fall trip wrap-up

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although i’ve been home for a bit i didn’t blog the last bit of my roadtrip. so i wanted to do that now.

and i’m going on a little trip this week to denver for thanksgiving with the family so i will probably do at least one blog of that trip.

so in the meantime, when i should be moving yet more furniture around and sorting my laundry, packing, and doing dishes / cleaning the hovel chez moi, i thought i’d finish blogging my last trip. i mean, what better time than now?!? all that stuff can wait. right? ha!

pittsburgh to new jersey to points beyond

the  music of this last part i remember being the soothing continued sounds of the new Sun Kil Moon record, which is fabulous.

something comforting and just 100% suited to the end of my trip about this record.

Mark Kozelek really outdid himself. is it the strings? something warmer about the production, more melody? from the outside you’d never think that he has been nothing but consistent in releasing music that is very similar — really great but often more than a lot just samey. but for some reason this record stands out to me in how strong it is, how personal it is, how melodic it is, especially compared to other releases i’ve bought of his recently. yes, he’s one of those auto-purchase artists i’m a long-time fan of. the list is not long but it is deep. oy.

kings restaurant in pennsylvania

in trying to reconstruct the last few days of my trip, the photos were shamefully sparse. i think once i got to ohio the driving became more pressurized — i wasn’t in ohio or pennsylvania to see stuff really, but was really more focused on getting home.

once i left Columbus, Ohio and continued on I-70 towards Pennsylvania the driving got increasingly difficult. you can’t really tell it from the maps but eastern Ohio is freaking hilly as shit, and i don’t really enjoy the feeling of driving on the top of what i consider to be super high hills where there seems to be huge drop offs to the left and right, with not a lot of places to stop to rest. i actually don’t remember many rest stops (if any), or i know i would have stopped at them and chilled out a bit.

my northern route through Ohio and Pennsylvania was an effort to avoid areas that i knew had bad weather from Storm Sandy. i didn’t want to go through West Virginia because they got at least a foot of snow in many areas. and i didn’t want to go through Virginia up through New Jersey (the route i came when i started my trip) because i know that the Jersey shore was hit pretty hard. so i was staying north.

i was a bit shocked that when you go across on I-70 from Ohio to Pennsylvania there’s a little bit of West Virginia up there that you have to drive through. Wheeling, West Virginia. hilly as shit? check. grim dark stormy weather? check. freaking tunnel and bridge in an area known for traffic accidents? heck yeah! check.

Wheeling, West Virginia — huge tunnel and a bridge

i remember that i was driving a long day driving into Pittsburgh to see the wonderful Ian. it was dark and as anyone who has been to western Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh knows, that is some seriously hilly country. i will say this over and over again but my maps app on my iPhone 5 — as disparaged as it has been in the press with this new phone release — saved me. i was white-knuckling it getting to Ian’s house in Pittsburgh, exhausted from the hills, the drive, the dark, stressed to get home. and the map app got me there. i loved the iPhone 5 map turn by turn navigation. i would not have been able to drive my trip the way i did as easily as i did. so thankful and grateful to have this tool.

after leaving Pittsburgh i stopped a lot more. i was really tired, an accumulated tiredness that i just couldn’t shake. i had a snack at a King’s Restaurant in Somerset, PA. Frownie indeed (see below). a very very depressing stop. probably one of the more dicey areas i visited. was pretty glad to leave.

King’s Restaurant (Somerset, PA)

i really hope this is not the same chain as the King’s Restaurant in Omaha on Leavenworth i grew up with. Don & Millie’s (owned by Bob Kerrey i think) on Farnam Street in Omaha continues to make the amazing Cheese Frenchee sandwich of my childhood. hope this is a totally different chain.

Cheese Frenchee (Don & Millie’s in Omaha, NE). yum.

Pennsylvania Turnpike – expensive and grim

and then once you get to Pennsylvania i was on the Pennsylvania Turnpike with all these tolls and weird tunnels and stuff. not enjoyable driving at all – winding mountainous roads with what seemed to be crazy drivers who pass much closer than they did in the south and would tailgate and/or not move into the passing lane.

i think after the warm family feeling of visiting Ian in Pittsburgh, then leaving that to face the unknown of what i was returning to — my hurt New York City post-Sandy — and the very daunting future of life post-Credit Suisse, i was a lot more stressed out and just worried. i really wanted to get home, make sure i had groceries and supplies if there was no power or utilities in my apartment, and get back to the reality of my life i had been able to sort of suspend with this vacation / roadtrip.

another stop in penna

so i stopped after only about 6 hours of driving. again having a hard time staying awake and just feeling exhausted. though the hills sort of stopped feeling quite so hellacious east of Pittsburgh. or maybe i just got inured to the hills hills hills and driving high speeds on said hills.

i stopped in Carlisle, Pennsylvania to sleep and got grub at the surprisingly solid Middlesex Diner.

Middlesex Diner (Carlisle, PA)

it wasn’t the fanciest food of my trip but it was a solid diner and the prices were reasonable for the food i got. i remember a grilled cheese sandwich and coke (comfort food combo extraordinaire). and a salad with chicken. i was hungry, tired, and stressed. i think i ate dinner and just passed out.

Funck’s, blessed Funck’s

secretaries always have that sign that says something like: “Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine” and it really describes my journey from this point on. i wasn’t very prepared for this part of my journey.

i also was sad the roadtrip was ending.

one last gasp stop — at the amazing and wonderful Funck’s Restaurant in Annville, PA.

i really hadn’t driven that far. but i was stalling. and was concerned how bad New Jersey was going to be. so i stopped.

