The Left Arm Sunburn

The highway is for gamblers, better use your sense.

–Bob Dylan “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”

Some things I want to remember.  Other things I would rather forget.  Right now, I’m remembering very clearly a certain morning twenty-five months ago when Mariam and I drove along Marin Blvd. in Jersey City.  We saw a sign for the NJ Turnpike so we made a left and headed west for a few miles.  The next sign was for I-95 North–we made the right turn and then, after a short distance, we turned left and drove west into the hills of New Jersey on I-80.  We were beginning our road trip to Orting, WA–my new grandson Elias was waiting to see me for the second time.  I wrote blogs about that trip.  Many of you read them and, hopefully, liked them.

That was then.  This is now.

This time we turned south on I-95.  We’re off to the sands of the Fort Myers beaches.  Our road trip has truly begun.  This time, however, I won’t be seeing the highlands of Jersey from my rear view mirror.  Instead, I’ll be driving due south with the morning sun hard on my left.  It’s time to dig around for the SPF.  I once got a bad sunburn on that arm.  These are the rules of the road that hard-traveling ramblers like me must keep in mind.

Actually, when you’re driving along the NJ Turnpike, passing the airport on your right, IKEA on your left, there is a lot of things to keep in mind.

We’re heading through Orange where refineries still operate.  The power lines are everywhere.  There are enough EMF’s along this stretch of highway to blow out all the transistors in my GhostMeter.  This was once known as “Cancer Alley” because of the low quality of just about everything, air, water–you name it, that was a fact of life (and death) for so many Jerseyites.


I must apologize for now for the low quality of the two photographs that will accompany this blog.  It certainly isn’t Mariam’s fault in any way.  It’s just not easy to snap a high-quality photograph from a window of a Ford Escape while blazing along the Turnpike at 59 mph.  (Maybe I’ll spice up the illustrations with a sexy poster from the men’s room of the steak house where we had dinner last night.)

There is a certain relief that comes with finally being on the road after almost a week hanging out in a Manhattan hotel and having dinner with my son and his girlfriend. (See the blog about the N train in case you missed something).  Wait.  Did I really just write the sentence above?  Let me rephrase that.  Does anyone who truly “gets” New York City experience ‘relief’ when leaving?  Maybe, but not me.

Anyway, we only drove about 217 miles today.  Not much, but enough to settle into our roles–driver & navigator.  And just long enough to develop a sore lower back.

We crossed into Maryland and approached the Chesapeake Bay.  I knew what was ahead of me.  I handed Mariam my iPhone and asked her to get ready to take yet another snap from her window.

We’re nearly there…

“Mariam, don’t drop my phone out of the window.”

“Mariam, we’re here.  Get a shot.”

I glanced for a nano-second to my right.  There was the wide mouth of the Susquehanna River.  It was emptying into the Bay.  I sat in silence and held tight to the steering wheel.  This river began its course as a small stream, on a quiet street, under large trees and lovely white houses in Cooperstown, NY.  It’s waters also flowed slowly and with dignity past my backyard, about a hundred yards from the house where I grew up.

I felt a strange bond with the great mass of water that I saw for the briefest moment off to my right.


Do you see the narrow blue stretch of water?  I would have liked to have pulled over and gotten a nice photo, but the outcome of that would have led to a horrific crash and several fatalities, including mine and Mariam’s.  I didn’t think you, my readers, would want to live with that for the rest of your natural life.  Not simply for a photo of a river.

It’s getting dark now as I sit at this uneven black metal table, at site #614, here at Cherry Hill RV Park in College Park, Maryland.

I can barely see the carrot slices and plum tomatoes and blue cheese dip that is our appetizer for the evening.  It’s time to gather up these materials and think about dinner.  It’s time to straighten the bed and prepare my night’s reading.

Two hours from now, I’ll be playing some Scrabble on FB. (I welcome any challengers.)  I may have written a page or two in my journal–but I’m a little tired for that.

Four hours from now, I’ll be stretched out on the bed and listening to the gentle and soothing roar of the traffic on I-95, about half a mile away.

Sooner or later, I’ll drift to sleep and dream about four-lane highways, $1.99 gasoline, tomorrows Cold Brew at the next Starbucks, at the next rest area, in the next state.  Tomorrow we should pull into a site just across the North Carolina state line.

Florida is somewhere out there–at the end of this mad, intense and very fast highway.  I’m sort of a gambler and I will keep my sense.

So, here’s the vintage follies showgirl poster I sort of promised.  It will make up for the photos taken from a speeding red SUV pulling a cute little trailer.


[There is a Halloween blog coming soon that can only be described as dark and very scary.  Please be forewarned. Take your meds and be prepared for any possible power outage.  Candles alone will not help you when this blog hits your email.  Please click on “Follow” so you won’t miss out on any of my future posts.  Please make a comment on FB so I know someone out there is reading me.  The road can be very lonely sometimes.  A final thought: Did you notice that if you rearrange the letters in BLOG you get GLOB?]

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