A few weeks back, I had read an article in the New York Times about the Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “Eat, Pray, Love”. While the focus of the article was her newest book, It spoke at some length about her overall literary career and talked a bit about her efforts to foster a creative community in her adopted town of Frenchtown, New Jersey. We were getting ready to get back on the road; I had another gig in Lowell, Massachusetts coming up in less than two weeks, and we were itchy to be traveling again. Ideally, I had wanted to find a place to camp somewhere in the Hudson Valley of New York. Pete Seeger lives there, and it has long been my desire to meet the man, if I could somehow make it happen. But camping places in and around Pete’s stomping grounds appeared to be either closed for the season, or incredibly expensive. Pony found a place in northern New Jersey (near Jefferson Township) that sounded promising enough, so we booked ourselves to stay there for a week. Meanwhile, I suggested we travel there by way of Frenchtown, and consider stopping there for lunch.
Things often seem to take longer than anticipated, so it was sometime after 11am before we were able to get on the road and put Annapolis behind (for the time being, at least). Pony had plotted a route on Lola (our GPS) that was intended to avoid tollways (we had found the tolls coming through Ohio and Pennsylvania fairly extortionist, and were trying to avoid such dings to our budget , if we could). So it was a somewhat circuitous route, but the clouds cleared away as we drove, and the landscape became more beautiful with the onset of Autumn colours.
We had just reached the southern edge of Frenchtown when a loud banging began beneath our feet; a dreadful sound we had first encountered some three weeks ago, in Iowa. No doubt about it: the engine had thrown another spark plug. I nursed Ceci (our RV) through Frenchtown, looking for someplace we could park that would not be totally disruptive to local traffic. I finally found a space next to the “newly renovated” American Legion Hall, on 6th Street (half a block from the Frenchtown Market). I took Rufus out for a walk while Pony called the roadside assistance service.
About a quarter block, and Rufus and I were being barked at from a Golden Retriever inside a lovely, Victorian style house. The dog’s owner poked her head out the door and remarked on what a fine looking dog Rufus was. Would you mind if he came in the back yard to play with Abby,” she asked. So Rufus and I met Abby and her owner, Jill.
“Abby is totally comfortable in her own backyard,” explained Jill, “but she’s a big coward anywhere else.” As it was, the two dogs got along like old friends, while Jill and I chatted about this and that. She told me that she and her husband worked out of their home, running a commercial real estate business, and I told her about our tour and gave her a card that she might look up the website. She also pointed out to me the grave of her son in the backyard: he had been killed at age 16 in a car accident with a drunk driver. It was a single somber moment in counterpoint to the revelry of the two dogs.
I thanked Jill for her gracious hospitality, and Rufus and I went to join Pony and the kitties in the RV. Pony told me that there was no one to effect repairs until the next day (this being a Sunday and all), and had called the local police to see if we would be okay camping out where we were for the night. Eddie, the cop, was very helpful; telling us of places we could check out and assuring us that we were fine to stay for the night.