Real traveling is not about visiting places but ‘re-visiting’ our inner-self.
~ Sorrab Singha
All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.
~ Martin Buber
Cathy, over at her new blog wander.essence, has invited us to “…write a 750-word (or less) post on your own blog about the journey itself for a recently visited specific destination” in her latest travel writing prompt. Since I have recently returned from traveling to NE Ohio, I thought I’d give this a go and see what comes up. I did not take photos along the way on this trip so most of the images I’m using are from September of 2006 to show some of the scenery along the way. You’ll notice the trees are leafed out and there are fall flowers (goldenrod) in the photos. That was (obviously) not the case on our recent trip when the trees were still bare and there was snow on the ground in the mountains of Pennsylvania and in northeast Ohio.
M and I left early on a Sunday morning to make our way back to northeast Ohio. Although the ultimate destination brought about happy thoughts of playing with our grandchildren, there was a touch of sadness and mourning that traveled with us because our first stop was M’s father’s house to pick up a few things. The lawyer handling my father-in-law’s estate suggested that the family go through the house, take whatever items they might want (with a meeting of the minds, of course), and have a big yard sale to get rid of the rest. Our journey from home to the house where my father-in-law lived over the past couple of decades covered the same external ground, but our internal travels were tinged with grief.
We went over the Scary Bridge (also known as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge). There are not many ways to get off the island and the Scary Bridge is not one of my favorites. Passing through Annapolis on the other side is usually manic in nature. They drive like nuts over there, speeding, tailgating, whizzing around in traffic to get ahead. On this particular Sunday morning, there wasn’t a lot of traffic and we moved through the Annapolis area pretty smoothly and easily. Traffic picked up in the Baltimore area, as it always does. M and I wondered aloud what it must be like to drive the Baltimore Beltway during rush hour. More like a parking lot than a highway, perhaps.
Traffic calms about half hour or so north of Baltimore, and we entered Pennsylvania with no difficulties or hold ups. The landscape changed as it always does, going from almost flat to hilly. Maybe it’s familiarity, but I can always sense when we’ve moved into Pennsylvania without the announcement of the welcome signs. It feels different, as each state does to me. I wonder if others can feel those differences.
We didn’t stay too long at the home that used to be Leroy’s. The house feels and looks otherwise already. It’s not empty yet, but it’s also not Leroy’s home anymore. It is other or maybe better described as in between. Painting and other work is being done to prepare it for being put up for sale. Pictures on the walls have been taken down, furniture moved, carpet torn up, personal items removed or put away.
We had to ask for directions before leaving Leroy’s. The route we take from there to Ohio is different than the route we would take from the Eastern Shore to Ohio. It’s a route we took often in the past but new construction over the past five years has changed how you get to some of the highways. In the end, we decided not to go the way we were directed. Instead, we took the slow and scenic route on the western side of the Susquehanna River. Did you know there is a Statue of Liberty on the Susquehanna River near the town of Dauphin? It mysteriously appeared on an old stone bridge piling in 1986 and for several years nobody knew who put it there. The mystery was eventually solved when the creator revealed himself. It was originally constructed from venetian blinds and plywood by a local lawyer who wanted to celebrate the real Statue of Liberty’s centennial. Weather, as weather is sometimes wont to do, destroyed the original. The residents of the area, having grown fond of their own Lady Liberty, raised the money to put up a new one. We waved to her on our way by.
The road veers to the west, away from the Susquehanna River, and follows the Juniata River for a while, the scenery becoming curvier and hillier. Weighted down with sadness and with items that once belonged to Leroy, we were also lifted up by the beauty of the area, memories of past trips on the same roads, and anticipation of being with family. We passed the sign for Electric Avenue in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, which always makes me sing (we gonna rock down to Electric Avenue…), made our way around State College (home of Penn State University), traveled onto I-80 and through more mountains where we rode over the highest point on I-80 east of the Mississippi. A few hours and many miles later, we arrived in the Pittsburgh area and then, about an hour past that, the land flattens out and we know, without signage, that we’ve entered Ohio, the land we used to call home.