Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Heading North from the South

 The United States is really beautiful--a beauty that can't be experienced from the detachment and protection of an airplane. 

I was surprised to discover that the geography of our country roughly follows along state lines--New Mexico looks different from Texas, which looks different from Oklahoma, which looks different from Arkansas.  These subtle changes were very apparent to me on my third day of driving--north from Atlanta, across South then North Carolina, finishing up in the Smoky Mountains of Virginia.  Red-tinted soil morphed to fertile chocolatey brown.  South Carolina's trees gave way to North Carolina's more rocky terrain.  And Virginia.  Ah, Virginia, the home of founding fathers and freedom.  I think the Shenandoah Valley is one of God's most beautiful creations--miles and miles of rolling hills on either side, lush trees and beautiful farmland as far as the eye can see.  We spent our fourth night on the road in Harrisonburg--and I could have spent days in this small town, exploring the mountains and the shops.  Not to be, I'm afraid.

The next morning we all shuffled down to breakfast, and for the first time in all our mornings, the kids were relatively quiet, cooperative and clean.  Two older couples watched with interest as I rotated from the food to the kids to the napkins and back again, and I kept thinking, "What?  They're being good?"  Then one of the gentlemen asked, "How do you teach them to be so well-behaved?  What nice kids you have."  I was shocked.  Rarely do we hear things like this in the wake of the Denton Sanatorium, but I graciously thanked him and then told the kids what he'd said.  Hyrum quickly responded, "We were being good so you wouldn't be embarrassed, Mom."  Wish I could have framed and replayed that morning more than once.

 I did manage to finagle a quick stop at Lucketts, just outside Leesburg, VA, by preparing a picnic lunch and forcing asking the kids to stay outside while I looked around for half an hour.  I love that place.  It's a good thing I live 37 hours away.

I spent many hours plotting our trip--where we would stay, what to see along the way, how many hours of driving each day, etc.  About a week before we left, I was looking up Spring Hill, PA on Google Earth--a town in southwestern PA, when I suddenly felt like I needed the exact address to see the exact house.  I called Mark, our host, and he gave me an address and town I wasn't expecting--Wyalusing, PA.  "Wyalusing?"  I asked, trying to mask my surprise.  "I thought you lived in Spring Hill?"  He explained that Spring Hill was the name of the HILL where they lived--just outside Wyalusing.

No problem, I'll just find Wyalusing.  Problem was--Wyalusing is an additional four HOURS farther than Spring Hill, and all of my carefully laid plans had to be altered, changing our planned arrival on the fifth day from early afternoon to evening.  Although annoyed, I was glad I'd discovered my error before I spent hours driving around Spring Hill with four grumpy kids asking everyone around if they knew Mark Smith-Gary. 

Our progress that day seemed extremely slow--to all of us.  Not only did we know that by the end of the day we would be "there," but the road system to reach northeastern Pennsylvania is complicated and rural.  I took my road atlas and trusty mileage chart with me into McDonald's that day for lunch, where I became acquainted with the kind of people who live in rural Pennsylvania--very kind, very friendly, slower paced, and happy.  A man saw me with all my plotting paraphernalia and offered to help with directions--first through Wilkes-Barre, then north to Tunnkhannock (where we stopped at Walmart to buy groceries).  When we climbed the hill in Laceyville, I knew we were close, so I kept looking until I found the sign.
Right on Shumway Road, keep to the left, and it was two miles down the dirt road.  My excitement was building.
 We drove through an endless tunnel, waiting for the trees to clear, watching the odometer as it carefully measured out two miles.  When would we see the big red barn on the right?

Would this be everything I had hoped it to be? 

Would it be everything I had hoped it would be? 

Two words.

Absolutely Perfect.


  1. Looks absolutely beautiful and picture perfect! I've missed you too my sweet friend!

  2. I literally started crying when I saw the stop sign and the tunnell of trees and then my Grandpas house. I didn't realize I missed it THAT much. It's been 14 LONG years since I've been there. But oh is it ever a glorious place. Forever held in my heart. It makes me incredibly happy that I got to share that special place with one of my friends.

  3. We are going on a trip to DC, Vermont, and Maryland, and we are thinking of taking in Pennsylvania, too. I think you may have convinced me...