Leaving New York behind us, we pushed on to Massachusetts. This state has an incredibly difficult name to spell, and as such will become my bitter rival (almost to the same extent that the “D” key on my netbook's keyboard has become – working only when it decides to and without any discernible reason or rational.
As we drove down the roads, entering and exiting one speed limit after another for reasons that are far beyond my comprehension, we passed a “Bear X-ing” sign. This, of course, put me on the defensive, causing me to lock the doors – bears being known for their ability to open an enter the doors of vehicles travelling in excess of forty five miles per hour.
I've seen deer crossings, kangaroo crossing, elephant and giraffe crossing, but this was the first time I'd seen a one for a bear. I would have stopped to take a picture, would that not have exposed me to the danger posed by these lethal, overgrown, ewoks.
All this was soon forgotten, when entering Williamstown. It was lovely, and quaint, and full of wee ones looking around, taking a tour of their potential future university. We were finally getting a look at the America that would have been missed if travelling by plane or train. To be honest? It's not much that would have been missed. One small town looks like any other. I'm sure there's local flavour and something that makes it unique – but as for right now, I couldn't say what that was.
Probably stopping and getting out of the car would have helped though.
The roads switched back and forth through the mountains, as we climbed higher an higher, seeing more and more of what the state had to offer. Driving through part of a reservation, and then native land, we were greeted with all number different souvenir shops, an stores with giant wooden Indians, taller than most houses – sights that would have been offensive were they in any other location, but being here, well – it's hard to really judge.
The peak flattened out, and was adorned with a little diner. I can't say what they had on offer, as I wasn't quite ready for deep fried anything, just yet. I can't say I'm every all that ready for that, but I feel as if I had better start getting used to it. While the diner, itself, didn't offer much – the parking lot looking over the towns below was a worthy place to pause a moment or two and snap a few pictures. Having spent most of the day driving it hit me that the whole reason we were on the road was to see and record things. Never stopping to shoot off even one or two shots, that was a disservice to the trip.
There were green trees as far as the eye could see, and they reached out to the horizon, meeting the bluest sky. It was nature, in the middle of a country that I thought had forgotten all about it. I know that wilderness abounds here, but I had thought that it was, less. These were forests you could get lost in for weeks. Places where exploration still held danger, and – well – there were those bear signs from earlier, so I'll just stay in the car, thank you very much.
But it was something to see.
With podcasts playing, we entered into Rhode Island, crossing that imaginary line on the maps. A visitor's information location was said to be just off the next exit in the town of Woonsocket. How could I resist a trip to a place named Woonsocket? Katherine – less impressed, more desiring to just get to where we were headed before night fell. But, again, if you're on a road trip and you don't explore, well then, what's the point?
Entering the town we followed the arrows to the visitor's center, until they led us out of the town. There was no sign of this place. It had taken ten minutes, five signs, and lots of twisting and turning to get us to this nowhere – and finally I had to agree that it was time to turn back and head for the highway. However, on the way back another sign popped up. Well, we'd made it this far, hadn't we? We might as well press on to the end.
This time, it took only four signs sending us in nonsensical directions (of all the things Garmin programs into their GPS, you'd think an information centre would be one of them. Oh sure, they can show me every K-Mart for thirty miles, but a place to get a map and some coupon books? Nope. You're on your own.)
By the time we finally rolled up – not actually thinking we'd ever find the place (if the last signs didn't play out, why would we assume these would?) - Katherine was less than pleased with my little detour. Still, until the end of time, we can say we've been to Woonsocket. And if we ever meet someone from there? Instant friend!
The visitor centre had closed and locked up ten minutes earlier.
Back to the highway.
An hour or so later we rolled up to a small little blue house, the type you'd expect to find in Rhode Island in the nineteen fifties in some movie that attempted to show how everyone here lived, completely removed for all sense of reality. The path from the driveway to the door was slaps of rocks, with sea shells between them. Out back was an herb garden, and a vegetable garden, with all boundaries sectioned off with clam shells. A collection of star fish, and conchs, and other goodies from the ocean shore adorned wall-mounted displays.
We had pulled up to the house of a girl I'd met back in Iceland when I was just starting my trip over ten months ago. When she heard that we would be making our way through America she was quite adamant that we stay in her place. She often rents it out as a bed and breakfast, and since she was off at a beach house for the time we'd be in the area, we could crash there for a few nights.
I don't know what I expected Rhode Island to be – and after driving past Providence, seeing just another city with tall buildings on the skyline, I became quickly dissatisfied. But stepping through the door into this place? Well, I quickly realized this is what I had wanted from the small state.
Not only that, but there were hot showers, and a laundry machine in the basement. Now, if I had reached here two weeks from now, those things would seem even more exciting, still, who am I to look any gift in the mouth, be it house, horse, or otherwise.
There was a little letter explaining the best places to go for food, and fun. But all that could wait until the morning. A big comfortable bed was calling, and I'd been driving all day – exhausted to the point where I gave up on my manly desire to never say die, and pass the keys off to Katherine.
The T-Shirt I, newly purchased, at the Target beside our morning's motel may assure you that “Die” is something that a Goonie will never say, but as for myself? I Shall not pretend to be one of those until we reach Astoria, Oregon. Then? All bets are off.