Archive for January, 2008


All Roads Lead to Denny’s

January 31, 2008

24 hours in, Portland is really just one big waterfront to me. I know the waterfront. I get the waterfront. I know how far it stretches, and what bits of the city connect with it. If I can find the water I can find the school, I can find the shopping district, and I can find my apartment. I can especially find the really cute art gallery with the sea glass window angels.

If I don’t know where the water is things are a lot more complicated. I’ve been here before, so I’m relying on sense memory and my sense memory is kind of pretty much sucking. It’s made for some interesting driving. For instance I began the morning in South Portland, hopped right onto I-95 North to get into Portland, and wound up in Westbrook – a lovely little town that isn’t Portland. (Because doesn’t it make sense that in order to get from South Portland to Portland that you might need to drive north? Apparently….no.) I’ve stopped several times today and asked for directions, and here is what I’ve learned:

1. All directions involve following “that road right there, just keep on going straight.” However, invariably the road isn’t straight, and sometimes there is a fork. This afternoon one of those roads also included a great big giant curve, with multiple roads leading off in various directions, and none of those roads were straight either. Just once the road was straight but in the middle of it the name changed. Which is very confusing. So there you go.

2. All directions also seem to involve, “there will be a Denny’s, and then you go left.” Or “when you see the Denny’s, you keep going.” “You’ll know when you get there, that’s where the Denny’s is.”

I ate a BLT at a Denny’s on my way to Maine, and it was a pretty good BLT. Not so good that I’d routinely base my directions on it, but not so bad that I’ll rule it out as a handy place to stop off and sit a spell…which I guess is kind of the point. Hello Denny’s. I’m kind of guessing that you and I are going to get much better acquainted over the next few months.



January 30, 2008

1133 miles.



oh holiday inn off the highway how i love thee

January 29, 2008

This was not the easiest of days. Yesterday was work, drive, work, drive, work, drive. Today was work, work, drive, work, take emergency call at side of road, drive, work, pull over into rest stop to work, drive, drive, work, drive, think about work, work, drive. And it was raining. Grey. 300 miles today. 950 miles total. Under 200 miles left.

At some point, soon after crossing the border into Massachusetts, I started to look for a hotel. It was getting darker, and the Massachusetts thru-way is rather unlit and a little treacherous as you drive over dark wet roads through the Berkshires. I was also more than a bit hungry. One hotel sign popped up just outside Holyoke. Coming down off the crest of the mountain – all of a sudden there is Target. And Barnes & Noble. And the Holiday Inn. How do I accurately describe this hotel?

This Holiday Inn is like Brigadoon. It can’t be real…I check in – the woman behind the counter says, “would you like a drink?”

“A drink?”

“It’s Guests Socialize Happy Hour. Free drinks in the bar!” The check-in girl is very happy about this. I think maybe she’s been socializing.

Well, um, ok.

I go to my room. I pass a courtyard with palm trees. A pool. An arcade game room. Vending machines. Magazines. I’m hungry. I check the room service menu. And there – right there – is a sign that God loves his little children, or at least he loves me. ‘Cause today just got a whole lot better. A fish-a-ma-jig sandwich and a happy ending sundae please, and step on it.


If room service can’t find me, I’ll be in the bar.



Somewhere Near Syracuse.

January 28, 2008

400 miles today.  650 down.  450 to go.  Today has been work, drive, work, drive, work, drive, work, drive.

It should be noted that Toledo did not just boast a Friendly’s.  Come daylight it also turned out to boast the Mac Daddy Mother Ship of antique malls.  Aisle upon aisle of underpriced goodness.  I’ll back up a U-Haul come June and make a killing in Chicago.

The glorious bounty delayed the start of my drive by about an hour.  Katie knows the score.  It was just 3 days ago that we talked about this very thing. From The Katie Mac Show, episode 104:




This List Sponsored by the Letter W

January 27, 2008

 Things I packed:

  • Wellington Boots
  • Warm Sweaters
  • Wool Socks
  • Winter Coat
  • Wishful Thinking
Things I packed and then unpacked when it became clear that I had gotten a little carried away:
  • Sweaters number 13, 14, 15, 16
  • Coat number 4
  • Scarves number 2 and 3
  • Hardcover books that I haven’t read in Chicago and only wanted to believe I’d read in Maine
  • Coffee mug
  • Coffee maker
  • The “just in case” skirt
  • The “just in case” heels that look fantastic and hurt like hell
  • The six-pack of diet coke for on-the-road caffeine emergencies
250 miles today.  Toledo, Ohio.  Didn’t leave until 3pm.  Made up for lost time on a clear and empty Indiana Toll Road.   Snow covered farms very picturesque along the route.  Crossed into Ohio in early evening.  
Am now at a Comfort Inn, which gives me a 10% discount at the Friendly’s Restaurant across the street.  I have a deep down dirty love for Friendly’s.  Their butter crunch ice cream is my kryptonite.

What to do if you get lost in the Maine woods.

January 22, 2008

A series of highlights from the popular (and free!) little orange book distributed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife – You Alone in the Maine Woods:

  1. Before entering the woods you should check your compass and bearings. This assures, for one thing, that you have not left your compass in another pair of pants or on the camp table.
  2. A bandana tied around the neck keeps out rain.
  3. A small plastic pill bottle is a great way to carry your wooden match supply.
  4. Fire is survival. As soon as your fire is lively you’ll feel as man has felt for centuries: dominant, secure and comforted.
  5. Gathering firewood is a positive action that will relieve you of the burden of imagined danger.
  6. In gathering firewood, a small belt-ax (note to self: buy belt-ax) is worth its weight in gold, and the carrying of such an ax is more important than carrying a gun.
  7. Save your voice and don’t shout until you know help is near. Shouting in the empty woods will only add to your depression and make you hoarse.
  8. Relax: there is nothing in the Maine woods that wants to eat you. (This is page 33. Other pages talk about bears.)
  9. Don’t sit fretting about how cold you are. Do something about it! Now is a good time to keep repeating, “God helps those who help themselves.”
  10. After you are warm and alert, make an honest decision – do you have any real idea where you are?

It’s only 1100 miles.

January 21, 2008




I’m going to Maine to make some radio. Wish me luck.