At 3:35 PM it was 89 degrees in downtown Lowell, Massachusetts when I got on the road.  I picked up the car around 1 PM at Hertz in Chelmsford.  I was a little nervous that they might ask where I intended to go out of fear that they would say you’re not putting 4,500 miles on any of our cars buddy, even though I knew the Hertz policy was unlimited miles and no geographical restrictions.  I was like -I’m going to to some driving here and there.  They didn’t care at all, saying go anywhere in the continental United States or Canada, so I felt like a dope for being coy. My biggest concern with the car was the sound system.  They accommodated my request for a line in so I could play my jams, and after testing the system in the Chevy Malibu the bass rattles the mirrors so it’s all good.  The Hertz guys were very helpful – I always feel like I’m getting screwed when dealing with cars, so that was a pleasant surprise.

I went home and packed the car, took a shower, and Leslie and I had lunch at Ward 8.  We had to sit inside because I was profusely sweating cocoa butter, which lately I’ve been applying generously after showering.  The Ward 8 burger was good, but the buffalo chicken grilled cheese was not. Then I left as The Cars played Drive, which I picked, then Passion Pit played On My Way after I hit shuffle, I swear.

The first thing I remember passing was the sign on route 2 welcoming me to Leominister MA, pioneer plastics city and the birthplace of Johnny Appleseed.  There are some nice towns in western Mass; Erving and Deerfield I remembered.  As I drove through the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont I drank Green Mountain coffee, and that was the most pleasurable part of the drive so far.  In one of the towns there, I’m guessing Woodford but I can be sure because I wasn’t getting a signal, I got stuck behind a biker gang that was going slow and they were repainting the yellow lines coming the opposite way so I had to wait to pass.  When the traffic cleared on the other side I zipped out and made my move.  After passing a few of them I saw that the public works crew had put a cone in the middle of the road to indicate the freshly painted lines, so I was like -shit.  I had three choices 1) speed up and cut back in before the cone, which I didn’t think I was going to make and I had over 4,000 miles left and a rental car 2) ram the cone, and this isn’t my mother’s VW van I drove around in in high school because if it was I would have taken that cone out without blinking, or 3) go completely on the other side of the road to avoid the cone and bikers.  So I chose number 3, which made me cross the freshly painted double yellow lines twice.  I left yellow tire tracks for the next fifty yards to give Woodford something to remember me by.

Everyone in Vermont has a canoe, ATV, riding mower, or something attached to their house.  In Bennington, VT I had to decide where I was going to end up for the night, either Albany or Syracuse.  Since I was only an hour and a half away from Albany and it was fairly early I decided to push onward to Syracuse.  What the hell was I going to do at Motel 6 in Albany for five hours besides daintly tip-toe around dodging bedbugs.  The drive through upstate NY was filled with rolling hills, but then it got dark and started to rain for a bit, and it once the rain passed it was overcast so I couldn’t see any starts.  It was an unpleasant three hours so my goal is to wake early and avoid nighttime driving as much as possible.

I passed through Troy, NY, which is the home of Uncle Sam.  Apparently, Uncle Sam was based on a meat packer, Sam Wilson, who supplied troops during the War of 1812.  Later on, I drove by the Finger Lakes region, which made me think of Groundhog Day when Phil is in the pits of depression sitting in the bed and breakfast tv room watching Jeopardy, eating popcorn, drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels, and the old people are watching in awe as he says all the answers, or questions I guess, before Alex even asks the question.  Great movie.

As I exited interstate 90 I was gouged for $6.20.  Then I was checked into the Easy East Syracuse Motel 6 by Vanessa, who was very pleasant.  My room is about what you’d expect, but it only $48, which also included a wi-fi card, so I’m not complaining.  I’m going to go to bed to hit the road early.  I’m going to check the weather when I wake up because I want to go to Cleveland and catch the Red Sox, but with the possibility of rain and thundershowers for tomorrow night I may just drive as far as I can, I’ll figure it out tomorrow.

Today’s Index:
-Miles driven: Right around 300.  I need to get in the habit of checking the odometer when I dock at night.
-States today: 3
-States total: 5
-Cups of coffee: 2
-I drove 153 miles before passing a McDonalds

Everything in VT is so rustic, even the rest stops


My ride


The biker gang



P.S. The first teacher who mentions anything about my grammar can drive out here and check it themselves every night.  I’m tired and blind from driving, so gimme a break.