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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.
The following excerpts appeared in past issues of SoloDining.com, the newsletter.
Publick House — very near Sturbridge,
Before I knew it, I was half way between Hartford and the Massachusetts line. The wind was tossing me
back and forth like a cat with a stunned mouse. I urged myself on one mile at a time. The wind twisted my helmet
as if a large deity was trying to screw it off my head.
There were signs for historic Sturbridge and I was spent. I rolled off the interstate determined to take the first
opportunity to just have everything stop. The roar in my ears was now permanent.
(Note: Next morning headlines: Winds pound region; gusts knock down trees, power lines. Howling winds gusting up
to 55 miles per hour wreaked havoc — Metrowest Daily News)
Just off the frontage road and behind a row of trees, nothing around it, was a motel — a quiet, neatly cared for
spot. The fellow minding the desk suspended his suspicions surrounding my arrival and I did the same for him. I
concealed my cash and handed over my credit card. When I tried to fill in the blanks on the carbon pack registry
form, my right hand couldn't hold the pen. The muscles in both forearms twitched from hours of strain. He filled
in the information for me and I got my right paw to make zigzag marks that in no way resembled my usual signature.
Way out past exhaustion, I was discovering that it hadn't hit me I needed to quit until I stopped and pulled myself
out of the car. I needed food and I needed somebody else to take over. I needed pampering in the worst way.
In spotty English the desk clerk advised me to go up the road. "Very historic," he said.
I felt like I just made history myself surviving the wind; I wasn't up for any more history. But I took his advice,
got back in the car and wearily pulled the stick.
America was just an English colony when Colonel Ebenezer Crafts opened his tavern, the Publick House very
near Sturbridge, Massachusetts (1-508-347-3313 or 1-800-PUBLICK; On the Common, Route 131; Sturbridge, Massachusetts).
The same hearth that warmed a cavalry company in 1771 was going to warm me with a bowl of French onion soup.
What really enticed me, however, was the sign outside in the parking lot with my two favorite words — BAKERY OPEN.
General Lafayette enjoyed the Yankee cooking here over 200 years ago. With that kind of track record, they certainly
should be able to appease me. And since I was half dead, I'd be an easy customer.
The restaurant with its wide floorboards and beamed ceilings, was the centerpiece of the Publickhouse, a 60-acre
resort with wide green lawns, sheep and apple trees. A person could evidently stay here, snuggled up in big, fat
pillows in rooms full of antiques. . .
I had no business showing up looking like road lint to have dinner at this splendid, chic Shaker place. It was
not for the faint-of-purse but the road had put a dent in my appetite and I didn't need much.
A cordial waitress asked me what kind of motorcycle I had when she saw my helmet occupying the other seat at my
table. "I don't ride a motorcycle," was all I could manage. No explanation, no attempt to be civil. What
By the time I left, however, I'd become a minor celebrity for the second time that day. The parked roadster was
a little magnet for attention.
After a few spoonfuls of cheesy soup, I was infinitely more civil. I gave Kim, the waitress, a Seno's photo business
card. She was genuinely enthused and told me about the classic cars her dad had in his garage in Hudson, Massachusetts.
She was beautiful and sweetly attentive, probably sensing that I was feeling like warmed over panther poop. Next
thing you know Brad Arcoite, one of the managers, was almost beside himself with glee as he had just come in from
circling my purple roadster in the parking lot. He shared stories about his '57 Chev and talked to me like I was
the only other car buff in New England.
Then Albert Cournoyer, godfather of this whole complex, with the modestly understated title of "innkeeper,"
was at my table checking out my baby pictures (photos of my cars) and telling me about his trick '62 Corvette!
We had a fine old time jawing about iron and fiberglass.
Now if you were sitting in an upscale historic inn and saw a female who looked like she'd been rolled out of a
demolition derby walk in and sit down, and then watched as two managers in suits surround her and talk to her,
wouldn't you wonder if she was dealing drugs or had parked illegally in the parking lot or something? Nobody was
going to make eye contact with me after that! . . .
With a bag full of cornbread sticks from their bakery, I was now equipped to collapse for the night and have a
piece of the Publick House for breakfast in the morning.
I love to find places where they know what they've got; they take exquisite care of it and then extend that care
to the customer. The Publick House was just what I needed.
Journal Entry: May 3 [the next day]
Note to Alyce: Get a lot more money and come back here as soon as you can.
Amazon.com readers/reviewers loved HIT THE ROAD: Across America in A Topless Car — ".
. . great insight into human motivation."
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