I was born and bred in Massachusetts. Therefore, I feel I am fully entitled to growl loudly as I drive alone on the interstate, “Use your blinkah!”

I’m fresh off six hours in my car. I journeyed from central Maine to Rhode Island, which should have taken no more than four and a half hours. It was a trip full of growling, because everybody wanted to switch into what they thought was the fastest lane, as if 10 mph rather than 8 mph really makes a difference. Nobody used their directional signals.

I’d gone to see my sister and her family, and yes, my ordeal was worth it. But six hours in the car gives a solo driver plenty of time to think. And stew. It also gave me ample opportunity to down a liter of water and eat an entire organic chocolate chip scone.

I have a rule against eating while driving, but I wasn’t really driving. I was just inching along in Milton. And Revere. And Seabrook.

Crawling along, I ate and drank and listened to Latin pop music at a high volume. Except when I decided that dead silence was better. It made for more enlightened stewing.

I was elated when I finally reached New Hampshire and its welcome area because of all that water I drank. Alas, the parking lot was so full I wasn’t sure I’d find a parking space. And if I did, how long was I going to have to wait for the ladies’ room?


So I soldiered on to the plaza in Kennebunk, which has much bigger facilities. Whew.

I used to consider myself a road warrior. My husband, Paul, and I moved to Maine in 1986, but our families were still back in southern New England. That meant many visits home, especially as our parents aged. We logged many miles on I-295, 95, 93, etc.

During the ice storm of 1998, I packed up our Dodge Caravan with two dogs and two cats, so I could stay with my mother in southeastern Massachusetts. I was a school librarian, and there was no school. But Paul was a newspaper reporter and was busy covering the storm. I didn’t think twice about taking that February trip. Of course, by then I was exhausted from four days without power and I was craving one of Mom’s home-cooked meals.

Summer trips to get our parents and bring them back to Maine could be challenging with the traffic. I guess I was younger then. Also, most of my recent trips south have been on the Downeaster. There is no traffic on the Downeaster, and the bathroom is just down the aisle. I can sleep or read, two of my favorite activities. My rule about eating on a train is: Munch away. Unfortunately, the Downeaster was not an option for this trip.

So while I knew, from my previous experiences, that a weekend journey in August could be problematic, I ignored my anxieties. I hadn’t seen my sister in three years. It was time to get back into that car.

My trip down was smooth. I arrived earlier than expected, even including three breaks.


Trying to get back into Maine was the problem. Traffic was heavy on I-95 north south of Boston, and things slowed down where many cars were exiting for Cape Cod. Of course, I knew the real trouble was going to start on I-93.

Sure enough, I was soon averaging 8 mph. The Boston skyline tantalized me. Wouldn’t I love to swerve off and go for a swan boat ride in the Public Garden?

I tried to look on the bright side. I should enjoy, and be grateful for, the air conditioning in 87-degree heat. Slow traffic means fewer accidents. I was not the person who had been stopped by a cop and was now parked on the side of the road. I had the time to notice a red-tailed hawk sitting atop a utility pole.

I took another bite of scone.

Soon I was moving along at maybe 40. Then I noticed that the GPS was telling me to take the Tobin Bridge. Hmm, I thought. That was going to lead me to Route 1 through Revere and Saugus. Did I really want to do that?

Oh, well, too late. There I was zipping (relatively speaking) along the lower level of the bridge. But moments later I was well and truly stuck in traffic on Route 1.


Once again, I looked for the silver lining. I still had a quarter of the scone left. The AC was still working. At least there were diners and gas stations to look at. My ETA was still before dark.

It took about half an hour, but finally I was free. I was happy to realize I had avoided Route 128 in Waltham, always a terrifying experience.

Even as I motored along, though, residual memory was telling me trouble lurked in the vicinity of the New Hampshire tollbooths.

Yes, another half an hour of misery, but then I was finally back in Maine where, sometimes, at least north of Brunswick, you can have I-295 all to yourself for a few miles.

That, to me, is definitely the way life should be.

Liz Soares welcomes email at lizzie621@icloud.com.

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