Crossing the Appalachians

The trip from Gettysburg to western Pennsylvania was quite an adventure.  I’ve driven to Pittsburgh from Bucks County many times.  I was certainly aware that the Appalachian Mountains went through the area, but they were something to be admired, and not feared.  I’ve learned that when driving the rig, they are to be feared, respected, and then conquered if possible.

Our plan was to stop at the 9/11 Memorial in Shanksville on the way to our campground in Washington County.  We carefully chose a route which maximized the use of interstate highways, generally much easier to navigate than the smaller roads.  But to get to the memorial, there was no avoiding the two-laners.

Flight 93 Crash Site from Visitor Center, photo courtesy National Park Service
Flight 93 Crash Site from Visitor Center, photo courtesy National Park Service

The stop at the memorial was very somber, but it was important to us to see it.  One of the heroes of Flight 93, Todd Beamer, was a colleague of Eric’s at Oracle Corporation.  Eric was deeply affected by Todd’s death, and attended his funeral back in 2001.  Todd was the person who famously declared “Let’s Roll” when it was time to storm the cockpit.  The Visitor’s Center is very well done, with photos, videos, and artifacts.  Those forty heroes did an amazing thing that day, saving many lives at the probable target in Washington, DC.   We were glad we made the stop.

I can’t recall now exactly at what point we started with the hills, or which road we were on at the time, because both the two-laners and the interstate had steep grades up and down, before and after our stop at the memorial.  But that day, I learned something about weight, and how much my rig can handle.

The truck has a Triton V-10 engine and it really never occurred to me that it would have any issues pulling itself up hills.  My dinghy is very small and light.  But if the hill was long, the engine really struggled, sometimes to the point where I wondered if I would make it to the top!  If we were on a two lane road, I felt very badly for the train of cars behind me, as I slowed further and further down, several times as low as 25 mph.

I’m thinking ahead to my planned trip to the Finger Lakes area of New York – surely I will need to cross some mountains to get there.  What if the truck can’t make it up a hill – what if I get stuck?  I’ll be alone then, without Eric.  It’s a daunting thought.

So now I’ve started to think very critically about each and every item I have stowed.  Am I really going to use the 23 pounds of exercise weights I brought along?  How about the two boxes of Enviro-Logs Eric gave me, which weigh around 60 pounds? Do I really need six beach towels, or twelve pair of shoes? The extra box of office supplies?  What about the sleeping bags and the tent I’m carrying, just in case I have visitors?  The case of Barefoot Pinot Grigio? It all adds up.

I’m glad I’ve planned a stop in Bucks County in about a month – I will most definitely be offloading as much as possible into my storage unit there.  But meanwhile, I seriously have to figure out how to plan my route around the hills on my next leg.  Maybe if I just drink all my wine it will help??

3 thoughts on “Crossing the Appalachians

  1. I love Gettysburg too. It is so moving and emotional to think about all the tragic events that happened there. Devil’s Den is one of my favorite spots too. No one in my immediate line fought there but my Brother-in-law’s Three Great Grand Uncles were with the 15th South Carolina regiment.


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