Road Trip Day 1 - November 7, 2008
Allentown, PA - Bardstown, Kentucky
This is part one of a 4 day trip around the south east. No sights or tourist traps. Just road. We lived a dream those four days. We were armed with a camera and a small notebook. This is the story of our pictures, notes, and memories.
The trip begins in Allentown, Pennsylvania at 8am on Friday, November 7, 2008. It was an overcast day and after hearing geese we decided that it was time to make our move. We rented a 2008 Nissan Altima from a local major rental chain in Allentown and after making a quick stop at my Moravian College dorm room to pick up the bags, gatorade, and breakfast bars we made our way to Bardstown, Kentucky. The directions were printed from Mapquest and it looked like any college syllabus. It was six pages long, looked overwhelming, but we knew that it would just have to get done. We got through the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and finally hit Interstate 78 around 9am. Twelve minutes later, still on Interstate 78 we witnessed the first sign that our road trip had to happen; a car with a Kentucky license plate.
We had plenty of supporters on our trip. We received our first text saying something along the lines of "I can't believe you are actually doing this" shortly after we saw the Kentucky license plate.
We hit I-81 south at 9:38 AM and when 10:02 AM hits we hear that South Dakota was snowed out, the original place we were going to. (By now you may have realized we took the exact time that everything of note happened) It was a warm day for November 7 and we opened up the windows to enjoy Interstate 81 past Harrisburg towards Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The breeze was so nice that it nearly blew our six page itinerary right out the window, forcing either a quick end to our road trip or four days of confused wandering. Lucky for us we were able to secure the papers. Shortly after saving our trip we saw the US Army War College which looked like a battle field right off of the interstate. I don't know much about this place but my thoughts are that maybe war games of some sort are played here.
The first stop is at Carlisle, PA at a small Exxon station off of I-81. It's about 10:35 in the morning at this point and the sky that started overcast was now blue.. The strangely strong gas station coffee was promptly spilt in the cup holder by my friend on this trip but lucky for us, and the rental car company, the coffee dried and didn't leave a stain. I was hungry at that point but that coffee put a stop to that. It had to have been hours old. We decided it was pure bean. The term "bean" for coffee will then on be used for the entirety of the trip and beyond.
Three more people call or text us ( I should point out that while we were driving the other took the phone)and gave us support and good luck as we enter Maryland. The exact time wasn't recorded for one reason or another. We head west on Interstate 68 towards Cumberland. My friend thought that maybe we would hit a tornado on this trip and hoped for it as we entered Maryland. This would be the first of a few times that I had to teach a geography lesson on this trip. Shortly after we passed Ft. Frederick State Park.
We stopped at a Maryland rest area off of interstate 68, heading west into the core of the Appalachian Region of Maryland. It had a sign saying "Are you Deceived?" with a ton of religious pamphlets around the perimeter of the sign. At 12:27 a man from Georgia was driving to Maryland to bring a car to his mom. He was looking forward to collard greens and fried chicken but knew there wouldn't be anything at all waiting for him when his truck, Bessie, was done hauling the car to his mother's house. Also I'm not sure why, but there is actually a Negro Mountain that we passed. I'm pretty sure this is an offensive name and I'm really not sure why they haven't changed it to something else. In any case we reach West Virginia at 1:05 pm.
The welcome center of West Virginia was the first official state welcome center we visited. The second sign Kentucky was on its way was that we met a man from Kentucky while looking at the giant map of West Virginia. He said we had a long way to get to Lexington. I don't think we really believed him. We should have. Back to the road...
Living in Pennsylvania and New Jersey respectively we thought that the 70 MPH speed limit in West Virginia was beautiful. My buddy is driving and says we are only missing a dog to make the trip complete. At 1:50 PM we hit Morgantown, West Virginia and we come to the conclusion that peope don't understand why we are doing this and that it is not for joy but it is something that happens to be done. Ten minutes later we stop for lunch off of interstate 79 at a local hot dog place. Wright's Hot Dogs was the name and they love their West Virginia Mountaineers. The place was completely navy and gold. After a quick lunch of hot dogs and buying their T-shirts we continued our West Virginia trek.
Interstate 79 goes right through the heart of West Virginia in the mountain county. The roads either go left, or right. If you go straight you fly off of a cliff. It was after 3 pm on a Friday afternoon and the roads were nearly empty. Something had to be said at this point. The conversation turned to bean, the hardcore coffee we had earlier in the day, as we started to get road weary. A cup of coffee at 4:30 in the afternoon was just the thing to make the road more interesting, especially since the skies have clouded over at this point. The Bean kept this trip on the road and not in a hotel. It began to shower a bit in Charlestown, West Virginia as we head west to Kentucky on Interstate 64.
At 5:29 we reached Kentucky, "THE BLUGRASS STATE!" But two minutes later while, we pull of to the shoulder, and take a picture of the sign (our quest was to get a picture of every state sign). A truck driver gave us the finger... It was 6:02 on a Friday afternoon but nobody was on the road during rush hour in Kentucky. I assumed that it wasnt going to be much different than West Virginia. We wonder why the welcome center appears a half hour into Kentucky. It was, sadly, closed. It was dark out at the time so we hadn't been able to right anything down. In Kentucky we got off an exit to attempt to find dinner. When we found nothing we got on interstate 64 EAST instead of WEST and cost ourselves some time there. That was a big mistake. It took us a while to get to Lexington, Kentucky at that point, since we backtracked about 10 miles. After Lexington we hit the Bluegrass Expressway off of Interstate 64 and found Bardstown, Kentucky. This was our first stop for a night. The Holiday Inn Express was fantastic and just what was needed after 12 hours of road. We were off the road by 8 and, after dinner, were asleep by 10. Another wonderful thing about that Kentucky night was that we found the first gas prices under $2.00 a gallon ($1.89) that we have seen in some time. That's one thing I miss from 2008...
So from our first day we were invigorated and full of life. We were weary of the road but ready for the challenges to come. Hindsight makes me wonder what the Bluegrass Expressway would have been like if I had seen in the daylight. Road Trip Day 2 to come... Bardstown, KY to Shreveport, LA.
STart point: Allentown, PA
End point: Bardstown, KY
States traveled: PA, MD, WV, KY
Total Miles: 677
Estimated Road Time: 12:00