Ladies and gentlemen, my Aston Martin and I have returned from our 1,600-mile journey into the Maine wilderness. It was a wonderful trip with my fiancée that included lots of excitement, and adventure, and only one unscheduled repair stop at a rural discount tire shop next to an abandoned lot filled with Volkswagens.
More on that in a moment.
First, I’m going to tell you what it’s like to drive into Maine at the start of July 4 weekend. It is hell. It may be worse than hell. People die, and they go to hell, and they’re confronted with all that fire, and heat, and suffering, and brimstone, and they say: Well… at least we’re not heading into Maine on July 4 weekend! (They also say: “What the hell is brimstone?”)
The primary reason for this is traffic. There is a lot of it. What I have learned from spending the last two years in the northeast is that when people from Boston get the chance to leave Boston for any reason, they do so in mass numbers, sort of like when you’re sitting in the bleachers during a baseball game and it starts raining.
So what you have, when you pass Boston on any sort of holiday, or weekend, or Tuesday, is a giant exodus of people desperately trying to take a vacation that brings them anywhere but Boston, as quickly as possible. These people would go anywhere if it meant a few days out of the city. They would go to Iowa. They would go to hell. They could do some sightseeing; maybe admire the brimstone.
But we eventually made it through all the traffic, and we woke up on the first day of our trip in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, ready to relax and spend some quality time together. This is when we noticed the nail in the tire.
Let me tell you what you do when it’s July 4 weekend in New Hampshire and you’ve got a nail in your Aston Martin’s tire: Nothing. There’s nothing you can do. There’s no dealer. You don’t want to rely on some crappy Wal-Mart tire plug at the beginning of a long trip. And there’s no mechanic that’s open. Some of them even have whimsical little signs on their door, decorated with American flags, that say things like “We’ll be back on Tuesday, when we’ve finished celebrating our country!” You start to wonder if one of these little sign-making bastards stuck the nail in the tire to protest the British in a subtler, less elaborate modern-day Boston Tea Party situation.
Fortunately, the tire didn’t seem to be leaking, so I decided I would monitor the situation until we could get to a tire shop on Tuesday. Then, we drove north: to Portland, where we witnessed a man place a deer into the back seat of a Saturn L-Series. To Kennebunkport, home of the Bush family compound, which had a Ford Flex in the driveway. To Rockport, where I played a game of giant chess against my fiancée, except one of the knights was missing, so we used a traffic cone.
When we woke up on Tuesday morning, we had one mission: fix the tire. We did so at a place called Don Foshay’s Discount Tire and Alignment, located in Belfast, Maine, population 6,600. I am quite certain this was the first Aston Martin ever to reach Belfast, unless you count those little toys that you pull back and release and they scare the dog.
So I handed over the keys, and I spent the next half-hour pacing around the parking lot, fraught with worry that the technician – who had been working on a 15-year-old Ford Escape when I arrived – would damage my car, like a thread I recently read on an Aston Martin forum. As it turned out, my concern was misplaced. He jacked the car up properly, pulled off the tire and wheel, and patched it in thirty minutes. We didn’t have a single issue the rest of the trip.
For those of you who doubted the Aston Martin’s road trip capabilities, I have this to say: neener neener neener.
But just because we didn’t break down doesn’t mean our trip wasn’t interesting. We drove all the way to Mount Desert Island, far up the Maine coast, only a couple hours from Canada, which contains the vast and beautiful Acadia National Park – home of bears, and peregrine falcons, and seals, and, for that week, one single Aston Martin.
Driving an Aston Martin in Acadia National Park was an interesting experience. On several occasions, we parked alone at a trailhead at 7:30 a.m. for a long hike, and returned several hours later to discover the parking lot filled with loaded SUVs, Jeep Wranglers from Ohio, Subarus with kayaks, full-size pickup trucks… and one single Aston Martin. I can only imagine what tourists thought of the crazy guy driving around the national park in an Aston Martin.
I don’t have to imagine how Maine locals reacted to the car, because many of them approached me to ask about it. Not one single local who walked up to me had any idea what it was – and when I informed them that “it’s an Aston Martin,” they seemed to be about as shocked as you might be if you had just gotten the news that one of your children had been eaten by a life-size watermelon.
Late in the trip, in Salem, Massachusetts, I parked the car in an outdoor surface parking lot where I planned on keeping it for the evening, and I was approached by a man with no teeth who was openly drinking beer from a bottle concealed in a brown paper bag. He asked what it was, I told him, and he responded in the (by now, expected) children-eaten-by-watermelon way. Then he left. I moved my car into a garage for the night.
In the end, the Aston covered 1,603 miles on this trip, meaning I have now driven it 7,500 miles since I bought it a little over six months ago. It has been to 13 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, and – although my famous “bumper to bumper” warranty paid for itself only a few weeks after I bought the car – I haven’t touched the warranty in months. Virtually every problem I encountered came only a few weeks after I bought this car, after it had been sitting on a dealer lot, undriven, for more than six months. Since then, it seems to be getting more reliable the more I drive it.
There is only one response to this: I think I’ll have to take it on some more road trips. Just not anywhere near Boston during a holiday weekend.