For The Love of Celebrations - Driving to Minneapolis for Rye, pt.1

Saint John, Haverhill, Scranton, Detroit

Summer 2010.


Rye assumed I couldn't get back to Windsor for his bachelor's party weekend, but still included me in the e-mail just in case.

Reading the e-mail, the proposition of baseball, M-Money, Shawn & Minneapolis, Minnesota made me think about trying to work out traveling to Windsor somehow. It was definitely easier with Whitfield's wedding, as I simply didn't have the $1459 to fly from Deer Lake to Las Vegas.

I went into my friend's office and bitched about how much I wanted to go. During the course of my ranting, I explained what would be necessary to go and while it was somewhat ridiculous, I could tell that neither of us thought it was that ridiculous.

And with that, the two of us scheduled off a few days of work & eventually set off on our way.

2 hours of driving would bring us to Port-Aux-Basques; where we would board the ferry to leave Newfoundland.

This was my friend's first time onboard the new ferry, the Atlantic Vision. Shahlene & I wandered about the boat and eventually ran into the buffet; which was surprisingly tasty and reasonable at $16, while the Moosehead Dry's were completely unreasonable at $7.

After the buffet, we tried our best to get some rest as we had two non-stop nights of driving ahead.

The excitement and the rest meant that we both stayed up most of the night as we drove through Nova Scotia & into New Brunswick. As the sun rose & we neared the American border, we stopped in Saint John, New Brunswick for gasoline. We took a brief run through the city which both of us wanted to explore to a greater extent, but couldn't on this day as we had to keep moving.

It is only another hour to the border and we thankfully moved through smoothly. Since I don't live near the border anymore, I get a little more nervous nowadays, but we did a good job & we were into Calais, Maine soon enough.

After Dunkin Donuts for breakfast, we were onto the Maine-9 towards the interstate.

As the day pressed on & we joined the interstate, we eventually stopped for gas & I couldn't help but look at the beer selection inside. I also couldn't help myself from sampling one of these Sam Adams Blackberry Witbiers, as the gas station allowed single bottle purchases.

It tasted like a strange soda more than anything alcoholic. It wasn't offensive, simply strange. I would have it again.

We would continue down the 95 southbound, passing through New Hampshire & into Massachusetts. While I'm used to the tiny states of the American East, it was amusing to hear Shahlene's reaction to entering New Hampshire & then leaving New Hampshire for Massachusetts a mere 10 minutes later.

We saw the above car somewhere during that short New Hampshire tenure. Legit license plates in the state of living free or dying.

(It's also good for the NK-NL, Navi in NL connection...)

Instead of being forced to eat lameass Wendy's or BK, I had looked ahead for somewhere actually interesting to eat.

What I found for us was The Haverhill Brewery. A brewpub is my type of place & Haverhill was one of those city names which just jumped out at me. My friend Shahlene left everything up to me, so when I wanted to stop in Haverhill, we stopped in Haverhill.

The food was just okay, but each of us enjoyed our locally brewed pints. The bartender was super friendly and the building itself was neat. I was amused that we were here during a Red Sox game, while Shahlene was displeased because the guy pronounced it Haverhill and Chowder, instead of Havahill and Chowdahhhh.

The Haverhill Brewery got extra points when I went to the basement washroom and it reminded me of a mafia movie.

As for Haverhill itself, even though I had GPS directions to the brewery, I asked Shahlene to park a few blocks away so we could get a brief impression of the city.

It was the redbrick, historical core that quite a few Massachusetts cities seem to have. Even though it was apparent that some of the upper floors were vacant, I was very happy to see Haverhill doing its best to keep its historical buildings instead of having a pockmarked core.

I'm not going to pretend to know anything more about Haverhill, but all I can say is that it seemed like they were doing a good job with their downtown. It was bustling, there wasn't stucco crap infill or parking lots everywhere, it was inviting.

I enjoyed Haverhill very much & was happy with my city choice.

The next stop on the trip was the highpoint of New Jersey.

It was only supposed to take 4 or 5 hours to drive from Haverhill to New Jersey, but lovely Connecticut traffic jams impeded our travel. After staying up all night, I was a bit salty and the stop-and-go traffic wasn't helping.

Seeing as I hadn't drove stick since I went out west with Kayla 7 years prior, it was mucho fun to spend an hour constantly testing myself by shifting from 1st to 2nd to 1st to neutral to 1st...

We eventually reached New Jersey at dusk, planning to hike to the highpoint for extra credibility. The fact that the day was leaving the sky (and also a sign warning of bears & ticks) made us abandon the hiking plan.

