Weekends with Claire (Part I)
Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
56Trip End Ongoing
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I've dreamt of seeing Niagara Falls since I was a child, and did not even think about it until I was reminded by passing signs that they were right there
I made it out of Buffalo just in time to miss rush hour traffic and continued east on highway 90. And, by the way - why the hell are the tolls so damn expensive out east? In the west we don't charge people to drive on the roads yet the roads are in better condition! I don't get it. However, I'm sure that instead of having tolls the gas taxes are just higher and it might actually come out in the east's favor
Blinded by the dark and rain and driving almost exclusively on faith, I made it to Albany a little after 9pm. I was warned that she was in a very rural area and after taking an exit 10 miles past city center, weaving over a few miles of back country roads and down a dark half mile driveway (she wasn't joking), I believed her. The 2-story old country house was dimly glowing from a few lights inside. I parked behind a VW hatchback that matched the description of her car, was relived that I had actually found the place, and shut of the engine and lights. Nothing but the sound of a thousand crickets and other nocturnal insects and creatures. Huge trees canopied over the yard and house, blocking out [non-existent] light from the sky. The ground insulated with a thick layer of soggy leaves, the air humid and evident of recent rain, the leaves high above glistening here and there, illuminated by the modest home. Claire came out to greet me, already in pajamas. I too had put my pajama bottoms on hours earlier (one needs to be comfortable when one drives for 17 hours straight). We laughed at our similar sentiment - "sorry, but I wasn't gonna dress up for you..."
She had made homemade calzones for dinner. Mine was not terribly warm any more, but still delicious (although, to her admission - she overcooked them and the crust was a little leathery). A side of whiskey made a fine compliment. Her father wasn't home, but I met her sleepy step-mother or New Zealand origin (they met on a train). We retired shortly after hanging out, catching up on travels, and figuring out logistics for the wedding the next day
I went for a jog in the morning. After spending most of the prior 4 days driving I was crazing a little exercise. Short, just down the driveway and back, I got to see some of the beautiful countryside that I had driven past the night before - huge trees and rolling cornfields, modest country homes and a lethargic stream. The wedding was almost at the very end of Cape Cod - the hook at the end of Massachusetts that looks like it is picking a booger out of the ocean (Boston?). Right on the beach - most of us were not even wearing shoes, letting the soft sand massage and smooth our feet bottoms, the ceremony was literally about 3 minutes long. Hey, y'all. Thanks for coming. Do you take her? Yes. How bout you? Yes. Cool. Let's drink! Two kegs were provided, and we already had a couple down the hatch. Soon after the bottle of Turkey I picked up made an appearance, of which Claire and I almost singlehandedly demolished. Lobster, steak, or chicken, along with a bag full of steamed mussels, potatoes, corn, and sausage. De.Licious. On with the drinking. A couple games of cornhole, a bonfire on the beach, music (no dancing yet - nobody was drunk enough), and perfect weather. The forecast was for rain all day long. When I met the bride and groom I told them, "You don't know me, but my gift for you was the sunshine for your wedding day." At one point, after it was dark, Claire told me that she needed to take a nap, went to her car, and told me to wake her up in 20 minutes
Morning. Amazingly not hung over. Not exactly bright eyed and bushy tailed, but not hung over. Just a few miles down the road lie Provincetown, at the very tip of Cape Cod. As we were eating breakfast on an outside patio (slight hangovers beginning to set in), I was looking around and realized that, not counting families, we were about the only non-same-sex pair in the town. Huh. I mentioned this to Claire and she responded, "Of course. That's the only way I knew you wouldn't run off on me!" Apparently everyone knew this of Provincetown but me. Please know that it does not bother me in the slightest, it was just one of those "...huh..." moments
The dad was home that night. Dads are always scary, no matter what, but other than that - he wasn't scary at all. Much more of the "nice hippy" she had described him as. We all talked for a long time, she and I told about our adventures with whiskey and back-seat napping and Newport. Joined by crickets and a light mist in the air, we sat on the wet lawn filling our mouths with whiskey and our lungs with cigarette smoke. Thus ended the first weekend with Claire.