Thursday, April 5, 2007

Loose Ends (Part 2)

I departed from Washington around 8:45 with a full thermos of coffee and set course for Columbia. The trip was largely uneventful, with the exception of a brief traffic jam on the beltway. It seems that even at odd hours, such as 9 AM on a Saturday, a beltway snarl is becoming the rule rather than the exception. In this case, an accident on the outer loop was to blame. What was left of a box-truck was being cleared, and of course the rubbernecking from the inner loop slowed travel to a crawl for me. Once passed, though, traffic was light and I was in Columbia twenty minutes later. There, I collected Tyler and headed north towards Carlisle.

I have always found a certain catharsis in long drives, either alone or with a friend. I have never been much for "downtime," which many people seem to need as a method of mental rejuvenation. For me, time on the road is one of the best ways that I can clear my head. I had been looking forward to this trip for exactly this reason. As the months have gone by since my move to Washington, I've had fewer and fewer reasons to go to back to Gettysburg with any kind of regularity. Last winter, I found myself frequently frustrated by the fragmentation of my life - it always seemed as if I needed some little thing that was 70 miles away in Pennsylvania. So I was making nearly weekly trips to recover these errant possessions. But I didn't really mind these trips for the most part. A drive to the country once every week or two was nothing compared to the near-daily commute I had been doing in August and September. But by now, the primary accoutrements of my life have largely been migrated to DC, and at the same time I seem to be getting busier with the normal proceedings of life. So there are few reasons to make the drive, and seemingly less free time to schedule one.

Two hours later we arrived at Jessica's house in Carlisle. She had not expected she'd be home when we arrived, and so she was not; but she did remember to leave the gate unlocked so we could get access to the shed where the pressure washer was stored. Five minutes later, the machine was secured in the truck bed and we were on our way to town to find breakfast.

We ate at Faye's in downtown Carlisle, sharing the dining room with a mix of hung over Dickinson students and tacit locals. Two eggs, home fries, toast: $2.25. Gotta love the country. I am sure that this most basic of breakfasts would be at least five bucks anywhere in DC. The coffee wasn't bad either. Though I can drink just about anything made with coffee beans, I'd rather it be dark and strong. Say what you want about Starbuck's, but they make a decent cup of coffee and are probably responsible for raising the bar of coffee quality (or at least strength) everywhere. So, while I can drink the stuff that gets served as coffee in many remote locales, I'm much happier to be consuming something that I can't see through. Faye's didn't disappoint.

We finished our meal and considered the next move. It was noon. I hadn't heard from the luthier yet, and we had run out of ways to kill time. There was still a lot to get done and while I wasn't anxious to have to come back another time to pick up the guitar, I didn't want to wait around forever either. After some deliberation I decided that we should just drive towards his place in Boiling Springs. If we got there and he wasn't home yet, we'd just keep going. This would only add 20 minutes or so to the trip versus going straight back to Gettysburg; it seemed like a reasonable gamble. The google maps directions bore very little in common with the actual streets that eventually brought us to Boiling Springs. I guess their Central Pennsylvania correspondent hasn't checked in lately, because it took several turns on streets that were not identified by the map to get us on the right course. Fortunately, there was a sign that identified the right direction to Boiling Springs, so we got there without too much confusion.

The drive took us through the quaint downtown area where dozens of people were fishing in a serpentine inlet that divided the town center. Arched, white-railed bridges criss-crossed the river, venetian-like, each occupied by fishermen and spectators. It must have been opening day; it seemed as if the whole town had come out. We drove through the town center, snaking across one of these tiny one-lane bridges and eventually emerged on a country road a few miles from our destination. The phone rang: David was home. As it happened, we were just minutes from his front door when the call came in. Timing is everything; the gamble paid off.

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