Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 37/60: Rockport, ME to Burlington, VT

The dawn was lovely this morning, all rosy and streaming. A clear, dry start for our long drive. With great effort and sacrifice, we managed to get on the road by 7:30, very early for us. We stopped about an hour later for breakfast at MacDonald's. By then, the clouds were thickening and the light was dull.

Western Maine is dreary. Spindly bare trees. No vistas or rock formations. And life is poor: ramshackle buildings surrounded by piles of junk. We did not see a substantial or well-tended home or farm for hours.

The narrow neck of New Hampshire that we crossed was hillier and rockier; the homes and businesses were even more bedraggled and benighted. When we drove through Montpelier, Dan quickly spotted the golden dome of the capitol; it looked incongruous with the impoverished scene in the foreground.

Vermont is hillier and has more substantial trees, so the scenery is more picturesque, though the light was still dull. Occasional shower; occasional blue sky; back to soporific gray. The economy of Vermont seems more substantial; well-tended houses look like they might withstand the weather; two cars in the drive, etc.

When Dan first mentioned to a waitress in Rockport that we were planning to drive to Burlington, she said, "You can't get there from here." To take the interstate, we would have had to drive way south back to Portland, and then head north, but that seemed like a defeat to Dan. So he worked out a rather complicated route on two lane highways, as direct as possible. But it made for a long day's driving. Fortunately, traffic was not too bad. We went through and by lots of intriguing little towns with names like Poland, Norway, and West Paris. Dan wanted to photograph everything, but the light was unfavorable.

Dan wanted to eat Chinese for lunch. The idea of Chinese food in the mountains of Vermont did not appeal to me, and I managed to block out two crummy little places, but when a big place loomed up with a big sign, House of Tang, and a big parking lot right off the highway, I gave in. Dan enjoyed his chicken and vegetables very much. It was nutritious; it was not satisfying.

We got to the hotel about 4 p.m. When I undressed I saw that my torso and upper thighs were flaming red, as though I'd been steamed. I felt faint and collapsed in bed. Over the next hour or two the heat traveled down my arms and out my hands. My first diagnosis was shingles; it made me shudder. But I had a shingles shot a year or two ago. The way the heat was traveling around made me think of allergic reaction, like maybe the chicken had been tenderized in MSG. In any case, within a few hours it began to subside, to my great relief.

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