Day Thirteen. All the Luck in the World and Maybe Some Skill, Too.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Sun, 10/26/2008 - 17:49

The rain continued on for the entire drive home. It was bad enough that it was raining at all, but it rained in heavy, blasting sheets. The wind blew so hard it moved my car out of its' lane. I saw the other cars being pushed along from side to side. It scared the shit out of me.

I stopped at a rest stop after an hour of white knuckle driving. I checked the weather radar on my iPhone. It looked grim. I had no idea that it was a serious storm, packing wind warnings, but I knew it was going to be a trial by fire to get to Connecticut. I broke down and called Sam. I cried hysterically. I didn't want to upset him, but I was beat. I didn't think I could go any further. I was done.

"Where are you? Let me see where you are on the map and I'll come get you and we can drive home together!"

"I'm 247 miles away. That's crazy. You don't have to do that. I just need to cry for awhile and tell you I'm scared. I'm sorry to upset you. I know if I want to get home, I have to get home."

"Well, I can come meet you in Scranton? Or anywhere, just tell me where."

Sam's such a good person! I knew he couldn't fix the weather or come and rescue me. I wasn't about to sit in a tiny rest area for 5 hours and wait for him, nor would I ask him to do such a thing.

So I dried my tears and told myself I'd stop every 40 or 50 miles to take a breather, but I seriously considered finding a hotel to stay at until the weather cleared.

It was too early to check into a hotel, only about 11am at the time, and I told myself to just keep at it.

The roads are rutted from the semi-truck traffic. In addition to that, the concrete? they used has splits perpendicular to the road direction. I found it added to my misery by leaps and bounds. I struggled to keep the car on the road and in the lane, while idiots were flying past me at over 70mph. Some of the truckers were equally nuts, but most kept at a decent pace.

Passing them was not fun. Their tires kick up such a huge spray of dirt and water. I kept worrying that my mass air intake was going to get clogged up and any second the car was going to shut off. Each truck I passed, I could feel my car tug towards the cab from the force of the drag. I'd speed up to get it over with, but with the wet, windy conditions and crappy road surface it was all I could do to not lose control of the car.

I got angry. Really angry and fed up.

By the time I got to Scranton, I ditched any plans of visiting Electric City Harley or The Glider Diner. I wanted away from the rain and the crap...away from the perilous mountain passes on acute twisting turns. Yes, I'm afraid of heights, too. I tried not to be afraid. I told myself to just face it. Look at the view of the foggy, rainy abyss and love it, but I just got more scared and more angry.

It was torture and it never let up.

I finally got out of Pennsylvania. Man, that's a big state! New York's welcome sign was indeed a happy sight for me. I knew the rest of the way home without GPS. Fairly soon, I'd be so close that I could get TOWED the rest of the way using my handy-dandy AAA plus membership! I relaxed a little bit. I thought about Sam. I thought about NOT being a crazy psycho bitch when I saw him. I turned up the stereo and let myself focus on getting this task over and done with and let my anger fade.

100 miles to go...

36 miles to the CT border...

Welcome to Connecticut!

Welcome Home

Then the tears hit. I fucking did it. I was back in CT with lots of traffic and lunatic drivers. I didn't care. I flew along, thinking it was almost over. I was gonna get home, even if the car stalled out right now, I'd be able to get home. No more worries. My heart soared.

Bennet's Bridge Road. 1.1 miles to go.

I called Sam, ready to tell him I was not in PA, then surprise him by being in the driveway, but he surprised me by saying;

"Is that YOU???I see you!!!!! I'm in the driveway!!!"

Sam had been using Loopt to track my progess and the GPS had dropped out when I got to Newtown. He was standing by his car waving furiously at me. I hung up the phone and flew down the driveway and shut off the car. I swung the door open, crying, and fell into Sam's arms. He started jumping up and down, hugging me hard.

I did it. I made it home. 2753 miles-conincidently it was the same distance I would have driven one way to Fallon, NV. I never would have been able to make this trip even if my car hadn't fallen apart mid-way. It's just too far to go alone and in truth, it would have taken at least three weeks, instead of two, to do the trip and I fear it would have really killed me from sheer exhaustion, alone.

Add two thousand...

I've enjoyed writing about my crazy journey, so I will continue blogging about my daily thang. It may not be as exciting as death defying drives to Des Moines, Iowa, but that might be nice right now. Of course, I'll take lots more FOOD PORN shots and write-ups about places I discover, so keep visiting me here. We'll see how it goes.

All I know is I'm home. Safe and sound. In one piece, my car, too.

2008-10-26 17:11:40 -0400

Home at last.

