As I was digging in my suitcase and deciding what to wear, I saw a strange color that surely was not my normal thing. “What’s this?” A kid somewhere is upset! I guess finding someone else’s clothing mixed-in with my own is an aspect of laundromat-life that I had forgotten about. I don’t think I had this happen before, even when I was a regular at laundromats, and certainly not 1000 miles after the fact. Live and learn, them more than me this time, I guess. 😀 I left Columbia just after sunrise and planned to drive 500 miles to Springfield, OH. Why the turn north? I saw an opportunity to enter Pennsylvania for another “Been There” mug. Coincidentally, someone had commented on my tiny cargo trailer conversion in Instagram about a month before I left on this trip. He’s near Pittsburgh. So, I offered to meet him and show him the trailer in person. Some of you may recognize him. More on that later…
I blindly followed the Google Maps navigation prompts and was surprised to have driven around St Louis without even a glimpse of the arch. I wasn’t disappointed since I had no plan to stop for a photo. It was just a surprise. I spotted this miniature substitute when I stopped for fuel and lunch. I continued to Springfield and stopped for the night. I haven’t been taking any photos because I’m trying to keep on a schedule. I targeted attractions out west, but I was in the mode of packing-in miles at this point. I left Springfield before 6am and headed toward Pittsburgh. I found a Starbucks as I entered the western end of PA. I didn’t know the town, only that the line for the drive-thru was CRAZY-long. If you’ve watched my video series on my previous trip to CA, then you know that I don’t believe ANY food/drink is worth waiting in that. However, I was on a mission. I stunt-parked the trailer and went inside. There was a line there, too, but it wasn’t bad. They had plenty of “Been There” mugs. So, I was golden.
Later, I saw a comment on one of my Instagram photos: “StealthGTI spotted at Starbucks in Hermitage, PA!” He said he thought it might be me, judging from the car and trailer. But seeing my parking style sealed my identity. I wish he would have said hello. We probably were both waiting in line at the same time. HAHA! I had to circle the area upon exiting due to my trailer. That’s when I saw the REST of the drive-thru line. There had to had been 30 cars in it. The last car was almost in the intersection. The IG follower told me that particular Starbucks is ALWAYS that busy. No thanks! I’d change stores or habits at that point! 😀
I continued to my lunchtime stopover. Does anyone recognize this guy? It’s Russell, aka “MedicMagic” (magic-magic). His YouTube channel features a lot of Mk7 GTI content, as well as some shenanigans in the shop. He also features a speedy Honda S2000. We met at the secret lair where a lot of his videos are shot. He was joined by his wife, Ben (the owner of the business), and TeddyWestside412. We had a good time talking about the YouTube experience while we had grilled cheeseburgers for lunch. I stayed for about three hours and then continued to my last hotel stay in Morgantown, WV.
Long parking spots make my life easier! But I had also gotten better and squeezing the car and trailer into just two parking spots. Here’s an elevated view of my park-job. I might have been able to move the combination over just a little. But I was within the lines and, for now, away from other hotel guests. Some think that my “stunt parking” is rude. I think they fail to see the big picture. Unlike the driver of this Suburban shown below, I try to minimize negative impact to others. With no tandem parking available, I could easily take three spots, maybe even four, if I want to avoid having other cars block me at each end. Jackknifed into just two spots, I free-up one or two parking spaces for other guests AND position myself to avoid being blocked by other cars. “Win-win” in my book.
I went to my room and discovered that I was in adjoining rooms. The women next door were noisy. UGH! I could deal with the loud talking… it’s their right. But the adjoining door rattled every time they let their main door slam. In and out, in and out, for what seemed like an eternity. I consider asking for a different room. But I also knew that I could turn on a fan to drown them out. They were already awake when I awoke at 5am. Do they EVER shut up? They probably talk in their sleep, too! 😀 I heard some drama unfolding as I left the hotel. Apparently, someone had accidentally dropped their car key into this hotel room key deposit slot. DAMN, I hope it was them! I wonder if they drove the Suburban mentioned earlier?
My drive home was fairly uneventful. I drove through the switchbacks of Monongahela and George Washington National Forests. It was beautiful, but I didn’t stop for photos. I had case of barn fever and was ready to get home. My use of the term “barn fever” has me thinking of this sign that was in a hotel elevator somewhere out west. An IG follower commented that people today don’t know what “horseplay” means, suggesting that the term fell out of use with our grandparents. I disagree, especially since that photo was taken someplace where horses are seen more frequently than just on TV. 😉 “Barn fever,” though, is a little less common. Toward the end of a ride, some horses will recognize their surroundings and begin to walk faster. Once they see their barn or know it’s close by, they may even begin to trot, if not controlled. They’re excited and ready to get inside and relax, maybe get a feed sack strapped-on. Well, that’s me, even the feed sack! I knew that I was just hours from home and stopped being interested in smelling the roses. Go, go, go!
I continued home, arriving around 3pm. That was plenty early enough to unpack the trailer, which happened super-fast with some help. As I suspected, the pretty walls in my trailer took a little beating. Even the ceiling and cabinet are scuffed! No worries, though. This is a cargo trailer first and a camper second. I’m not repainting. The car still has dirt and sand from Sequoia National Forest. Washing will wait. It’s pollen season here; the pollen is so bad that the top of the car would be covered in pollen before I could even finish drying the bottom. In fact, my wife had just washed the other two cars. This photo was taken just a few hours later. I’ll wait a few days for the pollen pods to drop to the ground, THEN I’ll wash the car and trailer.
If you’re still with me, I just want to say thanks for following along. I’m releasing video updates about this trip each Thursday. I don’t think they’ll reveal anything that’s not covered here. But, if you like videos, check out this playlist. If you’re interested, my next post will share the stats and a few details that tech-nerds like me enjoy.