The weather was postcard-perfect and our 1966 Simca 1500, given an overhaul and new points and plugs by Lothar, our Croatian mechanic down in Toms River, New Jersey, was running like a top.
It's a small car, the Simca, and years ago when I bought it, Lothar put a 3-liter BMW straight-six engine in it. It now out- accelerates nearly anything on the road, and while the car's electrical wiring sometimes has a mind of it own and shows me going 120 when I'm really going closer to 80, I enjoy the car and its quirks.
What's more, Lothar, a denizen of the old school informed me some years ago that the Simca was a car built for the aristocracy.
"She Psimca have a highest roof line," he mangled. "The proper aroosticrat will wear while driving a black felt homburg. It has a dignity befitting the accomplishment of the automobile." It was then he presented me with a black Borsalino homburg with a grey and green feathered bouquet at the side.
"When you drive," Lothar demanded, "wearing this you will be. The Psimca responds to authority and will better go."
We made it up to New Hampshire in about four hours and saw Sarah, our 29-year-old receive the last of her graduation certificates, this one from her doctoral internship program.
Sarah was all smiles and so were we. After something like 26 years in school, she has her doctorate. She is on her way to the vocation that has called her.
We left the ceremony and drove south to a town called Rye, New Hampshire, which sits on the state's 12-miles of coastline. We checked into a massive old hotel on the water, a Victorian castle built in 1879, painted white and gleaming in the sun. It was there we would spend the next four nights--making short trips to Portsmouth for dinner and to various swamps, marshes and beaches so Whiskey could chase her duck decoy through the high grass and swim in the cold sea.
There was the usual and to-be-expected onslaught of emails coming north from my office. But except for an occasional dashed response, I ignored them like I ignore street-corner Santas before Thanksgiving.
We had quiet in the north. We took long walks with Sarah and swims with Whiskey in the frigid sea.
They seemed far-away: The flesh-pots of New York. The burning lakes of Hieronymous Bosch. The mammon of the 21st century. And the cacophony of a dumbed-down world.
We had headed north.