Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Road trips never start to feel real until 100 miles away from the starting point; there’s something about being far away that makes the miles tick by without effort. Into Pennsylvania, we detour at exit 23 off of Interstate 78- Shartlesville. No sh*t… Shartlesville. We can’t resist checking it out, just to find that it’s one of those where I fight against the verbal puke that would assault a local with, “Why do you live here?”
After our appalling detour, we pass the renowned World of Pigeons silhouetted by fields spackled with abandoned wagons and farm houses. We roll along steep hills draped with pines and leafless oaks. I gaze at a hawk gliding over blue-hued mountains in the distance, Incubus pumping through the speakers and glance at Brij, allowing gratitude for this experience to wash over me.
The upper tip of Maryland is a flurry of steep grades and water dripping down maroon rocks along the interstate. Merely driving through Cumberland gave me the desire to build a home alongside all the others stacked neatly into the hillsides. As the passenger, I am responsible for taking photos of state welcome signs as proof that we actually did drive through these states. Apparently I really suck at photo shoots from a moving vehicle. I either zoom too much or not enough or cut off half the sign. You’ll just have to take my word for it.
“Welcome to Wild and Wonderful West Virginia!” the next welcome sign reads. Gogol Bordello’s strange ballads serenade us as we ramble by the reddest red barn, sun glinting off its unused silo and a truck with remnants of blue paint between patches of rust. Trailers covered with dime-store banners or spray painted sheets of plywood perched on two-by-fours are substitutes for billboards, usually campaigning for old, white, Republican, male politicians. I never thought grass could be astounding. The greenest green grass that lines every stretch of highway in West Virginia is proving me completely wrong.
Millwood, home of Casey and Johnny Ray, is our stopping place for the evening. I’m learning that directions can be confusing. “Take a right,” could, for example, mean “Take a right at the next light,” or it could mean “Take an immediate right.” VERY open to interpretation. We end up on a dirt road flanked with inoperable washing machines and children’s abandoned playthings. Bridget picks up her phone almost completely out of battery and phone range to clarify directions, “Hey Casey, are we supposed to be on a dirt road?”
The convertible crawls past trailers with lurking, curious characters. “Wrong turn,” he replies ominously. Bridget flips the car around as fast as possible in a five-point-turn and a half hour later we are safe from the nocturnal humans, hugging our greetings and relaxing after our first day on the road.