Tuesday, September 17, 2019

What Was I Thinking?

More Straight Talk


Over the years a great many of you have come up to me and shared some of your comments regarding my travel blogs during the summer months when I would take various trips around the county. Some of those were done on my Harley Davidson motorcycles, and I will always hold those experiences as some of the best of my life.

The reason they were so good dealt with the people I shared those rides with. Some have passed now, and others have moved away. We’ve made the iconic run up to the Sturgis Motorcycle rally up in South Dakota, up to Washington D.C. and rode across Eastern Maryland, done the Eastern Shore of Maryland to Virginia Beach and down the Outer Banks and the seacoasts of North and South Carolina. We’ve also been out to the Alamo in San Antonio, across the beautiful mountains of West Virginia and into Kentucky and Tennessee before heading back to Marco.

One of the other great trips we made was up to New Hampshire (my home state) to attend the Laconia Motorcycle Rally (the oldest such gathering in the U.S.). Just two years ago we made the iconic ride up to the Maine Maritime Provinces and rode through New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island before turning back south and eating our fair share of New England seafood.

That was before the nerves in my back began to impact the outside activities I really enjoy. So last year I rented a car and made the long trip back up to New England. I would visit a number of great friends from college days and during my 43-year career in the sales and marketing of fire apparatus, both here domestically and overseas.

As I write this, I’m in the midst of another trip. At the drop of a hat I decided to put the top down on my small red convertible and head north. I wasn’t sure how long my back would hold up and was prepared to shorten the trip if necessary. Today I arrived back in good old New Hampshire after three and a half days of challenges, nothing to do with back pain, but instead with a couple of other challenges.

The first came with the weather as I approached Jacksonville on late Tuesday afternoon. I chose to skirt the fairly significant storm on that early evening and worked my way northbound on U.S. 301 northbound into Georgia. The next morning, after a great Waffle House breakfast I drove up to Hardeeville, S.C. where my car battery quit. After a jump start, I headed to Advanced Auto Parts and had that issue fixed, after waiting for an hour for the jump and another hour for the change out of battery.

As I rolled over the Virginia state line I was bushed as the clock was approaching 8 PM. I knew I needed to make better time and did so until I came upon two separate motor vehicle accidents which would put me behind my self-imposed schedule once again.

Euphoria, Virginia was my next stop and brought about a wonderful reunion of sorts. When checking into my motel the car outside had a retired Philadelphia firefighter logo on the back. We had sold 22 pumpers to that city years ago and I had the privilege to work with the dealer and the department in training those personnel.

As I walked over to a small deli to grab a quick sandwich, I spied the same lady checking in just before me. She was sitting next to her husband eating their dinner. I didn’t want to bother them and grabbed my sandwich and returned to my room next door to the deli. I had to return to my car to retrieve some clothing, and low and behold I ran into the couple again, this time we shared pleasantries and low and behold we recognized each other and spent an hour reminiscing about the past. It was a pleasant evening and hope to catch up with them again we both return to Florida.

The route I normally take brings me up to Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania, where I would skirt the Washington D.C. traffic nightmare and travel up to I-81 northbound into Pennsylvania. I began experiencing issues with a tire, which resulted in a detour into Hazelton and another two-hour delay, and a faulty GPS reading which cost me another two-hour delay.

I thought I’d end up in the Hartford, Connecticut area by dinner, instead it was 10:30 PM before I made it to Hartford and another 90-minute delay due to construction. Never, I repeat never try to traverse the intersection of I-91 and I-84 during construction, and especially at night. What genius put these two roadways together in the middle of a major city?

The next morning, I left my marginal hotel north of Hartford and would drive east on the Massachusetts Turnpike for the first time in almost 30 years. My trips north have either been by aircraft or by skirting around some of these problems I had on this trip.

It’s great to be up here seeing old friends and attending events that have become so dear to my heart, but next time “Stef, take the plane!”

Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at Stef@coastalbreezenews.com

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