Washington, D.C.

July 5 - July 8



Thursday - Day Two

We rise early, hoping to counteract the hour we will lose as soon as we cross the Ohio border. Philip is up at 5:45 Indiana time, and he wakes me at 6; we are on the road by 7:10. We drive for three minutes and find ourselves in Ohio, where it's 8:15. We're told it's going to be a long day to Washington, so we start. The roads are not too bad but as we near the east coast we expect more and more traffic.

We drive through Cincinatti at 9:30. Again, the skyline is inviting. I'm trying to figure out what it is about skylines that I like so much (as opposed to what i dislike): I like it when there are skyscrapers with tops that are not simply flat and square, but which have interesting things on their heads, like the Empire State Building.

After 5 days of flatland, we rise into the hills on the edge of Ohio; these must be the foothills of the eastern ranges: the Appalachians, the Poconos, the Laurentians up north. Rolling green hills to welcome us to the east.


Listening to an oldies station (our second radio option, the first being NPR/PRI) we hear the white-boy ripoff of "What a Wonderful World It Would Be" - Herman's Hermits redoing Sam Cooke's hit.


Almost heaven
West Virginia
& we climb into mountains. Not quite the Blue Ridge Mountains in this spur of the state, which juts up between Pennsylvania & Ohio here. We didn't cross this state (at this end) coming the other way - we followed the lakes and went straight from Pennsylvania to Ohio.

We are in the Eastern USA, having crossed the Ohio River on one of these cheerful blue bridges I have come to associate with Ohio, land of Thomas Edison, Neil Armstrong, & John Glenn.


11:49: entering Pennsylvania. Prepare to pay for the privilege of using the road. Pennsylvania Turnpike coming up.


Before the turnpike, we drive along narrow Pennsylvania highways between hills. At one point, crossing a bridge of the Youghiogheny (sp?) River (where do these names COME from?) we cross a narrow revine. Philip and I revel in the crowded imperfection of these hills - overmined, overfarmed, crisscrossed with roads, not imperial & majestic & unconquerable like the mountains out west, which have a kind of cold superiority, a cleanliness that these can't even aspire to. These make me think of soot and coal despite the greenery covering them.

We hit the Pennsylvania Turnpike just as Billy Joel (we're listening to CDs now) sings about it.


We get off the turnpike at Somerset and have lunch in a Chinese restaurant with very few people of the Asian persuasion in it (just one, the woman at the register). The food is nothing to write about, but the fortune cookies are highly amusing. Here they are:

"Your sense of humour reveals itself at just the right times!
Lucky numbers 16, 18, 21, 24, 26, 27"

"The greatest danger could be your stupidity.
Lucky numbers 4, 5, 7, 27, 34, 44"



In Maryland, we stop for gas after the final haul through the mountains. We pull into a Texaco, and give the car a checkover. We need oil and coolant & we decide to throw in a wash as well. We drive through the carwash giggling at the brushes and water and sounds and suds. The people talk to us in a pleasant Southern-style way. Maryland: the ambivalent state. It fought for the Union, but thinks of itself as the South.

We get into Washington at rush hour, having skirted it and entered from Virginia, along the very lovely George Washington Parkway and the Arlington Bridge. Virginia makes the sixth state that we have touched on today, and the hour we spend in the capital traffic makes ten hours on the road. We haul ourselves out of the car and, when we get to our room - the first with a REAL VIEW - we open the curtains and crash in front of the windows. Then we order room service, watch a movie, and go to sleep for a thousand years.

 back to chicago
 back to day 1
on to day 3


san francisco
los angeles
new mexico
new york city
quebec city