Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Learn From Us: InhuMaine, or When Snap Decisions Go Wrong

In the Learn from Us post series, we tell you our rookie mistakes so you don't have to make them. Laugh at us and learn.

When you're sitting comfortably on your couch at home, a statement like "Let's go to Maine!" sounds completely outlandish and irrational. But when you're sitting in an old colonial house in Boston after a night of bar trivia and Carcassone, it's not that big of a leap. New York was supposed to be our next stop, but we thought that a 3-day detour to dip our toes in the sea on the opposite side of the country from which we had come was well worth the time.

Or so we thought.

We set off in high spirits only to be smacked against a wall of single-file, 15-mph speed limit, traffic-clogged roads that went on endlessly in every direction. It took us an entire day to just get across the narrow bit of Connecticut and cross the border to Maine. We were thwarted in our attempts to stop anywhere in southern Maine, even at a movie theater, because all the beaches are private and did I mention the traffic is like something out of Dante's Inferno? It was soul-searingly painful to drive through.

After 2 days of psychological torture and breakdowns, we finally made it to north Maine and a calm beach. We spent a day soaking up the sun, drinking cider, eating cookies and bread with cheese. However, once we left our northeastern paradise bubble, it was another 3 days of hellish traffic and mental meltdowns before we finally dragged our bedraggled remnants of bodies and sanity into Kearny, NY. To make matters worse, for some inexplicable reason Neurobomber had refused to wear sunscreen during the day on the beach. I had even tried to sneak some on him under the guise of giving a back rub, but he found me out and angrily insisted that I cease my UV-protection crusade. His stubborness resulted in one of the worst full-body sunburns I have ever witnessed--like a human lobster. The burn was so bad that it made him sick and he was sore for days, making sleeping in the car almost unbearable.

We spent the better part of the week recovering in Kearny. Kearny is a quiet area full of orthodox Jewish persons in full regalia. Walking into the Wal-Mart and seeing the clash between the traditional clothing and the blatant consumer-based marketing of the superstore was mind-boggling. It reminded me of when we walked into a nerdy coffeeshop in Pennsylvania and sat near a group of Amish girls in long dresses and bonnets enjoying their mochas.

Point is, an excursion meant to take 3 days out of our schedule had turned into almost 2 weeks and we were much worse for the wear. The lesson? If you're going to be spontaneous on a long trip, either know very well what you're getting into or keep your adventure within a 5-mile radius of your current location. There's a difference between deciding to go into a club you see while walking down the the street and driving off to Maine on a whim. Finding the balance is important if you want to stay on top of your trip's fate.

The second lesson is never go to Maine. At least, southern Maine. If you have to, loop through Canada. And for Pete's sake, bring some sunscreen.

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