On Sunday morning, I set out around 9:30. The sun was shining in a clear blue sky and the road was calling my name. The first two hours of the trip were quite enjoyable, just driving along through Michigan to the tune of some music that I can't quite remember at the moment. Then I hit Ohio. Ugh. I hope I never have to drive through Ohio again for the rest of my life. First of all, I knew I was going to have to pay a toll and that I should probably have cash on hand. The problem was that I didn't think about that until I was in the car on the road, headed towards the Ohio Turnpike. The only thing I could think to do was to stop at a gas station with an ATM and get cash. I figured the small service fee for using an ATM other than my bank's was preferable to getting a ticket for failing to pay the toll. I got off on one of the last free exits before the turnpike and drove in at least one complete circle around some random place in Ohio before I finally found a gas station. I must say I felt kind of threatened there. People were scary looking and everything was dirty.* 20 minutes and another wrong turn later, I was back on the road. I was determined to make it all the way across Ohio without stopping for any reason, since I would have to pay to get off and back on. It took me 2.5 hours to cross the state, after which I definitely had to to the bathroom. My gas gauge said that I had about half a tank left, so I thought I should probably try to find gas as well. After paying the $11 toll (Really? The roads aren't that fantastic), I pulled off Interstate 80 to try to find a gas station. The town was equally as dirty as the previous one and the people even scarier, so I made a couple loops and kept going. Thankfully there was a rest stop just across the Pennsylvania border where I could go to the bathroom, which meant I could then focus much more clearly on finding a gas station over the next hour or so. Needless to say, I did not make friends in Ohio.
Pennsylvania was equally frustrating. I thought it was going to be a smoother ride than Ohio, but of course it wasn't. By 6 o'clock, after 3 and a half hours of driving across the state, traffic had come to a standstill at least two separate times due to construction and one of the times was in the pouring rain. On top of poor visibility and the hazard of stopping quickly between ginormous semi-trucks during a rainstorm, the GPS on my phone could no longer find my location due to the mountainous region in which I was driving. At least the scenery was beautiful. I pulled over at another rest stop and called my dad, slightly panicky since I hadn't seen a town for at least 2 hours and I was getting tired and ready to stop for the night. My dad, after checking trusty Mapquest, reassured me that I was getting close to a few times and should stop when I found one since I was crying and obviously exhausted. I thanked him and pulled back onto the interstate. I passed several stopping points over the next two and a half hours, but none of them were satisfactory. I finally stopped at 9 o'clock in the janky town of East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. I had been praying for God to show me when and where to stop and that little Super 8 in that dirty little town was definitely the answer to my prayer. The lady at the front desk was very friendly and even told me where I could go find something to eat. With my AAA discount, I ended up paying less than $70 for the hotel - they even had free breakfast! I found a McDonald's for dinner (not very healthy but it was cheap and I was hungry) and called it a night. I was so thankful that God kept me safe during my eleven and a half hour drive and through the night in a sketchy town!
I drove the rest of the way to Nyack on Monday morning. The trip took me about an hour and a half, even though the traffic was insane and it started raining again. The closer I got to New York, the nicer the cars became. I can't remember the last time I saw so many Lexuses and BMWs in the same day on the same highway. I drove a little in New Jersey before I crossed into New York, which means I drove through a total of 5 states on my way here. What happened when I arrived in Nyack and the ongoing culture shock I am experiencing is another story for another day. Be excited :)
* My imagination becomes very active when I travel, especially when I'm alone - this is my disclaimer for the rest of the story.