One Week Walkabout

Henry and I took a week and did a little mini-walkabout in PA, Ohio, WV, and Virginia.

Day 1:  Our first day we got in Northlandz, Mercer museum, Fonthill Castle, and ended up at Knoebel’s 45 minutes before closing and still got in rides on a few different roller coasters.

Day 2:  A tourist trap “cave” place that you could only go in via a boat, a quick stop to Penn State to look at an underground mural in a closed off tunnel, the oldest operating roller coaster in the world (that wasn’t operational that day), a working coaster that we rode (and on which we were the only passengers) at which time we noted that the world ‘s oldest coaster was in better shape, and then to end the day a six mile hike on an abandoned section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike which included an almost mile long empty and very dark tunnel.

Day 3:  Fallingwater (not much of a backyard but it certainly has curb appeal), the town of Braddock, a once bustling steel town but whose population went from 20,000 to 2,000 and is struggling to come back. Which is hard when streets and churches and buildings are empty and rotting. Had a long conversation with a retired local who talked about the changes he has seen and another long conversation with a council member of North Braddock. And for a change of pace we went to Randyland in Pittsburgh – an amazing sort of interactive art piece made from an empty lot.

Day 4:  Cleveland. Visit the graves of the man who coined the term “rock and roll” where folks place guitar picks, Elliot Ness’s grave has a bullet and a toy police car (and a bottle of Elliot Ness beer placed at the base). And of course the angel that “weeps”. We saw a plaque for an event that occurred in a different timeline, America’s oldest arcade/mall, the world’s largest rubber stamp, a grocery store in an old bank building, and a statue of Lincoln holding a firearm (supposedly the only such sculpture). To end the day we went to a witchcraft museum which coincidentally had a speech that day from one of the founders of America’s modern pagan movement. Of course.

Day 5:  Stopped by an old 60s era “roadside attraction” that a couple have restored to all its tacky glory. It’s on a small road in the middle of nowhere in WV. Not sure how they keep it afloat. Then to Thurmond, WV basically a ghost town now. Then as we were driving in the evening we saw a sign for “notoriously morbid.” It was a goth boutique in the middle of West Virginia: somehow that restored my faith in America.

Day 6:  A “historical park” about the battle between the union soldiers and dinosaurs, Natural Bridge, and a quick trip to UVA to see Edgar Allen Poe’s dorm room and bumped into a chunk of the Berlin Wall.

Day 7:  Heading home, but not before stopping off at the abandoned 1 mile stretch of two lane road know as graffiti highway. A land ruled by ATVs and where nary an inch of unpainted pavement exists.