Friday, August 21, 2009

Tornadoes, Drive-ins and Corn, Oh My!

So what the hell was I thinking? I hate driving. Always have. On my way to my folks’ house in Cortlandt Manor, I got stuck on the Major Deegan in some MAJOR traffic and wanted to just die. So by the time I got to Peekskill to collect my tent and the many care package items (Cheerios included) that Agnes put together for me (that’s my mom), I was questioning whether I could even take a cross-middle-of-America tour in my Subaru being the solo driver. But today changed that. From Peekskill, I had to start my journey in Saugerties because my housekeeper Denise (my sister) is in Florida and therefore, could not get Kippagh ready for its next guest that arrived this afternoon. So after a day of resting in the hammock and getting my fill of HGTV before heading out west, I left this morning at 11 a.m. (it’s not like I’m gonna wake up early to go on vacation) Pi-sha!

Thruway here I come! But before I knew it, there were interrupted classic rock tunes on the radio because there were emergency weather advisories. Tornadoes were coming to New York and I was apparently right in the middle of it all. Oy vey, I said to myself. The rain was torrential. I could hardly see what was in front of me. My windshield was like that cloudy mess you see when you’re going through a car wash. Luckily the two truck drivers behind and beside me had TONS of lights on their rigs (that’s right, I said rigs) and that helped me to stay in my lane until it subsided. But phew! What an ordeal. Then I got farther into Pennsylvania and it started lightening up. I was now hungry and had finished a whole can of Pepsi so I needed to stop for some relief.

I stopped at an exit called Nescopeck. Why? Because out of all the FOOD plaques on the highway sign, there was one that wasn’t a chain and it was called “Tom’s Kitchen.” Sounded just like the type of place that I wanted to visit on this small town, non-commercial adventure. Little did I know that Tom’s Kitchen looked like a scary funeral home and since it was already 2:30 p.m., there were two cars in the large parking lot and I bet they were staff. So I pretended like I had to make a u-turn and got the hell outta that joint. The car needed gas so I pulled into a bp station and filled up and lo and behold, there was this ice cream cone atop this strip mall looking building and below it was a café called Cookies and a Stewart Root Beer Drive-In next door. So stinkin’ cute. I had to go.

I pulled in and went straight for the ladies room. I was hoping there was one outside since I wholeheartedly planned on eating at the drive-in, not the indoor café, but the young girl in the ice cream shoppe said it was inside. I had my camera and soooo wanted to shoot the inside of this place but there are those times when you have NY plates and you know it would be highly condescending to take a photo of the inside of this early bird special eatery. So instead, I will try to briefly explain. It was like the figurine area of a Hallmark store threw up in this place. You know the ones (Brynn and I JUST talked about the little angels or fat cherubs). The overly floral plastic table cloths and the wagon wheel light fixtures just didn’t go together. I was a bit surprised by that actually. There wasn’t a suggestion box so I kept my comments to myself and used the facilities.

Outside it was pretty dead but then again, Armageddon just happened moments earlier and I’m sure folks were still under cover. I ordered a burger from the nice young man behind the counter who proceeded to not only inform me about the origins of Stewart’s Root Beer but also that the item named “halupki” on the wall menu was a stuffed cabbage delicacy with meat inside. Apparently, I had stumbled into the Slovak area of Pennsylvania. Wasn’t up for cabbage at the moment but was glad to learn something new in the world of cuisine. I also found out that down the road there was a drive-in theatre. “How cool!” I told him. But with my exuberant exclamation came scorn and disapproval from the young, pretty thing in the back making my burger. This young man worked with adorable teenage girls at this summer drive-in stand and I had just upset the apple cart by talking him up. I guess I wasn't going to be able to show him how you pick the lock of your car (just learned it in my Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide book). Now please, I could be his mother fer gosh sakes. But regardless, I knew my time there was limited and ate my burger quickly, glanced over at the trays they put on your car window when the 14-year olds (as he put it) work on busy days. A real drive-in burger joint! And it was my first stop. AWESOME!

