Monday, October 18, 2010
Traveling America’s Highways, Southeastern States Style
I told David [after we drove to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, from Denver, Colorado) that the way to understand the vastness and varied beauty of this country is to drive it. I still stand by that opinion. The problem is -- it’s hard to drive long distances when you get old.
I am crankier, stiffer, and more tired, and the pulling of suitcases from the trunk hurts the back and the stuffing of dirty laundry into plastic bags is a nuisance. I need to travel with one duffel -- not two suitcases, hanging clothes, book bag, food bag, lap top, and duffel.
I will have a whole blog dedicated to my bright, only not, idea of packing two of the pillows from our home bed -- “since we were gonna be gone a week and laying our heads on perhaps, sketchy, pillows and pillowcases.”
*raises puny fist at dumb self*
When I know I have a car to put all my stuff in, I pack heavy --- three kinds of coats, a bag of apples, granola bars, dried fruit, and peanut butter crackers (like you can’t get that anywhere), and enough books for me to be stranded somewhere on the side of the road without possibility of rescue.
I also make playlists for my I-Pod.... like fifteen of them. Hello.
I am some kind of pack monster.
Regardless of my bad packing skills, the trip to and from Pennsylvania was a beautiful one -- the time of year and the gorgeous weather was just a complement to the drive. I couldn’t believe how blessed we were!!!!
As typical of my character, I commentated, expostulated, and noted all kinds of things along the road. David, however, was in his driving coma. Intent on the road, he rarely took in the view. .. unless it was a car, or once he commented randomly out loud about a compressor he was gonna buy when he returned to Atlanta.
Otherwise, I was navigator, tour guide, and comedian… not that there was anyone near by with a sense of humor.
On the way to Pittsburgh, we took I 75 north (where a truck gave us our windshield crack), I-40 east, I-81 north , I-77 north, and to I-79 north into Pittsburgh, PA, home of “Welcome to 65 mph” and “right lane closed -- merge left” and traffic delays up to 45 minutes.
Welcome to Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh killed our driving buzz with its stimulus of repairing on weekend days all main roads in and out of town. No one complained louder than we Atlantans, who understand the frustration of traffic, and, of course, the native Pittsburghers. They nodded in agreement when I said to one, “What the heck is with your DOT”?
That particular route of America that we drove north to Pittsburgh, I had not seen passed a sweet little town in West Virginia called Bluefield, where one of my dear college friends was from, and I had visited twice.
It was all new to David --- not that he noticed.
He was too busy trying to determine if he was gonna go 5 or 10 miles over the speed limit. If you asked my nephew-in-law, also named David, who followed my David out of Gettysburg, he would say “20 miles” over, but we’re not asking him, and my David would deny it.
Aside: LOL at self for ---- “followed out of Gettysburg” ---- like he was Robert E. Lee.
When we were sitting in a restaurant off the Interstate, I saw two, state troopers enjoying their lunch. I wanted to go to their table, and over their green beans, thank them for being in the restaurant and not on the highway, but David said, “not funny.” In fact, David made many, frowny faces when I said “ it’s funny to me.“
We drove through tunnels, paid tolls, rode on turnpikes, and hit two laners. We saw mountains galore, crossed big bodies of water, and saw postcard scenes of cattle, barns, silos, and verdant green rolling hills of pasture land.
We got gas at Turkey Hill and Sheetz Stop and Go -- we ate at Cross Keys Diner and Miller’s Smorgasbord - -- and we could have toured the Round Barn of Terror or the Haunted Hayloft.
Bottom line -- the sights and sounds of the Interstate are mostly varied and interesting -- if you look; if you don’t, then it’s…. well, then it’s something else -- a chore.
As my friend Laura says, “David is a destination man -- not a journeyer.”
I think I may be both. I like the journey. I like the destination.
Amazing how traveling a thousand miles from home showed me how different yet so much the same we Americans are. We look alike, act alike, eat alike, and drive alike -- and we drive the Interstates.
As we did all of these miles, I thought of how we have been gifted with this freedom of the road -- to explore, to venture out, to leave one place for another. I can’t imagine being somewhere where suspicion reigned or laws interfered with this freedom.
Do we appreciate this freedom? Thank God for it? Or do we just take it for granted as we gas up our cars, pack our trunks, and plan our merry adventures?