The Big Trip

Day Eleven - Churchton to Raleigh

Churchton, Maryland - 8:10 a.m. Awaken to sound of scurrying paws. Maggie and Victor. Sharon's tabby housemates and expert luggage furriers. (Notably Vic, who worked his tail off to "fuzz" my black suitcase with little yellow hairs.) Sleeping surface was a living-room futon, unfurled and quite comfortably cooled by one, lone window unit.
(So effective, in fact, that Yours Hot-Blooded reached for a quilt in the wee hours!) Sharon wakes at same time. She lounges; I finish writing what was halted around 2 a.m. 11:00 a.m. Take scenic route to Annapolis, in and around Anne Arundal county, an explosively green, exceptionally well-hydrated potpourri of working marinas, expensive waterfront homes, and rural Maryland farmland.


The Southern Part Of Anne Arundal - Sharon's house is in "South County" and is the third one from the community dock on the Chesapeake Bay. (I know, crappy location.) Run around corner to get film; return to dock; snap 360 standing at end. Learn Chesapeake is Indian for "great shellfish bay." Duck into Deale; schlep around crowded (but empty at this hour) commercial marina. Also find firehouse. In fact, keep passing-- or being passed by-- fire units. Ambulances here, an Engine Company there. 11:50 a.m. Big K, for more film. No tanks tops needed. Did laundry last night. Plus, choosing not to expose Sharon to my sexy, hairy, Greek-American chest. [Sharon: "To which I am thankful." ] Also find a trio of newly-released Simpsons action figures: Barney, Chief Wiggum, and Ned "Howdy Ho" Flanders. (The latter includes such accessories as a miniature, Bible-looking book and a chef's cap lettered the "Bishop of BBQ!") 

If I Won The Lottery - A common expression, usually used when describing what we'd really like to be doing with our lives. You know, "I work as a proctology assistant, butt, if I won the lottery, I'd move to the coast and study frogs." And an expression that begs the response: "so what are you waiting for?" Now, the "lottery wish" presumes that instant wealth is merely the least-resistant path to enablement. Such as, say, learning to play the timpani by dropping everything, moving to New York, enrolling in Julliard, and undergoing the necessary training. What instant wealth isn't is a magic lantern. Rubbing a pile of money cannot make you instantly smarter, stronger, happier, healthier, taller, thinner, more talented, or suddenly immune to death and taxes. (Though I've heard that high-priced plastic surgery can go a long way for one or two of those things!) Until recently, my lottery wish was to "ride around the country, seeing fire stations, meeting people, taking pictures, and writing about all of it." 

Well, I Just Finished Doing That - Ten days on the road, with nothin' to do but experience things and write about those experiences. (And, not surprisingly, gravitating toward malls and fire stations and laptop connections.) Don't know, though, if this'll remain my wish. Home is sure sweet. As are routines. Movie-going. Movie reviewing. Obsessing over slight changes in display case-placement of die-cast fire trucks. As people, as opposed to amoebae, we're also comforted by local acquaintances, familiar surroundings, and those friends and/or family members we see every day, week, or whenever. Hell, comfort can be no more complicated than the privilege of driving our own car! I may have satiated my see/shoot/write wanderlust for the time being. May have. Plus, I still have an awfully long "laundry list" of other Things To Be Done Before Dying. Like publish a book. Or write another 1000 movie reviews. Or even open a fire memorabilia museum. After all, most anything is possible.
Man Walks Into a Restaurant- 12:20 p.m. West Annapolis fire station with a gleaming, white, Pierce aerial-platform parked out front. Plus a prison conveniently next door. (Sharon parks near Inmate Receiving.) 12:35 p.m. Acquire rental car for final leg, to be stretched later. Dodge something. $89. Hertz. But only when I laugh. Also a computer-less Hertz, so time is taken for contract to be completed by hand. Geek glasses still in effect, when indoors. Also labeled across front, now in red letters on white: (broken). 1:05 p.m. Annapolis Park in Eastport. Eat lunch at fancy-ish (though reasonably priced), waterfront trough called Carrol's Creek. And where nobody appears to be smiling. Sharon takes the first of several (cell) phone calls from work. I ask the waiter for a "pen and some cocktail napkins to write on."



