For some folks getting from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’ is accomplished by the swiftest and most direct means possible. Flight, if possible, zoom by all the inconsequential stuff that separates where we need to be from where we are. The nerve of that stuff, filling up all our space and taking up all our time. Scientists have recently discovered that the Earth is 98% composed of stuff with the remaining percentage being consequential but largely imaginary: Santa Claus, Military Intelligence, the Buffyverse.
For the rest of us it’s the stuff that is the real draw, it’s why we travel in the first place. Forget point ‘b,’ show me point ‘q.’ Sure, it can extend your journey and delay your arrival but almost all of the best places are secrets or at least not very well advertised. Lara and I would never have found the Westby House, Mineral Point, or ‘Milwaukee’ (which reveals itself on solstices and equinoxes and only then to drunks) if we didn’t allow the Jeep to take us where it might, which is apparently Wisconsin.
Recently we made our way across the mighty state of Massachusetts, taking the ‘pike from end to end, from Pittsfield to Boston passing through all points between. Touching 80 on the highway is not the best way to meander but then again this was one of those moments where our destination was key. We were going to meet up with my brother and his girlfriend in Salem at a predetermined time. Still, the drive was pleasant and fun… until we needed it to end. Driving up from Boston on progressively smaller and less important byways soon devolved into us being buried in the town of Lynn, where all roads out lead back to Lynn. Apparently it is New England’s answer to a blackhole. Not even light can escape it’s crushing smalltown gravitational pull.
We eventually did find Salem and after spending the day paying out the wallet for our puritanical ancestors’ sins we headed down to Cape Cod where my brother sticks sharp objects into people’s joints in the name of Science. But it wasn’t until we tried to go home the next day that we discovered travel where the destination is king to be the worst kind of travel in the world. By this time we were uninterested in the scenic beauty of the Massachusetts back 9. We just wanted to go home and not be driving anymore. With those thoughts in mind the state did everything it could to draw out our trip.
Construction on the only bridge in and out of the Cape. The turnpike backed up for miles before there were even signs for road construction and lane closures. By the time the signs appeared we were nearly going full speed again and then, there were no lane closures, no construction at all. I can only assume that everyone was all jammed up because a single family of ducks had decided to cross the highway in a cute procession which single-handedly destroyed the speed limit for everyone the rest of the day.
We nearly succeeded in driving clean out of the state and into New York having missed our exit which was, to put it mildly, poorly designated. A 3 hour drive all bent out of shape became a 5 and half hour deathmarch where only a frozen pizza and one thousand Pickle headbutts could lift our spirits once more. Fortunately for us our small cat delivered 30 times that many as it is her only means of communication (“I want food” = one headbutt, “Pay attention to me” = 2, “So, how ’bout those Knicks” = 4, “Where have you been for the last 48 hours you stupid jerks” = 30,000).
While I’m sure lara and I will be out on the road again soon (the drive up toward the Mt Greylock Reservation and Summit was ridiculously beautiful and must be repeated soon) there is little desire to do so right now. We have even sent the Jeep in to have it’s wing fixed, a handsome reward for all it’s done for us lately. How else would we get to experience all that… stuff out there?