Headin’ South; Observations

After a couple of days in Ithaca, including some good dinners with Rachael and Brian, a trip to the Chevy dealer for routine maintenance on Big ‘Un and a haircut (finally – between Keene, NH and Ithaca NY I was 0 for 6 trying to get a walk-in haircut) I headed south on Saturday, retracing much of my original route through Corning, NY, Williamsport, PA, etc. Actually, the most colorful foliage yet was between Watkins Glen and Corning. It was overcast all day and drizzly most of it, but the leg terminated safely at a Cracker Barrel in Winchester, VA in the northwest corner of VA. In the stretch of about 30 miles you hit 4 states: PA, WV, MD and VA.

Cracker Barrel is one of those places that sometimes permit RVs to park overnight. This is the first time I’ve done it and it worked out OK once I got the rig parked. Then an early supper in Cracker Barrel and time to hole up in the rig. The etiquette when using a freebie parking lot is to not act like your staying: don’t unhook the trailer from the truck, don’t use the slideouts, don’t make noise by running the A/C, etc. Fortunately it was cool enough the A/C wasn’t needed. It is a bit cramped inside with the slide outs not extended, but I did some reading, fell asleep on the couch then went to bed. It makes for an easy getaway in the morning, after a Cracker Barrel breakfast, of course.

While in New England there were a couple of road signs that had me scratching the old coconut. As I was driving into Fryeburg, ME the welcoming sign sign proclaimed proudly that it was the oldest town in Oxford County. That’s worth a sign? Think the marketing department worked overtime on that one? This was on a Monday morning and there was quite a traffic jam on both roads into town. I stopped in at the Maine visitor center (this place is right on the border to NH) and asked about the traffic jam. Turns out it was in the midst of the weeklong Fryeburg Fair and that morning was the lumberjack competition. But for the traffic I might have stuck around and checked that out, but I was off to the White Mountains.

Here’s another sign: a diamond shape yellow caution sign with the words “thickly populated”. Huh? Why not “heavily populated”, or “beware of folks” or a picture like a deer crossing sign with people leaping over the road? Thickly populated. Is it any wonder about our natural human concern for our Yankee brethren? Bless their hearts.

Is Florida known for fried chicken? In Pennsylvania there was a sign touting a joint serving “Florida Fryed Chicken”. Now Florida is known for many things, bad spelling perhaps being near the top of the list, but fried chicken? Never heard of it.

Passing from PA into MD brought a moment of unexpected bliss. No later than 1 minute after crossing the Mason-Dixon Line I saw a sign for Waffle House. There followed a feeling of such calm and serenity, enough to bring repose to the most tortured soul. There’s no place like home no matter how broadly defined.

Granted, most of my travel recently has been in rural areas. But I gotta say, the Trump signs WAY outnumber the Hillary signs.

Today’s drive brought me to Fries, VA. It was a beautiful day and most of the drive was on I-81, then I-77. Good bit of traffic, and one thing I noticed is that the state rest stops were all very crowded, especially with big trucks. Maybe they stop more often these days to answer texts and emails? The last few miles were a bit hairy, though: winding narrow roads, as Fries (pronounced like freeze) is one of those places you can’t get to unless you’re going there. It’s just a few miles north of the NC border and not far from TN either. It’s  small RV park snug up against a babbling brook.


Close observation will reveal a few leaves retreating before autumn’s onslaught:


Serenity abounds, one might say, buttressed by this long-awaited sight today, after wandering helplessly for weeks in the Dunkin’ Donuts wilderness:






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