There is nothing like the thrill of throwing your bags in the trunk of the car and starting off on a two-week adventure, except for the excitement of returning home to your own bed.
We average three trips a year, and the best one is our trip west to visit our son. In my humble opinion, there is no other acceptable reason to travel to Indiana. Family trumps everything, so we would cross the barren desert or climb the highest mountain to see either of our smiling, blue-eyed lads. There is no substitute for sitting around a table eating, drinking, and making memories. It's those memories that keep us warm at night and make us thankful we are on the right side of the grass when we awake each morning.
Traveling to get to those potential memories can be a joy or a burden. Lately, it is both. We love to explore new places and try new food; but our method of arriving at these new places is becoming limited by our finances and our creaky joints. We chose to drive to Indy so we could stop for frequent breaks and snacks, stretching our limbs as needed. Unfortunately, the drive time one way is 14 hours, so we have to chop the distance into manageable segments.
Outbound, we visited Erie, Pennsylvania. As a reward for traversing the whole length of New York state, we stayed at a beautiful hotel near Lake Erie which also has a highly-rated restaurant. The bed was soft, the food delicious, and the full moon rising over the adjacent marina was glorious. We were feeling spry enough the next morning to hit the road early, and wait until we reached Ohio to have our breakfast.
On the whole, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Interstate Highway System is well designed and maintained. However, the maintenance always occurs in the same places we are passing. We soon grew tired of "Road Work Ahead" signs and miles of single lanes and uneven payment where the system was being upgraded for future travelers. Thankfully, we survived the road construction rigors and arrived safely in Indianapolis, capitol of flat, flat Indiana.
The family week flew by with sightseeing, dining, and catching up. On our drives around town, we especially enjoyed seeing examples of prairie-style architecture and visiting thrift/antique stores and local brew pubs. All too soon it was time to climb back in the less than pristine Kia coach, filling the spaces around the suitcases with the treasures we unearthed in Flatland.
The route eastward included stops in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Corning, New York, both cities which were new to us. In Pittsburgh, we enjoyed the compact, walkable downtown, and spent an entire morning carless. We appreciated the stroll to Market Square and the unexpected discovery of an Italian bakery, which provided nourishment for several days. We did drive up to Grandview Avenue to enjoy the postcard view of the three rivers, the bridges, and skyscrapers of the city. There were too many choices for meals, but I did manage to indulge my craving for pierogi at every opportunity. In the district called "The Strip" we walked and shopped and drank cappuccino with the natives. We would definitely like to visit there again.
The last stop was Corning, New York so we could visit the famous Corning Museum of Glass, a place on our bucket list for all the years we have collected and enjoyed glassware. The displays were stunning and the information was edifying, especially the exhibit of bead-making through history. It truly is a sparkling glass gem of a museum with a gift shop to please all tastes and budgets.
Our final meal was consumed in the college town of Oneonta, N.Y. Our last dessert was a mixed berry crisp served up at the Autumn Café on Main Street, certainly a sweet ending to a very happy trip.
Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle contributor.