----------------------------------------------- Google Site Map ----------------------------------------------- Cindy in ...: July 2006

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Road Trip: Rochester, MA

Raoul lives in Rochester, Massachusetts. He is a travel friend that I met in the Philippines, at Alona Beach. There was a dire shortage of reading material, and at dinner it looked as if he were just finishing a book. Furthermore, he was wearing a T-shirt from my alma mater. So, of course, we talked, exchanged addresses and phone numbers and all that stuff. And we both got new books to read.

When I got back to the States, I actually looked him up, which most backpackers really don't do all that often. CR lived in Massachusetts at the time, and we went down for a visit. He has a junkyard, and we got to hit cars with a sledge hammer, which is very good for whatever is frustrating you at the time. We went to a local fair, where we looked for traditional New Bedford big hair, then watched rat roulette and various other odd things. I've been visiting almost every year since.

Raoul's house is set on the banks of a 'pond' ('lake' in the rest of the US). My favorite things to do there are: sit on the deck, lie in a hammock, and sunbathe on the dock, then repeat. Once again, I did no sightseeing. We went out for fried clams at the beach and marveled at the price. When I lived in Boston back in the late sixties, a dollar bought you a fairly good-sized paper cone filled with fried clams. Now they are 'market price' along with the more expensive of the fresh fish offerings.

Road trip: Norristown, PA

My brother, Skip, lives in Norristown, Pennsylvania, practically next door to Valley Forge. On my last visit I spent an afternoon there, watching the video presentation, reading about the winter George Washington's troops spent there, and marveling at Washington's tiny (and shared) quarters. This year, I did nothing.

We went out together once, to pick up the new hard drive I had ordered on-line.

Skip follows soccer, so he was watching the World Cup. Sitting on the couch, reading or surfing the web, I was gradually drawn into the soccer matches. With my brother there to answer my questions, the game gradually began to look less like a bunch of guys running up and down a green-striped field and more like a contest. My questions were pretty naive. After about five matches I asked why substitutes were such a big deal, and learned that unlike every other sport I've ever watched, the replaced player is out for the rest of the game.

Maybe I'll turn into a soccer fan.

Road trip: Norristown, Pennsylvania

My next stop was in Pennsylvania, with my brother Skip. He lives in Norristown, near Valley Forge. The drive from the DC area is fairly short, but the highway tolls are amazingly high. One toll was $8, and the others were $2 or $3. I spent about $20 in tolls on a four hour trip. Only the northeast has these tolls. I drove from Florida to Spokane without paying a single toll. And of course the lack of tolls corresponds to better roads. Paying seems to guarantee patched junk.

Several years ago the governor of New Jersey was interviewed about the huge traffic jams at the tollbooths on roads like the Garden State Freeway. New Jersey doesn't have a ticket system. Traffic comes to a dead stop all across the highway, then starts up again. The design is stupid, to say the least. At the time, tolls for commercial traffic were being lowered in the night hours as an incentive to truck drivers to shift their schedules to low-traffic hours. Several other schemes were discussed, but the sensible solution was never mentioned. Tear down the booths. and let traffic flow freely.

Copyright 2006