I am in Pittsburgh this morning. This is how I got here.
I left the house later than I intended, due to the fact I could not find my wallet. I have been very good at putting things in rightful places, and in the winter time, things usually live in the coat pockets. But somehow the wallet fell out of my coat and down between the console and seat. I tore the place apart, finally posting on facebook "has anyone seen my wallet?"
Once that was located, I got organized, ran a couple errands, and got out of dodge.
Forgot how boring it is to drive this trip alone. It has been years since I've done it solo. By the time I reached Hartford I asked myself why the hell I didn't just fly Jessica home, after all, the 5 tanks of gas (maybe 6) that I'd need would have covered her plane fare cost-wise. But then I realized that I wanted to get away from home for a couple days, and a few funny phone calls from friends later I was back in a traveling state of mind.
We have good friends who live near Scranton, so I caught them on the phone and asked if we could meet up. I figured if it didn't work on the way here it may work on the way home... they met me for coffee and we spent a lovely time drinking java and talking football, and laughing. Again, the mood improved.
By the time I got to Bellefonte the snow started. The forecast was for 0% chance of snow but they lied. They always lie. It was light out, so the driving was easy. Once it got dark it turned into a vortex of snowflakes and I felt like I was on the bridge of the USS Enterprise when all the stars are zooming past and Pickard is yelling "engage!"
Realizing I had four hours (at least) of this, I put the radio on scan and played radio roulette. My favorite game while driving through Central Pennsylvania. The Jesus Stations, the Country Stations, the Rock Stations and some NPR thrown in for good measure. The vast majority of them were playing Christmas tunes.
There is some very, very bad Christmas music out there. Uninspired, phoned in, God Awful. Shameful really.
Central PA is obsessed with Katy Perry (why?), and Jesus, and Manfred Mann's cover of the Springsteen classic "Blinded by the Light," the one where everyone thinks he is singing "revved up like a Douche..." An entire generation of people grew up singing it that way, and even my daughter and all her friends think it is "douche." It took hearing Bruce's original for both Jess and her friend Liz to realize that it is "Deuce." So I laugh my ass off whenever I hear it, and I heard it no fewer than 8 times. In four hours.
Once I got to where 80 meets 79 and the left turn aims me south to Pitt, the snow stopped (funny how that happens). Before I knew it I was passing Heinz Field and looking at the beautiful shining city.
I did this drive with Jessica when we came down here in April for Accepted Students' Day, so I kind of knew where I was going. But not having a co-pilot made me a bit worried. That, and it was 8pm, I was tired, and still was experiencing USS Enterprise syndrome a little bit. Luckily, the signs all said "Oakland, this way..." and before I knew it there was Forbes, and there was the Cathedral, and there's Bigelow Blvd, and there's a parking space right on the dang street. Hallelujah.
10:15am left the house. 90 minute break in Scranton. Pulling up to Litchfield Towers, 8:30pm. I think this is a new record. Even with the snow.
Thankfully, all that snow was falling but none of it was sticking to the ground. The pavement was mostly dry, my only worry was people who slowed down to 40mph and didn't put their blinkers on to let me know they were doing the highway equivalent of NOT FREAKING MOVING! I think I almost rear ended two people at high speed. People. Use your dang flashers please.
I had dinner with Jess and her friend Megan from Toledo. They had already eaten, but I hadn't since 10am when I hit the road (aside from a tiny donut in Moosic). The woman at the chinese restaurant charged me the 6 dollar student rate for my General Gao's Chicken (nice!) and we had a good time and then Jess took me to her room so I could see it. It is a cute little room, very much her own wonderful little world. It needs a vacuuming but aside from that... it's a great place. I logged onto priceline and booked a room at the Holiday Inn 3 blocks or so from Jess' dorm. I could almost see her dorm from here. The room is normally $189 a night, I got it for $150. When I got here to check in at about 10:30pm, they told me that Priceline was wrong, that the rooms were sold out, but because I already paid for the room through them they'd put me in "a nice room."
I got an "executive suite." Huge walk in shower, giant bed, meeting area, sofas and chairs, like an office. It kicks ass. I think this is probably a $300 a night room, so I'm not complaining. I don't think there is anyone else on this floor.
Jess has her final final today at noon. It is 9am now. I'm going to go over to the Carnegie Museum of Art, see the Christmas and Nativity displays and maybe go see Monet's Waterlilies (one of six panels he painted, and this one is across the street from me right now). When she is done with her test, we'll have lunch. In honor of my friend Crystal, we will probably go to Fuel and Fuddle because it is her favorite spot in Oakland, and she lives in Seattle now. I just have to figure out where the little side street is that it's on. I think it is really close.
After that, we drive north to Beaver Valley where my father in law has made a hotel reservation for us, I will give them a call and we'll take 50 minutes to decide where to have dinner (I will suggest the same place we always eat -- a little pizza shop in a strip by the mall which has GREAT pizza and pitchers of beer that keep coming). We'll sleep like angels, and in the morning get up bright and early to go see Elyse and Craig in their Christmas Pageant. Elyse is playing Mary. Craig is jealous, he's a shepherd but totally wants to play Mary too. And he's nervous that we're coming to see him. He's hysterically funny, I can't wait to see them.
We'll eventually start heading home. Not sure if we'll head home on Sunday afternoon and see how far we can get, or stay here for one more night and travel with as much daylight as we can on Monday. Rumor has it there is a big storm heading to Massachusetts so I'll have to touch base with Doug tonight and tomorrow to see what the Weather Prognosticators are saying. Or, I can continue to monitor the Universal Hub French Toast Alert System, and see what they're saying.
There is a baby crying in the room below me. Loudly. I'm glad I had the heater/air conditioner unit thing blasting last night and didn't hear it. Awesome hotel room or no, that would have made my head explode.
And on that note, I've got coffee to discover, and art to enjoy.