Day 26 – Turning Point

It was still raining in the morning. It apparently rained all night long. Is that why people do not visit Boston in the fall?

Just a couple of miles down the interstate loop, I saw a minivan stuck in the muddy ditch. The tracks showed it had run off the road and didn’t get stopped until it hit the un-mowed brushy area that edged the throughway.

I pulled over to see if I could help. With my busted-up front end, I felt much more sympathetic to the plight.

“Idiot driver ran me off the road,” the man complained, as he made calls on his cell phone. “I’m lucky it didn’t tear anything up.”

His van might not have been torn up, but it was clearly stuck. I offered to help pull him out, and he accepted.

“Do you have a chain?” I asked.

“No. Do you?”

“No, but I have an old rope we could try. It’s just an old busted rope I keep around for stuff like this.”

As I pulled up to his back bumper, another van pulled over. The two drivers apparently knew each other—this must have been one of the people he was calling on the cell phone. The new driver helped me attach the rope between the vehicles. “I’m not sure if this will work,” I said, referring to the old lariat tied twice between the bumpers, “but it’s the only thing I have that might work.”

I slowly took out the slack, as the driver of the stuck van put his vehicle into reverse. The old busted rope stretched, and then busted again.

“Oh well,” I said to driver #2, to shrug off the damage to the ever-shortening rope.

“Oh well,” said driver #1, as he got out of his stuck van. “I have a tow truck on the way.”

With help already there and more help on the way, I climbed back on the road and headed northeast toward Maine.

Today was Monday, the first day that I would have been able to likely get my pickup in to a body shop.

But, I decided to forget about doing that on this trip.

With Texas plates, I was concerned that I might run into an unscrupulous mechanic who would jack up prices on me because he held my key home. Plus, everything car-related seems to be more expensive in the Northeast. I was pretty sure it would be cheaper to get it done in Texas or Oklahoma.

Also, I wanted to be back for Thanksgiving. I figured it would take a few days, and maybe more, to get it fixed, and I wasn’t sure I had the time.

It still drove fine, at least in the daylight. And, I’ve always heard that we can drive it home with one headlight.

I wanted to go to Maine just to go to Maine. So, I figured I would drive up to about Portland before turning around and heading west.

As I drove along the coastal highway, which gave me no real view of the coast, I saw a sign for a store that was called The Lighthouse something-or-other. That’s what I need to do before I leave the eastern seaboard, I realized. I need to go see a lighthouse.

I stopped at a place called The Pantry Café for lunch, and carried in my map to search for lighthouses.

The Pantry sounds and looks like a bare-bones country diner, but fancies itself to be a bit higher-class. I ordered something like an antipasto sandwich, which came with a salad and did not come with Dr Pepper. I had already given up hope of finding any form of Dr Pepper in Maine. The farther away I get from Dallas, the harder it is to find a place that carries Dr Pepper, to the point that Maine doesn’t even seem to carry it in convenience stores.

My map listed a Two Lights State Park along the coast near Portland. What else might the “Two Lights” refer to, if not lighthouses?

I asked the waitress about it. “I have no idea,” she replied. No one in the restaurant seemed to have any idea where I could find a lighthouse, though they were not far from the state park. As with most people, they don’t often check out tourist destinations near where they live.

I followed the arrows on the side roads that lead to the coast until I came to the entrance for Two Lights State Park. Then I drove right past the entrance, because another arrow pointed the way to “lighthouses”.

I pulled in to a gravel parking area at the dead end of a road that dies when it hits the Atlantic. A long, rocky finger of the shoreline stuck out into the ocean on the right-hand side of the road. A hill on the other side of the road one-upped it, jutting out into the ocean and hosting several houses, including the two lighthouses.

It was still raining, but only very slightly. The raindrops that did fall came in horizontally, as a stiff wind, probably 40 mph, roared in from the ocean.

As I put a windbreaker on over my leather jacket, two loud horn blasts came from a low mechanical building on my right. Fog-horn blasts, I guessed. It sounded like a trombone playing at the higher end of its range.

I walked out onto the jumble of long, flat rocks, that almost looked like the broken remains of huge petrified logs. The strong wind brought with it an even stronger series of waves, beasts at least as tall as me that crashed onto the rocks and advanced far up the seaward side of the point. The scene was almost frightening. I like getting on the water, so I could imagine what it would be like to have my kayak out there. My kayak is pretty well impossible to sink, so I figured it would survive such a trip. I, however, would not.

The foghorn again let out its two blasts. I started to time it, and found that it sounded its double warning every 60 seconds. It was loud, but I wondered how much good it would actually do. Today, even in the rain, you could see much farther than I thought the sound would carry, especially against the wind.

Plus, you had the two lighthouses, though only one of them was lit. I wondered why there were two lighthouses, especially when one of them seemed unnecessarily far from the water.

I came across a photographer on the rocks, and later a young couple out for a walk. All three of them said that they lived in the area, near Portland. I asked them if they knew the reason behind the duplicate lights. The photographer had no clue, but the young couple did have at least that.

“I think they were built at different times,” the couple replied. “That one was built first,” the woman informed me, indicating the more distant lighthouse—the one that seemed to be out of commission. So, perhaps the story here is an old lighthouse, and its replacement.

“They’re private property now,” they continued. “Someone lives in the house next to that one”—the newer, functional lighthouse.

Nice. Not many people get to live in a lighthouse. And they keep the light lit, which I imagine they don’t have to do.

I snapped photos as I explored to the end of the rocky point. The rough sea was producing a lot of sea foam, which seemed a nearly solid substance. The wind blew little chunks of foamthrough the air, like some strange snowball fight.

I walked over to the calmer, leeward side of the rocky point. I started to climb down to the water’s edge, but then the sea attacked and stopped my advance.

You don’t mess with the ocean if it doesn’t want to be messed with.

The rain picked back up as I headed inland to New Hampshire. My one headlight combined with the rain combined with the afternoon darkness combined with a curvy road combined with a fair amount of oncoming traffic produced a bad recipe for me to drive in. When I finally saw a hotel, and especially one that advertised “Jolly good rooms”, I had to stop in to check it out.

“Do you have jolly good rooms here?” I asked the woman in the office.

“Why, yes we do!” replied the cheerful woman, in an accent that was decidedly not from the “New” England.

“Are you from across the pond?”

“Yes, I am”, she laughed. “I married someone from New Hampshire, and ended up over here.”

She showed me a room, which was jolly good, but more than I preferred to pay. I asked if this was the only hotel around, and she cheerfully replied that there was another one a mile or two down the road, and volunteered that it was “normally a bit cheaper than us.”

I told her that I needed to check out my options first, and get my bearings. She volunteered a free map before I left, explaining some of the sights to see nearby.

I noticed, on the map, an odd circular mountain range that the road I was on curved around. A ring mountain, the British lady informed me, though I haven’t found that term listed in many online sources. It’s the remains of an old volcano, or so she thought she had heard.

I continued on to a campground hidden a few miles off the main road. A man saw me drive up and met me in the office.

“What can I help you with?” he asked.

“I was wondering how much it cost to camp here, with a tent.”

“Oh, you want to camp here tonight?”

His response confused me for a second. This is a campground, right? According to the signs, it was used for overnight camping, and nothing else.

“For a tent, that would be $25.00”, he informed me.

Ah, how cute. He thinks I would pay $25 for a muddy spot of ground on which to set up a tent, in the rain, in the dark?

I drove back out to the other hotel in town, which certainly did not have “jolly good rooms.” But, the rooms were bloody decent enough, and were considerably cheaper than the British place. I stopped there for the evening, and saved the driving for daylight.

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