Sunday, June 13, 2010

Home to Mifflintown, PA

We had a lot of catching up to do at the start of our final day in VA. However, we needed to start out with a nourishing meal, in this case, at Mancini's down the street. We don't frequently go for breakfast because it's crowded on weekends, but on this weekday we had the place almost to ourselves. We bought a copy of the local paper (some obscure rag called "The Washington Post") and sipped on some locally roasted coffee while we ate.

Once we were satisfied, we hit the road. We decided to try to remain in the spirit of the trip even though we weren't on Route 11 at the time. To that end we took Route 50 most of the way out to the junction with 11 at Winchester. The morning traffic had mostly subsided so it was an uneventful yet pleasant journey through horse country.

At Winchester we took a hard right and started heading north again. We squeaked through WV and MD at a rapid clip, passing Martinsburg and Hagerstown on the way to the PA border. In PA we were going to try and see J&C, who lived not too far off the path. To that end we found ourselves with some time to kill in Chambersburg, PA, which was at the crossroads of 11 and another US Route, the Lincoln Highway (US 30).

We parked the car at the circle in the dead center of town and found our way to a small Latin American grocery, where we bought drinks and pastries. (I also accidentally acquired a not-very-appealing looking guava drink that I carried around for several days). We sat on some nice benches in the shade by the Franklin County Courthouse and had our snacks, where we later observed large "no loitering" signs. Why would they put out benches that invite one to linger and then specifically prohibit lingering?

The Chambersburg Heritage center was across the street and, although we mostly went in to use the bathroom, we decided to peek in the museum part. We were immediately accosted by a teenage guide and led into the museum, where she recited the facts about the town in a seemingly pre-recorded patter. The most interesting points were that, (1) given its preeminence as a crossroads for two major thoroughfares, it was invaded three times by the Confederates during the Civil War and burned to the ground once, and (2) they possess a giant, gold-leafed, rotating statue of Benjamin Franklin. The statue rotates excruciatingly slowly, it turns out, but at least it operates by remote control. The guide reverently showed us how old Ben could face the interior of the museum during the day, but is turned to look out the window in the evening. Disappointingly, she wouldn't let us play with it.

On our way out of town we did a drive-by of one of those wacky Roadside America type things, which was a miniature village in someone's yard. Since we didn't have time to have a long conversation with an old dude with nothing but time on his hands, we couldn't stop. It was then that I made my fatal error in navigation, taking us off on the entirely wrong direction on one of those open-jaw shaped roads. I couldn't figure out why none of the town names were making sense, but eventually it became clear that we were heading SW instead of NW. What's more, our friends were waiting for us and we were in a place with no cell phone reception. Argh!

We let the GPS take over at some point and eventually found ourselves in Lewistown, having completely missed our friends' dinner hour with our roundabout route. After having our waitress explain what OIP meant (original Italian pizza), we ordered some pizza and beers. Somehow Jack's Corona was like $5 but I got a tastier brew for 1/10th of the price. Sadly, the beer was necessary to wash down the sub-edible pizza. Not sure what the OIP designation is supposed to refer to (there were several places in the town that had it), but it was a cruel misnomer since it certainly had nothing to do with authenticity.

Given the lateness of the hour, when we finally did meet up with J&C, they were gracious enough to let us stay the night. We caught up with them on all the goings-on of the kids and watched "Snoopy's Reunion", which was full of plot twists the way the kids got into it. C, however, was not so impressed and kept pointing out holes in the continuity, much to J's chagrin and our delight. It was a great way to end the evening on what had otherwise been a pretty solitary trip.

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