Today was all over the place. On the one hand, Christy made me an egg and ham sandwich for breakfast, and soon after I left her house, I stopped at a Tim Hortons to buy a large coffee for only one dollar. I’d thought Tim Hortons was a Canadian thing, but I’m glad the U.S. is selling their brands – I loved it!
Today’s drive was almost immediately different from yesterday’s. While I spent my first day driving through Midwestern fields and passing through big Interstate cities, today I drove through hills and forests, and probably half of the trip was driven on two-lane highways down back roads and through small towns. I even saw a lot of changing leaves! I tried to take pictures, but my iPhone (while driving) could not capture what I was seeing.
On the other hand (remember, today was all over the place), it rained pretty much the entire time I was driving. And there were tolls, bane of my existence. And then – road trip catastrophe! I was around big cities when my gas tank was half full, but I figured filling up wasn’t really necessary. When I hit a quarter tank, I decided to keep an eye out. Then my meter fell to two dots (very specific, I know), and I was in the middle of hill country western Pennsylvania, with nothing but trees and the occasional farm house in sight.
When I pulled into Fallingwater, I was at one dot, and my gas light was on. I parked and walked to the visitor’s center, determined to forget my eventual side-of-the-road stranding and enjoy Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous architectural design. And I did! My day swung back into awesome: the rain stopped, I walked through a forest, and I toured a really cool house.
Should I geek out? Yeah, okay. Fallingwater is famous for being built over a waterfall instead of next to one. 45% of the floor space of the house is a terrace, because the Kauffmans (who owned the house and helped with some of the design) wanted to be outdoors as much as possible. The house spirals around a central chimney, and each bedroom has at least one wall of windows so that you feel like you could step out into the woods. Everything is horizontal lines and cascades, echoing the feel of the nature surrounding the house. I loved it. I have always been drawn to things that are half city-half nature (like the city of Vancouver), and this house was everything that is great about the natural and the technical.
So that part was great. But as I left, I was returned to reality. I asked someone at the guest desk where the nearest gas station was, and she told me about one seven miles away. I got in my car, started my GPS, and…DROVE THE WRONG WAY. Because it was a tiny back road surrounded by forest, it took two miles before I found a place to turn around. The car’s dashboard has a countdown of sorts, and I realized that I had 40 miles of gas left for a journey of 10 miles. No problem. EXCEPT I was on these intensely hilly roads, and when I went up, I ate through multiple miles at a time. As I got closer to this supposed gas station in the middle of nowhere, I found myself praying for hills I could coast down, saving my mileage. FINALLY I pulled into the gas station with only 17 miles left in my gas tank.
Lesson learned: don’t assume your normal road rules apply to rural Pennsylvania.
And then I got to relearn the lesson, because after I filled up my car with gas, I tried to input Elizabeth’s address into my phone. No cellular service. I had literally no idea which of the four available directions I should go, so I drove into the tiny town, parked in the two-spot parking lot in front of a post office, and walked around with my phone in the air to catch a signal. Finally I did, and I was off to Maryland.
It was still awful. It poured down rain for the entire three hours, and I found myself wishing Percy Jackson would jump out of my audiobook and like, create a rain-free bubble around my car. Then it got dark, and I would ride out hydroplaning every once in a while, and it was just all the things I don’t like about driving.
BUT. At 7:00 I arrived in Rockville, and I have had such a great time catching up with Elizabeth. She made homemade macaroni and cheese, we talked about how great Japan is, and then we spent hours talking about flaws and grace and being stupid people loved by a great God. I’m staying with her for five days, and 1) loving being her friend and 2) knowing I don’t have to drive for awhile means I am ending the night feeling really good!
States Visited: 4 (Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland)
Total States Visited: 6 (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland)