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Two adventurers take to the road

Instead of the great southwest, Thelma and Louise recently headed for New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Well, not really. But my friend, Ann, and I joked about the similarity of the two of us heading off on a do-as-we-please odyssey in mid-May.

Thelma (Ann) was planning to visit family in southern New Hampshire while toting wrapped Christmas presents from their Covid non-holiday.

Louise (that’s me) always tries to get to Massachusetts in May for the birthday of my younger grandchild, Malcolm, and to continue our tradition of decorating the family graves in Duxbury.

As Ann and I talked about our individual upcoming trips, it just made sense to consolidate our treks. In addition, I was hoping to do some historical research in New Hampshire for a book project. That little side trip would land me just up the road apiece from Ann’s destination. Hmm, the prospects for a trip collaboration sounded even better … although, unlike Thelma and Louise, we had no intention of dropping into a cowboy bar. They are scarce in the foothills of the White Mountains.

If you remember the 1991 “buddy” movie, Thelma was a shy housewife and Louise an independent waitress. One review said it was “simultaneously funny, heartbreaking, and peppered with action … a potent, well-acted road movie ….” Well, if you’d seen Ann and I playing those roles, you’d have recognized the “funny” from all the laughter coming from the front seat. The “heartbreaking” description applied as we occasionally lapsed into memorable stories about our late husbands. We fell a little short on “peppered with action” unless you include an illegal U-turn or a quick exit for a ladies’ room. Neither of us was packing heat because we really didn’t expect much trouble at the highway rest areas.

We traveled well together. We were both easy going about when to switch drivers, when to eat, and what to explore. Needing a fuel stop, we exited off the highway into the small town of Waverly, N.Y. As we searched for the gas station, we discovered a town full of stunningly colorful Victorian homes, each street prettier than the one before.

Lulled by a beautiful spring day, we decided it was a good place to eat our packed lunch.

A kind local directed us to Waverly Glen, a park even nicer than it sounded. We enjoyed our lunch under tall shade trees beside a running brook. We chuckled about the fact that we didn’t know any men who would have wandered off the road, looked at the handsome houses and decided to seek a park setting for lunch. Our hotel in Albany was pre-paid and would be there no matter how late we arrived – no rush. As it turned out, that was a good attitude.

Soon after we got back on the highway, we were stopped in traffic. It turned out that we were about a mile back from a bad accident involving a semi and a small SUV. We were parked so long that we finally got out of the car – primarily to get information from the tractor-trailer beside us. Those guys always have the straight skinny. While we waited, we watched five ambulances, a couple of fire engines, state troopers, and police from all the surrounding towns race to the scene in the squeezed passing lane.

Almost an hour later, we passed the accident and naturally, we rubber necked. Eventually, the police sent us back where we came from and we joined the caravan following the 25-mile detour.

So we got to see more country roads, more houses, businesses, flowering trees and gardens. We were happy, Thelma and me. And then the dash light came on.

It wasn’t an engine light – whew! – it was a soft tire warning. Since we were in the middle of nowhere, we rode on it to Albany… slower.

Upon inspection that night, the tire looked a bit saggy, but the next morning it looked positively floppy.

Fortunately, the Honda dealer was down the street from the hotel. They couldn’t work us into their schedule unless we could wait three hours. But sometimes white hair and a sad story can play tricks on hard men. They patched it right up and sent us on our way, probably glad to be rid of us old cowgirls.

Both Thelma and Louise had a good trip – no bar fights and no arrests. They even behaved themselves with family visits and duties. They ended their odyssey back home, not by driving off a cliff as in the movie, but by collapsing in their recliners.

Oh, I forgot to tell you about the ice cream parlors … Thelma and Louise were b-a-a-a-d.

Marcy O’Brien lives in Warren, Pa., with her husband, Richard, and Finian, their persnickety Maine Coon cat. Marcy can be reached at moby.32@hotmail.com

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