Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Trip From Hell

Okay, here I am at Mom's in Pennsylvania. But getting here wasn't easy. My trip yesterday was the Trip From Hell.

I live in Sussex County, Delaware, approximately 2 1/2 miles from my Mom's home outside of Downingtown, Pennsylvania. The quickest way to travel to Pennsylvania is north on Rt. 1 to I-95 into Pennsylvania then Rt. 202. I hate I-95. Even though I'm only on it a short time (about 7 miles), I take Rt. 141 to avoid the bypass around Wilmington because if I take the whole I-95 I have to know EXACTLY what exits to take at speeds up to 80 MPH or else I end up in a residential section of Wilmington, which has happened to me more than once. The speed limit on I-95 is 65 MPH but you're putting your life at risk if you travel that slow. I have traveled at 75 MPH and have cars and trucks passing me on both sides!)

A few years ago I received advice from my dentist and his wife, who also have a home in Delaware and travel frequently between PA and Delaware, to take the "scenic route." The "scenic route" is Rt. 10 from Parkesburg to Rt. 896 through Newark, Delaware, over the Summit Bridge over the C & D Canal to pick up Rt. 1 in Delaware. Once I'm on Rt. 1 it's a straight shot for about 76 miles to where I live just off the left of Rt. 1 outside of Lewes, Delaware. My dentist's wife explained it succinctly when she said she would rather arrive at her home in a relaxed state rather than stressed out from the I-95 Road Warrior Games. This is the route I've taken for my many plesant trips back and forth between Pennsylvania and Delaware for the past two years.

Yesterday I left my home in Delaware, looking forward to a relaxing daytime trip on that sunny day to visit my Mother in Pennsylvania. This trip has long been postponed because of weather. I still had Christmas presents to deliver to Mom.

All went well until I exited Rt. 1 and took the short connection to Rt. 896 at Summit. Upon entering the road I noticed that there was very little traffic. Warning flags should have popped up but no, I was blissfully unaware of what I was about to encounter. Several miles up the road, I see the familiar orange cones directing me into different lanes. I could see the Summit Bridge in the distance. I saw a police car to the left, lights blinking on the car roof. I'm following the orange cones and notice that they are leading me away from the bridge. I see no signs. Only the cop car. I'm assuming the country road I'm traveling down is a detour. But then I'm thinking, "How can that be? I have to go over the canal." Then I realize, the road is only open for local residents. Dumb Ron. So I backtrack and go all the way back to Rt. 1.

North I travel on Rt. 1, to where I'm not sure. All I know is I don't want the road ahead of me to suck me into I-95. I travel north until I see a sign that says "Newark." That's where I want to go so I can pick up my "scenic route." The road is Rt. 272. It was another scenic trip for several miles through the suburban countryside of Newark until I entered Newark. Upon entering Newark I realized it was high noon and most of the college students of the University of Delaware were crowding the sidewalks and spilling over into the streets. I inched my way through the milling throngs of fresh young college student faces. Finally I see my connection to Rt. 896 and, with relief, I make the right turn exiting Newark and the college students.

Since I was so late I decided to call my elderly cousin Elsie in Kelton PA to return the old time picture that I had borrowed from her sister, who lives nearby her. I couldn't deliver it to her sister because I wasn't sure how to get to her place. I stop at the Country Kitchen for a quick lunch. It wasn't good. They called it Chicken Quesadillo but I call it "Chicken Queasy." After lunch with the "Chicken Queasy" battling digestion in my stomach, I called Cousin Elsie to tell her I'm arriving.

Cousin Elsie was waiting for me. I asked her for directions to her sister's home. She gave me some convoluted directions which normally I wouldn't even attempt to try. However, I was feeling confident because of my success in finding another way into Newark. Well, to make a long story short (and not to bore the ready), I tried FOUR TIMES to find Cousin Mary's home and I COULD NOT FIND IT. Admitting defeat, went back to Cousin Elsie and asked her to return the picture to her sister. She offered to show me how to get to her sister's home but warned me that she couldn't tarry because she had a pie in the oven. I assured her I wouldn't "tarry." The time was already approaching 3 PM. I had called my Mother and told her I would be at her home around noon. Already I'm three hours behind.

