Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Country Roads

I travel 50 minutes each day to work on PA Route 78. It’s about 48 miles. It’s not a bad commute, kind of long and straight, through valleys, farmland, and woods until you get into the industrialized part of Lehigh Valley. The route follows the last ridge of the Blue Mountains before the Atlantic coastal plain. Scenically, speaking, it’s very pretty.

The traffic flows smoothly. Truckers, I find, are pretty respectful of drivers on the roadway. The usual problems come with idiots speeding to and from work in their sports cars. I usually tune out to NPR, Elvis Duran’s radio show in the morning, or pop in a favorite CD.

During these last three weeks, three separate accidents have completely shut down the I-78 corridor during the morning. The first, occurred on a Friday morning by the Kutztown exit. A man in a pickup truck went down the embankment and crashed into a tractor trailer. Poor guy lost his life. The second accident happened one exit down the following Monday morning. A tractor trailer overturned. The third accident happened this morning, when a truck caught fire and exploded between those two exits.

As with each time, traffic was detoured today onto old Route 22, also known as the Hex Highway, referring the colorful Hex signs adorning barns owed by the Pennsylvania Dutch in this part of the country. Old Route 22 parallels Route 78, so I could see traffic lined up for miles on the highway. Not a pretty sight. People with dogs, business professionals, and truckers were all out of their shut off vehicles hanging out chatting while my long line of traffic slowly snaked by.

As we weaved through small towns of sometimes no more than 10 houses, I turned off the radio and started enjoying the scenery. The window was rolled down, a summer morning breeze entered the car, and I smelled honeysuckle growing by the roadside. Birds chirped, there was the screech of a circling hawk, and cicadas were trilling in the trees.

I started looking at these surroundings, really looking. Farmhouses from the early 1900’s passed me. Sometimes, I passed an old stone farm house dating back to the mid or late 1800’s with a jumble of outbuildings surrounding it. Several houses stood abandoned or dilapidated, with weeds overgrowing around rusty swing sets from decades ago. The children have probably moved away to suburbs with Wal-Mart’s and Targets. The parents are elderly, doing their best to try keep up these large places where once families with 5 or more kids lived.

In one town, Lenhartsville, the Deisch Eck (Dutch Corner) family restaurant stands proudly on one corner. Further investigation online of this restaurant shows that it obviously specializes in Pennsylvania Dutch cooking and is one of the finest restaurants around. I have to have dinner there sometime. Plus, it has a gift shop, and I am a sucker for any place that has a gift shop. Growing up and traveling with my family may bring memories of the tourist attractions to my brother and sister but I remember with fondness, the Stuckey’s convenience stores that dotted the mid West with their large gift shops inside!

I go through another town, Krumsville, by the Kutztown exit, and pass and Dietrich’s Meats Store Country , another family owned and operated establishment (aren’t they all like this in the country?). Pulling into the parking lot, you immediately smell succulent meats smoking in the smoke houses around back. Inside, sausages, pork, beef, and poultry await you as well as penny candy, PA Dutch cook books, chow chow (a pickled veggie mix), and Dutch desserts like shoe-fly pies and whoopee pies.

Lastly, as I pass through the village of Grimville, following other modern day sedans and pickup trucks at a 10 mile per hour pace, I spy to my left an antique car restoration business. Taking this “back country” road, although running along the highway, has brought me through towns suspended in yesteryear. And now perfectly, I have the restored antique cars to go with these towns suspended in time. The stresses about being late to work leave me for a bit. I breathe in the country air, gaze at the horses or cows in the fields, and feel relaxed.

7 comments:

  1. Marc, what a great story. I, too like to travel the back roads. A lot of beautiful country to see on them.
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  2. Hi Marc !! is interesting and fascinanting your travel.I would like to visit your country someday !!!
    A friend.

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  3. Marc, that was a great story. Although I do not miss the commute, I do miss you tons.. Love ya! Osa

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  4. Now, do the back roads on purpose like I do going to Pen Argyle & Poconos in a convertible...now, that's relaxing!! Try 309 so you can see all the outfits the big pig has!! :)

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  5. I enjoyed these comments, thank you friends. Kimmer, I will definitely take your "country road" advice! :)

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  6. Thanks for the comment Kathy! I think I have traveled to Stuckeys in about 30 or some states! :)

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