Monday, April 9, 2018

Way out on a wing and a prayer...

Way out on wing and prayer is the title of this installment...   I’m on an unusually long drive, unusually far from home, at an unusually late hour, trying to go keep the 55mph speed limit going on soggy roads.   Lot’s of steep grades, some twists and turns, all unfamiliar territory.  I’m deep in the forests of Northern Pa, it’s nearing dusk, and it seems like the perfect recipe brewing to encounter some wildlife on the road…    If the end story of this car was going to be “that one fateful journey” I thought this might be it. If something were to have happened it might have been quite a pickle… No other traffic around.  No houses or signs of civilization… No-one on any CB channel.   
I’d recently gotten off of Pa, Highway 80 eastbound.  A safer way home where there were plenty of resources if need be.
So here’s the whole story. This was a Saturday evening in May of 2016. I was just on my way back home from Lordstown Ohio, where I brought the car to display at the GM plant in Lordstown where it was originally assembled. ( 1 day shy of exactly 38 years!!).  
After the show, instead of making a much more direct run back home, I decided on a daring adventure. (daring because it’s not in my nature to drive this car like a regular daily driver, and double daring because it’s getting dark, I’m not sure where I’m going to spend the night, and the weather is suggesting I just play it safe).   
But safe isn’t where memories are created, and I’d already got my heart set on swinging by the “Kinzua” bridge… so of I headed, Eastbound from Lordstown…back into the soaking drizzle that had spent the afternoon drifting eastward over the show.
So off I went down the well traveled Highway 80, until It was time to exit to the 219 to carry me north to the park, and then into NY. 
At the 219 I stopped to ask myself one more time if I really wanted to head into the remote and heavily wooded hill’s.  I didn’t have time to second guess, it was Now or never and I chose Now.
This picture was just as I started out. It got progressively worse from there.  Darkness crept in. My eyes strained to follow the rainy, unfamiliar roads. While also scanning the edges for wildlife.  Fatigue set in, and I was now a dangerous driver. Fighting the conditions, of the road, and drowsiness in my head. 
I did happen through a few tiny villages along the way…  being well lit, they were easy to get through, and I felt more awake. Thinking I’d probably find a small motel I’d roll right through, and eventually find myself heading out of town and back to the treacherous forest.  On a dark rainy night. With no where safe to pull over. In a 38 year old vehicle, still running it’s 38 year old electric fuel pump…That was basically started up a driven 300 miles away from the garage just the day before. 
After a while of high beam’s and wipers ( Rare ‘Delay’ Wiper option came in handy) barely penetrating the moonless dark forest road.  There came an Oasis in the night…    A brightly light up 20 pump gas station, on an otherwise dark and rural crossing of 2 main routes. Rt 6 and the 219.  Not very far from my destination in the morning… but for now it was around 11 pm, still raining and not safe to press on. So the decision was to just take an easy in-car ‘nap’ for about 6 hour’s or so, then press on in the early morning when it would be much safer to do so.  
There’s this whole other little experience I had at this strange motel / lodge thing across the street. But I’ve already typed a novel here.  No one was there at the place even though the lobby was open?  So I just crashed in an open parking area the gas station.  The pitter-patter of rain on the roof of the car, made a great soundtrack to drift off too.  I felt bad about the car getting so soaked, but I considered it, it’s yearly rocker panel flush-out. 
In the morning, with only the bird’s to usher in the daylight.. I headed to the destination….  Kinzua Bridge state park.   On the way I had this cool CB conversation with 3 truckers that passed by me, going the other way. I’d missed the entrance and they steering me back in the right direction. They had a lot of nice things to say about my car, so that was a great start to a very cool morning at the park.

I arrived with absolutely NO-ONE around but the bird’s in full morning tweet, and the critters scampering around here and there. The rain finally passed by overnight and left the morning in a Fog thicker than pea soup, which really added to the morning ambiance.   Where I parked required a little walk through the woods.  Solemn. Somewhat creepy, yet so peaceful and refreshing. 
I ended up at the overlook pictured above…(with all camera batteries dying and memory cards full, I just managed to capture the morning on the overlook in the picture above.   All other footage of the trip remains elusive right now. or I’d share more.  
After a excellent and exciting morning at the overlook. I jumped back into the monza, fired it up, and headed back through the rest of a very scenic, enjoyable, and remarkably trouble free journey!  It was collector car’s dream ride.
      Hope you enjoyed this story as much as I enjoyed this journey!

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