Friday, July 27, 2012

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Part One

Howdy, Road-Tripperz!

While mired in my last creatively bankrupt, spiritually crippling job I used to count down the days until my next vacation.  But ever since I began my writing "career", trying to get me to take a break is harder then dragging Mr. Scott out of the engine room of the Enterprise to go on shore leave.

Still, when it came time for my better half to take vacation, I really wanted to reward her diligence by getting out of Dodge and exploring some uncharted territory.  After much hand-wringing and debate we finally struck upon the idea for a good, old-fashioned road trip.  But where to go?

We were quite keen on the idea of exploring the New England states but we didn't want to spend a lot of time in the city.  We looked at potential destinations in and around Boston and suddenly hit upon a place that both of us were fascinated with:


Why Salem?  Well, both of us have an acute interest in history and "the occult", for lack of a better term.   And, yes, it probably would have been more appropriate to go there in the Fall but we really didn't want to compete with a slew of like-minded yahoos.  

We literally made our accommodations the day before and then procured a GPS device to insure that we found it.  Then, at 8 AM the next morning, we hit the road and drove seven hours straight to Bangor, Maine.  

After checking into out hotel, our first stop was the home of renowned author Stephen King:

King lives in a surprisingly modest house in an absolutely idyllic neighborhood.  The only indication that one of the world's most talented fright-meisters resides inside is the batwing-n'-spider-web wrought iron gates that have been constructed to keep stalkerish weirdos like from getting in.  Curiously enough, though, the gate to the driveway was wide open when got there.  

"Well, clearly he saw us pull up and he's inviting us inside," I sez to the missus.

"If you take so much as one step towards that driveway, I'll call the cops myself," she replied, stone-faced.

"Look, it's okay!" I maintained.  "We'll just go inside, stroll around the grounds for a bit, dress up in some of his clothes and, hey, if we just so happen to run into him, well, that's just gravy.  As long we don't refer to ourselves as 'his greatest fans' we should be okay."

Yeah, she still wouldn't go for it.  Honestly, what a trespassing prude...             

Later that evening we enjoyed a lovely repast at The Olive Garden.  During the next two-hours of sinful caloric gluttony I couldn't help but take stock of our fellow diners.  A disproportionate amount of them were heavy-set folks who just kinda sat there, ignoring their table-mates and cramming an unlimited parade of bread sticks and pasta into their maws while staring off into the distance.  

Although it certainly wasn't like this everywhere, I did get the distinct impression that America is kinda feelin' a bit blue right now.  This is really sad to me because in the Forties and Fifties the United States was the new global Camelot.  It was a nation of brave, prosperous, bold, innovative people who were the envy by the world, even for green-eyed Europeans.  

After working closely with Americans over the years I know for a fact that their Middle Class (or whatever's left of it) is ridiculously overworked and criminally underpaid.  I think a lot of them hate their jobs and are clinically depressed.  This makes people sedentary and, as a result, they probably eat out quite a bit.  Honestly, compared to Halifax, I barely saw any dedicated grocery stores the whole time I was down there.

To paraphrase Yoda: "Eating out leads to obesity, obesity leads to depression, depression leads back to  being sedentary."  And trust me, I'm not just whistlin' Dixie when it comes to this vicious cycle.  Hell, I lived it for longer then I care to admit.  

I'll give you another example: we ate at Denny's the following morning for the first time ever.  The scene for our rite of passage was absolutely perfect.  The restaurant itself turned out to be a giant, chrome-hued, double-wide Airstream trailer with a red pick-up truck parked out front:

I mean, c'mon!  How effin' awesome is that?!
The tableau inside was even more Rockwellian.  There were kids sneaking peaks at State Troopers as if they were Jedi Knights, workaday folks planning their carpool logistics and seniors with mesh-backed, flair-encrusted baseball caps perched precariously atop their bald pates.  All of this, of course, was presided over by a waitress appropriately named "Sunny".

Thanks to Denny's human beings never again need make that soul-rending decision: 'Do I want a sweet breakfast or a savory breakfast?'  Are you leanin' towards scrambled eggs and hash browns?  Well, here's a side of pancakes.  Got a hankerin' for snausenges?  Okay, fine, but I'm throwin' in some pancakes.  Got an EMT-level craving for bacon?  Oh, you better believe you're gettin' pancakes all up in that bee-yotch.  

(OMG...I would totally eat the f#@k right outta this now...)            


This is all well and good but it also means that you're ingesting half of your daily allowance of calories even before you have "Elevenses".

After breakfast we went back to the hotel to check out.  As we were loading up the car, an intense-looking jackrabbit stopped by to see us off:

"I'll swallow your soul." 

Before heading on to Salem we made a point of exploring downtown Bangor.  One of the coolest shops I found was Top Shelf Comics on Central Street:

Although the shop-keep was a tad overprotective of his wares (everything, and I mean everything, was bagged), he did provide some pivotal clues which helped me track some of the first comic book I ever owned.  Despite the fact that we didn't quite zero in on what I was looking for (see next week's post), I still rewarded his diligence by picking up Swamp Thing Volume Five "Earth To Earth".  This is a tremendous collection of Alan Moore brilliance which features Swampy's legendary clash with a certain Gotham-based chiroptera-themed detective.

Anyone who thinks that Bangor is aesthetically bankrupt really needs to take a second look.  There's plenty of orderly streets, town pride, classic architecture and vintage Americana on display there...

Now, I don't want to make it sound as if the first leg of our trip was all cute bunnies, Ol' Glory and dollops of whipped cream.  When we pulled over for lunch at the West Gardiner Service Plaza we had a harrowing close encounter with some volatile wildlife.

On the way back to the car I noticed a moose hanging out close to the parking lot.  Since all of us Canadians are blessed with the inborn ability to psychically communicate with these noble animals (think Aquaman but with elk), I attempted to befriend the beast.  But as soon as I closed to within ten paces I realized, all too late, that this wasn't the sort of moose I was familiar with.  As fate would have it...we weren't the only creature on vacation.

It was that most rambunctious of creatures: the notorious Bostonian moose, who we all know are considerably more aggressive then their Canadian counterparts.  Needless to say, I was lucky to escape with my life.            

"Not in the crotch!!!   NOT IN THE CROTCH!!!"

Gotta love how my better half just stood there snapping pictures instead of maybe...oh...I dunno, RUNNING TO GET HELP.  Thanks, babe.

Well, after that near-death experience, we decided to keep our limbs (and the rest of our extremities) within the confines of the Ninjamobile as we made a bee-line straight for Salem.   

But that's a tale for another time...

EPIC   Seriously, I love this guy.  IMHO, the "rebuttal" video included by King is immediately  rendered moot due to the fact that it was made by a douche-nozzle.  Er, I mean...lobbyist.

E-PIC   Just a sneak preview for the awesomeness headed yer way next week...

FAIL  Duz this meen i kant hav nun moar gran slamz?   OK, sad now...  

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