Road Trip

Apologies to Judy, if she hasn’t yet had her coffee, and to Mary (please don’t take away my bonus points), and to all the others who don’t like math, but it’s Monday, and this is a true story, so:

If car ‘A’ leaves Hartford, Connecticut at 8:30 am going west at 70 mph and car ‘B’ leaves Ames, Iowa at midnight, going east at the same speed, what time is dinner on Neville Island?

Consider this an extra-credit question. No pressure.
Consider this an extra-credit question. No pressure.

Wrapped around the weekend before this past one was an 1,107-mile road trip for Faith and I and an 1,800 mile round trip for my brother. Lots of people I know have told me that that’s a crazy amount of time to spend in a car, but I’ve driven farther. I’ve driven cross-country (twice). I’ve driven the entire west coast and a big hunk of the east coast. I love road trips.

The purpose of this trip was to experience Pittsburgh. To visit family graves, to have breakfast at Eat’n Park, to see the Pens win a hockey game and the Steelers…the less said about that, the better, and to snag some photos. Specifically, doors. I made a deal with Faith: “if we go to Pittsburgh, you have to help me get some door photos.” She agreed. Small price to pay, and all that.

You’re going to hear about those doors in several Thursday posts and you’re going to hear about (and see some photos from) other parts of this trip, like a sunrise photo-shoot, and a search for an abandoned highway, but not today. Today is just road trip.

I wanted to leave early. I always want to leave early, but Faith had worked very late the night before. We compromised. I left early for her house, which allowed me to avoid Hartford’s rush hour traffic but we agreed to leave her house at a more reasonable time.

But you can’t pace!

Faith added that caveat to the deal, because I pace. I’ve always paced. My father used to compare me to some insect and tell me to “light somewhere” when I was little. As I grew older, “light” became “sit your ass” or he’d give me things to do.

I think Faith and my wife are also looking to expanding that clause to include “mental pacing” because, I do that too. I don’t know how they can tell. Maybe it’s the way I look at my watch, or my phone, or the comments I make, but it’s clear I’m pacing inside. It reminds me of John Lennon’s song “Crippled Inside” – I mean, it’s not the same, but kinda. I guess I can’t hide it.

The problem with leaving Connecticut early, is that while we avoid the CT/NY traffic, we hit rush hour traffic in Scranton, PA. Oddly enough, leaving later allowed us to miss traffic in both areas. The only downside to leaving later was having to admit to Faith that she was right.

The first time Faith and I drove to Pittsburgh, it was part of a hastily arranged trip when she was facing a “use it or lose it” moment with her vacation time at work. I was searching Marriott’s website for a hotel where we could stay using reward points, near places we could drive to:

OK, there’s a Fairfield Inn on Neville Island, near Pittsburgh.”

Ooooh, an island, that sounds nice.”

Um, yeah, maybe not the kind of island you’re imagining.”

The launching of LST 42 on August 17, 1943. The ship would take part in the Battle of Iwo Jima. Photo courtesy Heinz History Center
The launching of LST 42 on August 17, 1943. The ship would take part in the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Photo courtesy Heinz History Center

Neville Island, PA is an industrial island in the middle of the Ohio River. During WWII, Dravo Corporation built landing crafts on Neville Island. Not exactly white sand and palm trees. What the area lacks in ambience, the hotel makes up for in convenience. It’s literally under I-79. Take the off-ramp, drive into the hotel.

Getting there requires driving across I-80, a road well-known for heavy truck traffic and many, many deer strikes. Dead deer. Bloodstained highway. Faith dubbed it “carnage highway” as she was driving. The worst part of driving on I-80 is when a truck going 62 mph decides to pass a truck going 60 mph. Actually, the worst part is when that happens while it’s raining…which it was…when Faith was driving. On the plus side, central Pennsylvania is beautiful country. You roll through the Allegheny Mountains, over rivers and streams and past some picturesque farmland.

As for the answer to the math problem: It was a trick question. Delays and detours in Indiana caused my brother to be late. We had dinner in McKees Rocks around 8:30 pm. I explained during dinner that some of my readers like to see pictures of food, Faith pointed out that I should have taken them as the food arrived, but I’m still learning.


  1. Nice post. However, I hate that kind of math problem which says if A is this and B is that then what is (whatever comes next). It makes me feel miserable. Anyway, don’t feel sorry about it, I’m just saying, you know as FYI, not because your post made me feel that way. The pictures are amazing especially the bridge image. I have never done a car trip so not sure how it feel, but yeah I did a bus trip 16 hours non-stop. We only halted for few minutes for relieving ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry about the math, Sharukh. If it’s any consolation, it makes my editor feel the same way, so you won’t see much of it in the future. I’ve been on long bus trips, and long train rides, but there’s something special about being in a car with one or two others for a long time. It’s easy to talk about the surroundings and to talk about things while ignoring the surroundings. In any case, it’s almost always been fun.


