Cruise to Nova Scotia, Part 6
Maine to Memphis
June 11-15, 2004 (Updated Dec. 19, 2004)
By Lewis Nolan
June 15, 2004 – Tuesday
We were up before 6 a.m.
so we could get an early start on the 2 ˝-hour drive from Scarborough, Maine,
Humpback whale "Platform" does fluke wave
Click Colored Type to Enlarge Photo
Breakfast at the Marriot Townhome Suites was complimentary and Continental. Predictably, the Atkins approach to eating hasn’t penetrated those who plan the meals for most business travelers. I again went off program by eating a bagel with cream cheese (good) and Betty got a small sack of bagels and granola bars to eat on the road.
We pulled out of Scarborough at 7:30 a.m. on a cool and sunny morning. We’ve had incredibly good luck with the weather this trip. The drive was the best kind, totally uneventful. The scenery near Exeter, N.H., and the crossing over the Merrimac River provided some exceptional views. Two perfectly shaped, old-style steel bridges were in complete harmony with the clear river water, the rolling hills and the leafy, hardwood trees.
We stopped at an Exxon station on the outskirts of Boston to top the fuel tank for the Ford Explorer we had borrowed from our son Casey. The gas was $2.14 a gallon for regular. That’s the most I recall ever paying in the United States. We paid 30 cents a gallon less the next day in West Memphis, Ark. The maps and directions Casey gave us last week were quite helpful and Betty and I negotiated the busy, fast-moving traffic through Boston and to Cambridge without a hitch. We pulled into the HBS parking garage near Casey’s campus apartment at 10 a.m., well ahead of schedule.
Betty’s bag of breakfast goodies somehow got locked in the car once we unloaded our bags. We purposely locked Casey’s car keys in the Explorer so he could retrieve them upon his return early next week from Peru. He and three pals have been hiking about the Inca ruins at Machu Picchu and other locations in Peru and Bolivia to celebrate his graduation and the impending wedding of another trekker. Well, at least Casey will have a stale treat waiting for him when he discovers the forgotten snacks.
Per his advice, we caught a taxi right outside the parking garage for the $35 ride to Boston’s Logan Airport. Oddly, the fare hasn’t changed even though the drive now takes less than half the time it did in recent years while the Big Dig construction project was underway.
After seeing a mass of humanity stalled at the airport security check station after our flight into Boston last week, I had inquired about the congestion at an information kiosk in the terminal. A nice lady advised us to arrive three hours early because Logan security was overwhelmed.
We got to the airport at 11 a.m. and breezed through the checkpoint without delay. The screeners we dealt with were far more polite than the boors we had encountered in the past. Maybe they’ve been taking charm lessons in preparation for the upcoming Democratic National Convention, which will nominate Massachusetts Senator John Kerry as their candidate for President in late July.
With so much unplanned wait time in the airport, we paid Delta Airlines $50 each to change our 4:45 p.m. flight to Atlanta to the 12:20 p.m. flight. Of course that guaranteed that our new flight would be delayed. And it was when thunderstorms in the Southeast scrambled the airline schedules. We boarded late and sat on the ground for 45 minutes. The big jet was completely full and we had middle seats on separate rows. I’m glad we had a quick sandwich lunch in the terminal and gladder yet that we carried half a sandwich onto the plane.
By stepping it out in the Atlanta terminal, we caught a timely concourse tram and made it to the also-delayed Delta connecting flight to Memphis with seconds to spare. Betty asserted herself when a thoughtless, fellow-passenger tried to cram an oversized bag into the overhead space holding Casey’s hard-won, expensive MBA diploma. He backed off the face of a snarling mama bear.
Continuing the Nolan’s long and nearly unbroken saga of airline screw-ups, one of our three checked bags didn’t make it to Memphis. Fortunately, the bag showed up the next day and was delivered to our front porch. In the rush to make the Atlanta-Memphis connection, I left my prescription reading glasses and a favorite book, Patrick O’Brian’s “Far Side of the World,” in an airplane seat pocket. I reported the lost items and called Delta a couple of times but they never showed up.
After a $20 cab ride from Memphis International Airport, we were home by 4 p.m. – several hours earlier than originally planned. We unpacked and soon repaired to a nearby Mexican restaurant for margaritas and a spicy dinner.
Despite the aggravation of the flight delays and lost luggage, we had a great time. We will always treasure the memory of seeing our son become the first in our family to graduate from Harvard University, with a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School. The magnificent sightings of three species of whales in the Bay of Fundy will be in our minds for a long time. But I tend to doubt that we will pass that way again unless Casey’s planned career path in real estate development should take him back to the New England or we should have connecting flights to Europe through Boston on some future trip.