So along the way driving, there was never a dull moment. My car odometer went from 49,999 miles to 50,000 while stopped in traffic. Very exciting for my 10-year old Forester. I saw my fill of fireworks warehouses and cigarette outlets along the interstate and murdered my share of bugs as Leadfoot O’Connor sped through Route 80. Along the way though, there was such great music on the radio and I think that this alone is what kept me from hating this particular drive. Richard Marx, Pink Floyd, Pat Benatar, Journey, Bad Company (my first ever concert without parental supervision), Def Leppard, Jimmy Buffett and many, many more. I’ve definitely tapped the steering wheel before when a good song comes on but it got ridiculous. I think this is the start of a long trip of me talking to me and beltin’ out the tunes. Luckily, in this technology age, folks driving by will simply think I’m talking on my Bluetooth.

So next was getting off 80 and venturing into DuBois, which they pronounce Doo-Boyz. Whatevs. I thought it was supposed to be a pretty large town where I might find a motel to stay at but I was dead wrong. I drove a ways and found this corn field and then another corn field and then another. So I pulled over and started taking some shots at this one in particular that had an abandoned barn. Sure, there were no trespassing signs but really, it’s not like I’m going to shack up there. I just wanted to smell the hay and take some corn pics.

This nice elderly couple in a Cutlass stopped next to me and asked, “Sweetie, can we help you with anything?” and I shook my head and smiled and said, “Oh no, thanks, I’m just looking at the corn.” Yea, so they drove off thinking I was insane. But I was. I don’t think I’ve ever been up that close to cornfields. And they were vast. Just kept going for miles it seemed. The farm I was trespassing on was called Plum Hollow Dairy and it was sooo stinkin’ cute. They had an adorable farmhouse and those silos and tractors and all.

At this point, I had been on the road nearing 7 hours and I wanted to finally settle in for the night in a stereotypical motel with a pool and of course the old fashioned wifi. Although this is more for one night than I’ve spent on an entire month’s lodging in most of the places I visit, it was a good thing because I needed a dip in the pool, a good shower and to remember that I was still connected to y’all. So I’m in Clarion, Pennsylvania and for those of you who said that I wouldn’t be able to avoid Wal-Mart .. you were right! Bonus feature: the helpful fella at the desk informed me that all Quality Inns have wifi without passwords so now I can pull up to the many I’ve seen along the way if I ever need to get some free connections. I had to use 3 big pillows to sit ergonomically correct on the executive chair at the desk to use my laptop.

I know, crucial info to share. So now I am off to the pool because it’s open til 10:30 (woohoo) and I heard on the college radio station that there’s this new cool spot to hang out at on Main Street and I have a hankering for meat wrapped in cabbage now! And by the way, motels have come a long way since I was head of housekeeping at the William Baker Hotel in Chautauqua. This bedspread actually looks like it’s been cleaned and everything is actually pretty spot on. I tried to get into the Super 8 because I just love their logo but they were filled with the largest contingent of GT owners I’ve ever seen in one place. Now where is that bikini….


mlee2nyc said...

EO, I miss you already! Meat stuffed cabbage sounds delightful. And I think it's so great of the elderly couple to stop and ask if you needed help. And hooray for Quality Inn for being so thoughtful of folks traveling through. Keep your entries coming. It's awesome stuff!

Elizabeth said...

thanks May! It surprisingly takes me a while to write all this stuff down even though it sounds like a bunch of rambling nonsense. But it's fun. And it'll be nice to come back from this trip with it all documented rather than the way I normally do it sans-laptop. Come back and do massive uploads of photos and such. This is much better. I'm glad you're enjoying my rants. I'll keep them coming for sure. It's my only form of connection to y'all since my new cellphone plan only has 450 minutes. he he. I knew you'd get a kick out of that fact. MISS YOU ALL.