David and I have taken his mom on several road trip vacations, including Williamsburg, Nashville and North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. This particular trip was extra special as we were also celebrating her upcoming 80th birthday! Given her overall good health, she travels exceptionally well over long distances whether by car or plane. It was a wonderful time to be heading east, as the fall foliage was anticipated to reach "peak" right about the time we were arriving.
Our driving itinerary would have David and me leaving Milwaukee on Friday, heading to Mom's place in Indiana. We would then leave the next morning for Pennsylvania and our timeshare in the Poconos. Unfortunately, the weather was horrible Saturday for the entire 700+ mile trip that day. It was a cold and rainy drive, making the trip take longer and less interesting along the way. While speed limits through much of the Midwest is 70 mph, we were not able to maintain such a high speed, so that added time to our drive.
Taking photos along the way was not practical. The one area where I really wanted to take some pictures was as we traveled east on I80 through western Pennsylvania's oil country. We saw several oil rigs, but with the rain and falling darkness, it was an impossibility.
We did arrive safely. With a short stop at the grocery store for necessary provisions, we got to the timeshare resort around 9:00pm. Perhaps the most harrowing part of our day's journey was the two miles between the resort's reception building and our unit. Unfamiliar with the dark and narrow River Road, it was difficult to "read" the resort map provided to help with navigating these final couple of miles. We did eventually make it, relieved to finally be "home" for the night.
One of the casualties of the rainy drive east was having to bump our plans to visit the Flight 93 Memorial in rural Pennsylvania. We had an alternative game plan should we not be able to stop while driving in . . . so we did have this as our first planned stop when we left the Poconos a week later.
What a difference a week makes! While the morning air had a harsh chill, and the windshield was coated with frost, it was a glorious and sunny morning. With the van packed up and ready to do by 8am, we were on our way. The Shanksville, PA memorial site was estimated to be about four hours away. With stops along the way, we arrived around 12:30pm.
We intentionally took the scenic route along US 30, avoiding the Pennsylvania Tollway. One of the stops we made was at the Colvin Covered Bridge located in Bedford County. Built in the 1880's and recently refurbished, the bridge is still used today for passenger vehicles. Through subsequent research I learned that there are 14 covered bridges in Bedford County. No doubt, I could have spent my whole day looking for and photographing them!
After spending a couple of hours at the Flight 93 Memorial (see separate review in the journal entitled "Exploring America's History") we were back on the road, continuing with the rural route rather than the interstate. Our drive took us through some of the coal country that western Pennsylvania and West Virginia are known for. We saw one mining area with a coal chute that spanned over the road to huge pile of the black stuff. We also saw barges hauling coal on the Ohio River at the stateline border between WVa and Ohio.
Through this portion of our drive, the fall colors were not as pronounced as what we had seen earlier in the week in the Pocono Mountains. It was a pretty drive, none-the-less.
Before reaching Ohio, we did get on I70 for what would be the majority of the remaining drive ahead of us. The drive was uneventful as we crossed into the evening hours. With stops for fuel, the bathroom and sandwiches, our total drive time for the day was just over 13 hours to Mom's place in Indiana.
David and I would complete our drive home the next morning, anticipating that the trip through Chicago would be less congested than what we had experienced on a Friday morning ten days ago. WHOOPS . . . not so much as the Chicago Bears were not playing on Sunday so it would seem that everyone in the city was out and about.
Fortunately, the weather was good and we made it through Chicago with only minimal delays. Our Garmin unit indicated delays of around 30 minutes, so by Chicago standards, I suppose it was negligible.
In total for our entire trip of ten days, our travels took us through eight states* in just under 2,700 miles. This includes the four days of sightseeing we did while in the Poconos, which I would estimate to be around 500 to 600 miles. We got to see a lot of neat stuff while on this road trip vacation.
* The eight states were Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia.
NOTE: I have attached a number of photos to this story. I hope you will take the time to check them out as they help to tell the story of our experiences during our drives to and from the Pocono Mountains.