Getting Closer

Getting Closer
Getting Closer

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September 12 Watkins Glen to Mercer, Pennsylvania

The rest of the photos for this day are linked here.

NewYork_to_PA (3) It was good to have two nights in one place, but it was also good to know we would be on the road again this morning.  Most days we only drive 200 to 300 miles or so, and even with only a night, we still have some time to settle in and enjoy.  We also took a bit of time in Wellsboro to upload photos and post all the blog posts that were backing up. We had no clue where we would spend the night, but with it being a Sunday and long after Labor Day, we hoped for something simple and accessible.

Before that, however, the Grand Canyon of the East called.  It was raining, and I knew that it would be difficult to peer into a deep canyon under those conditions.  But with no idea when we would be this way again, it was not a drive to be missed.  Shortly after we crossed into Pennsylvania, we came to the Pennsylvania Welcome Center, one of the best centers we have seen since the South Carolina Welcome Center during our 2007 cross country trip.

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The Pennsylvania Welcome Center was one of the best I have seen in the country

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Matt, the attendant on duty, was friendly and helpful, and even called around to find out where I could get free WiFi.

The attendant, Matt, was helpful and informative, and gave me a bag full of maps, directions, and brochures to help manage the day ahead.  Scenic Route 6 is a beautiful drive rated by National Geographic as one of the best in the nation.  It is over 400 miles long, following a route through several geographic divisions from the east to the western border of the state.  We joined the route about midway and followed it as far as the Allegheny River.

NewYork_to_PA (13) The side trip to the canyon was lovely, in spite of the rain, and the state park had no entrance fee, so hiking around in the fog was OK.  The canyon was shrouded in mist, except for a few moments when Pine Creek appeared thinly.  I bought a great book, however, that I read aloud for the rest of the route.  I learned about the geology, the landscapes, the history, both natural and human, of the great forest we drove through. We approached the highlands of the Allegheny Plateau, and for the first time I understood the relationship of ancient inland seas and glaciations in this part of the world.

It was a beautiful green day, punctuated by charming small towns filled with unique houses, and main streets that looked like they came from a Rockwell painting. In the afternoon, along the Allegheny River, Mo had a spontaneous moment and decided suddenly to cross the river to a small town called Tidioute.  I still don’t have a clue how to pronounce that name, but I won’t forget the town!

We drove across the river and down the main street, continuing toward the edge of town, and the street just kept going. And going. And going.  It kept getting more narrow, and there were no turnarounds to be found.  After a few miles the trees started closing in and we finally decided to unhook the baby car and get turned around.  whew.  Once we hooked up again and headed back through town, I became NewYork_to_PA (56)enamored with the homes and buildings, and suddenly we realized that we had missed the bridge.  The road was once again getting narrow and wandering off into who knows where.  Garmin Girl showed a single road, with no side roads, no turnarounds.  So once again we drove into a gravel driveway near the city reservoir and tried to unhook.  Problem was that we were on a hill, and backing the MoHo with the car behind it isn’t as easy as backing a trailer.  After some tries, we finally managed to get unhooked, turned around, managed to get rehooked and finally back across the Allegheny River!

The rest of the evening was uneventful, meandering through small towns until we reached I-80 and I-79 towards our chosen campground at the little town of Mercer.  The camp is pleasant, with enough space between sites, with electricity, water, cable tv and seriously good WiFi!  I made some chicken quesadillas for a simple supper and have enjoyed the time to read and write a bit, catching up with my kids and friends, checking the weather, and basically reconnecting with the world again.