Friday, September 30, 2016

Road Trip

Driving west on I-70 in Maryland, I encountered a massive backup east of Hancock. Trusting my GPS, I hopped off of the interstate and into the Maryland panhandle country. I drove north into Pennsylvania on a series of stunningly pretty roads that wound and dipped and banked and gently lifted and lowered me in and out of the Allegheny Mountains, a friendly blur of churches, farms, and small storefronts (and Trump placards), the pleasantness interrupted only by a series of handmade painted roadside signs warning about an incoming pork rendering plant and the damage it might cause to local streams and rivers. I'd always wanted to drive on these particular roads, as the view looking east on I-70 driving below I-76 is breathtaking, one of my all-time favorite vistas in the country, a steep, CinemaScope view of Pennsylvania farmlands and tiny, steeple-dotted villages. This providential side trip eventually took me onto Route 522 heading north; after a half hour or so I picked up Route 30 going west. The road felt familiar, and soon enough things were clarified when a sign indicated that I was driving on the old Lincoln Highway, Route 30 being the southern Pennsylvania leg of one of the country's earliest transcontinental highways. I arrived at Breezewood—an icon of sorts, for me—from the east rather than the south, for the first time in my life, and approaching the legendary junction of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-70 on the old Lincoln Highway—well, let's just say that this surprise Americana road trip, wholly unplanned, the result of traffic congestion on a major interstate, was a welcome amusement ride that I won't soon forget.


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