Jun 3, 2009

Road Trip, Northern Ohio, NW Pennsylvania

We’ve recently returned from a road trip—some fine, mostly two-lane roads through NE Ohio and NW Pennsylvania. Left, right, and straight ahead were fields, woods, and hillsides of one lit up shade of green after another, plus a few flowering trees. May and October are the times to travel.

Ohio Rt. 87, Newbury through Middlefield was very nice. Yoder’s Amish restaurant was too crowded—a happy accident because Linda’s, downtown, seemed to be a local lunch hangout where “English” and Amish farmers gathered in apparent harmony, while Yoder’s came across as a more touristy haven for middle-class retirees. The food at Linda’s is just okay, but the atmosphere made me want to stay a few days and try to get more sense of life in the area.

Rt. 6 into PA was pleasant, though a bit busier than I’d hoped. I saw it lying between two east-west interstates (I-80 and the new I-86 across southern New York state) and thought it might be a once-important two-lane that was now a lazier, more liesurely and local road. My guess was only somewhat right. Give it a B for effort and good intentions.

PA Rt. 77 north from Meadville to Corry and then Rt. 6 again, east toward Warren, were also good. 77 was better than 6, because it was less crowded and had the feel of a back road in hills and mountains, without the work of a lot of hairpin curves.

On Rt. 62, southwest from Warren, PA to Oil City and Franklin, PA, along the Allegheny River, was the best stretch of the trip. One might complain about too many pockets of modest houses, along with fishing and hunting cabins, but the scenery was still first-rate, there was very little traffic, and the bends in the road were gentle. The Allegheny is a beautiful river up there. Do I want to know about what's upstream, the purity of the water?

Little Rt. 666 west to east could have been even better than 62--certainly more remote; but the pavement was in such poor repair that the drive became somewhat of a labor. Still, with most of the road following the Tionesta River, the route was quietly gorgeous, and the potholes forced us to take our time and appreciate it.

The villages of Tidioute and Tionesta, on Rt. 62, are worth a stop. We had lunch in Tionesta, at the pleasant little T-K Dinor (note the creative spelling), where pierogies were the typical side dish, if not an entrée.

Two or three lunch spots in Tidioute looked inviting, but we were there too early.

About lodging in northern Ohio and Pennsylvania, here are three places to consider: back in the Toledo area, Maumee Bay State Park has renovated its lodge, which was much more agreeable than the last time I visited a couple of years ago. Also, I like its restaurant better than any of the others in Ohio State Parks. The grounds include some Lake Erie shoreline (new jokes only, please) and some nice walking on a boardwalk through a marsh. If you want still more birding, the terrific Magee Marsh is about 15 miles east.

East of Cleveland, the tudor-style Punderson State Park lodge, near Newbury, Ohio, has a green, tree-lined approach and an impressive Tudor-style exterior. However, we found the rooms and interior common areas claustrophobic, and the restaurant menu was limited and pricey. Also, these state park lodges, run by Xanterra, need to drop the $10 per day charge for in-room internet service (which operated at elderly turtle speed, after the ten-dollar insult).

The Warren, Pennsylvania the full service Holiday Inn was one of the nicest I’ve ever stayed in—and I’ve been in more than a few, lured by supper on the premises, never mind how mediocre or overpriced it usually was. After a day of driving the issue is comfort more than fine cuisine. In Warren, the food and service were good, there was a selection, and the prices were more in line with comparable restaurants.

We had a pleasant after-dinner walk to the city park about a quarter-mile south of the hotel. Two fast-pitch softball games were going on, with four more teams waiting in the wings, and the high quality of play impressed me--a lot of 20 - 40 year-old talent for a town of about 9,000 people.

So there you have it—American travel in Corndog world at Corndog speed.


Unknown said...

...great pics...

Banjo52 said...

Thanks, Berol. I'm just beginning with the photo biz, so all constructive criticism is welcome.

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