Friday, May 26th, 2006 – Distance Travelled 138 miles
In the list of the top ten things I hate to do, waking up with my coat and my boots still on must be pretty near the top. I always avoid, as far as is possible, giving circumstance any chance that this will ever occur. So when this did happen, the next day, I was fairly surprised. The sharp eyed amongst you might notice my inclusion of the word “day” where you might have expected to see “morning”, but it is deliberate. When I opened my eyes, it was already a few minutes after three in the afternoon. I had been in what was more or less a coma for over 21 hours ! At least, as I struggled to my feet (a long sleep flat on your back with your legs dangling will play havoc with your blood circulation) I realised that my cold, or whatever had ailed me the previous day, had vanished. I took my clothes off, had a shower and then put them back on and went to check out. The cheery receptionist, “cheery” is probably superfluous, they all were, asked me if I had requested late checkout. I naturally, if untruthfully, replied that I had, so at least my tardiness damaged only my onward progress and not my wallet. When I got outside, it was bright sunshine and an identical looking crowd thronged the Boardwalk. They might even have been the same people. Perhaps sadly, even to my now unjaundiced eye, the whole place was still a depressing dump. I am not sure what I had been expecting from Atlantic City and, in retrospect I am glad I have seen it, but I saw no need to contemplate ever returning.
My original plan had been to get as far as Falls Church in Virginia that day and stay with a friend before going back into Washington DC the following day to spend time with a former girlfriend before sleeping again at the house of the first friend in Falls Church. Confused yet ? But this late start made getting back to Virginia something that I could not easily accomplish. I sat on the Harley, called the guy in Falls Church and said I would be 24 hours late. I was told this was no problem. I love my friends.
This gave me the new difficulty that I now had to be in Alexandria, a southern suburb of Washington DC at nine o’clock the following morning. Not really a problem, but I now needed to find somewhere else to sleep before I got there.
I headed out of Atlantic City the way I had entered it, over the causeway and out along the Atlantic City Expressway almost as far as the Delaware River. My original plan had been to cross the Delaware and revisit Philadelphia, which is on the north bank, in order replace my blurred picture of the Liberty Bell. Sadly, my prolonged sleep had negated that possibility as it was a dull day and evening was already starting to draw on. The bell will have to wait for another time, I do not suppose it will go away.
Without that imperative to enter Philadelphia, I took the I-295 down the south bank of the Delaware. I was, at least, able to gaze at the city in the middle distance across the water which is, arguably, the best way to see it. Even the airport, which at one point is on the opposite bank, was more visually pleasing than a lot of the actual city. Eventually, I was diverted off of the I-295 for reasons I never discovered and, after a brief jaunt along Route 130, I rejoined it again in time to sweep over the Delaware River on the mighty Delaware Bridge and into, surprise, surprise, the State of Delaware. Purely for the sake of curiosity, I will mention that, whereas most state to state crossings where a bridge over a river is involved, the State Line runs up the middle of the river, in this case the State of New Jersey ended at the river bank.
Almost at once, I joined the I-95, yet again. I have not measured, but it often felt that I spent more time on the I-95 than I did upon Route 66. Delaware is actually a small and curiously shaped State and, almost before I knew I was in it, I crossed yet another State Line, this time back into Maryland. Just to be contrary, I left the I-95 again for Route 79 and then took Route 40 south. It was coming on towards late evening and the Route 40 ran through a town called Perryville so I thought I might try and stay there. In the end, although I did see a sign for a trusty Motel 8, it turned out to be a little further south. With a feeling of deja-vu, I crossed the Susquehanna yet again, passed through Havre-de-Grace (which sounds cuter than it actually is) and located the Motel 8 (1008 Beards Hill Rd, Aberdeen, MD 21001). It was as clean, friendly and well equipped as I had come to expect and I easily secured a room.
Almost directly opposite the motel and in easy walking distance, was The Olive Tree Restaurant (1005 Beards Hill Rd, Aberdeen, MD 21001). This was basically an Italian, but it also did local seafood and I had a menu speciality, the Maryland Crab Cake. It was so delicious, that I managed to order a second one, but without all the side stuff. This slightly perplexed the waitress, but it worked for me ! I limited myself to drinking water because I now needed a very early start.
Back across the road, despite my late start to the day and the fact that I had largely wasted it, I still managed to fall into a deep sleep almost instantaneously.