Day "Lucky" Thirteen and More About Phil

Submitted by Robin Olson on Sun, 10/26/2008 - 17:23

I hit the road at 9am. The weather was dreadful. I got some fancy high octane gas, finally, at Sunoco. Up to that point, I'd been getting gas from brandless branded gas stations that made me a bit worried about their effect on the engine. Yeah, I'm a victim of advertising, even though I know better. Sooooo...anyway...

State College, PA, from what little I saw of it, was an oasis in the middle of seriously poverty-stricken north central Pennsylvania. Of course, the influx of cash from Penn State had to be the sole reason for the massive growth. Everywhere I looked, I saw new buildings, clean and shiny, but if I looked a bit longer, I'd also see ratty picket fences disguising forlorn trailer parks.


(View down the creepy hallway at the Holiday Inn Express, State College, PA)

There were malls, featuring Kohl's and Cirucit City, a big stadium...ummm...Beaver Stadium, to be exact, townhouses and condos on hilltops overlooking the highway and a large penitentiary in the city outskirts. They have everything, right? Even an Outback Steakhouse and an Olive Garden-all this in the middle of seemingly-nowhere's-ville.

French Onion Soup

(French Onion Soup at Outback Steakhouse)

An hour away in little Punxsatawney, PA, I saw so much poverty, I felt very guilty driving through town in a BMW. I thought about what my home is like, as I looked at buildings that didn't even have siding-just tyvek or plywood sheets. The porch on one building was sagged so badly, it was GOING to collapse. Not sometime, but soon. Even with that poverty, that little house falling down on itself was decorated for Halloween, their recycling bins clustered near the entry door, a child's bike resting against the wall-or holding up the house, I wasn't sure.

I saw an old man with an older dog. The dog was so old he moved by teetering and tottering, instead of flexing his legs at the hip. I wanted to scoop them both up in my car and take them with me.

It was obvious whatever caused the towns to thrive had left and they were surely struggling. There were signs proclaiming support for McCain and that Obama, you just couldn't trust him, no. Someone actually spent money and effort to have signs printed about Obama not being trustworthy. Once in awhile I'd be relieved to see an Obama sign on a tattered lawn. I think regardless of who wins, someone needs to come to these areas and give them some help. The land is so beautiful-sweeping rolling hillsides that dip and drop like a rollercoaster. Farms and hillside cemeteries that catch the slumbering sunlight. It has magic, this place, but also has such sadness, you can feel it in your heart as you drive by.

Punxsatawney is hanging in there. Phil, the weather predicting groundhog, is keeping them alive. All over town are statues of Phil in different poses, with different outfits. They have a tiny zoo, just for him, along with groundhog decor all over town. The folks at the Chamber of Commerce, where you can buy Philmobilia, were very friendly and were ready to repeat, for the gilliionth time, where Gobbler's Knob was and where to see Phil. They collected my credit card with a smile. I felt like I should just give them some money for their sweet little town and let them keep the t-shirts.

Punxsutawney Phil Statue

Punxsutawney Phil's Faux Friend

Punxsutawney Phil's House

This day was so much more about just getting off the Interstate and seeing a sliver of this country. It broke my heart, but I also have hope. I also realize how much I've got and I kinda feel gross.

I need to make some changes.

Day Thirteen. Last Leg.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Sat, 10/25/2008 - 08:48

Ugh. I am soooooo tired. One more long day of driving to go and I should get home. It's raining and windy, with gusts up to 40 mph, are going to make the drive really SUCK. I would love to just go back to bed for the day and leave tomorrow, but I gotta just get this over and done and be home already!

With any luck, I'll be there by dinner.

PA has humorous "Buckle Up" road signs. One reads:

Buckle Up
Next Million Miles

I feel like that's how many miles I've driven. As of last night, it was about 2400. And yes, I've been asking myself; "What WAS I thinking, thinking I could drive, not just this 2400, but 6000?!!!!!" I'm glad I turned around and headed for home. I never would have made it to Reno. It's just too far to do in two weeks and with one driver.

Did I say I was tired?


Day Twelve. The Real Ground Hog's Day

Submitted by Robin Olson on Fri, 10/24/2008 - 20:35

I made it another 300-ish miles today. Just got into my hotel in State College, PA. Need to upload some photos and write things up, but wanted to let you all know I should be home tomorrow!!!! Going to take it easy tonight and get some rest and be ready to roll in the morning.



ugh...I just lost all that I wrote about today...I'm too tired to re-write it. Will catch up later.

I saw PHIL today. He looked in good weather predicting health. Dat's all I'm sayin' for now.

"Punxsutawney Phil"



Day Twelve. Getting Closer.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Fri, 10/24/2008 - 10:01

This room sure is weird! It's a fancy-esque fantasy suite in the middle of a ghost town of low rise apartment buildings. I just looked out the window to see if my car was still there! So far, so good.

