My SAABs and I
Day Thirteen: Pennsylvania to Virginia
by, Tue 18 October 2011 at 05:06 (839 Views)
This was a one day trip and definitely the most scenic since leaving the Black Hills of South Dakota. My main goal today was to drive through some of the scenic mountain roads of the Allegheny mountains and also see the Flight 93 Memorial, which is located in Somerset county, PA.
The day started with a light drizzle over Pennsylvania. Again I slept very well at the Hampton Inn's king size bed, and had a nice, hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon and coffee to start the day with a kick. Out of Somerset I followed the signs for the Flight 93 Memorial, but later realized that whoever put those signs was a moron, as it took me through the most roundabout way to get there. Instead of going straight to the memorial the signs take you north, ten west, then south towards the memorial. There might be some reason why the signs follow such a crazy path, maybe they follow the path the airplane took on that fatal day, but there were no signs throughout the route to indicate that.
Arriving at the Flight 93 memorial the light rain stopped for a while, which was nice, but there was still a cool breeze blowing, and I had to put on a thick fleece jacket to stay warm. The memorial is very simplistic and there is not much to see there. Just a lot of open land, and a path leading to a granite wall with the engraved names of the victims of the terrorists on United Flight 93 of September 11, 2001. There is a large rock that marks the point of impact of the airliner, and that is surrounded by American flags. The rock is about 200 feet from the walk path, so you really can't see the rock. Anyone expecting to see pieces of the airplane or personal artifacts of the victims will be a bit disappointed by the memorial, but it is still a very solemn place. There is one small room where you can sign a visitors book and write a message and post it on a wall. I wrote a message dedicated to the memory of the victims of 9/11 and to three of my buddies who died in Iraq and Afghanistan, wept a bit and left. The cool breeze outside quickly dried my few tears and I left without taking too many pictures.
I then programmed my GPS to take me south towards the Allegheny mountains and to avoid Interstate highways. My final destination would be Alexandria, VA, where both my brothers live. Leaving the memorial through country roads I quickly came to a nice hilly road, with sweeping curves and up and down hills. The Pennsylvania countryside was beautifully painted in the colors of the fall, and the dampness and wind just added to it. It was truly a sight to remember. I crossed a few small communities of obvious German descent like Berlin and Wellersburg and soon crossed into Maryland.
The Maryland portion was flatter, but surrounded by hills on both sides. A heavily forested area, this is definitely old country, as everywhere you see there is evidence of human occupation, even if it's old, moss-covered houses falling apart in the woods. The roads were narrow, traffic was constant and there was nowhere to pull over, however, so picture taking was relegated to drive bys... The city of Cumberland oddly reminded of Tokyo, with narrow roads through a high density area, with small manicured laws and that overall feeling that the whole place is very clean and orderly, much like Japan. Weird seeing that in Maryland.
The road in Maryland followed a creek for a long time, and West Virginia was just a few yards away at the other side of the creek for a few miles. I crossed into West Virginia at a town called Paw Paw, such a funny name (no doubt some native name). After Paw Paw the roads rose and the scenery was stunning. Again very hilly, with the road winding left and right, up and down, driving at anything faster than 45 mph was an adventure. I soon came to a place called the Forks of Cacapon, another curious name, and as fast as I was into West Virginia I was out of it. After the town of Good Virginia appeared out of nowhere and I even missed the welcome sign. Virginia was much flatter than West Virginia and I was soon on a fast, country road. I stopped in Winchester, VA for food and gas, and facing nothing but flat ground between here and Alexandria I decided to brave the Insterstate again, in an effort to beat the rush hour traffic out of DC.
I soon got on I-81, swung left on I-66 and headed towards the nation's capital. Even with the GPS guiding me I still got a bit lost among the maze of highways between Fairfax and Arlington (I blame all the construction sites), but soon found my way and took the Capital Beltway all the way to Alexandria. I managed to get into only a little bit of traffic jam, it last maybe 10 minutes, and I arrived at my brother's home by six pm.
The next two days were spent relaxing and doing the family thing, meeting my two brothers and their wives, a cousin I hadn't seen in 20 years and meeting my newest nephew for the first time. I intended to go to DC and do a night tour of downtown but instead we got drunk and one night went karting. Nothing like just relaxing after a 4,700 mile trip...
The signs that took me through a wild goose chase to finally see the Flight 93 Memorial
That dreaded date
The wall with the names of all the victims
Someone's gifts to honor the dead
The PA countryside was gorgeous as it switched colors
The winding road starts...
This road was beautiful but had lots of traffic and almost no place to stop and take good pictures. I got stuck behind big trucks many times!
A bridge in Maryland
Crossing into Paw Paw, WV
West Virginian roads were much like Pennsylvania's: windy tarmac through fall colors. Highly recommended to anyone who likes to drive.
Up and down, left and right she goes
218 Miles from Somerset, Pennsylvania to Alexandria, Virginia through windy mountain roads
Gallery link: https://picasaweb.google.com/renato....eat=directlink
The next installment will cover the drive to Atlanta and Alabama.