Friday, May 4, 2012

My Great American Road Trip

Okay, so it's been ages since I've posted anything. What can I say? Travel rut. I have a bunch of half-written posts that I'm temporarily abandoning for the following stunning announcement.

For many years, I've wanted to drive cross-country. Meaning the United States as, for example, a drive cross-Monaco or cross-Liechtenstein would be a simpler, less daunting endeavor. But no, I want to drive across the United States. After thinking about it and sort of kind of planning for years, I'm finally doing it. Right now I have an odd month of free time which has just become go out and see America time.

As I write this I'm in Johnstown, Pennsylvania which I think there's a good chance you've never heard of. Neither had I. Today was mostly a driving day to really cover some distance before my first planned stop: the Frank Lloyd Wright home Falling Water which I've wanted to visit for ages. I'm going tomorrow.

My destined-to-fail plan is to briefly summarize when I can and either eventually or as I go (not likely) write real posts on things that are awesome. So here's today.

I drove a lot.

Okay, more detail than that. I drove across a large portion of Pennsylvania. Now, I've actually spent a lot of time in PA but the vast majority of that time has been spent near Philadelphia. My drive today was mostly rural and pretty. I visited the Endless Mountains (I imagine that name with some kind of flourish or spoken in a whispery voice or something) and got to see Altoona which, for some reason, I've always been weirdly curious about. Thanks to the wonderfulness of Roadside America, the bizarre highlight of the day was this monument thingy:

This is in the small town of Lilly, PA and it commemorates the time they drove the KKK out.

The other reason I actually stopped in Lilly and nearby Gallitzin was to see the trains which are apparently kind of a big deal 'round these parts. Gallitzin is famous for its tunnels which were instrumental in getting trains across the Alleghenies. I vaguely remember reading something about trains and tunnels and Pennsylvania but it could totally be unrelated to what I saw today. I tried to stop at a train related National Historic Site but although the sign said "Open til sunset" or something, the visitors center said "Open til five" and everything was closed and locked. I probably still could've walked around and stuff but there was a gate into the park and I really didn't want to get locked in.

Instead, I went to see the famous tunnels. I missed seeing the museum (of course...) since that closed at five but I'm just gonna say it probably wouldn't have been too fascinating so whatever. I was hoping to see a train but figured with my luck that I'd miss out. But wouldn't ya know it, I wasn't there five minutes before very loud rumbling announced the arrival of one very long freight train through the tunnel. I actually got to see one in each direction! (Seriously, I see trains all the time. Why was this so important?) For whatever reason, it was pretty thrilling. So here's a picture:

Today's slight regret is that I really didn't get any rural mountainous scenery pictures. There weren't good places to pull over, plus most of the driving was on limited-access highways and pulling over would've been illegal anyway. The views weren't really spectacular or really dramatic but they were often very nice.

So there it is, my first day on the road. Up tomorrow: Falling Water, West Virginia (never actually spent time there!), and Ohio. Probably.