One of my very bestest friends from Rhodes, someone I count as a brother, is a Mainer. They’re a funny bunch, those Mainers, but 100% lovable and I fell in love with Maine just as much as its residents on our Big East Coast Road Trip. Why the BECRT, you ask? Because this guy got married.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. The drive from Atlanta to Portland is… well, it’s not a day trip. Unless you’re wired or a truck driver or both. So, being the sensible people we are, we broke it up in to a few different chunks. The entire drive in one sitting would be about 19 hours, but since we have friends all over the place, we figured we could make this a multi-purpose trip.
First stop? Quantico, VA.
Our friends R & Aileen have lived a few different places in their time together — R has been deployed with the Marines to the ME, and Aileen has bounced between NOLA, Atlanta, and Quantico with R when he’s not shipping off or at training. Quantico has been their (I think) second longest stop after NOLA, and they try to come back to Atlanta (home for both of them) as often as possible.
Aileen is one of my sisters from another misters, and she’s also responsible for the awesome logos you see on my Agape and Lemongrass brands — PKM will be getting the Aileen treatment soon! She also does some seamstressing (not currently online), but you can see her basic design portfolio on her website!
But, I digress. The point of all that is, we definitely wanted to see Rod and Aileen and Aileen offered not only to put us up but make us delicious delicious Sukiyaki which was… delicious. And the perfect welcome to a much chillier climate than we’d left behind in Atlanta.
The drive up to Quantico is honestly not bad. Aileen had given us some tips on when to leave, so we breezed up in about 8.5 hours or so. It was a very pretty drive, and it didn’t feel as long as it was. We did go to the wrong entrance on base when we got there, which was a little embarrassing and definitely nervous-making — you do NOT feel like screwing up when driving on to a military base! But, the guards were very kind and Rod and Aileen came to fetch us.
We left early the next morning so that we could get the Virginia EZPass that would pay our tolls up through Maine and on the way back, and managed to miss DC traffic on the bypass. Before we knew it, we were on our way to our next stop!
Since there isn’t much to tell about that portion of the trip (drive, try not to piss off Marines, Sukiyaki, beer, sleep), I’ll give a quick rundown of the EZPass situation. Let me tell you, I’m a fan.
It took a minute to find somewhere that actually sold the transponder, the internets had some varying opinions about that and the mobile site was a little fuzzy, but we finally found one at the Wegman’s. So, just look for a Wegman’s when you need to buy one. The transponder “On-the-Go Kit” pictured above is $35, but something like $25 of that is credited to you towards tolls immediately upon activation.
I’ve been in the position to get the Florida Sun Pass (their version of the EZPass) and it was… complicated. More complicated than it should have been. The Virginia EZPass allowed for easy registration on the go from our phone, and easily mounted and unmounted from the windshield of our rental car. Basically, within five minutes of purchasing the pass, we were ready to go!
What I appreciated the most about the pass system wasn’t just that it worked in a large portion of the northeastern quadrant of the US (full map here) and we wouldn’t have to bounce between toll payment systems, but that you could log in on the go and see what tolls had processed and what your balance was. I did lose track of all the tolls we were likely to have paid going through the Northeast, but I had a feel for it and I could just add on a few bucks at a time. That’s right, I didn’t have to add in like $25 increments! I could add $5 if I wanted to! We ended up with some leftover money, which I intended to use on a recent trip, but there is a way to close your account down and get your unused money refunded — will update on that process once I’m finished.
Long story short? Get an EZPass. It’s worth it.
Next up, a stopover just north of Boston!
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