[Floodgap Roadgap presents the Summer of 6]

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22 July 2006: New Bedford, MA to Cape Cod National Seashore/End US 6
 
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27 July 2006: Hiatus, Or, The Trouble I've Been Up To (in ME, NH, MA, CT, PA/MD, WV, VA, TN, NC and GA)

... or, as CC Slater would say, a lot of "sine salad" [sic].

I've gotten complaints the site is stale now that US 6 is done and there's lag before I get back to the western portion of the trip to actually start photographing again. Okay, fine then -- here's an entry that should keep you occupied. :) By the way, the car passed 100,000 miles on the 25th. Not bad for a four-year-old.

Since we left the Cape Cod coast, I wandered around New England a little and spent a few days in Maine (and a very big thank you to my hosts for putting up with me once again; I had a lovely time as always). While I was there, I took a general survey and some of this will be used in a future Roadgap section -- stay tuned for that. It was very nice to have my own wheels this time.

After Maine, I went back south and passed again through New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and spent the night in Connecticut (which afforded a rare opportunity to clean up a little on what I couldn't do of US 6 the first time -- see below); this was done mostly along I-95 to I-495, then the Mass Pike to I-84.

I ended up traveling the whole length of I-84, and FWIW, there's an END shield at the Mass Pike but I wasn't really interested in looping around and paying a whole extra fare just for that. Along I-84 I skirted through New York and Pennsylvania, again paralleling the route I went east on, and then turned south in Scranton on I-81. From there I rode I-81 through Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia along the eastern edges of the Appalachians to Roanoke, VA, and spent the night there; in the morning, I continued on I-81 to Tennessee, turned south on I-26 through Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina to I-85, and I-85 south into Georgia, which is where I am as I write this entry with my aunt and uncle in Alpharetta.

Now, a rant: I'm sure there are responsible and skillful truck drivers out there, and I'm sure they are the majority, but it was the other kind that plagued me on this trip. Not merely content to ride up my rear when I'm doing the speed limit in the far right lane, or to toot their horn or flash their lights while doing the same (didn't you notice the state trooper with their radar gun out two miles back? Or is that only for lesser traffic?), I was forever dealing with ones who lag on upgrades and speed on downgrades, and run off the road almost into a tree by one space cadet who calmly turned on his blinker and shifted into the right lane where I was driving and ignored my horn and flashing headlights. It's a good thing there was a shoulder there, or you might not be reading an entry at all. (To the all-white truck along I-81/I-64 SB on the 25th who may have noticed a very angry driver in a silver-blue Saturn behind you on the shoulder, do us all a favour and turn in your license before you kill someone. You darn nearly killed me. Fortunate for you I was too busy trying not to hit anything that I didn't write down your license number, or I'd be calling your trucking company.) If you do things like this with your rig, would you keep in mind that inertia = mass times velocity? For example, if you're driving a loaded trailer and you're barreling down the Interstate at 80mph, has it ever occurred to you that you're a deadly weapon? I'm sure most truckers know this. Why am I forever dealing with the ones who don't?

Having had my cup of vitriol, here are some of the highlights and fun things.

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Along the Maine Turnpike section of I-95 NB. There are actually five Interstates in Maine (I-95, and then I-195, I-295, I-395 and unsigned I-495), but since I-95 is the only mainline Interstate, I guess celebrating Maine's "Interstate" singular is not false. This sign appeared a fair bit along service areas.

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Part of the beautiful Moxie Falls in Somerset county, one of the Moxies from whence the name of the infamous local Moxie beverage hails, a joke that is played by natives on people "from away" (much like durian is a joke played on Westerners in Asia). For the record, only a minority of my hosts will drink the stuff either, so there. Here is a page on Moxie with a different opinion. Moxie is America's oldest soft drink that is still sold, introduced as a curative "nostrum" in 1876 and as a carbonated beverage in 1884. Millions have run away screaming ever since.

Moxie, btw, ostensibly comes from an Indian word for "dark water." This might be the Algonquian language family term maski, but that particular word actually means "medicine" (ironic given how Moxie was originally marketed). There are tonnes of places named Moxie-this and Moxie-that in Maine, including a lake, pond, bog, cove, mountain and, of course, the falls. The name for the drink was selected by sadist creator Augustin Thompson for his native state when developing the beverage in Lowell, Massachusetts.

The actual hike down to the falls is about a half mile, off US 201 and a local road, through some very pretty territory along a well-developed trail.

