Welcome to OPEN ROADS 2002
12th June Incident at Harper's Ferry
We set off from David's, back over the Bay Bridge, skirt round Baltimore on the Interstates, sandwiched between what Julian describes as 'blocks of flats'. The trucks are something else. Scary monsters that we can look right underneath in the HEALEYS. They sure don't have governers on them like in the U.K.
At last we are into quieter country, steeped in history from the Civil War and stop for lunch at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. Here John Brown was hanged for his part in an uprising of slaves.
The American War of Independence was re-enacted accidentally when Peter and Julian moved a barrier to photo the cars against the Shenandoah river. This sparked an International Incident of major proportions when an armed Ranger spotted us and homed in on us in full flow. He was getting very excited at the prospect of putting someone in jail and wouldn't be mollified by any sweet talk until he was shown the British driving licences. At this point he conceded defeat and a quick call to the British Ambassador was averted. He now thawed completely and admitted sheepishly that his Dad had owned an Austin Healey and he really liked the car, but that was still no excuse for moving a barrier!!!!
June 13th The Burning of Athens
Day four dawns rather cloudy, a relief after the temperatures in the nineties. Most of the driving is along wooded valleys, minimal farming in evidence and no industry. Apparently West Virginia is now the poorest State in the U.S.A. Having said that, the drive is very pleasant along winding roads. The local counties very kindly indicate the safe speed at which to take the turns e.g. 45mph, 35mph, 25mph or 15mph. This a great help and translated means 75mph, out of overdrive, down to third gear and ultimately engage second. Fabulous fun. I drive first and see nothing of the countryside, just Julian's rear end. I am going to stick with him at all costs and he is not renowned for playing the tortoise.
After an hour it starts to rain and when we can no longer see out of the windscreen, decide it is prudent to stop and put the hood up. The pace slows a bit and we stop for a bite of lunch. Should we put the hood down again, the rain is clearing. Peter says 'No'. Thank goodness, for approaching Athens, our overnight stop, the heavens open and dump the whole summer's quota of rain in half an hour. Very damp and soggy we struggle to find the Motel. Directions consist of 'you can't miss it' After missing it three times, patience is running thin but the fourth set of instructions are spot on.
Into the hotel, wet clothes stripped off and the fire alarm goes off. What do you grab? My choice is the laptop and camera, Peter his credit cards and out we troop to the street in minimal clothing! Firebrigade arrives quicker than a taxi and tracks the source to one of the English Party's rooms!!! Pam, Clive's sister was so cold in the air-conditioned room that she turned the heating on. A cloud of dead flies caught fire and set off the smoke alarm. What next? Later that evening there is a repeat performance once we are all in bed. Outside again, this time in night cothes. Some other silly sod must have done the same. Pam swears it wasn't her.