“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? — it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
-Jack Kerouac (On the Road)
It’s hard to believe that this time last week, the Greek and I were still driving, driving, driving. It’s almost enough to make you a little crazy how, one rest stop after another, all you can see is the road stretching out before you and, on both your left and right, the ever-expanding fields. There’s something about it that is both beautiful and oppressive. You can’t help but marvel at what a vast place America is, yet all you see from the road is but a fraction of it. And what I was feeling on that last day of travel was most definitely oppression. Firstly, I was tired; the hotel we stayed in in La Grange (yes, such a place really does exist; this is why Kentucky is awesome) was extremely hot and not all that conducive to a good night’s sleep. Secondly, I just didn’t fancy another day of gloomy skies and endless roads. Home. I wanted to be home, to stretch my legs, to sleep without knowing that yet another car ride was on the other side of dawn.
But, before we could go home, we had one important stop to make: The National Museum of the United States Air Force. This stop was for the Greek, who has a thing for planes and an impressive knowledge of them. I will say, however, that, while it wouldn’t have been at the top of my list of places to stop along the road, it was kind of awesome. The layout is amazing and the restorations and replicas are very cool to see. It was a fun place to take pictures and I happily snapped away as the Greek ran around like a kid in a candy store and a veteran of the air force took us on a tour.
But about an hour and a half in I simply ran out of steam. I needed food and caffeine. Maybe even some sugar. The morning coffee was not as strong as I would have liked and, at that point in our journey, breakfast had been ages ago. That’s the one thing I would say was incredibly disappointing about the museum; the food options were beyond awful. I have nothing against french fries, hamburgers and a wall of dessert options, but, honestly, the government is attempting to promote healthier eating and, despite its being a federally funded museum, I couldn’t even get an apple or a banana. I’m not trying to go all Alice Waters here, but, as far as I could see, Ohio is not lacking in farms. Would some fruits and veggies really hurt anybody?
Needless to say, the apple juice and overly mayonnaise-y (even for me!) macaroni salad I opted for were nowhere near enough to give me the boost I needed. On the road again, we debated whether to stop in the Amish Country and try our luck there, but it was too far out of the way to head in that direction. Then, when we came upon some rush hour traffic outside Columbus, we decided to take a little detour. Turning into Columbus and finding ourselves near the Ohio State University campus was a breath of fresh air. Suddenly, the sky was again blue, the rain had passed and there was civilization (my first view of Columbus is this post’s opening image). I kid you not, it felt nothing short of miraculous. My mood instantly improved; it might just have been one of the first smiles I managed all day. Real food was near; the simple creature in me could do nothing but rejoice! And then, through Yelp, we stumbled upon a lovely little cafe, Northstar, which more than made up for the mediocre macaroni salad that was my lunch. Suddenly, it was all about grilled artichokes and vegetable wraps with brown rice and pesto sauce….
…not to mention some pretty phenomenal coffee and amazing, amazing cookies. The whole experience really opened my eyes to the awesomeness of Columbus; it seemed to be a very cool, eclectic city. The college neighborhood was also very charming. Maybe in a few years time Ohio State will be hiring? They have a good Sologub scholar…Perhaps they’ll need another? I know that I could happily eat these cookies for many years to come.
My good humor restored, we set off on the last leg of our journey and, boom, before we knew it, we were back in Pennsylvania, the dog was jumping all over us both and we could collapse, quite happily.
Naturally, however, we were soon again on the go. We took my mom to an appointment in Pittsburgh, where we combined business and pleasure by going to the Andy Warhol Musuem. Here’s a picture of my favorite room there, the silver cloud room, which, yes, is as magical as it sounds.
After a lunch where I had yet another beer (three cheers for Brooklyn Brown Ale!), we took my mom to one of her favorite Pittsburgh bakeries: Bethel Bakery or, The Cake Place. This bakery is beyond delicious and has been the place where we’ve been buying cakes–when my grandma and I step aside, that is–for special occasions for years: my graduation, my grandparents’ anniversary, my homecoming from Japan….It never disappoints and they also have lots of other goodies to tempt you. For example, chocolate and peanut butter brownies that melt in your mouth, anyone?
And then the next day we went back to the ‘burgh for some more adventure. Pittsburgh is a cool city, gritty (you can see why the next Batman movie will be filmed there; Pittsburgh screams Gotham City) and full of all kinds of interesting places and things to do. We walked along the river, in the Italian neighborhood, the Strip District, all over downtown…It was definitely a little exhausting, especially since the rain continued to follow us, but was a day well spent.
We take our sports seriously, as well as our sandwiches, or, as we like to call them, “hoagies.” At Jimmy Sunseri and Nino Co., I got the most amazing tuna sandwich ever: good Italian rolls, Balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, all sprinkled with a glorious amount of parmesan cheese. Personally, I would never think to sprinkle parmesan on a sandwich, but Jimmy and Nino have shown me the error of my ways.
Thanks to discoveries like these and leisurely river walks, I just can’t help but love the lazy days of summer.