That’s it. Its taken us 59 days to drive from Washington DC, to Cambridge, Mass. Apparently you can do it in about 8 hours, but where’s the fun in that?
At the Megunticook RV Resort this morning we had pancakes and coffee and a bit of tidying up as the sun trickled through the trees. We hit the road and almost immediately a pickup truck flashed its lights and the driver gave me a vigorous thumbs up. It felt like a good omen. The satnav said four hours to Cambridge but that seemed a little pessimistic to me and so it proved. The roads were fast and silky with big sweeping curves. Harv was as smooth and powerful as ever, effortlessly eating up the miles. At 65 mph there is no trace of vibration, and the water temperature hovers just under 180, even at 84 degrees outside, which it was today. Hats off to you GM.
This part of Maine is mix of the old and the new. There are big towns with McDonalds and large commercial districts, and between them, little hamlets with roadside attractions dating back to a different age. One peeling billboard for a “Motor Museum” advertised car rides and “nickelodeons”.
At Biddeford we pulled off for lunch thinking that the town may have echoes of its pretty English namesake. Perhaps it does but we never got that far as there was a Tim Horton’s in a mini-mall on the way and having had such a good time there on the Canadian border, we though it only appropriate to give them another go. Clearly Mr Horton only recruits intelligent and easy going serving staff because it was just the same experience as the last time and the food was good too. So long Biddeford. Another time perhaps.
Once over the mighty Piscataqua River Bridge we hit New Hampshire, which was no more than a sign and fifteen minutes on the freeway. Then we hit Massachusetts where it seems to be a legal requirement that you talk on your cell phone while driving. Actually, local custom seems to dictate that you also slow down while doing this and weave about a bit in the middle lane. Or, as in the case of one elderly lady we passed, hold your phone in front of your face so you can text while steering for the off ramp, twenty miles an hour slower than everyone behind you. We both have cellphones so we should fit right in. At A and E.
At the Tobin Memorial Bridge we stopped to pay the toll and the young Hispanic guy in the booth gave me a big smile and said “When I grow up I’m gonna be like you man! Get me one of those things and drive all OVER the Northeast.” I can recommend it.
The last ten minutes reminded me why we tend to avoid big cities on these trips. Cavernous potholes, hopeless drivers who straddle the lane when they stop, thus cutting you off from the exit you need, temporary road barriers which leave a gap just big enough for a car but narrow enough that one more coat of paint would make our motorhome too wide. It was good to get out of the city centre and into the street where we will spend the next ten months. The house has a GMC sized drive but also a tree at the entrance to it which very nearly did for us. We squeaked past it with less than an inch to spare, thanks to some lads on the street who were kind enough to move a row of trash bins which gave us just enough room to manoever.
Its now just past ten and we are marveling at the extraordinary luxury of a kitchen with several feet of counter space, a washing machine, a dryer and a sink with a seemingly unending supply of water. I’m told that its possible to spend at least twenty minutes in the shower, should you wish. We had supper at a place called the Lord Hobo around the corner and it was stunningly good, with the best range of beers in Boston.
Harv is parked outside; batteries off, cupboards emptied, freezer defrosted. He needs a good clean and there are several things I want to sort out or upgrade over the next few weeks, which I will reproduce in loving detail here no doubt.
What a trip though; from Pennsylvania Dutch countryside to the mountains of New York. From the foreignness of Gaspe with its impenetrable French and fascinating history, to the unspoilt wilderness of Nova Scotia and then the tranquility of Maine. There were whales, moose and bears; a breakdown which became a fun couple of days in Halifax with some terrific people. Some absolutely terrible roads, some absolutely brilliant ones too, sunsets, thunderstorms, crashing waves, smiles from people watching us go by in our funky motorhome – a little boy pointing us out at a campsite and saying “I would have THAT one”. So would we.
When we set out on this adventure we didn’t really know if it was feasable to buy a thirty two year old motorhome and launch off into the unknown with it. But it really is. It is the most comfortable RV either of us have ever travelled in and its no less economical than the modern ones. It is powerful and easy to drive; light steering with solid brakes which never faded. Everything worked as it was supposed to and when problems arose, they were easily fixable. Best of all though were the smiles it generated wherever we went.
This has been one of the great experiences of our family life. Tom is just a brilliant traveller, able to keep himself entertained for hours at a stretch while we sit up front, but also throwing himself into the wild surroundings we’ve tried to find; scrambling over rocks, plunging into rivers, lakes and the sea, racing through trees and across beaches. To be able to park under the stars, by the ocean, in a forest, is a special treat. Philippa and I have loved the solitude and the quiet, and the fun of the three of us.
The sad thing is that may be our first and last big trip in our magic bus. There will be weekends and possibly even the odd week or two, but we go back to England next summer and we will have to sell Harv in the spring.
It won’t stop me dreaming about other road trips though – up the spine of the country from Texas to Montana, north to Alaska, down the east coast to Florida, or around the Four Corners. There are just so many roads still to do…