Ohio and Pennsylvania - a tour to cure what ails you
One thing that I've found out about myself is that if I'm about to have some form of surgery, I have a need to take a trip before that happens. A few years ago, I needed to have a hernia taken care of, so I headed to Kentucky. This year, I decided it was time to do something I should have had done years ago, and get my wisdom teeth taken out. So I took a trip through Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The trip started out Friday morning around 6:00 am. I started towards the Mass Pike and was greeted by a black bear crossing my path! In the foggy morning, the black fur appeared almost ghostly. He (or she) looked at me as if to say "Hey. I'm walking here.", and then sauntered across the street.
Soon it was raining but fortunately I was about an hour early for the area rush hour and managed to make it past Springfield without any concerns.
Off through New York where traffic was light and the sky had been showing signs of clearing. Some sights from the road: Crash's scrap metal, a sign about a bee sting death near Canandaigua. I actually took a detour into Canandaigua as reconnaissance for a future trip. It appeared to be an
interesting town, but I only had time to stop in a grocery store and pick up some supplies.
On the outskirts of Buffalo for the afternoon rush hour. Either it was my frame of mind, or a fact, but traffic didn't seem all too bad. By this time the rain had subsided and the sun was out in its glory.
Through Pennsylvania on I-90 and then into Northeast Ohio, where I headed for the two lanes to enjoy some afternoon road wandering. I found a hotel and visited with a friend for most of the evening. And there was pizza. Not ordinary pizza, mind you. My friend ordered a large and I was skeptical when the box he came out of the restaurant with was quite small. My fears were subdued when I lifted the box and felt some considerable heft to this pizza. "So this is what lifting a black hole might feel like.", I thought. To answer the question - yes, it actually tasted good, too.
Saturday I spent considerable time wandering the Cleveland exurbs, taking in much of Cuyahoga National Park and heading out for a hike in a place called Whipp's Ledges. More two lanes and a stop for ice cream made the day complete. I put in several hundred miles just driving around Ohio.
That evening I headed back to my friend's house. From there we went to a few of the local dive bars, not drinking heavily, just enjoying each other's company. Around midnight I decided I had to get moving again. My original plan was to find another hotel room, but I was feeling wide awake and
ready to hit the road. South bound on the two lanes, through Kent and then on to the Interstate until I started to get tired. I stopped in a rest area intending only to use the rest room and take a short nap. Instead, I used the rest room, returned to the car, and slept for about four hours.
Keep your eyes open and you will find surprises
In to Marietta the next morning. The downtown was full of interesting architecture and looked promising for a good meal, but alas the only potential option was a bakery that wasn't open. On the outskirts of town were the typical franchise affairs, so I picked one that I don't have available near where I live.
Marietta is situated where the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers join and is the oldest city in Ohio. There is a lot of history there, but on this Sunday morning the weather had started to turn foul again and I decided to get a brief overview and head on. I noticed that many of the buildings had slate roofs with intricate patterns in them. Another thing that I thought to be of note was the layout was similar to that of a railroad town.
I drove away from Marietta on OH-26, a twisty road through the woods that was most enjoyable. From there it was up OH-7, following the Ohio River. Over the bridge into West Virginia and along US-250 in to Pennsylvania. More two lanes and then on to the National Road, US-40 . A stop at Fort Necessity made for a nice walk, the sun back in the sky for an encore.
From US-40 I headed up PA-381, which heads past a structure I'd always wanted to see in person, Fallingwater. Unfortunately, I was too late to take a tour, so all I managed to see was the end of the driveway. Next time.
Narrow country roads brought me to US-30 and the Lincoln Highway. The Lincoln did not disappoint. Traffic was light and I was able to stop at some of the areas depicted in Brian Butko's book, Greetings from the Lincoln Highway, including the site of the SS Grand View hotel. All that remains today are the concrete footings and some twisted pieces of metal, but the view alone makes this spot worth a stop.
Bedford would be where I'd rest my head for the evening. I strolled across the hotel parking lot to a steak house on the recommendation of the hotel staff. While I was somewhat disappointed to find neither Sam Adams Summer Ale nor Bass Ale available, the filet mignon was very good and I enjoyed some quiet time away from the highway.
For some reason I suddenly wanted to stop in a bookstore the next morning, so I searched online for something nearby, finding the closest to be a Barnes and Noble in Altoona. This would change the route I had planned for this leg of the trip, but I didn't know it at the time. Originally, I was going to forego I-99 for the two lanes through the ripples of mountains that make up central Pennsylvania. Instead, I spent a few hours in the bookstore, finding a book that recommended a local eatery when my stomach took over my thought process.
Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-18-2009 at 06:02 PM.
Reason: linked to the review of Brian's book
Spending hours at a place I hadn't even planned on seeing
Heading into central Altoona and South on 6th Avenue towards the Knickerbocker, I saw a small sign that gave direction to Horseshoe Curve. Since I first learned about this engineering marvel, I had wanted to visit, but I didn't think I was going to be near the area on this trip. Now that things had changed, I didn't hesitate to set this as my next point of interest. First, though, to get some grub.
