Yeah so I know I haven’t completed the second installment of the California Dreamin’ post, but I’ve been busy and there are such exciting things going on, so I’m gonna skip it. But I’ll briefly make that long story short: Meg got the eBay job and we all decided to move to San Francisco. So now I’ll elaborate on what I’ve been busy doing over the last month. I flew back from California to Boston, broke my lease, frantically looked for, and found, someone to take over my lease, packed my apartment into a Uhaul, drove 930 miles down to Kentucky, spent some quality time with my family and friends, bought a car, packed it with what belongings I could fit (including two Davy Crocket coon skin caps which Olga and I would sport on our trek west), drove 930 miles back up to Boston, spent the 4th of July weekend in Vermont and the following week in Somerville with a studly gentleman who will remain nameless, and then set off on a two week journey across this vast and lovely country with my dear Olga.
With bittersweet emotions and fond recent memories of a city full of people we adore, the two of us, almost everything we own in tow, headed west around 9am on Monday the 15th. First leg, Boston -> Pittsburgh, where the parents of two friends, Anna and Sara, so graciously agreed to accommodate us for the evening. This stretch lasted nine and a half hours. It didn’t take us long to wonder if anyone had ever driven across country with less planning and preparation than we’d done… But hell, lack of planning adds to the adventure, right? First stop along the way was a Micky D’s in Pennsylvania where this conversation took place:
Stranger: Are you guys part of a raccoon club or something?
Me: No, it’s just that I’m from Kentucky so I don’t go anywhere without my coon skin cap.
Stranger: Oh. Interesting. Is the girl who came in a minute ago with you?
Me: Yes, but she’s from the Ukraine so she has no excuse to wear it.
Stranger: Oh. Well isn’t that cute.
Off to a good start. Caroline and Olga, queens of the wild frontier.
We pulled into Pittsburgh around 6pm. Luckily there were still a few hours of daylight, so we got a chance to see the city to which we’d never been. The most noticeable feature: the numerous pale yellow colored bridges crossing the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers. But we weren’t stayin in Pittsburgh proper. We kept cruising – in one side of the city and out the other – to the suburb of Wexford, where our hosts for the night call home. It was a magnificent surprise that Sara was in town from Hungary and would be there to hang out and catch up. After cleaning up a bit we skedaddled (this is actually a word and I know this because spell-check didn’t underline it in red) to Margarita Monday at a Mexican restaurant down the street, then headed to the Hofbrauhaus in South Side via a scenic but somewhat sketchy route through Squirrel Hill. Olga and I have determined that her Android GPS prefers to send us through ghetto routes (as this happened in LA as well…)
Sara’s friend Ben, who might as well have been our welcome center/information booth/tour guide, joined us as we enjoyed a brew, al fresco, overlooking the Allegheny River esplanade, the city lit up beside us. Shortly after, tuckered out from our long drive, we went home and passed the F out.
A slow moving morning, Tuesday began with a fresh cup’a’joe the Gardener/Petras-Gardener couch. After a refreshing shower, Sara, Olga and I headed back into the city for a quick and sweaty tour of Pittsburgh, which included a drive up Mt. Washington, a ride down the mountain on the historic Duquesne Incline (aka hot box), a walk along the river, then a ride back up the mountain on the Monongahela Incline. And thus our time in Pittsburgh had come to an end.
The journey from Pittsburgh to Chicago consisted mainly of long straight road, corn fields, coffee and sleepy delirium. Just when Olga and I were about to succumb to the idea that corn would be the death of us, we remembered Roadside America, an app that claims to be “your guide to offbeat American tourist attractions,” like the worlds smallest church or the largest rocking chair in Illinois or a small museum of freaky animals with three legs or shrunken heads… This would be our saving grace! Something to break up the monotony of endless corn fields. We punched in our location and voila, Das Dutch Essenhaus, a Dutch Amish style compound in Middlebury Indian. Ever since we decided to forgo Lancaster for a more direct trip to Pittsburgh, I’d felt jipped. Now was my chance to see Amish people. We got off the highway, got stuck at the toll booth which ate Olga’s Amex card (apparently this machine doesn’t like those clear cards..), were rescued by the friendly attendant, then set off on our Amish journey.
What an F-in joke! Das Dutch Essenhaus was a gimmicky stupid mess. Das Bullshit. There were actually people who had traveled to this place for vacation. We spoke briefly to a couple who was staying at the Essenhaus Inn, and who were excitedly about to dine at the 1,100 seat dining hall…. They must not get out much.
There wasn’t an Amish person, craft or buggy in the whole joint. Olga’s practically an expert on Amish people and things because she lived in Hershey last summer for an internship, so she confirmed the phoniness of Das stupid place. We left in an angry furry. But luckily, on our way back onto the highway, we caught a glimpse of a clan of Amish women riding bikes in the dresses and bonnets! Success.
We continued onto Chicago, vowing to take at least one Roadside America detour per leg, and hoping that the next experience would be more successful than the first.
Up next: Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison.