Happy post-Fourth of July. I hope you enjoyed what scraps of freedom you have left in these strange and parlous times.
Although I left New England, I had further adventures and observations.
In one day, my companion and I crossed five states. By road.
Which sounds pretty impressive until you realize the states in that part of the world are scaled for Ken and Barbie. Did you know Delaware is 35 miles wide at its widest point (nine at its narrowest) and contains only three counties? I knew the states in the upper corner of the U.S. could be small, but until I crossed them (and crossed them again and again because one keeps turning into another), I could not have pictured.
This is what a real state looks like, people:
On another day, we traversed three mountain ranges.
Impressive! How intrepid! My god, what a legendary trek! We should be in the books with Roald Amundsen, John Muir, or Admiral Byrd.
Um, well, not so much, given that the “mountains” were the Berkshires, Catskills, and Poconos. Mountains? Are you people up there in the corner serious?
But let me not denigrate. SOME things in these parts were as impressive as anything I’ve seen in my life. This, for instance:
Not an art gallery, but a private home I was fortunate enough to be invited into, which contains what may be the world’s largest collection of a certain style of art. You’re looking at a dining room that seats 32 (usually always family members, not VIPs) and only maybe 10% of the overall collection. My companion and I spent most of a day there being treated like royalty by some of the nicest, kindest, most loving, most extraordinary people we’d ever met.
I’ve obscured details to protect privacy. But this was a wow on a scale unprecedented for little peasant me.
Other wows on the trip included lots of art by members of the great Wyeth clan, their extended family members, students, teachers, and far-flung connections.
I spent much time in the kind of places referred to as “leafy suburbs” — the kind that rarely admit We the Peasants unless we’re driving garbage trucks or arriving to put an addition on their homes (but that treated me more than kindly this time around). When I joked to one of my hosts that the only thing missing from their place was a small herd of thoroughbred mares and colts gamboling across the back acreage, they pointed out that the neighbors had those.
Oh, and I enjoyed another lobster roll, even better than the last. I’d have taken another picture, but I was too busy shoving precious lobster and toasted, buttered bun down my gullet. I’m usually a slow and polite eater, but not when it comes to my new favorite treat.
This lobster roll (oddly enough to this non-New Englander) came from some divey little burger stand that looked as if it hadn’t been updated since 1955. I guess that’s a New England thing — serving fancy seafood in the un-fanciest of locations — but it sure surprised me. Between the treat I ordered, a single soft drink, and the clams my companion scarfed down, lunch for two, served in the standard little red-checked paper throwaway baskets and eaten on sticky tables outside, napkins optional, cost $97 — which fortunately I did not have to pay.
Yes, many, many unprecedented experiences for me.
My next blog entry will be something beyond a travelogue. Promise. In the meantime it was nice to get away, see parts of the world I’ve never seen, and remember that the U.S. has a storied past and (in places) a prosperous present, even if it is plunging heedlessly toward a cliff.