East Coast Fall 2021 – New Jersey and Maryland, Part One

October 21-23

What we thought would be an uneventful seven-hour drive turned into something entirely different in New Haven, CT just before Noon.  Joanna had taken the first shift so that we could switch drivers around that time in order for her to take video call from a senior living facility as she and her sisters sought to move their mother to a new place to live. 

We’d pulled off the interstate into a gas station to make the switch, picking up some beef jerky to sustain us on the road when and while pulling out of the driveway to turn left into what had been a clear lane when I first looked became less so when a guy in a Ford pickup ran into our left front side.  Both cars still drivable, we pulled into the parking lot of the motel next to the gas station not sure of what would transpire, both at that moment and later.

Split at the Door

At first glance our damage looked grave, the front of the quarter panel sticking out from the car, the bumper pushed out of place, a light shattered and who knows what might have occurred in the engine compartment.  But fortune smiled on us that day and beyond because as we waited for local police to come and make a report, I thought I just might be able to use some strong cording we have to lash the panel to the car.  And long story short, that is what happened and wonder of wonders, it is still holding strong to this day. 

Using Those Knots

After meeting with the officer who said he thought the car was safe to drive, our only goal was to get the car to Durham to Nicole’s place where we would have a place to hole up while we straightened out the car.  Left to ponder would be the cause; I was more than likely at fault and yet I will always wonder where that guy came from so fast as the lane was clear when I looked before I pulled out.  And with a spot of good luck, the officer didn’t cite me for a violation.  It will forever remain a mystery.

Bumper and Damaged Light Fixture

And so, we got on the interstate hoping the car would hold together at speed and sure enough, it did OK except for a steering hitch if you turned the wheel all the way left or right.  We continued without further incident and finally arrived at the Holiday Inn Express Absecon where we would spend two nights and get to see Joanna’s longtime friend Jan.  This would be our first stay at this particular offering of the IGH chain and we would come away impressed with its large room, updated furnishings, functioning work desk (so often the distance between the desk chair and the desk requires a booster seat) and wonder of wonders, a Keurig coffee maker.  Huzzah!!

Jan met us at the inn soon after our arrival, and it being later in the day as we lost a bit of time dealing with the accident, the three of us took off for JD’s Pub and Grille, about ten miles away, for dinner.  It’s a sizable place, two storefronts wide and although busy we were seated quickly at a booth near the bar.  Margaritas were on special that night at $7.75 for a pint-sized glass so Joanna and I started off with one apiece.  She would also order a Half Rack of Baby Back Ribs and I would try out the Cuban sandwich.  I’d had one of the best of these at the Detour Bistro Bar near our house before we left town and was eager to see how this one would match up. 

JD’s Pub and Grille

What we got was a whole lot of food for not much money, nothing to complain about really but then again, nothing to rank either of our dishes as really, really, good.  But the margaritas were tasty, and in end not every meal can be a revelatory taste experience.  We bade Jan a good night and retired to Holiday Inn, so very glad to have arrived there safely, but with a certain amount of uncertainty ahead of us as we limped our busted-up car to Durham and what could be a safe haven there if the car ended up being un-drivable. 

The next morning we arranged to meet Jan at Historic Smithville, which has existed as a community since the American Revolutionary War.  In the 1960s, it became a tourist attraction containing over 80 shops and other attractions.  Today, replete with cobblestone walkways and carefully manicured grounds, if you squint a little, you might indeed view it as having frozen in time.  While we waited for Jan to arrive, I contacted our auto insurance company and began the process of starting a claim. 

Historic Smithville

As we still hadn’t opened the hood of the car and had no real idea about the extent of the damage, our advisor mentioned that should it be significant, there was a possibility that they might total the car.  This prospect, and the knowledge that supply chain issues were causing extreme delays in the repair of cars (Nephew Dillon’s Subaru Forester had been in the shop for six months waiting for a bumper) would consume our thoughts as we later motored on towards Durham.  If repair delays were lengthy or the car a total, we might be in the market for a new car, and although the trusty Highlander still had many miles of service left in it, I will admit that the prospect of buying a new car was a little exciting. 

Smithville Railroad Company

I went into the local café to get a cup of coffee and noticed some historic pictures on the wall and that is when it came to me that we have visited here before, in 1984 when we spent a few weeks with Jan and her husband Brian (since deceased), the year we bought the VW Rabbit Convertible and picked it up in Frankfurt, Germany, driving it in Europe for two months before shipping it to Delaware to continue on for two months more crossing the United States. 

Smithville 1984??

Joanna and Jan departed to go have some fun while I took the Highlander to the local Toyota dealer to replace the glass portion of the driver side mirror, which had shattered during the crash.  That taken care of, I did some shopping to pick up needed items and returned to the hotel to work on the blog and just relax.  We’ll pick up the narrative from there in the next post. 

New Glass in the Mirror


Holiday Inn Express Absecon: https://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/absecon/abcnj/hoteldetail

JD’s Pub and Grille: https://jdspubsmithville.com/

Historic Smithville: http://historicsmithvillenj.com/index.php

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