Imagine green, lush trees as far as the eye can see. Imagine catching fireflies every night and seeing deer every morning. Imagine picturesque houses, scenic drives, and lovely views. However, every good side has a bad side lurking behind it. In this case, the bad side included high temperatures, humid weather, and enough mosquitoes to give a school of piranhas a run for their money. Going from San Diego, California to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was a great traveling experience.
At 5:08 on Sunday, July 11, 2010, a white Ford Taurus loaded up with luggage, my grandparents, my cousin, and me, left La Mesa. California. After the initial departure, the routine became easier. We were up by 4:30 a.m. and in the car by 5 a.m. We took a break for each meal, and then we stopped each night at around 5 p.m. The trip would have been quite boring if not for a few happenings along the way. There were strange towns, strange people, and an encounter with too-sweet raspberry iced tea and frog legs.
After four days of driving, sleep deprivation, and below-par travel food, we reached our destination. My great-aunt Kathleen welcomed us with open arms, a smorgasbord of great food, and a plethora of other guests. One thing about my great-aunt Kathleen is that she knows how to throw a party. Family members came and went, leftovers were stored away, and bedtime beckoned.
Every day there was something else to do, someone else to visit, some other happening to talk about. I was glad to find someone to spend time with: my cousin Jimmy. We spent hours talking on the front porch, playing tag, drinking iced tea, and teaching each other card tricks.
Plans were made to visit the Carnegie Museums on the last day of the visit. However, the plan changed due to miscommunication. Jimmy treated my cousin Cassie and I to ice cream from Joe Zeppi’s, and when we brought it home to my Aunt Kathleen’s house, we took out the cards. Everyone gave up trying to teach me new card games when it became apparent that my beginner’s luck is a party killer.
After five days in Pennsylvania, we traveled to Ohio to stay a few days with my great-aunt Alice and my great-uncle Al. Once again, good food and card games were the norm.
It came time for the traditional visit to Amish country, a visit I had never been able to make. I had no idea what to expect. Despite what my uncles once told me, my cell phone was not taken away, and nobody screamed devil worship when I started taking pictures with my digital camera. The Amish turned out to be normal people, if only a little less technologically inclined. We visited a popular tourist attraction, the Wendell August Forge. After visiting the forge, we drove into the main town, Berlin. We discovered some great shops there, including Harvest Moon and Heini’s Cheese Chalet.
Finally, it came time for us to meander back to California. Albuquerque is gorgeous in the summer, but only if you’re driving through in your air-conditioned car. Another must-go place happens to be Route 66. Cline’s Corners, a famous gift shop in New Mexico, is also worth stopping at, if only to say you were there. After all these stops, we arrived home at about 4:30 on Thursday, July 29th, after nearly three unforgettable weeks.
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