The Midwest and Appalachia

It feels a little anticlimactic to follow Italy with Indiana, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do. In July, I spent a week in central Pennsylvania sharing a cabin with high school friends and assorted kids. At the end of the week, they headed home, and I got in my dad’s car and drove in the opposite direction. I made my way back to NYC the (very) long way around, by way of Cleveland, Indianapolis, Bloomington, Louisville, Lexington, Charleston, Morgantown, Hagerstown, Gettysburg, and Philadelphia. In doing so, I satisfied an itch to move that had not been scratched in a year and a half, I resolved a few “gray” states into black and white, and I also got back on track with my relatively newfound pursuit to visit both as many states and as many countries / territories as my numerical age. The pandemic had screwed up my state count (I turned 41 having visited only 40 states), but after driving through three new ones in as many days — Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky — I am now safely back in the black: 43 states on the cusp of age 42.

Here are a few pictures:

The campground was really beautiful. We played Sushi Go Party all day and sat around a fire pit every night. We were an hour and a half from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater so we also took a tour there one day.

And I had my first meal inside a restaurant — in a party of 13 no less! — in more than a year, at the cute place below.

Two days in a row we crossed the border into Maryland to spend some time at this nice lake. That was the extent of our ambitions for a week.

It took me four hours to drive to Cleveland from our campground near Bedford, PA (home of the amazing gas station below).

CLEVELAND:

The Cleveland Art Museum is lovely.

Lake Erie:

On the way to Indianapolis I took a slight detour to see a Quaker home that was a major stop on the Underground Railroad.

The house has been restored to what it might have looked like in the 1800s.

INDIANAPOLIS:

This old Coca-Cola factory has been turned into a beautiful hotel.

The historic and quaint Lockerbie Square neighborhood:

BLOOMINGTON: home of the most beautiful state college campus I have visited, the University of Indiana

On the other end of Indiana, a 100 year-old candy shop in a town across the border from Louisville did a candy-making demonstration:

LOUISVILLE: (I spent my only hour there in a tasting room looking for a good but well-priced bottle of Kentucky Bourbon before driving on to Lexington, and so I have no pictures aside from the one below.)

LEXINGTON: (I spent the entire time hanging out with my friend, who moved to Lexington a few years ago, and her husband, and so I have no pictures aside from the one below.)

I actually really liked Kentucky, way more than I expected, and I especially loved Lexington. I spent little more than 24 hours in the state, but I hope to get back there for a longer visit some day.

GETTYSBURG:

It was poignant to see the spot where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address. It was also surreal to contemplate the tens of thousands of people who died on the battlefield or right afterwards, in a year when hundreds of thousands of people in this country have died of COVID.

Apart from the sobering moments, getting back to traveling — even with a road trip to some of the least exciting places in the country — was such a rush after being cooped up for more than a year. It reminded me that being in motion is a joy in and of itself.

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