After a couple of false starts (thankfully, on the small street leading to and away from my house), I am happy to announce that I am getting the hang of driving on the right again, just as I was becoming thoroughly accustomed to left-side driving in Japan. It is easy enough, in theory at least; simply position yourself on the side of the road opposite to the side that the steering wheel is on, and you’re good to go. Needless to say, that doesn’t work for motorcycles or home-market cars imported from England or Japan, but that is another problem for another day, I suppose.
So, barely a week after arriving in North America from Tokyo, I found myself once again on the road, this time en route from Prince Edward Island to Nashville, TN, via the Eastern Seaboard. The trunk of my Civic looked a bit bare, occupied by only two carry-on bags, a small grocery sack of snacks and drinks, and a pair of lawn chairs destined for Stanfest 2010, Eastern Canada’s premier folk music festival. We sat on plastic tarps on the ground at last year’s rain-drenched Stanfest, and promised our posteriori that we would upgrade to folding chairs in the future.
The cargo bay didn’t stay empty for long, as we paid a visit to tiny Kittery, Maine, the outlet mall capital of the Northeast. Several hours later, colorful bags from Eddie Bauer, The Gap, Timberland, and Tommy Hilfiger adorned the trunk, stuffing the available space to capacity and beyond. Fortunately, there was still some back seat room left as we lumbered into Freeport, Maine, the home of outdoor outfitter L.L. Bean. Any notions we might have had about, say, picking up hitchhikers were put to rest thanks to the drastic markdowns offered by the camping equipment giant. It was as if they were reaching out to me and saying, “Bruce, you need a mosquito resistant mesh shirt, don’t you? How does $7.99 grab you?” It grabbed me pretty well, I have to say. The final tally: eight polo shirts; four pairs of khakis; one pair of jeans; four button-front shirts; one pair of deck shoes; as well as a small assortment of trivia (t-shirts, windbreaker, wallet, etc.). And that was just my stuff; add in a similar haul for Saki, and you begin to get an idea of the Beverly Hillbilly-esque aspect of our diminutive conveyance. American Express kindly approved all the purchases, putting me a few hundred air miles closer to my next free flight to Asia, so all was good in my world.
The next day we made our way south to the Chesapeake Bay area, where we’ll stay until the weekend; as I write this, I am looking out over the Patuxent River from the living room of my cousin’s house. It is sunny and warm, bordering on hot, but there is a nice breeze off the river, and I am a happy camper (and, I might add, well outfitted for that pursuit; see above).