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One of Maine's and New England's highest falls, the main drop is 92'. Don't ask how this picture was taken either. We saw a lady swimming about 100 yards or so from the mouth of the falls when we went down to look at them, and we did not see her on the return trip. Wouldn't seem wise to swim very close to these ...

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Last southbound exit on I-95 leaving Maine. I spent a little time photographing BYPASS US 1, which has its own distinctive shield (instead of a banner, BYPASS is written right above the number). Also note the Maine state highway marker, exactly the same as Massachusetts'.

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I-95's Piscataqua River crossing into New Hampshire, photographed from BYPASS US 1 (which crosses on a more utilitarian but much narrower drawbridge known as the Sarah Mildred; this will be another whole exhibit). The Piscataqua gets its name from the Abenaki Indian word pesketegwe, roughly meaning "forking point of a great river" -- great here referring to its fast currents, the third-fastest of the world's navigable rivers. Officially only around 12 miles long from its start at the confluence of the Salmon Falls and Cochecho Rivers, it nevertheless forms one of New England's finest and most economically important harbours.

I was very angry at myself for not rephotographing some parts of BYPASS US 1 when I had the chance -- in particular the merge with I-95 at the north end turned out to be out of focus. Guess I'll have to do something about that next time.

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New Hampshire really, really wants you to visit their state liquor stores. This is actual signage, with advance signage, exits and everything. But, hey! don't drink and drive!

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An odd practice in Massachusetts is to use button copy on the route shields, but only the route shields.

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And now a note to Paul G: I actually did get a chance to do a couple old alignments since I had some time to kill in Danbury, CT. Old US 6 through Danbury is not well marked -- it seems to follow Lake to West, then north on CT 53 to White, then White past Federal (where US 7 and US 202 originally went north) to Newtown Rd and then to rejoin modern US 6 into Bethel. Nothing of US 6 officially survives but it looks like at least one private sign remembers.

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I also got the chance to drive old US 6 through Sandy Hook, including this beautiful truss bridge over Lake Zoar and the Housatonic River into Southbury, just as scenic as Paul G had advertised. The Housatonic (say HOO-suh-TAWN-ik) River, named from the Mohican usiadienuk "beyond the mountain place," is a small but important local river in Massachusetts and Connecticut approximately 144 miles long. This part, Lake Zoar, was formed in 1919 with construction of the nearby Stevenson Dam; the Housatonic is dammed in several other regions as well.

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Turning south on I-81, we cross the Mason-Dixon line (which is signed) into Maryland. Best known as the border between the free and slave states prior to the Civil War and still the traditional cultural boundary between North and South, it was established as a plumb line during a survey from 1763-7 to resolve a colonial border dispute between Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. This east-west part of the Mason-Dixon line is probably the better known, and is exactly at 39 degrees 43 minutes 19.92216 seconds North latitude according to the National Geodetic Survey; the "line" continues along a north-south segment for Delaware. Some of the old markers established by astronomer Charles Mason and surveyor Jeremiah Dixon still survive.

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Appropriate that Washington DC's new license plates would talk about taxation without representation. No, this is not a joke -- this really is what the license plates now look like (photographed on a car in West Virginia).

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A weird one. At first blush it's just a multiplex of two Interstates and two US highways simultaneously, not very common, but not vanishingly rare. However, the strange thing is their respective directions -- two of the routes go north, and two go south, making a double wrong-way multiplex. (In Virginia. I am told there is another one of these in Arkansas [SB I-530 and US 65 versus NB US 63 and US 79], so there may be a couple others too.)

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Faster, Kevin! Overlook! Overlook!

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The Appalachian mountains along I-26 in Tennessee.

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A five-way multiplex, matching my personal record (although the overall record-holder is an eight-way in Indianapolis; see the m.t.r FAQ entry), with four of the routes being US highways and another tie for that particular record. Note the "future" signage, which is pretty much limited to North Carolina where this was taken; I-26 between Mars Hill and Asheville is not technically Interstate highway due to substandard linkages through Asheville (see Andy Field's notes).

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Crossing the eastern continental divide in North Carolina. Somehow this isn't the same as the western crossing, which we did way back in Colorado (for one thing, the over-9,000' difference in elevation).

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Dinner at my aunt and uncle's, over Lake Windward.

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Sunset from their pontoon boat in the lake.

I'll probably do another "hiatus" in a couple days. Till then, love to hear from you -- send it to ckaiser@floodgap.com.

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22 July 2006: New Bedford, MA to Cape Cod National Seashore/End US 6
 
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31 July 2006: Hiatus 2: "What I Did On My Summer Vacation by Cameron K."
 


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