Funck’s Restaurant (Annville, PA)

am i glad i stopped. the place is odd. a lot of stone work inside and out. and it feels like it has been there forever. serves a lot of regulars and a lot of military personnel i think. but the food — and the service — was amazing. i think it was the best wait service i’ve ever had in my life, actually. not to overstate it or anything but i needed comfort and sustenance and this hit the sweet spot 100%.

Chicken Corn Rivel Soup, Funck’s Restaurant

i had no freaking idea what the Rivel was. it’s like a Pennsylvania Dutch dumpling. so good. and it was a cold dreary day. just really what i needed.

Fish Sandwich, Funck’s Restuarant

after all the pork and meat of the south, i wanted a hot sandwich but wasn’t really up for a burger. so i asked the waitress and she recommended the Fish Sandwich, which she said was “a nice pice of fish.” Tilapia. she wasn’t kidding — i’m not a huge fish fan but this was really good. it was hot, light, and just every bite delicious.it usually comes with fries but she let me have the soup instead.

and i wanted dessert — yeah stalling — so when we talked about that she did something amazing. she gave me a sample to try of the pumpkin pie. it was delicious. and so smart. i don’t know why restaurants don’t do that more. i totally got the pie because of that. ate it on the road and it was divine.

so if you are in this part of Pennsylvania this is a solid, good place to stop. i enjoyed this last bit of my roadtrip.

onward New Jersey

had the bright idea to try and stop at a Whole Foods outside the storm radius in New Jersey. or so i thought. planned to stop for groceries and gas in Milburn-Union / Vauxhall, NJ, though the signs when i got there said Marlborough, NJ.

rude shock. traffic lights not working. gas stations had tape roping them off because they were all closed. and although i called earlier to make sure they were open, i should have pushed more when the woman i spoke with said they were open until 6 pm. they were open until 6 pm because they were running on generator power!

so i was able to stop and get groceries but it was pretty freaky. a bit apocalyptic even. Whole Foods had food, luckily, but it was very weird — half lit cases and some of the aisles were pretty cleared out. i was able to get what i wanted / needed no problem, but still needed gas.

i knew it was going to be a problem as i started tracing my steps back on I-78 and saw signs for no gas. or the weird odd-even license plate thing (which i had no idea about). there was a TravelCenters of America sign a while back i had seen, so eventually i ended up calling them to see if they had gas. they did but i could only get $40. which was fine / enough. thankfully. so i drove back 45 miles, which seemed to take a good hour. got the gas from the TCA, and headed home. all very surreal.

bye bye rental

drove into my hurt New York City, saw my UPS guy delivering packages (hi Frank!) and so knew all was pretty much okay in the world. dropped off all my crap and groceries, had a few semi-asthma attacks getting it up into my apartment (my poor neighbors in my brownstone is all i can say about that). then off to LaGuardia Enterprise rental to return the car.

car rental (apologies for the blurry pic — was freezing)

this is a pic of my car. it was a Buick and had a weird model name. but was a great little car. got good gas mileage i think. was 4 clicks up in terms of model type. and the woman who gave it to me initially did me a solid, as it only had about 3,000 miles on it — was basically a brand new car. great car rental experience.

mileage counter on my trip: 3,324 miles

so i took a quick snap of the mileage (sorry these are such bad pictures i was freezing and a little exhausted / stressed to be back). i drove 3,324 miles in 2 weeks. essentially New York City to New Orleans and back.

took the M60 bus home — who knew?!?

to chez hovel moi. yeah there was power, just no one home.

chez hovel moi

Denver

so tomorrow i go to Denver for a few days to see the fam. first time going to my sister’s house — she’s lived in Aurora for a long time and i’m a bit embarrassed / ashamed of that fact.

believe it or not, i don’t travel much. and don’t really like traveling. it might be due to the fact that when i was young we took the bus every weekend for 10 years (from 1971 to 1981, when i was around 4 years old to about 13 years old) to see my dad in Omaha. the Lincoln to Omaha trip every weekend was not something i had a lot of choice about and while it was semi-defining as a development of my life — and is pretty representative of my childhood — i think i’m just not innately a traveler.

crabby traveler

so i was born on July 21. at night. it’s the cusp of the Cancer sign, astrologically. my chart is sort of whack.

my very unbalanced astrological chart

astrological charts aren’t usually so concentrated in one area — but mine is all sort of in the bottom right section. which explains a lot about me i think. and as i get older i sort of accept and know this about myself. there’s also something about a deep connection to the mother and if the mother isn’t present basically i’m screwed (uh oh) but i won’t dwell on that now.

made me think about this film from my childhood, l’argent de poche by Francois Truffaut.

l’argent de poche (Small Change) by Francois Truffaut

it sort of explains why i’m as odd as i am, i think. the 1970s were pretty crazy.

oh 1970s filmmaking

anyway, i’m a weird Cancer / crab and just don’t innately like to travel. so prepping for trips and forcing myself (which i typically have to do) to travel is a bit of an ordeal. and tomorrow i go away for a few nights. to the boozum of my family, as it were. big pluses are having all four of my awesome nieces in one place. so i’m looking forward to catching up with them, and seeing a bit of Colorado.

there are rumors of shrimp scampi (my bro-in-law Chuck is a great cook), if time allows. and my sister is an amazing cook, remembers a lot of our childhood recipes. our mom was a truly gifted cook and many of the recipes of my childhood haunt me / have given me a pretty high baseline of what i consider good food. so Claud may be able to make some of them.

so i may post a few posts of that trip here. not sure if i will continue this blog or let it sit and be my roadtrip blog. sort of a shame to let it go but i’ll see how it feels.

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About Erika Herzog

big music fan. used to work in the movie business a little bit. love weaving and knitting. own a banjo. haven't picked up the corn cob pipe. yet.

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