Well, Cousin Elsie got me to her sister's but she realized she had left a couple of roads out of her directions. She told me "Oh, I live her so long, I don't even think of those roads." Uh huh. Well, I was glad I could return my cousin's picture to her and I'm glad Cousin Elsie took time to show me how to get to her sister's home. I returned Cousin Elsie home in time so her pie didn't burn in the oven.

Finally, I arrive at my Mom's. I was tired. Last night I had a full schedule ahead of me. A classmate of mine had asked me to dinner at her home followed by a night of fun and festivities at Trivia Night at the Brickside Grille. Dinner was wonderful. I had a mini reunion with two of my classmates who I hadn't seen since I moved to Delaware. A friend of the hostess and her son were also at dinner.

After dinner we walked down to the Brickside Grille to play trivia. We did great. We were leading all the other teams until the last round. We only lost by one question. I'll take the blame for that. I could kick myself because we have a rule not to change answers. The first impulse is usually right. The question was "What reptile did John Quincy Adams keep in the White House?" Our hostess immediately answered "Crocodile". Crocodile? John Quincey Adams? Powdered wigs? Paul Revere? Cobblestone streets? I didn't think so. I changed the answer to snakes. Well, the answer was crocodile. Stick the rules the next time Ron. Still, we had a good night of camaraderie and friendship. I'm finding that the older I get the more fun I have getting together with my fellow oldsters. The usual topics of discussion are about our forgetfulness and latest aches and pains. However, it's all done in good humor.

We said our goodbyes and I headed out towards home. It was strange traveling the winding and twisting roads of Pennsylvania at night compared to the straight and flat roads of Sussex County, Delaware. I do miss Pennsylvania. I would have stayed if the taxes weren't so high, and getting higher. I am happy where I live now in Delaware, two miles from Delaware Bay.

I've decided to stay until Sunday. This is a good mini vacation. The bed in my Mom's house isn't as comfortable (it's in my Pop's former bedroom), and his picture is on the wall with that "What's the matter with you?" look I was all too familiar with when he was living. But I'm glad I have time to spend with my Mom. She's 85 years old now and not getting around too well. I took her shopping at Wegmans this morning which she enjoyed very much. I love Wegmans. Perhaps the number one thing I miss about living in Delaware.

Now to plan for the trip back to Delaware. I checked the Internet and it said the Summit Bridge would only be closed until Friday. God I hope so.

1 comment:

  1. Ron,

    When I go down your way or come back I never get on I-95. I come up Rt. 1 and exit at Rt 13 going north until I get to I-495 and then I turn right going east. I-495 doesn't have anywhere near the traffic of I-95.

    Go off at the Claymont exit and turn right onto Philadelphia Pike. Go a couple miles, pass the Steel mill and then turn left at Naamans road (there is a traffic light there). Naamans will take you to 202, but I usually take the back way to avoid traffic.

    Go a couple miles. You will pass two shopping centers. The last has a Home depot. Go another mile and turn right at Marsh Road. Follow this road as it curves around a church. Stay on this for a few miles until you come to a real weird bend. The road you are on looks as if it would continue straigh, but it loops to the left to a stop sign. Turn right at the stop sign around the loo and it will dead end at Rt. 491 (or 461, I always forget that middle number). There is a stop sign there and an old age home across the road. Turn left on that road and keep going straight until you hit Rt.202 just below the Pennsylvania border. Turn right on 202 and you are heading toward West Chester. You ought to know the way from there. You can stop at jimmy john's for lunch.

    By the way, the speed limit on I-95 in Delaware is only 55. It is 65 coming out of Maryland, but drops to 55 at the border, although the drivers don't. It is then 55 all the way to Philadelphia.

    I-495 is 65 mph, but there is usually such light traffic it is a pleasure to be able to go that fast.

    From Claymont to Exton is maybe a half hour.

    It's not as complicated as the directions read. And if you stay on Naamans it is straight out to 202.



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