Day 11 - Clark's Great Escape

Trip Start Aug 28, 2011
Trip End Oct 01, 2011

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What I did
Travelled from Ohio to Pennsylvania

Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The wind and rain never let up overnight – it was wild! We woke to a howling wind and the walls of the yurt were rattling a bit, but we remained pretty snug.  We ate another "camp breakfast," packed the car up, and headed out to Lake Erie for a pre-highway geocache hunt.  We were out by 9:00 AM, and had at least 7 hours of driving ahead of us – our last “really long day” on the road until we get to California.  A few minutes after leaving our yurt, we came across a ring-necked pheasant walking across the road – it was a beautiful bird.  You don't see that sort of animal in Tacoma.

At the beach, the girls found their geocache in short order – which was a good thing because the wind and rain seemed to be pretty much “torrential.”  However, as brilliant as I tend to be (catch the sarcasm?), I decided that Clark needed to get his picture taken by Lake Erie.  After all, he was quite fond of Lake Michigan.  Layla placed Clark on a small jetty by the beach, but I told her to move him closer to the water – which was crashing pretty hard on the rocks.  Well after I snapped the picture, Clark took the chance of a lifetime – he grabbed a high wave and leapt into the lake!  Layla yelled to me and we both ran into the water to bring our friend back to us – but it was not to be.  Clark surfaced briefly in the brown, churning water and made his final dive into his new freshwater home.    Layla and I called to Clark and searched the waves (pretty darn cold on this day) up to our knees for several minutes….  However, you cannot deny nature – Clark is an octopus, not a person.  He saw an opportunity to start a new life in a new part of the world and he grabbed it – he had no wife, no kids, nothing to hold him back.  Who can blame him, really?

Sad and soggy, we departed Lake Erie without our old friend Clark, and headed back to our “other” friend – Interstate 90 eastbound.  As we approached Cleveland, we actually left I-90 for good – after 11 days!  We continued on Route I-80, and continued to have to deal with the hassle of toll roads – and the inability to easily get any local food or services while we were travelling.  Point in case: Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  How many of the folks reading this blog (without Ohio roots) have ever heard of Cuyahoga Valley National Park?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  Well, would you believe that when exiting I-80, it is easier to find this obscure park than it is to find a sandwich?  It is, really.  No sandwich – but you sure as heck can find the Cuyahoga River.  Yep.  Go figure.  Toll roads:  Can’t live with em, can’t kill em….   

Well, we did eventually find a sandwich – in North Lima, OH.  And what a great sandwich it was!  One of the things that I miss from living in New England is the ability to walk into a “mom and pop” deli and get a sandwich – all we have on the West Coast are “Subways” and corny boutique sandwich shops.  Well, today we stumbled across “North Lima Pizza and Subs” about 2 hours after starting our search for lunch and it was fantastic.  The place wasn’t “old school” – it was just old.  Good, real subs – the first the girls have ever had, I think.  To boot, they got to play a broken pinball machine while we waited for our food – which kept giving them free replays.  I felt like I could move there….except for the darn toll road.

Mid-afternoon was approaching fast by the time we left North Lima, and we still had over 200 miles to drive before we would get to Hershey, PA – so we needed to get down to driving, and fast.  We weren’t worried about highway access in Pennsylvania as we’d gassed up in North Lima and were hoping for a straight shot to the hotel (except for a state line photo and a couple of bathroom breaks).  However, we were then introduced to Pennsylvania’s toll system – which Heather had anticipated: overpriced tolls.  $40.00 to cross the state?  Really?  Tolls….I really hated them by now.  And I’m even a government worker, for Pete’s Sake!  You’d think if anyone could justify a toll, it’d be me!  Forty bucks – at least Heather DID get that in the budget.

Anyway, we cruised through the Appalachian Mountains for a few hours, and even went through a few mountain tunnels.  I got the impression that the countryside was beautiful – but I don’t really know, as we were socked in with low clouds, and got some intermittent rain.  We tried to spice up the drive with the girls by doing a little extra family reading, movie time, and “50 States Q&A.”  They also worked on their daily journals.

It was a LONG ride – and it was after 8:00 PM when we finally got off the highway (at Harrisburg) and made our way to Hershey.  Fortunately, we’ll have a couple of nights here, followed by a few very short driving days.  It was raining really hard when we arrived, and though we did manage to get to our hotel, we found that much of the town of Hershey is under water:  yeah, the place decided to have a record-breaking flood just in time for our visit!  It’s kind of funny really – well, for me it is, since I don’t live here.   If we get rained out tomorrow and can’t see the chocolate factory, we’ll probably check out Gettysburg instead.  Meanwhile, some of the hotel employees have to sleep overnight here tonight because they can’t drive home; and a Pizza Hut had to be evacuated by boat because its roof actually went underwater.

Welcome to Pennsylvania!
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