Gilligan, Can't You See It's A Trap? - Order elaborate porky chop entree, described as "resting on a bed of gingered mashed-potatoes and covered with a mound of red cabbage." I ask if chef can curb his or her aesthetic tendencies and just gimme the chop with fries on the side. Later delivered as ordered, though not on separate plates. Rrrrrr. Borrow phone book from hostess. Look for toy stores. Walk to other side of harbor via drawbridge.
Companion scratches head as I photograph warning devices. Stroll past yacht clubs, some with guard booths! I affect temporary Thurston Howell accent. Dock-walk for a while. Sharon plays tour guide the whole time. That is, in-between answering phone calls. I merrily, merrily snap along, shooting 3 or 4 rolls total. Right when we reach a fireboat (maybe a 25 footer, raised out of the water), Rescue Hose Company #1 swings by. Yellow pumper, there to retrieve air packs for scheduled maintenance. Sharon takes credit for the timing. Grab ice cream at local shop. Sugar coma hits within half-hour.



Get In Me Belly! - 4:00 p.m. Water taxi, after walking both Main Street and several side ones. Didn't stop any at stores. Great view of nearby Naval Academy complex from boat. I shoot while Sharon, a former water taxi "driver" herself, catches up with the captain. 










 4:30 p.m. Annapolis Mall, to walk off afternoon "sleepies" and stop at comic-book and collectibles store. At long last, or at least since Seattle, I find the special nine-inch Fat Bastard figure from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. (Dreadful movie; memorable character.)  5:10 p.m. Barnes and Noble, roughly around the corner, for last-minute book fix. Also there to show Sharon series of transportation enthusiast picture books. (She's a boat, ship, and truck aficionado. See for more about the books.) I also poke my head and entire body into Zany Brainy and Tower Records. (At Sharon's suggestion, I'm leaving late, so the Beltway isn't so bad.) Say goodbye. Give hug. Give momento that I purchased at Toys 'R' Us, pocket-sized replica of red Chevy Suburban, lettered for Miami Fire Department. She likes.

The Original Big Drive - Sharon also drove across the country. Ten thousand miles in June of 1997, in-between being an undergrad at the University of Maryland (double major, Biochem and Marine Biology) and a grad student at Duke (Fisheries Management). For four weeks she tooled around in a 1992, forest-green, stick-drive, 65K-already Chevy Blazer. 'Twas also her first Really Long Trip. (Prior was Annapolis to Key West.) Slept in her truck, with occasional campground or hotel room. Her route started north to Illinois, west through the Dakotas, up to the Pacific Northwest, down the coast of California, and finally due east on I-40. (The five things she liked the most: the badlands; Devil's Tower; Blue Mounds State Park in Minnesota; feeling great after getting over the loneliness; hiking the Grand Canyon.) Sharon is the same age, size, and height. (Though, ah, with different proportions). Her hair is blonde, her eyes are some color, and her hobbies include boating, country dancing, and driving around in that fire engine-red Dodge Durango of hers. 

Listening While Driving - 6:10 p.m. On the road, one last time. Another 250-ish miles to go. Four hours, if I floor it. Four hours, till indulgence ends and "real life" resumes. Traffic on the Beltway is fine, if aggressive, until the I-95 merge. That is, until three miles before the I-95 merge. Later and farther south, the pace picks up. Still an amazing volume of traffic, but the average speed is high. 75 or 80. Radio stations suck-- and surprisingly so, for such a huge metropolitan area-- so car's CD player is put into use. See, my preference for LWD is talk radio. And only those hosts or shows that are personal favorites. If that's not available, then gimme music of my choice. Ten or twenty CDs from the collection. And if those aren't available, I'll revert to either random radio music or a less-favorite talk program. Hence the purchase of two portable players on this trip. 

Life Resumes Anew - Two hours taken to Richmond; dinner 20 miles north, in some smaller town. Cracker Barrel again. Laptop open while picking at honey-baked ham, double dumplings, one-point-five corn muffins, and a Diet Coke. Remaining ride dull as Hell. Total darkness. Total radio-station suckage. None of my thirteen new CDs is "just right," either. Get gas in Henderson, North Carolina. 11:10 p.m. Mercifully, a scratchy 'PTF signal breaks through, breaking boredom with Dr. Dean Edell. (Medical information and answers.) 11:55 p.m. Pull into driveway. Route was easy. Took I-85 to US 1, south. House is six blocks west of highway, just before US 1 crosses I-440. Felix the Cat sleepily greets. Unload rental car. Fire off mail message. Then walk around house in amazement, at size, smell, floor colors, and room decor of the Place I Call Home. Wow. I'd, like, totally forgotten how way-cool the "pad" is. But that's half the purpose of travel, no? Both to see new things and re-see the old ones. Guess I passed with flying colors. 

Total mileage today: 296 

Total damn mileage total: 4075 

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros


Search Mike Legeros

Spot an error on this page? Please let me know, just click my name below...

Copyright 2020 by Michael J. Legeros