The Knickerbocker served up typical pub fare, which is to say tasty but not extravagant food at a decent price. I washed down lunch with a Yuengling, a brew I had never tried but which I found to be very good. I briefly chatted with my server, but she drifted away to attend to other matters, so I wasn't able to get any intel about other things to see in the area.
Horseshoe Curve was about four miles from the pub, an easy drive along a winding two lane road. I spent several hours taking pictures, videos, and generally enjoying myself along with a few other small groups of visitors. Some railfans were nearby with scanners making it easy to learn when the next train (or trains, as there are three sets of tracks) would be coming along.
This truly is an engineering marvel, considering when it was built and, more importantly, how much value it still offers today.
By 5:30 pm I decided I'd better get moving to find a hotel room or I would have to set up the tent, in the dark, in an unfamiliar state park. I shied away from the two lanes for the smooth drive up I-99, on to I-80, with the smell of Pennsylvania's deep woods filling my nostrils and keeping my spirits high.
This stretch of I-80 didn't offer up much for food or lodging, so I pressed on, stopping briefly at a rest area to take in the fresh air. I decided at this point that Williamsport would offer the best chance of finding a place to stay, and I was correct.
Up I-180 where a deer decided to run out in front of me, stop in the road to watch me coming, start to run and then fall down in the road, and then head back where she came from. Dusk is not the time to be speeding, so I was able to come to a near stop so that the deer, and my car, would live on for another day.
Hunger can lower anyone's standards
Williamsport had many options for lodging. I found a hotel across from the College of Technology. There wasn't much in the area for non-chain restaurants, and none of them were open by the time I arrived, so I walked down the street to a bar, hoping for some eats.
Walking in to the bar brought the usual "Who's the outsider?" stares, but this had to be the least threatening bar crowd I had ever seen. Then the fun conversation with the bartender began:
"What do you have for grub?"
"What do you have for eats?"
"Can I see a menu?"
"Bass Ale, please."
"Bass Ale, please", my finger guiding the way towards the bottle in the glass-fronted refrigerator.
Out nearly five bucks and still no food, I spotted a Wendy's. Dining room closed. Drive through open.I was on feet, so they carried me towards to Burger King. Hey, another five bucks and I had dinner, and about 20 minutes to 11:00 pm.
All things that are good...
Tuesday morning out of the room and towards PA-87, PA-154, and US-220. This route brought me through World's End State Park. Somehow, the light rain that had taken a break for a day found me again this morning. Still, my spirits were soaring so I didn't mind.
Still more two lanes, with a brief turn through Camptown, though I didn't happen upon any 5 mile long racetrack. I found a small restaurant to have a decent lunch at and then headed to another feat of engineering from the grand days of railraod - the Starrucca viaduct.
The Starrucca Viaduct was built in 1847 and is over 1000 feet long, and 100 feet high. The thing that struck me was the homes on either side of this structure. I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised as it's not uncommon to see railroad tracks so close to houses, especially in Ohio and Pennsylvania. In lieu of rain, nature decided to throw countless mosquitoes and black flies my way, perhaps in an attempt to alleviate me of my good nature. But that didn't happen, and I spent some time taking pictures and marvelling at this 162 year old structure that appeared as though it could have been built yesterday from its condition.
After getting enough pictures, and enough blood taken from the bugs, I started out towards home. A wrong turn brought me on to some very narrow county roads with names such as T-6748. Fortunately, I had my county road maps with me and I was able to find my way out. Up through the Catskills on NY-30 and NY-28, the Taconic State Parkway, and then home.
The trip was just under 1800 miles and gave me a lot of memories and an overall relaxed feeling. I certainly wasn't worried about getting those teeth pulled. In fact, I think taking this trip helped my recovery. The oral surgeon told me it was a difficult extraction (I don't recall most of it, thanks to nitrous) and that I was going to have some pretty serious pain, but I didn't. All the proof I need that a road trip is a perfectly acceptable treatment for any ailment.
I'm loving the report but....
Hey I want to see the photos of the Horsehoe Curve and some of the other stuff you've described. Sounds like a great trip! Thanks for sharing.
I don't have the multiple shots of Horseshoe Curve that are needed to get a good overview linked together yet (and I think the videos I have tell the story better), but here's a shot from the viewing area that hopefully gives some sense of the nature of the curve. Trains going from right to left would be going uphill, and most of those would be empty trains returning from their deliveries:
Here's the "Grand View" from the Lincoln Highway in Pennsyvlania:
Last edited by Mass Tim; 06-19-2009 at 05:54 PM.
Here's a picture of the Starrucca Viaduct from the road just below it. I parked inside one of the archways.
Here's another picture showing arch detail:
Wow, that's pretty dang neato. Now, back to work on your "Where in North America is this? puzzle....
Great reading and a great philosophy... must try it next time.
As I am about to head south, would you be able to give the location of the horseshoe bend and the arches. Sounds very interesting.
Lifey would like to go see them