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One Woman's Opinion

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Maine Coastal and Harbor Cruise, Part 1

Mary Wakefield Buxton

by Mary Wakefield Buxton

Urbanna, Va.— Travel, like war, is hell. Most of the time I wisely stay home but on occasion I’m persuaded by my gad free husband to travel somewhere. He likes to travel. I like to stay home. My occasional willingness to suffer on the road has helped our 55-year marriage survive.

We recently took a week cruise on a small ship (100 passengers), the “Independence,” for a cruise starting and ending in Portland, Maine. We traveled around the coast of Maine. As I signed up for the adventure I imagined the sweet scent of balsam and pine, blue seas breaking across the bow of our ship, and a sun-kissed deck where I would soon be relaxing in a chaise lounge surrounded with waiters handing me exotic drinks.

Yes, I would go on such a trip. I needed a break from my writing. What I did not envision was the horror of getting to and from Portland, necessary components of the luxury cruise that awaited me.

I hummed as I packed my luggage. It was the hottest day of summer, 95 degrees; consequently, I took all the wrong clothes to Maine. I was soon to learn it’s cold in Maine, even in August.

Departure is never easy. This is because the tyrant who lives here, “Dandy,” cocker spaniel, watches us pack with sorrowful eyes. We feel wretched. How could we leave such a darling dog for a week, even in the hands of his loving caretaker, Katie Daughtry. Our last glimpse as we pull out of the driveway is Dandy’s little nose sticking through the picket fence. We ardently wish we had never signed up for a cruise. 

We left on Friday for Dulles Airport at 2 p.m. for a 10 p.m. flight. That’s 8 hours, plenty of time, we thought, but we just made the flight. The traffic was bumper to bumper. It struck me as rather sad a 77-year-old lady still has to learn basic lessons of life the hard way: Never use Dulles Airport on a Friday!

The heat was bad enough, but just as we pulled up to the terminal the heavens unleashed torrents of rain and we were immediately soaked. I sat shivering inside the terminal guarding our luggage as Chip drove miles away to economy parking with a promise to return on the shuttle bus. All the while the loudspeaker warned me not to take my eyes off my baggage lest someone try to tamper with it, a fearful thought.

Husband finally returned and we headed for a restroom to change into dry clothes before checking our luggage and heading for security. After a long hike, which included a bus ride shuttling us to a distant terminal, we finally arrived at the inspection stations. Judging by the long lines it seemed half of Washington was exiting D.C. on this Friday night.

At the big moment we dutifully removed shoes, bundled all of our lethal weapons (tweezers, nail clippers, and bottle openers) into a basket for personal scrutiny, and were x-rayed while spreadeagled to ensure we were carrying no weapons. They found something suspicious on my left leg, however, so it had to be frisked. Granted, little old ladies from Virginia are an alarming lot but they found nothing as, in general, I leave my arsenal at home while traveling to Maine.

After a long walk we stopped for a quick dinner with wine to try to relax. An airport is not the place to relax as the PA system soon announced our flight to Portland was ready to board.

The plane was an airbus, with 6 diabolical seats to a row, 3 on each side. I found my row and crammed my body into the tiny aisle seat only to learn I was in the wrong seat. I had the window seat. I managed to slide to the window seat but dropped my purse in the process. There was so little space allotted me that I could not reach down to the floor to retrieve it. Finally my foot managed to hook the strap and raise it high enough for my hand to retrieve it.

But where was Chip? Two huge people sat next to me sealing off all hopes of escape. I panicked but finally spotted him through the crack of my seat. He was wedged into the seat directly behind me. “Please hand me an aspirin, dear,” I whispered.

Claustrophobia swept over me. How would I survive this flight? I tried to calm myself. The flight was only 90 minutes. Surely I could survive anything for 90 minutes. Exhausted, I pushed up my window shade which afforded me the bonanza of another inch of head space and stared longingly at the moon. Only 90 minutes, I thought, closing my eyes and yet another layer of Dante’s Inferno would pass on by. (Continued next week)


posted 11.01.2018

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