We rolled out of the driveway at precisely 11:30 and made comparatively good time on a section of US 52 that is under a state of continuous road construction. After having such good luck avoiding road construction last trip, I was amazed at how much we ran into today.
Virginia, for the hour or so that we were in it, was also bogged down by road construction. The right lane was blocked ahead, but we could have made much faster time if other cars had not continuously raced ahead to try to cut ahead in the line. The vehicles that let them in slowed down the entire line, so the truck in front of us slid over halfway into the other lane so as to prevent them from doing so. In his honor, we played C.W. McCall's "Convoy" on the iPod.
West Virginia, though. Oh boy. Every time we go through there, the roads are so insane it's not even fun to try to figure them out. Entire lanes would be blocked off on the Interstate for no apparent reason and they wouldn't give you any warning but half a mile out after a blind curve - and even that wouldn't be that bad, but we were careening down steep grades in a very heavy car trying to not go 80, overheat the brakes, or get turned into pâté from the trucks that were barely staying in their lanes.
So, all in all, pretty much standard West Virginia driving.
In any event, this is the same route we took coming back on the last Great American Road Trip, where we just barely beat out the closing of the Bluefield Blue Jays stadium on the state line. Last year, however, we skipped Princeton, WV, in the interest of time. Princeton is the home of the rookie-league Princeton Rays, so, as is our grand road trip tradition, we hopped off the road into the town to see if we could find the stadium.
Short answer: No.
Long answer: No, and they don't make it obvious or even tell you where it might be. At least in Charleston they have signs telling you where the baseball field is. In Princeton, we just sort of drove around town for twenty minutes in the vain hope of finding something. (The baseball travel map we acquired last year in Sacramento does not have exact stadium addresses.)
After that derivative and wholly pointless excursion into the lives of average West Virginians, we realized that we hadn't, at that point, had breakfast. It was 2:20 and our stomachs were making noises that, in other places, would have sent tornado sirens squealing. Thus, between Princeton and Beckley, we found a small rest stop and ordered three thoroughly mediocre sandwiches at Blimpie.
By around 3:00 we were back on the road, making good time despite the unexplained patches of road construction and the occasional toll. At 5:36 we crossed the river into Ohio as we listened to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and felt suitably epic.
Ohio! First day into a new road trip and we're already to state #4 and a state I've never been to outside the womb. I honestly don't know what I expected, as it's quite like the rest of the scenery. Less mountains than West Virginia, and a bit more farmland, but overall more of the same sort of scenery.
At 6:10 we pulled off the road to a rest stop. We stretched out and got hotel reservations in Milan, which is roughly an hour or so from Toledo. Ohio is not only a larger state than people give it credit for, but there is no Interstate link between where we were and the Milan area. Careful map consultation left us with a route that took us on secondary roads through scenic Ohio. At this point, I was driving, and my dad was discussing how badly we needed to see some Amish people before the sun went down.
He got his wish. We pulled off for gas off of Ohio Route 39 and, lo and behold, a buggy came a-rollin' over the hill, and I witnessed firsthand an Amish man getting a gallon of gas.
(My dad said: "Amish people are like dustpans. You don't see them every day, but when you do, you don't see anything really exciting about them.")
We saw a few more Amish folks in the towns we went through, and some had some interesting and cute downtown areas. We saw a number of Amish buildings which sold things under the name of "Yoder." "Yoder's" seemed to be the common beginning of practically anything Amish. What it means, no one knows. Maybe that's why it's used everywhere - to confuse non-Amish who aren't in on the gigantic practical joke.
By 8:20 we got to Wooster and ten minutes later located a Bob Evans, where my dad decided to give the waitress a hard time about frozen foods. We were in and out in half an hour and began sucking down Mountain Dews to stay awake for the rest of the journey. We took US 250 all the way through Ashland (there's a town by that name everywhere, it seems) and Norwalk, encountering four fault lines in the road that were reminiscent of Amarillo. Everything was okay with the tires and steering as we rolled into Milan at 10:20. By 10:30 we had checked in.
Nine hours. 514 miles. Four states. One day.
Tomorrow, we're aiming to get to Mackinaw City at the very tip of the southern peninsula of Michigan. Two long days in a row will cut out an extra day, leaving another day to (possibly) take the ferry over to famous and carless Mackinac Island.