There’s never a dull moment when my wife and I go on a road trip.
There are a number of reasons for this. One is my wife always acts as navigator and she is directionally challenged. This may seem like a bad concept, but we generally get to see all kinds of things we wouldn’t otherwise see when she’s operating the GPS (it was even more exciting back in the days of road maps).
Also, we tend to try to find local places to eat instead of fast food places when we can, which can result in some interesting culinary experiences.
We just took a trip to Pawling, New York, on the Connecticut border. Pawling was the home of Tom Dewey, two-time presidential candidate, and we were going there so I could pick up some things from a Pawling resident who had one of the most complete Tom Dewey collections in the world.
It’s around a 10-hour drive. We arrived on a Friday, took care of our business on Saturday and I was ready to start home. My wife had other ideas.
“I’ve never been to Connecticut,” she said. “We’re so close, let’s just drive over there and see it.”
She fired up the GPS and plotted our path … well, kind of. We ended up driving up and down hills and around back roads but there just didn’t seem to be a road that made it across the border. I have to tell you, there are some spectacular houses in Quaker Hill, New York. We saw some of them multiple times. The sun was going down when we finally found the right road, and she squealed with delight when the GPS showed us crossing the dotted line that separates the two states.
You know what? Connecticut looks just like New York.
But we weren’t finished yet. She demanded we find a spot where we could stop and she could hop out and actually stand on Connecticut soil. It doesn’t count if you don’t touch ground.
So we pulled down a rural residential street and pulled off the road. Just as I stopped and she hopped out, a couple cars drove by. They slowed down. They looked at us. They looked at our Ohio license plates. I think the drivers pulled out phones to call 9-1-1.
“Quick, back in the car,” I said. “We have to get back across the border.”
We escaped from Connecticut, drove for a while and found a motel to spend the night. It was one of those places where you get a free breakfast in the morning.
We got up early and headed for our free food. The problem: there was no food in the restaurant. No employees in the restaurant. Just a bunch of people from a high school wrestling team looking hungry and kind of surly. We decided to try our luck on the road and wound up at a unique breakfast spot — well, not really, it was a Dunkin’ Donuts.
Back on the road. It was so cold the weekend we went that the little hose that squirts the washer fluid onto our windshield broke. Snapped in half. Then it warmed up on our way back and every truck from three states was splashing all kinds of stuff onto our windshield. We were driving west, toward the sun, and the glare made the visibility worse than it is on a foggy night in London.
We pulled off the road and tried to repair the hose with tape and various other implements, to no avail. We stopped at a couple gas stations and cleaned off our windshield, but as soon as we got back on the highway someone else would splash us. We limped back to Ohio, where we got off the interstate and stopped at a discount store to buy a bunch of windshield wipes. We figured we would have to stop every few miles to clean the windshield off. We might get home by April.
However, thanks to the genius of our navigator, we found a solution. Instead of coming home on I-71 and I-70, we went across Ohio on Route 30. This is an absolutely awesome road because it is mostly a divided highway and there almost is never any traffic on it. We drove all the way across the state and never had to stop once. By the time we made it to I-75 and turned south, it was getting dark, the glare of the sun was gone and we were home free.
The first thing we did was take our van to Ray’s to get the hose fixed. Fortunately, we didn’t need the GPS to get there. We’re all fixed up and ready for the next trip. I can hardly wait to see where we end up.
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.