We met at the coffee house for a quick group goodbye and whatever breakfast we could handle. Bob and Elizabeth had already left for their drive, and ours was about to start. We were headed to Pennsylvania.
The husband grew up in the row mountains of central PA and over the years we have made some pilgrimages back to visit, but not as often as we should have. We’d been trying to arrange it all summer but there was one disruption after another. With winter setting in we knew the time was short before safe travel would be uncertain and Mom had graciously offered us the chance to go there on the way to Florida, in her car. Upon hearing this, both daughters, who also had not been there in quite a while wanted to come also. And because we didn’t all fit in Mom’s car, poor Ryan, Esther’s friend, (who perhaps did not have much of a choice) decided to share his rental car and go visiting with us.
Who calls up relatives they haven’t seen in years and tells them six people, some of whom are not even related to them, are “dropping by” for three days, and, by the way, do you have a place for us to sleep? Me. I do.
Visualizing the trip in my imagination, we would swap around at each stop and share time between the two cars. We were going to read to each other and have meaningful conversation, especially between us women – you know how valuable “car time” can be. That didn’t happen. As it was, we started out divided into elders and youngers and that’s the way it stayed the entire time. We just couldn’t seem to end up at the same place in spite of frantic texting at 70 mph.
“We are at service plaza at mile 169 for gas and likely Burger King (one of Gram’s favs) 12:46 PM”
“We will probably miss you unless you linger but I think we’re closing the gap. 12:47 PM”
“There’s a Panera here! We’ll take our time if you want to stop. 12:58 PM”
“We are at 162. We’ll stop if you are still there. 1:15 PM”
“Still here eating soup. 1:22 PM”
“Sorry. We thought you’d have left and went past it 1:22 PM”
Our trip planner, Julia, who blanched at the thought of never getting beyond Interstate fast food, had picked out a mid morning coffee stop for us, and a dinner stop, both designed to give us some local culture and a significant memory of some kind. The coffee stop got scrapped before we were past Detroit, however, we elders did not hear of it until quite a bit later. We stopped at an Interstate fast food place, ho hum. The youngers went downtown Detroit to some more trendy place as I recall.(Great Lakes Coffee)
This trip was purported to be around 8-9 hours. I think for us it was about 12 as we leap-frogged past each other on I-80, taking different lunch stops and fuel stops at different times. We did finally get together for dinner in Danville, PA. This time our trip planner hit a home run and we all had a good meal and an interesting time at the Old Forge Brewery. Spacious and rustic it was, and the food was good. These days the young crowd puts a lot of stock in craft beers and exotic coffees, which is okay – everyone has something they care about. Someone has to keep all these brew pubs and coffee houses in business (although they didn’t do it for my brother in Michigan, did they?)
Our last most scenic miles were in the dark so we had no views except for the twisty, turning, hilly road in our headlights and the farmhouses and villages built, literally, right next to the road. We arrived at Ron (the husband’s brother) and Deanna’s house and sorted out our sleeping spots, visited a little, and went to bed. But, there were some plans, and we had three days….