There really for me is no better time to travel than autumn. So, until winter officially arrives 20 days hence, memories of my mid-October trek through New York and onto Maine remain strong.
So, I’ll let you ride along with Lady Jane and me for our 2,700-mile traverse through six states that may just give you a few ideas for your future wanderings.
With lots of goodies packed in the cooler, an absolute essential for any successful fall road trip so I’m ready for those fine picnic-table moments under the brilliant hues of those deciduous trees, we were ready. Our first 465-mile leg took us through the rest of Ohio, through Pennsylvania and into New York for a slumbering layover in Rochester before making the short 165-mile drive to Cooperstown, the beautiful village synonymous with baseball excellence and a stopover gift to me from Jane, the travel agent.
Jane explored the town and especially the lakeshore area of the beautiful Otsego Lake, a body of water author James Fenimore Cooper called “Glimmerglass” in his novel “The Deerslayer,” while I plunked down my $25 and commenced my sixth visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The visit encompassed almost four hours of looking at exhibits and enshrinement plaques, reading the printed words and listening and viewing film clips that tell the story of America’s most historically important game.
While many, like that pretty blonde chatting it up outside with her new friends, could care less about the actual home plate from Ebbetts Field, the site of the first professional baseball game ever televised on Aug. 26, 1939, or shortstop Ozzie Smith’s six-fingered glove or Joe Morgan’s microscopically small glove he used to win his position’s Gold Glove Award for five straight years for the Cincinnati Reds, such things matter greatly to me.
Before heading to the hotel, we strolled through town and looked in every direction at a town all in on baseball, including some of the pumpkins we saw painted white with the red stitches to make them resemble slightly misshapen baseballs.
The next day it was back on the road and onto the annoying New York State Thruway. As for the annoyance, well, it wasn’t the volume of traffic. I’m pretty used to that since I spend a lot of time working in Columbus and navigating the heavily traveled 275 outer belt. The source of my consternation was the toll system.
Listen, I’ve always been a pay-as-I-go kind of fella. Those who know me well, like Lady Jane, will tell you that I will instantly write a check to cover a bill literally minutes after I pluck it out of the mailbox and then get in my car and drive it to a mailbox. The way the toll system now works in New York is there are no more toll booths on the Thruway, either manned or unmanned. Rather, motorists, at quite regular intervals, will drive under what are called tolling gantries above the highway, and as each car whizzes underneath, cameras will snap the license plate.
A yellow sign precedes each gantry admonishing the motorist to call **826 on a mobile phone to receive a link where each motorist will fill out a form with license plate information and a credit card number that will be charged each gantry and a bill sent a month or more later.
My thought is, if “the man” must charge me for the convenience of driving over a road or crossing a bridge, at least have the decency to put a toll booth up and take the money right away. Now, you’ll note I said “if” because my feeling regarding tolls has never wavered. As I’m sure many of my weekly readers have, I’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars in estimated quarterly taxes for many, many years now, so much in fact, that I feel there shouldn’t be a road or a bridge anywhere in this entire country for which I should have to pay.
Unfortunately, once we crossed into Massachusetts, the Mass Pike had those same tolling gantries, with the only difference being no registration was needed. There was a sign before each gantry that indicated a bill would be sent. Obviously, once they snap that photo of your license plate, they can surely find you.
While the tolls didn’t go away once we crossed into New Hampshire, at least there were actual toll manned booths, which made it a bit less annoying paying my occasional two or three dollars. As for the bills from New York and Massachusetts, well, I’m still waiting.
Once we crossed over into Maine, we got to the real meat of our weeklong travel sandwich. From Portland to Bucksport to Bar Harbor and nearby Acadia National Park to Boothbay Harbor to Camden to Millinocket and nearby Baxter State Park and on to our last stop in Bangor, wonderfully, not one toll was I expected to pay.
In the next couple of weeks, just under the autumnal wire, I’ll give you my prose snapshots of beautiful Maine.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a division of AIM Media Midwest, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at [email protected]