We left Portland, Maine at 9:15 AM Monday, January 3rd, headed for my friend Bruce on Long Island, NY. I was quite happy with our departure time – only 15 minutes later than I wanted to get started. The weather was cold and crisp. Weak sun gave over to more clouds, but all in all not a bad beginning to our adventure.
We had a 3 PM reservation on the ferry from New London, CT to Orient Point, Long Island, so I needed to stay focused on “getting there” on time. As luck and the travel gods would have it, we arrived in New London by 1 PM, so I went directly to the ferry terminal hoping there might be an earlier boat. No such luck – but I was given the first spot in lane 4!
First on, first off, I thought…
We bundled up, locked the car, and headed along the waterfront, across the railroad tracks, and into the quaint streets of New London in search of some exercise for the puppy and some lunch for me. By now, the sun had returned, and though there was a brisk north wind, it was a really pleasant afternoon.
After walking around a few blocks, looking at different places that were a) OPEN, and b) Possible Lunch Spots, I headed back to a little place called The Beanery where I got a tall latté and a fabulous turkey, avocado, cheddar and red onion panini to eat in the car.
The folks there were really nice – when they saw Max tied to the front door, they said, “Bring him inside! We are DOG FRIENDLY!” So, in he came, and charming fella that he is, he proceeded to make friends all around. Even SAT real pretty in hopes of some sort of yummy reward!
Shortly after finishing my sandwich, it was time to board the ferry. When I looked in my rearview mirror, I was shocked at how many cars were lined up! I was NOT first on…
For Max’s first trip on a boat, it was pretty good. He behaved well, only barking a few times – and then only to get the attention of one of the other dogs. He never really settled down; spending all but the last 10 minutes of the trip going from one end of the row of seats we were in to the other to check out his canine fellows. Finally, he climbed into the end seat and lay down – too big to really fit the seat, he rested his body on it, with his front paws on the floor!
As we drove off the ferry into Orient Point about 4:35 PM the western sky was breathtaking and I’m embarrassed to say that I did NOT stop for a photo when I saw a perfect shot! I admit it. I didn’t stop! There was a line of cars behind me from the ferry and only the one two lane road… What can I say? (I’ll be better. I promise.)
I have to tell you though that when I saw the sign at the exit from the ferry parking lot that welcomed me to New York, I almost burst into tears. At the sight of those words, I felt the enormity of what I’m doing. I felt as if I had left my homeland and embarked on a journey to another country, maybe even another continent. And that sign, after the hours of driving, and the ferry across Long Island Sound, went straight to my heart.
By the time I got to Bruce’s house in East Quogue it was dark, so I had no idea exactly where he lived, what the neighborhood looked like, how close he is to the water, etc. etc. etc. Next day, we three got into my car (after I cleared out the front passenger seat for Bruce) and he took us on a tour from East Quogue to Montauk Point. What a fun day!
We got out at the Montauk Point lighthouse (which was gated and inaccessible) and walked the dog off-leash down to the shore. High clouds, and a stiff north wind didn’t deter Max from bounding off away from us. “He’s already at the water,” said Bruce just as Max came back and leapt all around us, big goofy grin on his face.
We had lunch in Montauk at the Shagwong, a place Bruce says has been around for a long time. Lots of local color. Excellent flounder sandwiches, fries, and coffee helped take the chill off. The place has the same feel as the old Fisherman’s Friend Restaurant in Stonington, ME. Fishermen in their rubber boots, a loud old salt already three sheets to the wind at one in the afternoon added the finishing touch.
I decided to push on Tuesday afternoon after our fun tour with Bruce, thinking I could beat some crazy morning traffic. Thought I’d get deep into New Jersey before I’d need to find a bed for the night. Turned out to be a poor decision.
Old faithful GPS – what am I going to call her? She needs a name (help me out here, people!). She was doing well leading me towards the Verrazano Narrows Bridge – until we got near the exit for JFK airport, and she put me n surface streets. We were over an hour going less than five miles as we got stopped at every second or third traffic light.
By the time I got through and over the bridge, I was wiped out. It was after 6 PM, and I knew that my little friend was probably ready to get out and stretch his long legs. We stopped at the first service area in New Jersey. After a little walk about, and some watering of shrubbery, I checked the trusty iPhone for places to stay.
YIKES!! Nobody would take a dog. EXCEPT for Hampton Inn in Woodbridge. At a steep premium. A non-refundable deposit for the dog. How can a deposit be non-refundable? Why not call it what it is? A cleaning fee. He’s NOT a dirty dog.
At first, I thanked her and hung up, saying “I don’t think I’m going to do that.” Then, I spent the next 15 minutes or so looking for hotels in the area, calling, asking, being told “No Dogs.” And I finally just drove to Hampton Inn and sucked it up.
What can I say? For the money – the room was fabulous. King bed, lots of space, nice bathroom, first floor easy access. Not to mention, that the young ladies on the front desk went gaga over Max! When I checked in, Julie said, “If you get bored later, bring your dog down here to meet me. I love dogs!”
So, after we got our stuff in the room and he had eaten his supper, I walked him to the lobby. Man, oh man! The curly celebrity had arrived!!
Julie, Melissa and a Laurence Fishburne look-alike all went crazy for the puppy. And Max? Let’s just say that all his good manners went right out the window as he wagged his way between Laurence’s legs, licked every which way to Sunday, jumped up on the counter – and the girls. Totally out of control… (let’s hope that our trainer doesn’t read this one! Sorry Diana!)
This morning, we headed out to find Starbucks before going south on the New Jersey Turnpike / I-95. Another ordeal of missed turns, going way out of the way, and lots of U-turns, for a good 15 minutes before I finally made the correct turn and got to Starbucks – which was less than a mile from our hotel! By the time I parked and went inside, I had put almost 12 miles on the car! (Another little embarrassment…)
Fueled with good caffeine, ready to put some miles behind us, we got on the turnpike and set the cruise control at 68. And cruise we did. South through Jersey, over the Delaware River into Delaware, and on to Maryland. I had a plan today: I-95 to 695 bypassing Baltimore and Washington, to I-70, to I-81.
When we got to Newark, Maryland I found a grocery store and got some fruit and granola bars. Then, using a great app on the iPhone called “Around Me” I found the Iron Hill Park and took us there. What a score! Nice wooded park with a playground, and a fenced dog area! AND two dogs already there playing.
I didn’t even need the leash – Max stayed with me, sniffing the ground, oblivious to the dogs and the play area until we were about 12 feet away. We played for about a half hour, until everyone else agreed it was too cold for them so they packed up their dogs to go home. Max and I stayed behind for a minute, and he followed them along the fence as they went up the path – barking and leaping as if to say, “Hey! Wait a minute! You can’t leave NOW. We’re just getting started!”
So, back into the car and down the road we went. As the afternoon wore on, I stopped in a rest area to see if I could find a Red Roof Inn close by – and was lucky enough to get one in Williamsport, MD, at the junction of I-70 and I-81! Perfect! Price is right, room is fine (although certainly not as nice as last night), and puppy is sleeping on the bed. Thank you, iPhone!
Tomorrow, we head south again to High Point, NC and our friends Katy and Scott, and their dogs Hershey and Luly.