A few days to summarize, so this will be a long post. Hopefully I will write more frequently now that I am on the road and have access to wifi every day.
My last day in the Twin Cities. We looked around for some shoes (didn't find any), hung out with Chad and had the planned dinner with Paul's mom Roberta and her husband. Mary made cake pops, which is just what it sounds like. Cake. On a stick. Covered in frosting. Genius.
Turns out Paul's neighbors are assholes. Really. Suddenly there was a Vote Yes on their front lawn, as in they don't want gay men and women to be able to marry their partners. Paul wanted to put up a sign pointing to their with "This explains a lot" on it. I got the whole story on what it explained. Too long a story to write here and now.
My stay in St Paul/Minneapolis was great. Very relaxed, and a great start to my trip. I will try to go back at some point, or convice Paul and Mary to come hang out in Stockholm.
Paul drove me to the airport in the morning and I got on a flight for Boston. When I got there, I went to pick up my rental car.
"You get a free upgrade," the girl behind the counter said. Cool. So I went outside to what was no longer a Yaris but a Ford Focus. As I was walking up to the car, another rent-a-car guy guided another customer to it and put him in there.
"I was supposed to take that car," I said.
"Oh," he answered. "Well. Then you get a free upgrade."
So now I'm driving a Chrysler 200. Nice car. Smooth ride and enough power to make it fun to drive.
Off I went, to go to Erin's place in Shapleigh, Maine. I hung out with her last summer, after Odyssey, for the first time ever. We've known each other since 2008, when I found her blog by pressing "Show random blog" on Blogspot, and have talked about just about everything since then. Last time, it felt like we'd known each other for a long time and had talked just hours before, and it was the same thing this time.
The drive from Boston was easy the last time. Now it was complete chaos. It was supposed to take about two, two and a half hours. It took four. I took so many wrong turns. Some on my own, a few because the GPS and I disagreed on where to go. Yeah, OK, so they were all my fault. I sent Erin a couple of text messages to update her on progress, or rather the lack of. Later, I learned that to her it looked like they came from two different numbers, She replied to both of them, neither of them made it to my phone. Why? She has a BlackBerry. BlackBerry sucks. BlackBerry vendor RIM puts all sorts of shit in any mobile network that wants to use their devices. Also, American mobile service providers tend to handle messages differently, though not this different. Whatever.
I finally made it to Bentley's, where Erin works. I had a steak sandwich while I waited for her to close the gift shop, and then we went to buy breakfast stuff. She keeps almost no food at home. We bought a bottle of whiskey and had a "sit up late and drink whiskey and talk" kind of night.
"I'm going to be a shit hostess," Erin wrote as we were planning this visit. Why? Because I had to take her to the dentist. So on Wednesday we drove to Saco, the very definition of Small Town America. Walking down the main road, I saw a tshirt in a thrift store window that I had to own. So once Erin was done, we walked over there and I bought it. I also bought a gift for Linus (he wanted Romney campaign material, I found something better), and Erin found a pair of Tony Lama boots (whoever he is) that she was wild about and bought.
Then we spent hours driving around backstage America, talking, looking, laughing. We discussed Tim Burton and his propensity to work with Johnny Depp. "Someone should stage an intervention," Erin said. She graciously offered to take Johnny off Tim's hands. A sign outside a gunstore said "Real heros wear dog tags, not capes." "Well, no," I pointed out. "Batman wears a cape. And he knows how to spell heroes."
The day ended at Buck's Naked BBQ, where we had great ribs, and then back to Erin's cabin. I fell asleep at 2130. No, really. Before ten o´clock. Nighty night.
I left Erin's house around ten, to go off on my roadtrip proper. I punched in the address of the hotel in Lincoln, New Hampshire, and let the GPS guide me. The path that Google Maps had suggested turned out to be completely different from what the GPS said, and that was a good thing. The GPS took me down small backroads, through teeny tiny towns. It was a great drive on a beautiful fall day.
During the drive, I learned of a sure way of increasing my pulse. Have a bunch of turkeys step out into the road in front of my car. Those are some big birds, especially when you're braking to avoid hitting them. Lucky for me, the road was twisting and turning before that, so I wasn't going fast.
It was too early for check-in when I arrived at the hotel. The staff suggested a scenic drive I could take, so I did. And what a landscape it is around here. Hills and cliffs and mountains, and trees exploding with color. People go here, I have been told, simply to look at the leaves turning. I can see why. From the view-points I could see rolling vistas of dark green woods that looked like they had been painted with vivid orange and deep blood red. Spectacular.
I stumbled on the Cannon Mountain Tramway, and rode a cable car to the top of the mountain, 1200 meters above sea level and 600 meters above the point where the car started. More spectacular views, all the way to Canada. The guide said they had about ten days a year with visibility as good as today, so I lucked out.
Finally back to the hotel. Went for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. One of the few bad things about travelling alone is eating alone. It's really boring.
When I post this tomorrow morning, I will be ready to go on the next part of my trip, to Burlington, Vermont. Another two hour drive, hopefully through more spectacular landscapes.
If you want to see pictures, go to my Facebook page and look.