Monday, June 29, 2015

COLUMN: East Coast, Pt. 2

What's that, you say? You want to hear MORE about my recent East Coast vacation? Well, ouch, twist my arm, why don't ya? Okay, if I remember correctly, we left off last week in...  

Sunday, 7 p.m.: VERMONT. Have you ever been lost in the woods? If so, you know what it's like to be in Vermont. We have no idea where we are or what we're doing, so we turn to the GPS for nearest hotel recommendations. It gives us hotel listings in Montreal, Canada. Wow, we are NORTH. Sadly, we are also lacking passports, so we look to the map and head towards the capital city of Montpelier assuming it will be rife with hotels.

Sunday, 9 p.m.: Montpelier, as it turns out, is rife with nothing whatsoever. It is the capital city of Vermont, yet is roughly the size of Geneseo (and I'm pretty sure Geneseo has more hotels.) We end up in a town called Barre before we find anything with vacancies. 

Monday, 9 a.m.: The continental breakfast at this hotel comes complete with a do-it-yourself waffle-making station. It also comes complete with a jaded and bitter hotel employee whose job is to stand by the waffle station and sternly exclaim, "YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!" whenever anyone touches the device. When not tasked with berating us, she stands with arms crossed staring while we eat. I'm pretty sure we're being graded on our breakfasting ability. I hope I pass the audition.

Monday, 10 a.m.: We have succeeded in leaving the hotel in the wrong direction and are now lost among the woods and trees. It appears we may have to give up and start life anew in Vermont. On the positive side, we have discovered a granite quarry with a visitor's center where we learn all about the history of tombstones and Vermont granite, all of which is interesting and educational information that I promptly forget before we've even left the parking lot. What I do remember, though, is that the quarry was also used for pivotal scenes in the 2009 Star Trek reboot, and that's pretty sweet. 

Monday, 1 p.m.: We are standing in what the natives call a "sugar shack." From the outside, it looks like your run-of-the-mill barn. The interior, however, looks more like Willy Wonka's nightmare. This stainless steel behemoth is what takes tree sap and turns it into syrupy maple goodness. I never thought I'd become a syrup snob, but after one taste of 100% pure Vermont maple syrup, I'm filing divorce papers on Mrs. Buttersworth the minute I get home.

Monday, 1:30 p.m.: Vermont people are kinda scary. Right now the rugged woman in the sugar shack is telling us how badly their area was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, but when the National Guard arrived to assist, the family told them, "Nah, we're good, we're Vermonters." Note to self: Remember to make friends with some Vermonters.

Monday, 3 p.m.: Here's what I can tell you about the great state of New Hampshire: It's raining, it's cloudy, and I'm starting to wonder if I'm getting bedsores from sitting in the car for four straight days.

Monday, 6 p.m.: We have been driving through central Maine for what feels like eternity, and I have yet to see one telekinetic prom queen, rabid St. Bernard, zombie pet, or sewer-dwelling clown spider. Stephen King's Maine is a LOT more exciting than this one. We haven't even seen a moose, despite hundreds of signs telling us to watch for them. Maine moose must be fairly stealthy.

Monday, 9 p.m.: Bar Harbor, Maine. Any farther east and we'd be underwater. My friend Jason and I celebrate our arrival at the Atlantic Ocean by indulging in an expensive gourmet lobster feast, wherein we discover that neither of us really likes lobster all that much.

Tuesday, 9 a.m.: You know those picturesque images of ocean waves battering rocky shores that you think can't possibly exist in the real world? They're ALL taken here, in Acadia National Park. Spending the day in the most beautiful place I've ever been is tempered only by the rain that pours down on us all day. Still, this is the Maine of my dreams. I contemplate killing Jason in order to see if Angela Lansbury shows up to solve the crime. 

Tuesday, 7 p.m.: Portland is a fun city, and we waste a couple hours playing our new favorite game: "Fisherman Or Hipster?" Everyone has a beard, a knit cap, and a vintage coat -- it's just that some appear to do it as a lifestyle while others do it as their life.

Wednesday, 11 a.m.: Following the coast south, we're back in New Hampshire and stumble upon Odiorne Point State Park. The guard at the gate is a long-haired kid who noodles on an acoustic guitar while telling us to check out the tide pools. As we leave an hour later, we notice there's been a shift change and it is now a DIFFERENT long-haired kid noodling on an acoustic guitar. Life in New Hampshire doesn't seem too bad.

Wednesday, 1 p.m.: Salem, Massachusetts: a town rife with history and legend is now rife with ghost tours, psychics, and troubadours in Colonial gear who speak in old-timey accents even when they're processing your Mastercards. 

Wednesday, 4 p.m.: It's official: I hate Boston. I'm sure that you all have Bostonian family and friends who are all wonderful people, but they must've stayed home this afternoon. Traffic was a nightmare, parking was even worse, and everywhere we went was crowded, fast-paced, and obnoxious. In movies, Boston Common looks gorgeous, and it is -- except it's full of joggers, bikers, walkers, and a sea of humanity, and I'm clearly in everyone's way. I swear I even got honked at by an angry duck.

Wednesday, 4:30 p.m.: Seeking shelter from the chaos, I retreat into the Bull & Finch Pub, better known as the exterior location of the TV show Cheers. These days, it's a gift emporium that sticks the Cheers logo onto anything sell-able while the "everybody knows your name" theme song plays on an endless loop. I ask the clerk if she hates the song. "You... have... no... idea," she tells me through clenched teeth while I back away slowly.

There's only one more destination to go before we call this vacation a day. If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere. More on that next week. As God is my witness, animatronic donkeys WILL come into play. 

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