up a hill. And when you finally get close to the top you see a sign off to the left that says: Eggs.

As I pulled up a pickup pulled away and the men waved to me. I waved back and we all smiled.

The little dog barked in shrill tones. I let her out of the car. The smells were pulling her right and left. But she couldn’t go in the store, so back in the car she went. And she kept voicing her desire to leave and follow those delicious smells!

Sadly, there were no eggs in the cold case. I didn’t need as much raw milk as they had in containers. I’m more of a pint sort of person. However, there were lovely, freshly picked strawberries that were at the peak of perfection.

So I wrote down what I got along with the fee in the notebook on the counter. I put my money in the plastic container on the counter and left the little store.  It was full of bills and change and I had to smile at how simple things in life can be when you’re a Mennonite farming family in rural Vermont.

No photos today. Hoping the verbal picture is enough. The strawberries are small, jewel bright, and luscious.

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Walking the Nose

I’ve always thought of my outings with the wee little doggie as walking the dog. Today I came IMG_2325to the full realization that I am walking the nose.  It is a nose with ears, eyes, and legs, but the nose drives the rest of the body.

No matter how many times I attempt to walk the hiking trail, thinking it will become more familiar with time, it actually becomes a more robust place of mystery. Grass, bushes, trees, flowers, rhubarb plants, and a variety of other objects become ritual items of great power. Such power, in fact, that the wee little doggie will dart behind me – thereby almost flipping me over backward from the pressure of the leash behind my knees – as she darts towards the object of reverence dictated by the nose. “Heel? What’s that?”

And, of course, the wee little doggie does not understand keeping to the right of the blue dividing line on the trail. Consequently, we present a challenge for the cyclists who whiz by at high speeds rather than at the slow speeds dictated by the signage. Apparently neither cyclists nor dogs can read. And the wee little doggie is actually a wee little nose with legs to propel it towards nirvana and I’m positive a nose can’t read or reason.

And then there are the bridges – which cyclists take down the middle. And the wee little doggie cowers in place; whatever place she’s been in when the cyclists take to the confined space over the stream. I’ve taken to carrying her under my arm across the bridges to keep from having a pile-up or an injured dog. Also, it stops the nose from examining every board, post, and wire.

She’s already caused one pile-up from a young child on a bicycle focusing on an incredibly cute wee little doggie, thus missing the curve and ending up over the handlebars and face-first in a pile of plants. The little child was embarrassed, but fine, thankfully. Like one of those impossibly cute infants people love to make over, so do those same people love wee little doggies who are impossibly cute.

Today the walk with the nose was short as other parts of the wee little doggie decided it IMG_0079was too warm, despite refusing the lovely, clean water presented in the silicone water bowl. So we stayed in the shade and let her cool down, then took her back to the hot car where she slurped down a bowl (same bowl) of cool, pure water (same water).  This is apparently something the nose cannot readily distinguish.

It really is a lovely walk. Perhaps earlier in the morning?  One can never tell about these things.

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