Thursday, 19 September 2013

Day 20: South Charleston, WV - Kent Narrows, MD

Ankles feel better.  Unsure as to whether the bath had anything to do with it but having the pummelled by jets of frothy water shot into the tub via a pump stolen from a Kiwi's racing jet boat and powered by a small-block Chevy motor sure feels good.

Oh look!  It's raining.  For a change there's blue sky visible by nine o'clock, but it wasn't warm and there were Ominous Clouds on the horizon.  The first bit of the route followed I-79 north.  This refers to itself as the "I-79 Hi Tech Corridor" or somesuch, but the highest tech thing I saw for the first fifty miles was a tree.  Somewhere a bit further up the road - I think in Bridgeport - is a building with a brace of GBFO satellite dishes on its roof, which sort of made up for it.

Bear right onto I-68 and into Maryland.  The scenery is much the same as it has been since SE Indiana, but the hills are getting progressively higher, topping out at a tad under 900 metres.  The constant up-hill-and-down-dale shenanigans are a little uncomfortable on the ears.  They're also a little uncomfortable on the feet.  This is why:

Most cars sold over here are fitted with cruise control.  Few drivers over here appear to use it, i.e. they overtake, pull in and slow down.  They are idiots.  Anyway, here is a Tablet Cast In Stone, in Maryland:

I do not intend even to attempt to pronounce that...
Shortly after entering Maryland there are two things:
  1. A dead skunk, and
  2. Something bearing a strong resemblance to a lighthouse
Squished skunks have a very distinctive smell, which is not half as bad as might be expected.  But what kind of loonhouse would build a lighthouse 700 metres above sea level and about two hundred miles inland?

On the Lighting of Law-Enforcement Vee-hickles: Back in the old days it was easy enough to spot a uniformed police car.  They had huge lights sticking out above the roof like Mickey Mouse's ears.  Although I did have a series of false positives in southern Utah in 2004, misidentifying a string of oncoming pickups as the polis. What I was actually seeing was the handlebars of one or more motocross bikes being carried in the back.  But now they have developed low-profile lights, so that every neutral-coloured car with a set of roof bars sets off the alarm bells.  Coppers, as they say, is cunning bastards.  But no, I haven't been stopped.  Yet.

Wowsa!  After fighting through a traffic jam on my old chum I-70, I manage to get the roof down for the first time since Sunday and cruise through a warm and sunny landscape while dreading the maze of freeways enmeshing Baltimore.  If I'd had to rely on a map I'd still be there now.  But Emily sees me right and I fork over my six dollars for the privet hedge of being allowed to cross this:

A bridge, yesterday
This is the east end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on Kent Island; the other end is in Annapolis, about five miles away.  There are a couple of other groovy bridges in the Kent Island area, but this is probably of little interest to anyone except CrinklyLion.  And me, because the ramp on the mainland side of the Kent Narrows Bridge is but a couple of hundred yards from my room and is frequented by hairy-arsed truckers using their jake brakes.  This is a gadget which:
  1. Provides engine braking on big diesels by doing Clever Things with the exhaust valves, and
  2. Sounds like a woodpecker being relayed through Motorhead's PA system.
Time for a stiff drink before climbing the stairs to Bedfordshire.

On number plates, part 2: Over here it is relatively easy to have almost anything you like on your car's licence plate, as long as it is not considered offensive.  What constitutes "offensive" in a nation that underwent paroxysms of outrage at Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during half-time at the Super Bowl a few years ago is left as an exercise for the reader.  However, post-modern ironists in Florida are often able to slip one past the DMV by treating the picture of an orange in the centre of every FL plate as a letter "O".  Anyway, here are some of my favourites from this year:
  • ROADMAN.  This is on the camper van belonging to Jun's mate Danny.  Said van was used to power the timing gear at Battle Mountain.  It has a fridge.  The timers had cold BEER chiz.
  • HERTZHZ.  On an ex-rental Corvette.  An Illinois plate, so probably not the one I had in 2008.
  • 4, and
  • SEAL 1
I'm sure the owner of the last one was trying to convince everyone that he had personally killed Osama bin Laden utterly to DETH or something, but he made a big mistake.

It was on a Saab.  Saabs are driven by shaven-headed architects with ultra-expensive rimless glasses, not by rufty-tufty Special Forces killing machines.  FAIL.

New states visited: Maryland

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