I’m an early riser—that’s not a bad thing, but it can be an inconvenience for both me and the one’s I love.
This morning’s early start began at 3:45 am, with my domicile being the beloved Ramada Inn in Bangor. Actually, this was a good thing for my long-suffering better half, in that she didn’t face her usual disturbance of slumber caused by my rustling out of bed and creaking down the stairs to the computer that she regularly faces.
For me, my inconvenience stemmed from the unavailability of coffee in my room, or nearby. In the world of sleep-deprivation that I regularly inhabit, caffeine is the drug of choice and even necessity. While I know those health-experts and holistic types will certainly poo-poo my addiction, I don’t know any way around it. If I greet the day at an ungodly pre-dawn hour, inevitably, I’ll need some java within an hour or two of rising.
Interestingly, my choices here in the outer reaches of the city-planning clusterfuck that is Bangor proper, Odlin Road is truly an example of the modern, car-centric style of urban design. Within view of my hotel was the bright orange Dunkin’ Donuts sign, illuminated in neon regalia. In the other direction, was a convenience store owned by those Canadian interlopers, the Irving family. Preferring the corporate black gold of Dunkin’ Donuts to the truck stop sludge of the convenience store variety, I ventured out in search of a jolt of java to quite my pre-dawn jonesing. Of course, there are no sidewalks on Odlin Road, because the planners who visited this nightmare of road layout and design, didn’t take into account that in 2005, there are still a few individuals that will forego a ¼ mile trip in their car, in order to get the blood pumping and stretch their legs.
I had to negotiate the 4-way intersection at Odlinn Road and the I-395 spur, having to cross four lanes of traffic, much of it of the 18-wheel variety. Upon arriving at my favorite donut shop of the corporate variety, after once again negotiating four lanes of traffic, I was greeted by a locked door—this despite the interior being well-lit and seemingly in the throes of commerce. I of course unleashed a salty stream of profanity at my displeasure of being greeted by a locked coffee shop door at the late hour of 5:20 in the morning!
Back in the other direction, I trudged, ½ mile to my second (and only) choice for caffeine—the Irving Qwik-stop (who comes up with these spellings?). Their coffee was being brewed as I walked in and they had a coffee roll that would have made Bill Clinton proud (before his pre-coronary difficulties, of course).
I’m pleased that I have my coffee for now and my sugar-laden treat to enjoy later; I’m not so pleased at the lack of pedestrian-friendly options available to most business travelers. This isn’t my first early morning fiasco while traveling and it won’t be my last. Most hotels of the variety I can currently afford are usually located in similar industrial cul-de-sacs, whether I’m in Bangor, Maine, or Youngstown, Ohio. Designed during an era that proves the vacuity of a college degree and illustrates how useless most higher education truly has become, these areas scattered across the American landscape are an ode to cheap gasoline and consumptive excess.
In the coming days, it will be interesting to see what happens to areas like these and whether they’ll continue to be sustainable, particularly in light of $4.00/gallon gasoline. At that point, the question will be moot for me, as I won’t be able to afford to travel, even if it’s to schlep my books to distant parts of the state.