      1. Yeah, I can imagine car travel with Sarah would be so much fun for me. I have done car trips but very short ones lasting half an hour or so. I don’t even call it car trip, it’s a commute. I would love to do a car trip with Sarah to Ladakh someday. Have you ever heard of Ladakh? It’s called the Roof of the World.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks goodness I had my a large coffee in hand when you started with A and B. I was having flashbacks, but then you brought me back. :-) All kidding aside, I applaud your efforts to stay in touch with your brother and continue a strong family connection. You could both say you’re too busy, but you make the effort and enjoy the rewards. I can only think it makes your Mom very happy, and your Dad smile. And, the message you are sending to Faith is a strong one – family counts. I know it was a long trip, but I bet when you average out the smiles, laughs, and good conversation, it wasn’t really that far. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy. I felt that, after your last comment, I had to deal with the math quickly. I don’t think my editor will approve much more of that stuff. Faith loves these trips, and it was her idea to invite my brother to join us. She hadn’t seen him in a while. It was a great weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my, another fan of road trips and bridges. Pittsburgh has more bridges than any other city in the world. I guess it’s no surprise that I love them. I’ve got some photos coming up in the future posts from this trip that might make you smile.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, I have a few comments to share: 1) I knew the answer to your math problem right away. Answer – when both parties get there. Am I right? 2) Stop blaming Faith for the jersey barriers. It’s like blaming buddy squirrel for the Steeler’s misfortunes. BTW, congrats to them on beating the win-less Browns because they would not want to be the team that breaks them into the winning category. 3) Faith’s green fried tomato dish looks delicious, although it contains many things I shouldn’t eat. 4) Road trips are the best. I love road trips, especially when they include good friends or family. Glad you were able to enjoy the time away and get home safely. 5) You get to keep all of your bonus points.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mary! You get 10,000 bonus points today for getting the answer right. Within 5 minutes of my brother’s arrival, we were on our way to the restaurant! 2) I wasn’t blaming Faith. I was commenting that, no matter when I turn the driving over to her, we seem to hi construction. I feel bad for making her drive through it. 3) I think when you’re eating with friends or family on a special occasion, calories and bad cholesterol are all negated by the positive vibes in the air. 4) Totally agree. 5) Yay – cause I’m quite fond of those bonus points.


      1. Oh yayyy for bonus points! Thank you! I guess I’m not that bad in math after all.

        Sorry for being hard on you about Faith and the jersey barriers. I misunderstood. I feel bad for her too as I just drove the jersey barrier gauntlet on my way to and from the chiropractor. I hate those things.

        Speaking of eating, I’m getting excited over the prospect of all those calories on Thanksgiving Day. Mmmmm.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Being a history buff, I’m a tad more interested in your pic of the LST 42 than I am in Jersey walls and Faith’s bruschetta, but it’s all good, Dan. Glad you guys had a nice road trip. And bonus points for linking to one of my favorite John Lennon songs!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That isn’t far to drive. Ask any Angeleno. I could nto live on a small island… going round and round is not the same as hitting the wide opne highway. I totally understand mental pacing, and have to share with M. He can usually tell when I am doing it because of my foot…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha – the tell-tale foot. It’s weird being told to “stop pacing” when you’re sitting quietly, isn’t it? I don’t think it’s too far to drive. I think it’s more the folks here in New England that think that way. There’s too many towns and cities over here. If they had more wide open spaces, I think they would understand.


    1. Wow< Deborah. You get bonus points for having eaten at Eat'n Park. My daughter (vegetarian) loved the place immediately when she read: "you can substitute fresh fruit for any meat item and deduct $1 from the cost of your breakfast entree." We managed three stops this trip. A coffee break on the way down, family breakfast on Saturday and breakfast on the way home on Monday.

      BTW, I will be writing about a photo-shoot that was partially inspired by one of your posts in late October.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A man after my own heart, Dan, as I love road trips and have often driven from Chicago to Philly in one feel swoop, sometimes with only two stops. :-) As for the Steelers…my husband is from NE Ohio, so he’s a Browns fan, but that’s a hopeless case this year! At any rate, I also know what you mean about food photos. I too often eat before shooting!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chicago to Philly must be a bit longer than Ames to Pittsburgh. Our drive from CT was a mere 9-10 hours. The Browns will be back, but I was happy to beat them yesterday. I’m glad you can relate, Janet.


  7. Nice! I agree, it’s pretty travel area. Until it’s dark and raining and there are semis and you almost die. But I see none of that happened to y’all :)
    I hate to tell you, but The Mister and I used to have a jolly good laugh about “BRIDGES ICE BEFORE ROADS” when we lived in southeastern Georgia. Hell, those people don’t even go out when it rains, let alone drive over a bridge when it’s ‘frosty’ — which it almost never is!
    Sorry about Indiana delaying your brother. Crossroads of America and all, there is ALWAYS construction here. One of the first signs of spring!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We had one ice storm when I lived in Georgia and I swear, it was like the apocalypse visited for a day. My brother leaves early enough to beat the traffic around Indy, but there was some accident on the way there where a truck caught fire near an overpass. Everything got shut down and they were detoured. Long ride for him, late dinner, but as soon as they brought the appetizers, all was right with the world again.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I hate I-80 and have witnessed far too many of the truck-passing-truck scenarios you describe. I think bad thoughts and my husband verbalizes them. On I-80 in Wyoming they used the bodies of dead deer as mile markers.

    Liked by 1 person

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