Transportation trauma

C&JAlthough this was primarily a vacation to see the fall foliage and visit our daughter at college, Dave did take advantage of our proximity to a few East Coast publishers to schedule a few meetings in an effort to drum up a little business. (The book biz is not as solid as it has been in years past…)

So our first full day of leaf peeping in New Hampshire was going to start after Dave’s 10:00 meeting in Boston was over. We figured he’d be done around 10:30 and be back shortly after noon. At 8:40 am, John drove him to the Portsmouth bus terminal for a 9:00 departure. But traffic was heavier than John anticipated, and Dave missed the bus that ran only once an hour. Although it’s referred to as the Portsmouth terminal, it is not in the cute little coastal town of Portsmouth but a few miles outside of it. It’s pretty much just a bus terminal surrounded by a large parking lot. So it’s not as if he could hang out in a café while he waited.

He did catch the next bus at 10:00, but it broke down en route. He was over an hour late to his meeting, but luckily the people who awaited him on the other end were extremely understanding.

portsmouth terminal
Portsmouth bus terminal

Dave arrived at the Boston terminal in time to return on the noon bus. He followed the signs, but his bus wasn’t there. Apparently his bus left from the special platform. Once he was informed of the right place to board, he ran to catch his bus, only to see it pull away from the platform. He tried to signal the driver but was scolded by a bus terminal employee for even trying to get him to stop. Another hour to kill in a bus terminal.

On my end, I had set off early to pick him up in Portsmouth, thinking I could scout out a lunch spot that we could return to after I picked him up. Then I got his text that he’d missed the bus, so I decided to have a leisurely lunch in town and do a bit of sightseeing before I drove to the terminal. But first I took our Ford rental car straight to the terminal so I knew where it was, then headed into town to look for possible eateries. There was a charming looking burger place, so I parked at a nearby meter.

Back home, most meters accept credit cards. This one didn’t. I had no change, so I got back in the car and resigned myself to paying for a garage. When I found one, the sign declared that the garage accepted only cash.


I drove around in search of street parking on the outskirts of this charming little New England town until I realized I no longer had time for lunch, let alone shopping. So I tried to head back the way I came, but the number of one-way streets prevented me from retracing my route. I crossed a few bodies of water that didn’t look familiar before I decided to use the GPS on my phone to return to the bus terminal. And that worked.

Until it died.

painting of Portsmouth harbor by William James Glackens

Refusing to dissolve into a puddle of tears, I was determined to find the bus terminal. But I was also quite hungry, as it was now after 2 pm. On the way out of town, I spotted a sign that promised pizza, so I stopped, hoping they had slices that I could take with me. It wasn’t really pizza, but it was sustenance. While they microwaved my hunk of bread with tomato sauce, I perused their gourmet offerings, which included $6 baguettes and designer sodas. In addition to the square of pizza-like bread, I purchased a tiny $2 bottle of cane cola and a chocolate cookie for Dave, jumped in the car, and was about 55% positive that I was headed in the direction of the bus terminal.

Although my return route was very different, I somehow managed to find the station. But of course, my phone was dead, so I had to be vigilant if I wanted to find Dave. Although the lot was full due to construction, a nice uniformed employee told me I could park at the curb briefly. I had a ten-minute wait, in which time I ate the cookie I had bought for Dave earlier.

It was only when his bus was scheduled to arrive that I realized I needed to find a restroom. So I dashed to the ladies’ room, hoping I wouldn’t miss Dave, who had probably tried to call me and had gotten my voice mail.

When I walked back toward the car, he had found the car on his own and was there waiting for me. Mission accomplished! The meeting had gone great, and he felt confident that we had their business.

I was so glad to see him. It was time to begin our leaf peeping in earnest. We still had three and a half hours before we were expected back at John and Jean’s for dinner. I confessed that I had eaten his cookie, but he had gotten one as part of his lunch back in Boston while he waited for the next bus. So I didn’t even have to feel guilty…


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