Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 18 - Ominous trees and Lego Mark Twain


Oddly enough for such a fantastic trip, I'm kinda down. Perhaps it's because the sashimi I ate last night poisoned my system. Lovely meal until two o’clock in the dead of night found my insides spinning on hyperdrive. I slept not at all.

Mark Twain’s home perked me up a bit in Farmington, Connecticut. Since we couldn’t take pictures I took pains to memorize the layout, contents, and details of his quirky house. The guide said that Twain had a habit of writing down notes on the margin of the books he’d read. A Jane Austen margin said, “If she weren’t already dead underground, I’d beat her with her shin bone.”

I like Twain. He’s funny, simple, yet complex and subversive. When I studied at Oxford a professor asked who the best author that ever lived was. Everybody said Milton, Shakespeare, or another usual heavy hitter. I said, “Mark Twain,” for which I heard sniffs, guffaws, laughter, and eventually, "Plebe.” Whatever...I liked and still like old Sam. I stopped by the Noah Webster House and a couple of other places I can’t remember right now, but I hurried off to Bridgeport to check the Barnum & Bailey Museum. While there I began calling for motel prices because I was losing steam. I was eating cheese puffs in lieu of non-existent crackers. Connecticut is a pretty wealthy town, and I couldn’t afford to stay.

I drove onward through New York and finally to Pennsylvania's Amish country. By then I was really ill, and the address I'd set on my GPS turned out to be the wrong one. I was sent to a famous Amish barn in the middle of nowhere. I called a motel called Lucky 7. A South Asian guy answered and said a room was $50. Even in my state I balked and replied, “$50? We’re in the middle of nowhere!” So I hung up.

No motels in sight until I spotted Relax Inn. The front desk clerk quoted $50 rates. I said, “Are you kidding me? That’s a bit too much for this place don’t you think?” He smiled. “You called before?” he asked. Then it hit me. I was arguing with the same guy twice. “Hey, this is Lucky 7 isn’t it?” "Not anymore. That would be $50 plus tax.”

I don’t feel well and I don’t know why I came to Amish country. Most of the gag shows are probably Menonites in Amish duds. Reminds me of when Chief Joseph had to don his ceremonial outfit just to be chased around by Wild Bill Hickok in front of a paying crowd. But I perked up when I took a drive and suddenly saw a horse and buggy racing a Geo Metro.

And yes, I will admit to my shame…When I was in the middle of nowhere looking for that barn, there emerged an Amish man riding a team of horses with his family. They looked so authentic and magnificent that I reached for my camera and clicked a shot. I immediately felt like puking. Poor people. I really don’t know what I’ll do tomorrow. See the sideshow and be a heel or drive somewhere else altogether.

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