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Driving, Rain, Falls

August 1, 2016


An increasing problem with our road trips is that getting out of New York is getting more and more boring because there’s so little to do within a few hours of home that we haven’t already done. Thus the first stop on our trip seems to be getting further and further from home.

Case in point: when we started planning this trip, our first stop was going to be Columbus, Ohio, a nine-hour drive from home. Nine hours is a long time in the car, even for The Hamster and me. So instead we stopped off in northern Pennsylvania to explore Bushkill Falls, a series of waterfalls and hiking paths that I once visited with my family when I was a kid. So, less than two hours after we pulled out of our driveway, we were already wandering around on the hunt for waterfalls.

For a while I worried that we’d have to skip Bushkill entirely because the weather was pretty terrible when the day started. It was still ominously overcast when we got there, but thankfully the rain held up until we were ready to leave.

When we got there we learned that there are several hiking paths of various lengths and levels of difficulty, each one taking you to different waterfalls. I suggested the most difficult path, which excited Sam until he notice the sign that said it would take 2.5 hours. We ended up compromising by customizing our own path out of pieces of the others, and it included most of the hardest path but cut it short a bit to ease Sam’s concerns.



It was a good choice, because we saw lots of beautiful waterfalls, got a great workout (despite spending nine total hours in the car, my pedometer counted almost 11,000 steps today), avoided most of the slow-moving families, and had a pretty fantastic time.





Notice the lady in the bright yellow safety gear sweeping up the walkway. If you’re going to work as a cleaning lady, being a cleaning lady at a waterfall is probably the best gig you can possibly get.



The humidity was off-the-charts ridiculous, and with all the stair climbing and waterfall mist thrown in, we were soaked with a mix of waterfall mist and sweat by the time we got back to the car.

After some quick souvenir shopping we ate lunch in the parking lot and then gave our legs plenty of rest by driving more than 500 miles, most of which was on I-80 across the entire state of Pennsylvania and a large swath of Ohio.


Only 314 miles till the next turn!


We passed the time the usual way: chatting, listening (and singing) to music, keeping an eye out for interesting scenery (today we saw an old-timey car with Alaska plates, a giant coffee pot sign for a roadside diner, an easy chair riding in the back of a pickup truck, and a wonderfully colorful sky at sunset), and playing various road trip games.






When it comes to games, our old standby is hunting for license plates from every state (We’re at 37 already, including Alaska!) but with around 9 hours spent in the car today, license plates alone weren’t going to cut it. Another game we like to play, called Padiddle, is a contest to see who can spot the most cars with only one working headlight or taillight, shouting “Padiddle!” every time we see one. A new one in our repertoire is the cow game, in which you get a point for every cow on your side of the road. (It’s a bit more complicated, as crossing a body of water resets scores to zero, and passing a cemetery creates “ghost cows” that steal all your opponent’s cows.) We also competed to see who could do various things the longest, like holding our breath or not blinking, while Sam timed us. Sam won most of them.

And of course, no car trip of any length is complete without singing the songs from Hamilton. We got through the first half of the soundtrack today, and will no doubt finish it tomorrow on our way to Dayton.

The trip might have taken even longer, but I-80 is pretty generous when it comes to speed limits (70 most of the way). Unfortunately, the weather fluctuated between sun and blinding rain so we were not always able to take advantage of the high speed limit. We had it pretty good, though, compared to the folks heading in the opposite direction, because at one point we saw a tractor-trailer on the eastbound side that crashed into the guardrail and turned completely perpendicular to the highway, blocking all lanes and shutting the highway completely. Thankfully we were headed west and were thus unaffected.

One of the perks of Sam being a bit older and more capable every year is that he can do useful things while I drive. Today he looked up how far away upcoming rest stops were so we could decide when to stop for bathroom breaks and where to have our first roadside cookout of the trip. We had a bit of luck there, as a torrential rainstorm ended just minutes before we stopped for dinner, and the rest stop we chose had a couple of covered picnic tables, which gave us some protection in case the rain came back. Sam also spotted a bunny right near our table, and while we were eating the sun came out for good.

I wasn’t sure how far we’d get today, but we ended up making it all the way to Columbus, so tomorrow we can get an early start on what is going to be a day packed with destinations in Columbus and Dayton and very little driving, compared to today.

As I drove, Sam did a bit of research online to figure out where to spend the night. We ended up at a Red Roof Inn, a road trip first for us. For a mere $50, we got a clean, spacious, room with shockingly tasteful, modern décor.



We also got a shower head that I deeply appreciate. Even in fancy hotels the shower head is often around eye level for me, requiring me to crouch down just to wash my hair and face. So a little touch like this makes me smile:



We did not, however, get an elevator, which makes staying on the second floor a bit onerous. Almost half of the hotel’s parking lot is designated as handicapped parking spots, but with three steps up to the front door (no ramp) and no elevator inside, I’m not sure where all those handicapped people are going to go once they’re done parking. There’s also no continental breakfast, but we come prepared for such eventualities with emergency supplies.

What we don’t come prepared for, apparently, is basic hygiene. For days I’ve had a worrisome feeling that I forgot to pack something important. It turns out that I have everything I need so far, but Sam forgot his toothbrush.

All in all it was kind of a weird day, with all the action up front, all the driving on the back end, and plenty of unpredictable weather throughout. But we had fun, and we’re both looking forward to a meatier day tomorrow–even if it has to include buying Sam a new toothbrush.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Robin permalink
    August 1, 2016 12:15 pm

    Calling padiddle on myself!

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