The drive from the hiking trail to the highpoint was actually quite far, so it would have been quite the fiasco if we did decide on hiking.

This was my 10th state highpoint & it easily had the most development. We were the only people there because the state park was almost closed, but the place had a huge parking lot & a wide paved path up the small hill to the highpoint.

Atop New Jersey sits the War Veterans Monument, constructed between 1928 and 1930 of New Hampshire granite and Shawangunk quartz. I didn't know it at the time, but normally you can go into the War Veterans Monument and climb 220 feet to look out of the small windows towards the Catskills & the Poconos.

Thankfully, since the highpoint is only 10 minutes off the interstate, I should have an opportunity to return one day.

If you look at the highpoint entry on Wikipedia, you'll notice just how close it is to the top of New Jersey - meaning that we were into Pennsylvania after ten minutes of driving.

There wasn't much for exciting communities near the highpoint, so we had pre-planned to stop in Scranton - another hour to the west.

As you can see from the above picture, we may have pre-planned to dine at Cooper's Seafood House because of the ridiculous beer selection. I had two pints & it killed me to not have any more.

(The one pint was a Palm, which is now funny because we've since started getting it in Newfoundland (in bottles though). The other pint I had was a Lindeman's Kriek Lambic (I think), which was one of the strangest beers I've ever had, tasting like black cherries with extreme tartness. It was also something like $11 for the Kriek pint!)

With 134 beers on tap, there were also humourous listings like Labatt 50 & Coors Light. The Coors Light was funny because of the description, which was something like "inoffensive taste supported by multi-million dollar ads."

The food was forgettable, even if Steve Carrell endorses it...

By the way, I didn't have the New England Haddock Fillet, with its fish from the icy cold Newfoundland waters - Newfoundland is part of New England now?

The walls were thoroughly covered with knickknacks and antiques from Scranton's history.

I particularly enjoyed the "Women of Scranton" poster that was above our booth. I thought Diane Monahan (one left of center) was the best...and her picture was from the rooftop of some building, so she seems like she would be up for adventure and fun.

While my Massachusetts friends are terrified of seafood places away from the sea, you have to know that i loved the seafood place with 11 Belgian Beers on tap in the midst of gritty America!

Add in the fact that a portion of the place is shaped like a lighthouse?

Cooper's Seafood House of Scranton for the win!

After dinner, we set off to find some building that is in the opening montage from The Office. I personally hate The Office and have watched about 25 minutes total, but Shahlene wanted to see this building...

I hadn't looked up directions beforehand, so it was funny to hop out of a car towards a couple of university kids and ask them where "that building from the start of The Office" was.

Scranton is sizable in that it is Pennsylvania's 6th largest city, but amazingly the kids told us that we were only 2 blocks from the PA Paper building! Awesome!

Of course we had to take a run through Scranton's downtown since we were already here...and of course, I had to stop for pictures when I eyed these amazing roof letters on the Scranton Electric Building.

There were a lot of awesome buildings along the streets and squares of Scranton. 20 minutes of driving was not even remotely close to enough time & this is another place I'll have to return to.

Then again, Rye is making me drive to Minneapolis for his weekend, maybe I'll make him drive to Scranton for mine.

The drive from Scranton to Detroit takes 8 hours, so we were both super excited that we had something to do besides sleep (that is, to drive through the night for a second night).

I had tried to encourage Shahlene to sleep during the day so we could make it through the night better, but that didn't happen. I would soon realize that she's a terrifying driver when she's tired, as she slows down to 70kph on 120kph roads and her brain loses the ability to process the signs & lights required to operate a motor vehicle.

I explain it here in detail because I thought it was fascinating, not to put her down. I've only really experienced the head-bobs of falling asleep at the wheel, not this sudden inability to drive while awake.

Anyway, after all of 10 minutes, I had enough of her tired driving & took over. I didn't make it very far before needing to sleep, pulling off somewhere in Central Pennsylvania and sleeping at some closed diner.

We only slept for an hour before continuing on our way. Many Monsters and Black Halls were consumed & eventually the night passed and we were into Ohio. The sun began to rise as we neared Cleveland and I decided that we needed to actually go through the city - this was necessary because Shahlene had never been to Cleveland, and really, how many opportunities is she going to have to see Cleveland?

After some Bob Evans breakfast, we rejoined the interstate towards Cleveland and soon found more stop-and-go traffic. I was beyond tired & suddenly had to shift the car from 1st to 2nd to 1st to neutral to 1st...and as you can imagine, I wasn't very amused with the situation.

