In a span of two weeks, James and I drove the length of the Pennsylvania Turnpike between Breezewood and Pittsburgh 6 times. Yes, SIX. That is six times too many. Every mile of that infernal road is blazed into my soul after spending so much of the past couple weeks on it.
For those of you who haven’t had to make this trip, let me sum up for you why it is bad: Breezewood, Pennsylvania.
Now, ordinarily, a toll road merges seamlessly into a non-toll high way. This will inevitably cause a little back up, as cars have to stop and pay the toll, but it is manageable and expected. But in Pennsylvania, to avoid some sort of taxes or something (we did some angry research) someone put a tiny town of junky fast food joints and travel plazas in between the turnpike and the interstate. Oh, and it has like 5 million stoplights (or you know, 4) in that tiny quarter mile stretch of road. The result is that instead of the regular back up of cars going through a tollbooth, you have a massive bottleneck as an entire interstate worth of cars inches together into two lanes and then crawls its way through each stoplight. I wish that I could bottle up how frustrating it is and dump it on people that I dislike. Ok, so that is a little overkill, but you get the idea.
Still, we learn valuable truth in times of trial. Here are some of the things I have learned from our repeated trips along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Where there is no hope, there is at least music from the 90’s. People, it is pretty hard to be upset when you are rocking out to some awesome 90’s jams. For some reason, the radio waves along that turnpike consistently offered up some amazing music from the height of Bubblegum Pop. I’m not sure if these stations usually play the likes of early Brittany, classic Third Eye Blind, and some amazing BSB, or if we just hit throwback countdowns, but I will take either. Say what you will – that era had some outstandingly positive music. Just try to be gloomy while you listen to a Now CD from the late nineties. The economy was booming, glitter was considered acceptable makeup, and we were all blithely chowing down on every bite of gluten we could get our hands on. As an added bonus, I know all the words to all the songs because I spent all of my middle school years devotedly listening to Rick D’s weekly top forty as I lay on the floor in my purple bedroom and read Sweet Valley books.
I can do anything if there are snacks. I am not someone who has to have my Starbucks latte every day, or even once a week. But when I go on a trip, I suddenly need a frothy overpriced beverage. It is this Pavlovian reaction where I leave on a trip and suddenly I am scanning the horizon for that creepy mermaid like an addict. Oh PA Turnpike, I will give you this: You have Starbucks at regular predictable intervals, nestled next to Auntie Anne’s pretzels, my other great love. Snacks make torture almost fun.
Marriage can’t always be bike rides and birthdays. Sometimes it is having one car break down the night before you leave on a trip, and then having the other car you borrowed from your brother malfunction just as you are entering the turnpike. Sometimes marriage isn’t holding hands and swooning, but rather using duct tape to hold the window up and then continuing on as you brace it with your hand. Sometimes it isn’t whispering sweet nothings, but rather yelling at each other over the rush of wind coming in through the gap between the tape and the window as you finish the four hour drive home. But it’s in these moments, these not fun, this will be expensive to fix, whose fault was it, I just want to be home moments, that you will be thankful for the character of the person you married.
The best way to spread Turnpike cheer is singing loud for all to hear. The ipod will die and you will eventually come to a dead zone of no good 90’s jams. But you can always sing, and I dare you to try to sing yourself out of a bad mood and have it not work. During one especially frustrating Breezewood transfer, James and I developed this awesome game where one person picks a subject and a genre/artist, and the other has to perform. This game inevitably dissolves into Mumford and Sons constipation ballads and Celine Dion flushing drugs down the toilet before the cops show up. Yep, we are super mature. I apologize to everyone around us in traffic, as the aforementioned car troubles meant that the window was down, and the hubs and I are not exactly roackstars of music. He can match a melody, but I am pretty much akin to a cat in a garbage compactor. (Oh, and thank you Buddy the Elf for teaching us valuable truths that we can apply the whole year long. I have also taken to adding maple syrup to green beans and it is delicious. )
This weekend will be the first of the last three that we have not spent substantial time on that turnpike, and I can’t say that I will miss it at all. But at least it was a learning experience.
Happy weekend y’all.