Monday, August 15, 2011

So you know how it is

With children everyday is a new exciting adventure.  There you are just trying to hold the line and adventure shows up on your doorstep.  In Johnstown, new experiences and excitement are around every corner.  Every single corner.  Everyday.  All day long.  Something new and exciting just waiting to get you.

Pennsylvania is full of trees.  Hence the name: Penn's Woods.  It is a great thing about Western PA.  Also, the mountains.  I am really enjoying the mountains.  Sometimes a too much of a great thing can just be too damn much.

The first time I tried to find a store that sold raw milk, I set out early enough with enough gas and fairly easy directions:  turn right, drive 19 miles, turn left, arrive at destination.  Three-quarters of the way there I double check my directions.  Well, what do you know?  I am 21 miles off course.


This is looking down not straight.
Wrong turns in Pennsylvania have seriously bad consequences.  My first surprise, there are roads on GPS that a) are single lane; b) made of dirt and gravel; c) go straight down a mountain. Straight down is usually the wrong way down.  What followed was sheer insanity.  Do not attempt to drive down a freshly rained on gravel road in a two-wheel drive, 15 passenger van.  Why?  Because your children might turn into idiots and decide to go row hopping, while you, in the grip of hysteria, drive down said road.  And while they are jumping for joy in the back seat as you slide and shimmy over every single turn and bump in the road, your heart will threaten you with the worst thing you can imagine in that moment:  the phone call to your husband when you are stuck, but not dead or injured enough to make him just glad y'all are okay.

Did I mention that when I left I had a little more than a quarter tank of gas?  As it turns out, that is not enough gas in a place that takes 24 minutes to travel 7 miles.

I did make it down the mountain into a valley where I found the beginning of a paved road.  It is the most sweet smelling place I have ever been.  The only sound besides the song birds, was a breeze high up in the tree tops.  Wow.  It's enough to make you want to make you want to go Off Grid.

Now add 20 years and lose a few teeth
 and you get the picture.
So here's the thing about using Google Maps.  Usually it's pretty good.  There is one feature that allows the user to more accurately pin point one's address by actually placing a pin on the map and calling that address whatever you want to call it.  Then the whole wide web will know this is where X really is.  Except in this case, X turned out not to be the only whole food health store this side of Pittsburgh.  X turned out to be some guy's house out in the wilderness of Westmoreland County (whose residents are comprised mainly of extras from the movie Road House).

I dropped my phone and damaged the antennae a while back so if mobile phone coverage is spotty at best then I have nothing at best.  I called the number listed and discovered another great thing about Western PA.  The people love to talk.  These are some really friendly folk.  But again, too much a great thing and your are up a creek.  In this case, the man my life depended on was a real story teller.  He starts out:  "there are 7 turns that you need to make to get here.  It's so funny you calling me from Pendleton Road that's where my farm is. . ."  The ellipsis in this case is a 6 minute story about the three other poor souls that called him from the same spot.  Meanwhile I am under an eighth of a tank of gas and still driving.  During our 12 minute phone call, he got through step 2 of the 7 before the phone cut out and said 'No Signal.'

I kept driving.  I have not passed a single person in miles, I have not seen a gas station since I checked my directions and discovered how off course I had become.  I am now strongly considering what it is going to be like walking, in flip flops, on mountain roads with an infant, a toddler, a four year old, and six year old, all of whom follow directions like people their age follow directions.  Somewhere along the way, I figured out that even if the phone does not have signal the Map can locate your position.  I did at one point talk to two guys, who informed me that the only gas station was 7 miles away and I was headed in the wrong direction.  Their directions were more concise, but equally confusing.  Another fun fact, it really is true that if you don't bathe long enough other people can smell you in your car from their car on the other side of the road.  Up until that moment, I thought that was simply something I made up to scare my boys into taking bathes.  I was wrong.

Anyway, either people cannot give good directions in Westmoreland County or I cannot follow them for the life of me.  It was after that I discovered that I was the purple blinky dot on the Map on my phone where upon for the second time that day, I drove straight down the mountain, with kids cackling with giddy hysteria, while I gripped the steering wheel and prayed and cursed under my breathe the whole way.  Making a 30 minute journey to the gas station fewer than 10.  What's the fastest way down the mountain?  Straight down . . .

Poor Mr. Flavius, seeing the above picture on Facebook with the caption,  "What the hell, GPS?" started a prayer circle, that ended with thanks be to God and suggestions all around to tie up that wife of his upon my return . . . and that was just a trip to get milk.  Now imagine if I was trying to do something really wild?  Like go looking for one of these:

Next time on A Sears Catalog Life:
Chicken of the Woods


Maria said...

Chicken of the woods -- a pain to clean, but tastes great!

Laughing to tears over your adventure. Did you make it to the gas station? Did you make it to the store?

GretchenJoanna said...

Wonderful story. We were only traveling briefly through PA a couple of years ago and found it so easy to spend hours driving and not getting very far, and also easy to get lost -- But did you ever get the milk?

Michelle M. said...

I'm glad everything turned out alright :) Yes, did you get the milk in the end?

Melanie said...

This is great. We recently moved to PA from AZ so that my husband could attend St. Tikhons. We have had very similar experiences.