This pass weekend, John and I headed to what some refer to as “Deary Erie, Pennsylvania” for a quick turn around wedding of one of John’s childhood friend’s son.
We knew we had about a nine-hour drive ahead of us, but we really do enjoy driving, especially as we are getting older.
We like having a car with us to explore; we like being able to stop and look around if we want to and we love learning, seeing little tidbits of information about other areas not to far from our own backyard.
One little tradition we started on long car trips is always having red strawberry licorice on hand to nibble on as we drive along.
The first stop we made on the way was at a rest area just outside of Worcester on the Mass Pike, as my Dad would say. I headed in the little convenience store to get our treat and while I was waiting in line two grown men came into the store yelling at each other. Apparently, one guy didn’t pull through the pump line before he walked into the store, and instead of asking “kindly” for him to move his car, the other huge man started yelling and waving his arms at him. He tried to defend himself, but nothing stopped the yelling.
I stood holding my licorice between them both and finally they stopped. I moved forward to pay the cashier.
You never know what a day will bring.
We continued our drive up the long, but beautiful Route 90 through our first home together in the Rochester, New York area, and onto Batavia. It was amazing to see the acres of fresh growing sod waiting to be cut and used in future yards.
As we got closer to Buffalo, the signs for Niagara Falls were everywhere. If we turned to our right, we would have been at the Falls in 30 minutes or so. Of course, we kept our course on Route 90 which led us right to what some refer to as “Deary Erie.” But nothing boring about the next part of our drive.
Who would have guessed that from the highway you can see hundreds of rows of beautiful grapevines? They went on for miles and miles. We all know that California is the number one area of the U.S. for wine, Oregon/Washington the second, Upstate New York the third, but who knew that just over the Pennsylvania line perhaps the fourth largest area was growing strong. So pretty and fresh to see as we continued our long drive.
Something else you drive right through is the Seneca Nation which is a sovereign Indian nation. Many billboards and signs sharing their history in that great area and the products that they still produce and sell.
Finally, we approached Erie, after 580 miles of travel. As it turned out there was nothing dreary about Erie. The weather was actually sunny and bright and about 10 degrees warmer each day then it was back here at home.
I guess the nickname might come from the downtown city area; it does appear that time has stood still just a little bit, but you can tell change is a coming for them.
Something we noticed that we tend to not see here was it is more the norm for old established businesses from the early 1900’s to never even change their original signs that still hung representing their companies. Many of these buildings were very worn, too.
Something else I noticed was that all of the electrical lines even in the city are above the ground, nothing appeared below. The power lines draped across the city streets, with there many poles, wires and apparitions that made things look outdated, even though every possible store you could need was available to you.
They even had not one, but two Wegman grocery stores and you know how much I love them.
Finally, we approached the Bayfront Exhibition Area right on Lake Erie. I had to keep reminding myself it was a lake and not the ocean. Even on our drive down it was one of the largest bodies of water I had seen.
As John said that’s why it’s part of the five Great Lakes in America. Seagulls everywhere, sailboats, beaches nearby, even a fun pirate boat for excursions you could take with your family.
Saturday, we took a long “walkabout” up and through the city to get a closer look. So many interesting things, one for example, hardly any little coffee shops but many Irish bars. We had decided to wait on our showers until we were getting ready for the wedding because it was so warm out.
Well, you can’t make this up or even expect it. We made it back to our room with plenty of time to get ready for the wedding or so we thought. Who would have ever thought there would be no water flowing through the pipes? We assumed it was just our room.
When John called down to the front desk, the person who answered, calmly said, “Oh, they’re working on it.” As Dad would have said “Come to find out” this is something that happens now and again in Erie. Suddenly the water just stops coming and the city tweaks something to make it work again.
We were in a panic trying to figure out how we could get ready for the wedding without showers when suddenly the great city of Erie came through and the water started flowing again. Felt like the best showers we had ever had!
There was nothing dreary at all about Erie. The wedding was held at Mercyhurst College where the couple had met. There was a full Mass, which did our hearts good.
Sadly, we haven’t been to church in awhile and it felt good to be back. Strange as life is, later when we talked to our girls, they had made an unexpected decision Sunday morning back here in New Hampshire to attend a St. Jude’s Mass with Father Bob and it did their hearts good, too.
If you haven’t been to any church of faith in a while, maybe you should stop back in. It does help the heart and mind, to just sit, breathe and reflect, say a little prayer and maybe ask what we all can do better to help each other along the way.
Sherry Farrell is Londonderry Town Clerk and a longtime resident of New Hampshire.