Overland Expo to TBEX: The rain in Maine… again.

So we were driving back through Maine. Again. Through torrential downpours. Again. It was a slow drive, but fortunately I’d left myself plenty of time to get from Fundy National Park to Bangor for our appointment at the Subaru dealer.

What can I say? We’re hard on our poor Blubaru.

Blubaru’s TLC…

We’d been asking a lot of my poor girl the whole trip. At this point she’d gone 7,600 miles in 4 weeks and she’d taken us through a lot of harsh conditions. She was due for another oil change and I figured since we were handling some basic maintenance, we might as well get her windshield replaced while we were stopped. It was going to have to happen anyway and the glass repair could be done in conjunction with the oil change so it was a no-brainer.

Fortunately, school can happen just about anywhere. You might just have to sit at the kiddie table, though.

Looking at a couple hours of down time, the boys set to catching up on some math while I caught up on some of my work. And then the Subaru dude came in looking rather glum. That’s never a good sign.

It seems our road-tripping ways had finally caught up with us and Blubaru needed new rear ball joints. I resisted at first… because it was yet another big expense on an already tumultuous trip and because I was anxious to get back on the road. A large part of me also wanted to do the repair at home with my trusted mechanic. And then there was the “Are you kidding me?” factor of another hiccup on this trip.

So after a lot of indecision on my part while I wrapped my brain around this, I had quick consult with my mechanic in Atlanta. He’s familiar with our insane road-tripping ways and confirmed that my usual load in Blubaru would indeed cause this kind of failure in the ball joints. With that information and after pinging a couple of other knowledgable friends, I opted to just bite the bullet and get it over with.

With repairs completed and a geocache secured, we took a break to honor National Peanut Butter Cookie Day before we left Maine.

Staring into my cup of free Subaru dealer coffee and feeling a bit down about yet another large, unexpected expense on this trip, I had a lightbulb moment. More like a facepalm moment, really. I have an extended warranty. I’d never had to use it and had completely forgotten… Duh! With a small-ish deductible, we would be repaired and on our way. Granted, I paid more for the warranty than this repair would have cost but that’s how it goes sometimes. And at least I did manage squeak this repair in just 2,000 miles short of the warranty expiring.

Of course, the added time in repair meant the windshield would have to wait until morning. And that meant another night in a hotel which is not my idea of a good time. But it did let us get warm and dry for a little while. The boys were ecstatic to be replete with wifi and power. I used the time to look at the next few days and figure out our plan of attack.

Getting out of Maine…

With a morning appointment at the glass repair shop, we hopped up and out, intent on grabbing a supposedly easy geocache on the way. You can imagine where I’m going with this. Bad signal, pouring rain, and a little bit of time pressure left us empty-handed on yet another easy find. This particular hide was in an area of overgrown grass so even though my torso was dry in my raincoat, my legs were soaked. Same for George. Fred had enough sense to stay in the car.

Frustrated, wet, and out of time, we headed over for the new windshield. Expecting a fairly significant wait time, we assumed the usual positions of getting work done in strange places… each of us at our laptops and me guzzling coffee. The groovy dudes at the shop had us back on the road very quickly though, so we piled back into the car and pushed through the rain towards Massachusetts.

I picked up Marge in a geocache in Prince Edward Island. She became the unofficial mascot for the rest of the trip. For some reason, she made me smile through the misery of Maine.

But there was still the matter of getting a Maine geocache. George had a No-State-Left-Behind geocaching wish for this trip and it seemed nuts that we couldn’t manage to grab at least one Maine smiley in the time we were there so we pulled into a rest area, hell-bent on a successful find.

We plodded over the soggy ground to a wooded area behind the rest stop. With each squishy step we got muddier. When we reached the edge of the woods where the cache was, we discovered we’d have to go ankle deep to get to it. I wasn’t leaving without this geocache. It was a personal mission.

So we sloshed through the water towards ground zero. It was obvious where the cache was so we bee-lined for it… but not before the mosquitos realized there was fresh meat to be had. In swarm of over-sized blood-suckers latching on to any bit of our bodies they could grasp, we grabbed the cache, unceremoniously scribbled our names on the log, and ran back to the car through the pouring rain. We were soaked and covered in mosquito bites but we got our Maine smiley.

At this point, you can imagine that we were quite done with Maine. I’d long since given up any ideas of visiting Acadia or reclaiming our original route through Baxter State Park and Screw Auger Falls. The weather just wasn’t going to cooperate. It was time to get out of Maine. I was done.

Moving on to Massachusetts…

After all of the Maine drama, I pointed us towards Massachusetts and Wompatuck State Park southeast of Boston. I was planning on using the camp as our home base to explore the Boston area for a few days. It was another day of soggy driving and we managed to hit Boston at rush hour. It was becoming a very unwelcome theme on this trip. After what seemed like an eternity stuck in traffic, we were nearing the park but desperately needed a break from being in the car.

And low-and-behold, there was a Starbucks… and it was ATQA chat time. It seemed like the writing was on the wall so we stopped to grab some snacks and much-needed coffee. As much as we needed the break, we couldn’t linger too long. It was getting very late in the day to get to camp so we hurried on to the park.

Camping at Wompatuck…

Once there, I was supremely disappointed in the sites but had to make the best of it. They were basically unlevel, poorly-drained, mud pits. This is something you might expect in the backcountry, but in a developed, front-country campground, and at state park campsite prices, it was a total fail.

With no time left to make adjustments, we had to work with what we had so we picked the best of the sites we could find. The rain had slowed to a drizzle and we worked quickly, not knowing when it would resume downpour levels. With camp in order (at least enough, anyway) and having beaten sunset, we still had to go resupply. As fast as we entered camp, we left again to find groceries. Having gotten the crucial bits handled, we ramped down out of frantic mode and found a restaurant to have a leisurely, late dinner and discuss how we were going to conquer Boston.

And now for your moment of green…

What does Great Sand Dunes have to do with car repairs, rain, and bad campsites? Nothing other than reminding myself that sometimes I’m warm, dry, and comfortable at camp.

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