The PondPosted on September 28th, 2007 after 7753 miles by Dean Croshere.
I'll admit, I was a little apprehensive approaching last nights host. It was the longest stretch of a relationship I could possibly imagine without the comforts of simply being able to admit, "this person is a complete stranger that I met online a few minutes ago."
On my way to Maine, I crossed through New Hampshire where I drove around trying to find a good spot to take a picture of the trees. This is magnificently difficult. To try to capture the feeling of the changing trees in a picture is likely to be as insignificant as a "what I did this summer" essay is to be as to describe a summer vacation.
After New Hampshire I first came to realize that the apprehension I felt towards meeting these new people was greater than the apprehension I've felt towards anyone yet. Since I was here through an actual connection, it mattered what they thought of me and what I thought of them. If they had been strangers, a bad match would leave me to only either dealing with it for a night or simply getting in my car and leaving.
I first resolved to put off the issue by driving straight past their house, headed instead to the beach. At first I feared the beach may be some distance, but it turned out to only be half an hour. I may have seen the Atlantic ocean before, but if I did, I certainly didn't care.
This time I cared. The salt air that filtered in through my open windows as I approached felt great. I parked and ran up the little pathway over the dune to the beach with all the exuberance I used to have as a kid on weekend trips to the beach.
Thousands of miles (The mile counter hasn't gone up in a while because it has been several days since I put gas in my car.) later, I finally crossed the country.
The beach itself was nice. I noticed the sand was yellower than I was used to. Also, the waves were slightly larger than the ones on some of the lakes I've passed. In other words, they were pretty lame. Still, it was the beach.
For the first time in my life, I stood looking out over the ocean while the sun was setting at my back. I've seen the sun set over the ocean countless times, considering I lived on the west coast my entire life.
The difference was quite beautiful. The sunset behind me gave the clouds a range of soft purple hues that beautifully blended with the soft blues above them in the sky and below them in the sea. The lone seagull nicely offset Boxer to help balance the image. The resulting rainbow of freezing hues was a complete contrast to the sky that appeared to be lit aflame behind me.
Before I left, I turned and snapped a couple shots of the sunset up the beach. The result turned out to be one of my favorite pictures so far (I love sunsets, if it wasn't apparent).
Just in case anyone is curious what kind of tracks Boxer leaves:
I packed up everything and got back in my car, ready to meet this family. It wasn't long before she asked the question that had worried me so.
"So how do you know our family, again?"
"Well, see, your brother's wife."
"That's right, she lived in the same house as my mother 30 years ago."
"Wow, well we're not strangers to coincidences. I wouldn't have met my husband if we hadn't been at the same auto shop getting our pumps changed at the same time."
They turned out to be wonderful people. I had a great time chatting with them and their son. She made dinner while we played pool. I was handily beaten three times before I decided to show them a favorite pool game of mine. There is only enough competition to make it interesting for everyone involved, but it is so difficult that I have yet to see anyone actually complete the game (though my hosts got incredibly close).
Dinner was fantastic and they assured me that I could stay as long as I wished (though a year might be pushing it, came the caveat). I was tempted, I really enjoyed staying with them, and I'm sure there is a lot to explore in Maine. I already had all my plans set for the next day though. I have a place to stay right outside Boston and I am ready to start hitting the big eastern cities I've heard so much about.
I'm currently writing this from right outside Brown University in Providence Rhode Island.
Driving into Rhode Island was interesting. First, because it is one of the few New England states with the good sense to actually use mile markers as a basis for exit numbers. Second, because I was supposed to take exit "27" from the freeway. I feared that this was 27 miles into the state. Instead, I turned out that, no, 27 is the second exit in RI. Highway 95 runs diagonally through the state - and that distance is only 27 miles. Got to love Rhode Island.