Tania's Words

here is an empty shell- a resonant shadow- waiting

Magical Cranberry

Here I am in magical Cranberry, Pennsylvania. Ok, maybe not so magical. I was very excited about staying in a hotel in a town called Cranberry. It just seemed like it would be a peaceful little hamlet, nestled into a cute, tree lined suburb of Pittsburgh.  Gingerbread houses and people walking dogs, you know? Not so much. From what I’ve seen of Cranberry (admittedly, hardly anything at all), it’s not much to write home about. I am right next to the highway, where all the hotels, motels, gas stations and chain restaurants cluster around an exit;  this might be the reason for my disillusionment.

I’ll just have to get over it. Already I’ve over come my hatred of Pennsylvania, something I would have sworn was absolutely impossible just a week ago. But this was before I had ever driven through the state during the day.

I’ve been to Pennsylvania many times before, as I have family in Elizabethtown. I’ve driven through Pennsylvania three times, at least- the first two times were years ago, so I had only hazy memories of hating the Pennsylvania Turnpike with a vengeance. As I prepared to go visit Dan last week in West Virginia, I must admit I felt a small trickle of foreboding. All I remembered about the Penna Turnpike (that is what the signs call it, I swear) was that it was always under construction, which meant being sandwiched between big trucks and a tiny rail overlooking a massive precipice, with the worlds narrowest lanes, EVER.

Frankly, this is my worst nightmare. I hate driving through the mountains right on top of the guard rail and anticipating (dreading?) plunging to my death.

But I told myself it would be ok. It had been years since I’d been to Pennsylvania. Surely the roads weren’t always under construction…surely I was more used to driving and therefore would be able to handle anything thrown at me…right?

So wrong. So sadly, pathetically wrong. First, roads are always under construction, everywhere I go. It must be a law. Which is fine. But on the Penna (I think that is hilarious), the road is already narrow. I understand this, as it is build into the hills, or mountains or whatever. When not under construction, they are fine (I’ve since learned).

Now, I must say, the Penna threw everything it had at me. It was dark. The turnpike has very little division between oncoming traffic and your lanes- unlike in Michigan where you usually have a stretch of grass, or at least a high wall, on the Penna, there is just a short wall and the two lanes running next to each other with very small shoulders. So more often than not, you are blinded by oncoming traffic. Now when there is construction, the shoulders disappear. And you are stuck right up on a wall, with the lane next to you full of semi trucks (which are always weaving all over the freaking road).

Here I am, white knuckling my way through this personal hell, wishing it was over, when the gods of the highway decide I haven’t been punished quiet enough yet. It starts to storm. And I mean, really storm.  With the oncoming traffic, the backwash off of the trucks, the blinding lightning, I am starting to freak out. And that is before I realize that my windshield wipers don’t quite work.

What did I do, I ask? Why, Penna Gods, WHY?? Shaking my fist at the highway gods, I vow to never litter again, even though I don’t litter. Unless an apple core counts, which I never thought did, since it will biodegrade.

Obviously  I made it. I think I lost ten years of my life, but I made it. Cursing the whole freaking state of Pennsylvania along the way. I’ve never hated anything so much as I hated this cursed state.Until I drove home, during the day. Without the rain. And realize that Pennsylvania is really beautiful. Breathtaking. Only by day.

Anyway…I had a point. I don’t remember what it was though. Aren’t you glad you slogged through all that crap about a highway for nothing? Darn, why was I telling that story? No idea.

So, here I am in Cranberry. Dan and Parker and I will be taking in Pittsburgh tomorrow. We’ve never been, so I am pretty excited. Last weekend we went down to Harper’s Ferry, which was amazingly beautiful, took Parker to the DC Zoo, and got to see a bit of West Virginia, Maryland (Which still smells bad. Long story. I contend that Maryland just smells bad. If you know why, please enlighten me), and Virginia. Harper’s Ferry is located in a kind of peninsula of West Virginia, so you are always crossing state lines. I kept having to ask Dan what state we were in. It was very nice out there though. As always, love DC. I hope I won’t be making that drive again any time soon though. It took 10 hours there and 9 back, with just me and Parker. Who gets an award for being the most patient toddler ever.

To think, that a few years ago, I’d be struggling not to fall asleep on my way to Lansing. Today’s 4.5hr trip felt like nothing after last week. Go me (trust me, this is a go me moment. I am not a driver. I hate driving long distances).

Well, I am off to see what we will be up to tomorrow. I am thinking children’s museum and maybe the zoo? We shall see.


  ellemck1 wrote @

Can’t really explain why MD smells bad, but then again, I live here, so I’d probably be used to the smell… although it feels like our roads are always under construction here too, especially since the start of that blasted Inter County Connector.

Never loved too much of PA, aside Pittsburgh, maybe.

  taniamccue wrote @

I hope I didn’t offend. Just every time I go through Maryland, I am assaulted by terrible smells! LOL. It is really lovely out there, but way too humid for me. Sorry so long to respond, I didn’t see your comment for ages!

  ellemck1 wrote @

lol, not offended. 🙂 There are moments where I can smell some weird things too.

Bad with responses, too… I just have this forgetful problem thing…

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