Trouble Finds the Travelers

On the road.

Boston is behind us. Can Maine be too much farther? We chat, and admire the passing scenery. Spring is fully here, and the land is now truly green. Locust trees are blooming white.

“You should hear this CD!”

But the truck’s CD player won’t play the CD. The mechanism behaves erratically. Then the radio can’t even seem to keep itself going. It fails. Then the only display left, the time, starts to flicker. Not good. Not good to be traveling on the big highway and to have trouble.

We take the next exit, and start looking for a town or a service station. As we start to see signs of civilization, the truck’s motor becomes less responsive. Whether forward motion will even continue becomes the question. Continuing after a stoplight is a “nailbiter”. We make it to the center of a town, and park in between the bank and the post office.

It’s a pretty New England town, in the late May afternoon sunshine.

Welcome to Topsfield, Massachusetts.


Main Street, Topsfield, Massachusetts.


Center Street, off Main Street, Topsfield, Massachusetts.

Up with the hood. Turn off the engine. The engine will not restart. We suspect electrical problems. Battery or alternator. We notice that the rear transmission gear cover is leaking. The truck is about eight years old. Has about sixty thousand miles on it. These problems should not be occurring.

Good job, Ford Motor Company!


Placing the call to the American Automobile Association. “May we have a tow?”

Fortunately, there is an AAA membership, which will pay for a tow. We wait, talk, walk around town a little.

There are things to be noticed.


Reflections of Topsfield.

An hour and a half later, a big flatbed truck arrives, and we are soon loaded and on our way.

We say hello to the friendly tow truck operator. We introduce ourselves. He’s named Leo, and came to this country from Brazil eight years ago. He was originally from Minas Gerais. That’s where many of the Brazilians in this part of the US come from. He likes it here. Says, “In the US, if you make money, you get to keep some of it. It’s not like that in Brazil…” He’s got a cousin on the Cape, in Hyannis. And another on Martha’s Vineyard, where we’re from. It’s a small world, to have so few degrees of separation between a Brazilero truck driver and a couple of old Yankees. As we part, he says, “I’m getting my citizenship next week. I’m gonna be one of you guys!”. Congratulations Leo!

A Sears Auto Center is open, and it’s just a half hour down the road. They will be open until seven. That’s good, because by now it’s coming up on 5PM.

The service center is uncrowded, and the problems quickly figured out.


In the shop.

Diagnosis: failed alternator and a fried battery. The differential cover has a leak. The shop can have everything fixed by closing time. Time for a quick pit stop for the people. The toilet has instructions.


But the instructions on the handle below are the opposite of the instructions on the wall.


In the shop showroom is a display of “objects removed from tires”.


We go have supper, run a couple of errands, and then it’s time to reclaim the truck.


The new differential cover.

Then we are on our way again.

Goodbye Massachusetts, hello New Hampshire.

Beautiful New Hampshire, where many tolls are paid, and where every year the tolls are higher.

Then we see the Piscataqua River Bridge.

At last we cross over to Maine!


I once saw the George Bush family on the Piscataqua River.
They were in their boat, fishing.

It’s almost midnight when we arrive at our destination.

The five or six hour trip has taken twelve.

We bring in our gear and retire for what’s left of the night.

The next morning, where we have come begins to reveal itself.


To be continued….

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