It ended up being worth it when I saw my friend's excitement with Cleveland.

Even though I was tired, I was further pleased by the amusement when we got out of the car at some nature park near Sandusky. Shahlene couldn't believe the heat, and this was only 9am. I had told her about the midwest summers, but I guess it was still a shock to her system.

I told her to wait until 2pm to see how bad the humidity really gets.

Anyway, we finally rounded through beautiful Toledo and into Michigan. Whereas I normally return to Michigan at the Detroit Bridge or Tunnel, it was interesting to return via I-75, through Monroe, Taylor, Melvindale and into Detroit.

I've explained on this site before, how Newfoundland gets their American channel feeds from Detroit - which I think leads to some Newfoundlanders being inquisitive about the city.

I knew my friend was excited to finally see & experience Detroit, so I had planned some city touring into the schedule.

We met up with U.J. and parked downtown to walk into the lobby of the Guardian. We also walked around the Mount Elliott Cemetery and checked out the Fisher Building (above). As we were now in U.J.'s car, I directed here down some of the rougher streets I know, since I'm still amazed at blocks of Detroit which used to have 20 houses...but now have 2 (houses). In addition, I picked out rougher streets on the Eastside so I could drive by Rose Elementary, where I've frequently seen stray ring-necked pheasants in the vacant grass lots.

Since my friend is really into birds, I was sad that my Eastside ring-necked pheasant spot wasn't paying off. Thankfully, as we were driving up Rosa Parks towards the Fisher, we all spotted a ring-necked pheasant mother with 3 little ring-necked pheasant-lits crossing the road!

U.J. hit the gas towards the birds thinking we couldn't see them where we were. The terrified birds raced into tall grasses and away from her Buick.

We would conclude the tour with some rooftop 40s, a necessity of my well as something I simply wanted to do.

After trying Coney Dogs at Duly's, we stopped at West Vernor Liquor Store for some 40s. I was confused as to why Shahlene was so confused, but when we got outside she explained that she had never seen bulletproof glass with those turnstile money/goods contraptions before. Whoops! I didn't even think of that & I would have brought her to the bulletproof glass Subway if I would have thought of it.

Anyway, we were on our way with our beers & the destination was completely up to me - the Schroeder Paint Company was chosen.

U.J. & Shahlene were both a bit confused as to why I bought two 4 gallon jugs of water at the West Vernor Liquor Store. As we walked into Schroeder and up the stairs, they soon realized why I needed the water, as I asked them to go to the roof, for I needed to shower down here on the 5th floor!

A shower was necessary here because I didn't know when the next one would be. I was to get on a bus in a few hours and go to Chicago for a night of drinking. Certain bars stay open in Chicago until 4 a.m. & our bus was leaving from Chicago for Minneapolis at 7a.m. - therefore the plan was to kill time on the Chicago streets instead of getting a motel for 2 hours.

That meant I would have to go without a shower from the Wednesday evening boat shower until the Saturday afternoon shower in Minneapolis? And that shower was only possible if we were getting a hotel in Minneapolis. Maybe the shower would have to wait until Sunday night?

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck that. It was Schroeder Paint Company shower time.

I started out by cracking my Mickey's Ice 40 and taking a good, sweet swig. I went anti-shirt and took another swig. I looked around at this point and realized that I was still visible to a few houses since Schroeder is so blown out - this meant I would need to crouch and stick close to the wall. I took another swig. I poured some water onto my hair and went pantsless. I left my socks on and considered them collateral damage as I wasn't going barefoot on this floor. I massaged shampoo into my hair to reduce the amount of naked time. I poured some more water onto myself and applied some body wash. I took another swig and again noticed how low the walls were - I shook my head at the scene. Eventually I finished up by keeping a steady stream of cold water pouring out of the 4 gallon water jug with one hand, while trying to work soap out of my hair with the other. I went through one of the 4 gallon jugs & was onto the other before I was satisfied that I must have washed away a satisfactory amount of the soap. I threw on some pants, droors and a shirt - feeling fresh to def & like a million bucks.

Joining my friends on the roof, I could have used some sunscreen, but the day was otherwise exquisite.

We didn't finish our 40s as we didn't have that much time up there, but that was probably for the best as I had a long drive to Chicago ahead of me - it was early.

Eventually I would have to thank U.J. for meeting up, give Shahlene a crash course on how to get to the tunnel crossing & then I got dropped off at the Rosa Parks Bus Terminal.

Dan's van was there in a matter of minutes and it was time for the second stage of this adventure...

Onto Part 2...



1 - High Point (New Jersey) - Wikipedia

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