Today's plan is to drive only (!) 331 miles, or just about half way home. It's either 331 or over 600. After yesterday, I think I better take it slow.

I'm going to check out the Maumee, OH Antique Mall. It's 110,000 sq ft! WOOO! After my antique break, it's back on the road to beeline for State College, PA, home of Penn State and my rest stop for the night. I chose State College because it seems to be an oasis of stuff to do in the middle of a lot of nothing to do! Hopefully, the nasty rain will hold off until I can get away. I dread driving through that nasty storm front that I drove through yesterday...for FOUR HOURS...blah. a bit of sleep a bit of crappy breakfast. Deep breath...getting closer...almost home!

Oh and the mudflap almost came off yesterday. No big deal, though I didn't want to drive through the serious rain storms with it hanging, so I stopped in Walcott, IA to see about getting it fixed.

2008-10-27 21:25:10 -0400

The place was tiny and they charged a "lift charge of $12.50" plus the $6.00 or so to put in two screws. Hmmm...ok. Whatever! Just get me out of this place! The wind is blowing through the walls!

2008-10-27 21:25:54 -0400

Oh yeah..Pool People.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Thu, 10/23/2008 - 23:58

I'll sketch it out here and fill in details later...

Nice lady: in town for a seminar. Works for the Government. Seminar topic: CHICKEN WASTE MANAGEMENT. Think about that for awhile, won't you?


Nice guy nicknamed "Stash" cause he had a killer 70's porn movie star stash. He told me about his crappy vacation. One was spent wearing and washing the same souvenir t-shirts over and over again because the airlines lost their luggage for 5 out of the 7 day vacation.

The killer bad vacation for him...


And I thought I was having a tough time!

Day Eleven. What's Round on the Ends and High in the Middle?

Submitted by Robin Olson on Thu, 10/23/2008 - 23:52


I made it to Perrysburgh, OH, to a Junior Suite with a whirlpool bath and shower for 6?, a king-sized bed and TWO flat screen TV's-one is by the tub.

I just had a soak and watched SNL. What a treat. Speaking of FOOD, I am starving, but too tired to go out again and find something. I had a banana, some chocolate covered raisins and water. That's food, right? Tomorrow is free breakfast, which I will LOAD up on, no doubt. I hardly ate at all today, but I wanted to just make it this far and I did.

It took 11 hours...ugh.

A few fun things:

I saw about 10 Adult Bookstores between West Des Moines and here. I didn't go into them, but man, there were plenty if I urge.

License plate: PIE

Billboard: Loosest Slots in the Area (WTF?!)

I stopped at "The World's Largest Truck Stop" in Walcott, IA, along I-80 (which is also the second longest interstate in the US!)

2008-10-24 20:06:06 -0400

I saw scary t-shirts!

2008-10-24 20:10:05 -0400

Got t-shirts at: Starved Rock Harley-Davidson. There's "Signature" HD down the road from my hotel, so I may get a few more. I know. I don't have a Harley, but I know a few friends who do.

I lost an hour. Back on EST again. Better get to bed. I sure am pooped, but grateful I only had to stop at ONE REPAIR SHOP TODAY!!!!!

Yet another repair to be done...

Yes, I had to get the car fixed, but it only cost $19.79.

More on that tomorrow!

Day Eleven. Spiltsville.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Thu, 10/23/2008 - 10:24

The car is packed. All I have to do is check out. It's weird. I feel like this hotel, with the leaky windows, screaming smoke alarms, shorting out light fixtures is my home. I've been here too long. Time to split!

Weather is gray and rainy. I hear it's clear eastward, so I should make better time in a few hours.

I'm too scared to think I will be home in a few days, so I'll just see how far I get today and see how it goes.

Until the next exciting episode in the saga of: Stranded in the Heartland

P.S. and remind me to tell you the stories of the two people I met at the pool.

Over and out...

Day Ten. Legs.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Wed, 10/22/2008 - 22:01

Car's been runnin.' I've been packin.' Tomorrow I leave with the goal of reaching Elkhart, IN or Perrysburg, OH. Then on Friday, I hope to reach home late that night.

This is all subject to change!

Feel free to ring me on my mobile. I'll be on the road for a long while, if my car behaves.

Taking a deep breath and crossing fingers...

Day Ten. Giving Thanks.

Submitted by Robin Olson on Wed, 10/22/2008 - 19:00

I know I haven't left Des Moines, boy do I know that, but I want to take a minute out to say a very sincere "THANK YOU" to those kind souls who've been either driving a long way to visit and support me during this rough patch or who have been so kind to call or email and check up on me. It really makes my heart swell to know I have such caring and loyal friends.

I'm not sure I deserve it, but I'm very grateful for it. The love I feel from all of you made, what could have been, truly miserable experience, much less so.

Thank you so much to you all.