Leaving Nine of Cups is never easy. We know she'll pout while we're gone and so we do our best to make sure she's as comfortable as possible before we leave. We were whirling dervishes trying to get everything ready. I took care of laundry, packing, cleaning and a host of little chores like putting on windscreen, compass and winch covers and packing away cockpit instrumentation (GPS, handheld autopilot control, VHF, etc) down below. The repaired transmission gear reduction case with new rear seal was delivered around 10am and David got right to work on re-installing it. We each had our list of to-do's and wasted no time in ticking them off one by one.
We had arranged for a one-way rental car so we could drive from Virginia to Boston. In order to minimize the rental days, we decided we'd pick up the rental at 6pm, load the car and then leave in the wee hours of the morning for the 9-10 hour drive to Boston. We were hoping to avoid most of the traffic and arrive in Boston early enough to offload all of our stuff at Lin's and then return the rental car by 6pm on the other end. We were told Avis would deliver the car, but found out after prepaying the reservation that they did not. The pick-up location was only about 3.5 miles away, so we left at 4:30 pm and got our exercise walking along Battlefield Boulevard to pick up the car.
There was a special on SUVs for our one-way rental and since we'd planned to offload a ton of stuff from Cups and bring it to Lin's, we took advantage thinking we'd have plenty of room. It took well over an hour to pack the SUV and there was barely enough room for driver and passenger when we were done loading. Cups, however, was feeling much lighter and her waterline showed it.
We were up at 0330 and on the road by 0415. An early morning mist shrouded the river and rose dreamily along the water's edge as we left the boatyard. We were across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel before the sun rose. The terrain of the Eastern Shore is flat and low and very rural. Water smells were replaced by earthy smells of newly mown hay and cut grass and in one area, onions. We saw endless trucks of chicken cages, empty and full, heading to and from the local Tyson and Purdue chicken processing plants. Those smells were quite distinctive and conjured up unpleasant thoughts of massive chicken slaughter and feather-plucking.
We passed up exciting opportunities like the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Red Neck Fireworks, Turner Wildlife Sculpture (in bronze and silver) and Frankie & Tammy's Fried Chicken. We were on a mission to get north. We drove on and on … into Maryland, then Delaware and finally stopped on the endless New Jersey Turnpike for a stretch, pit stop and coffee (our second stop of the day for such purposes). We couldn't help think about the distance we were covering. The trip was ~570 miles … a long day trip by car at 60-70 mph … and over a week in Nine of Cups at 60 nm/day on the ICW.
The traffic in New York was heavy, but moving as we drove across the lower level of the George Washington Bridge. The New York city skyline is always exciting to see. We remembered sailing past Ground Zero and the still-smoldering Twin Towers back in late September 2001. We were out of New York and into Connecticut. We stopped once more for a quick lunch in Norwich, then sped into Rhode Island and up I-95N to Massachusetts. Exit 9A to East Walpole was a welcome sight.
David backed up to Lin's cellar door and the unloading process was quick and efficient. We headed to Norwood Airport and the Avis drop-off office and finished the paperwork just as Lin drove in to pick us up. Whew! A long day, but we were ready to start a little land life and celebrate the 4th of July.