Author of Hit The Road:

Across America in A Topless Car



Reveals ALL about Her Solo Dining Experiences!




JACKIE'S TOO in Perkins Cove — Ogunquit, Maine






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Author/driver Alyce Cornyn-Selby drove from one side of the United States to the other — AND, of course, she ate out alone!

In April 2002 author/driver, Alyce Cornyn-Selby got into an "open cockpit," very topless roadster and drove from one side of the United States to the other.

Subsequently, Cornyn-Selby contacted SoloDining.com: "I am not a restaurant critic by ANY stretch but I found some places that made me feel wonderful and I'd be happy to share them with your visitors."

We were THRILLED to hear from the celebrated author of several books, including, One Thing Worse Than Being Alone — Wishing You Were: Craving Solitude and Getting It.

While driving an open cockpit vintage roadster SOLO coast to coast, she experienced first hand the surprise of finding wonderful people and restaurants on her nerve-racking and hilarious three-month trek.

This is the first excerpt from a "Drive-of-a-Lifetime" adventure by Alyce Cornyn-Selby which originally appeared in SoloDining.com, the newsletter.

Going Topless

The following excerpts appeared in past issues of SoloDining.com, the newsletter:


Maddox Ranch House in Perry, Utah

LAMBERT'S — Missouri

DINNER IN THE DINER — Chattanooga, Tennessee


Publick House—
very near Sturbridge, Massachusetts





JACKIE'S TOO in Perkins Cove — Ogunquit, Maine


I crossed the Piscataqua River into Kittery, Maine and read the welcome sign: "MAINE, THE WAY LIFE SHOULD BE." No argument.

I still wasn't "there." Past the outlet stores, the greasy fish and crab smells, past the signs for "beaches" and ever northward we went.

Eleven days ago the idea of making it to Maine seemed an overwhelming impossibility, a wish-upon-a-star that wasn't going to happen. I was intimidated by the expanse of Wyoming and Nebraska, robbed of my cash and facing problems only money could solve and remembering the predictions of the runes that I'd have a hard journey, "slippery slopes, unsure footing." But there had also been indications that my usual good fortune was smiling on me again — the surprise of the Palace of Gold, the vacancy at the Ironmaster's Mansion, the Victorian glory at Cape May, the amazing lunch in Manhattan. The rain had nearly drowned me twice but it hadn't dampened the spirit. Now that I was getting close, a General George Patton-like resolve was urging me on.

Finally, Ogunquit.

Off Highway 1 and through startled pedestrians, I headed to Perkins Cove. Only one parking space left in a tourist-choked Saturday noon parking lot and it was right next to a restaurant's front door. I parked, shut the engine off and reveled in the absence of vibration for several minutes before I unbent my body and climbed out of the car at Jackie's Too (207/646-4444; Perkins Cove, Ogunquit, Maine).

A Maine native greeted and seated me. Martin, a man of average height and build and yet a polished sparkle to his eye — and how did I just know he was from Maine? The canvas baseball cap? The I'm-comfortable-and-I've-been-here-forever body language? If there was any doubt about his New England heritage, that disappeared with the accent.

The veranda was enclosed in a white tent that whap-whapped in the stiff sea breeze. The sun was fully out and brilliant and warm enough for some people to wear shorts and show their white bird legs. I sat there trying to convince myself that I was there — really there.

The intense sapphire blue of the Atlantic gently pounded the black cliffs of rock. I sipped a quart of iced tea with extra lemon; the physical sensation of doing that helped convince me. It was not a dream. I was in Maine and in some sort of "Alyce Nirvana."

The menu was everything a Maine menu should be. I was treated royally, like a returning serviceman — and I was a stranger in town. Granted, a stranger with a wild, purple car, but a stranger.

I had such a jolly time at Jackie's with the staff and enjoyed the crab cakes so much that I bought the only T-shirt of my entire trip, a purple embroidered Jackie's shirt.

There was something — I asked myself, what, specifically — about this little town that had drawn me like swallows to Capistrano, butterflies to Pacific Grove or vultures to Hinkley Ridge. This was my fifth visit to Ogunquit.

Yet, the best was yet to come.

When I asked for a referral of a place to stay with off street parking for my attention-grabbing roadster, Martin volunteered to call around for me. Now, that's service above and beyond.

Jennifer, also working at Jackie's, and Martin posed next to the purple roadster in their purple shirts and sent me on my way, tummy happy with crab. I left to find "Nellie" because they promised she would provide safe haven for my traveling billboard.

I considered not telling anyone about Ogunquit and it may be a big mistake to describe it because the place gets thick with visitors. For me there was just the right amount of stained glass, perfumed candles, embroidered windbreakers and stuffed toy lobsters. Charming bed-and-breakfasts, old inns, well-kept lodges lined the twisting street that goes back to "town," an off-balanced little intersection of angled streets with galleries, hand packed ice cream, emporiums and Carpe Diem Coffee.

White porches with white rocking chairs, white picket fence and white columns, the Nellie Littlefield House was the Maine bed and breakfast, only better because there was no weird owner to assail you with stories about her cat and try to get you to drink herbal tea.

"Two nights, please."

From the recessed lighting and sprinkler heads in the ceiling, I knew the renovated 1889 house had been a major gut job. The photo album in the library documented the down-to-the-studs effort. My house should be this lucky. "Nellie" was resplendent in all new everything. Doors, latches, bathrooms, furnishings, paint. She was an old shell completely redone new, like a '40 Ford with tilt, air and cruise.

Eric Haselton was literally up to his ankles in house ash in the photos. Looking vaguely like Benjamin in the film, "Good-bye, Columbus" (only better looking), Eric had even stripped the roof tiles, cleaned and then reused them. We discussed the spirits that seemed to occupy our respective houses. The breakfasts of raspberry French toast and an egg concoction with fruit were his doing. He also wrote poetry, played guitar and was an accomplished photographer. Evidently he didn't sleep. Ever.

I settled in and watched the world go by from one of the white rockers on the second floor balcony. There were grandpas pulling red wagons with quiet kids, trike and bike riders, couples dressed alike, an old duffer with a prissy little dog, two handsome, trim men with flying hand gestures, plump women with shopping sacks. I enjoyed a doughy thing from the local Bread and Roses Bakery while rocking and gazing.

My dad had a phrase for moments like this. He would say, "I wonder what the poor folks are doin' right now?" I heard him say that in a $5-a-day rented rowboat out in the middle of an Ozark lake. I heard him say it while watching 4th of July fireworks with Jim Beam in his hand. He didn't have to be in a luxurious place, just a luxurious state of mind to say that. Sitting in my white rocker on the balcony of the Nellie Littlefield, I thought to myself, "I wonder what the poor folks are doin' right now?"

Roadster Lesson #10: If you keep going, you get there.



Amazon.com readers/reviewers loved HIT THE ROAD: Across America in A Topless Car — ". . . great insight into human motivation."

To buy this book, click: Going Topless

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