Day One

I packed the car and loaded Bella (my dog) up to drop her at the Barking Lot (doggy daycare) on my way. I entered the first destination into Waze. I never used Waze before, so there were some adjustments I was going to need to make. I had to stop after a few minutes to make sure it was running because it wasn’t saying anything. It turns out this is normal, if you are going the right way it doesn’t say anything. I liked the idea, other GPS’s can get annoying. I know the way to Scranton so it wouldn’t be a big deal if Waze didn’t work out. After about 3 hours I made to Scranton and Waze starts directing me to my first rest stop, city hall. Once in the city I discover the first thing about Waze that I don’t like, it doesn’t give me enough warning before a turn so it is easy miss the turn. It was no big deal, just I circled the block. Once I arrived, it just said we are here, not on the left, not on the right, just here and can we do it again (I had chosen the dog personality when I set it up, that could have been a mistake). It directed me to a parking lot, told me I was here and I didn’t see anything that looked like the historic city hall. No sweat, I put in the address for the Scranton Iron works and headed out again. Waze had me drive around in circles for a while but I finally arrived. I spent about 20 minutes walking around the 19th century blast furnaces that were used to make the rails that were used to build most of the railroads.

The Scranton Iron Works

I entered Gettysburg as my next stop into Waze and headed south on I81 and should have been there in two and a half hours. I was getting use to the PT Cruiser and started going a little faster. After a couple of hours I noticed a sign for Gettysburg without Waze telling me to exit the highway. I assumed Waze was going to take me a on a better route. After another 20 minutes and still no word from Waze I pulled of the highway and discovered Waze had crashed. I started it back up only to discover Gettysburg was 40 minutes away and would have to backtrack. Two strikes against Waze (see my anti-social media/smartphone rant). I don’t have time to go back, so I enter my new destination and place the phone on the seat so I can make sure Waze hasn’t crashed again (it will).

Next stop was Ralph Sampson Park in Harrisonburg, VA. I made good time and it had started to rain. I parked next to what I thought were soccer fields. Turns out that they are futsal courts. I’m not sure the connection between an NBA star and futsal happen to be. I walked around in the drizzle looking for basketball courts, I spotted some at the bottom of the hill, but they seemed to be on the school property and not the park.

Back on the road and heading for my destination for the day, Roanoke, VA. I entered the address for Sweet Donkey Coffee into Waze and headed south on I81. I feel fine but I’m getting a little tired so I speed up a little more and the car seems to handle it. Much to my surprise I81 doesn’t go through Roanoke but was a 20 minute detour off the highway. I follow Waze through a maze of commercial and residential streets and suddenly it says I have arrived. I don’t see a coffee shop, just houses, I still have about 45 minutes before it closes and I’m not giving up so easy. I stop a few minutes later and start again. Waze brings me back to same spot again and I realize that the big house on the corner is the coffee shop. I go in and get a single shot, nice shop, friendly staff and a decent shot.

Back in the car and off to dinner at Montano’s International Gourmet. I prefer to eat at the bar when I’m alone so I can have someone to talk with or at worst a TV to stare at. It turns out that I hit the jackpot, this is a very popular place with locals. I have a long talk with James sitting next to me at the bar. He is retired 82nd airborne now working for the VA. He lets me know he is a member of the GOP and I let him know that I’m Yankee liberal Democrat. We got along well and I impressed on him how much we agree about. The real star of the night was Kelley the bartender, she is a real ballbuster and called me “Kacky”. When I asked her what that meant she said it was because of my Boston accent. I really enjoyed her banter, she abused everyone, not just me. After I had the fish and chips she handed me the desert menu. I pointed at the pistachio gelato and asked if it was good, she said no and pointed at the lemon cake. I ordered it and got her back when she wanted to know if I liked it, I was talking James and kept ignoring her. I finally let on that it was good. After James left I started talking the two guys on my right. They introduced themselves as a convicted felon (Jimmie) and his probation officer. Turns out they are developers (of what they didn’t say) and the felon has been trying to marry Kelley for nine years. I told them my story and at first they thought I was nuts but came to understand that it was a great adventure. They both had been to Connecticut before, the probation officer had visited his great uncle that lived on a cliff in a log cabin somewhere in New Haven (from the description I guess somewhere in the East Rock area). The felon was a partner in the original Papa John’s Pizza when it was called PTA and visited the franchise in Milford. We talked about Bella for about 15 minutes. We walked out together and he mentioned something about being a felon again. I said I was OK with a felon that had paid his debt to society and that some people might even vote for him. The probation officer stopped smiled at me and told me to be careful and the told the felon that I was one of them.

Sweet Donkey Coffee
The Lemon Cake

I finished the day in the Motel 6 in Salem, VA, it was a half hour drive from Roanoke. I guess I should have been a little more precise in planning my stops, more about this later.

North Haven, CT to Salem, VA
632 Miles