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Sunday, 4/1/01 - Leaving NYC Again

I left the city with a vengeance, thwarting the signs that said "No Trucks" and "Passenger Cars Only" in order to take the Henry Hudson Parkway up directly to the George Washington Bridge. To get out of the city. To get into...New Jersey?

As I drove, I could not get the noises out of my head - voices, sounds of the city, endless and incessant roaring between my ears. I-80 West sped up toward me while the stress of the city gripped my brain with cold talons of steel, not letting go. How far away is far enough?

Two and a half hours later, I pulled into the campground in the early evening, having gotten a very late start. It was taking some time to adjust to being back behind the wheel of the 23 foot Apache and all I wanted to do was eat and sleep. Daylight Savings Time be damned. hazelton

The Hazelton/Wilkes-Barre campground was listed as a KOA campground in an old directory, but I soon discovered that it was under new ownership and no longer a KOA. Joe, the new owner, kindly honored my KOA sponsorship deal (complimentary stay), and I gave him a signed copy of my book. We said goodnight, and I pulled into my site and set up camp.

Dinner was a fast and simple concoction only a single girl could love - soba noodles, butter substitute, parmesan cheese and soy sauce. Glass of red wine made it all taste fine.

At 7:15pm, I was ready to read a little bit and go to sleep, shades drawn, cozy under the feather blanket with the Berts by my side. I'm reading GEISHA by Liza Darby, an American woman who is the only non-Japanese woman ever to become a geisha in Japan.

Monday, 4/2/01 - Pittsburgh, Here We Come

Woke up at 8:00am, had some oatmeal, then headed out at 8:30. Joe, the owner of the Hazelton/W-B Campground wanted to give me a tour of the renovations he was doing, but I was determined to get on the road early and get to Pittsburgh in time for my 5:30pm event at Carnegie Mellon. I wasn't sure if the drive was 6 or 8 hours, so the sooner I hit the road, the better.

Joe mentioned that his Web designer for the campground's upcoming website was a woman in Brooklyn who knew about RVGirl, and he was planning to give my book to her. I promised to link to his website from mine when they went live. Such a 21st century exchange. "I'll put a link to your site from mine."

I left the campground behind me in a cloud of dust and headed South to pick up the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The drive was uneventful, which was a good thing for my second day on the road. I did discover, however, that Pennsylvania is full of hills, or small mountains according to my huffing and puffing Apache.

Pulled off at a rest stop to walk the Berts, got gas, continued West, arriving at the KOA/Madison in the afternoon. The managers were just getting the place opened and ready for business - a husband and wife who were former computer programmers getting "away from all that stress" by running a campground. koamadison

As we chatted about my travels, they mentioned Fallingwater as a possible sightseeing excursion. Of course! Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous architectural wonder - a summer residence for the Kauffman family of the Pittsburgh department stores. How could I have forgotten? (You can read about my visit to Taliesin East). That would be the perfect day trip for tomorrow.

The drive into Pittsburgh to CMU included driving illegally through a tunnel (with my propane tank) and navigating narrow, congested streets. My nerves rattling, I pulled into a large parking lot for the Carnegie Library only to be met by the angry parking lot attendant who ran up to my RV and stood in front of it like a stone.

"I'm trying to get to CMU for a speaking engagement," I said sheepishly.

"This isn't Carnegie Mellon," he said, offering no more information. And people say that New Yorkers are rude.

"I'm not from around here. Can you point me in the right direction?" I asked nervously.

"That way," he said abruptly, gesturing away from the parking lot. "Over the bridge."

I did a painfully slow 3-corner turn to get back onto the main road and headed "that way." After several wrong turns including one that led me under an overpass and across old train tracks into some secret part of town, I finally made it to campus. Of course, my destination was a new building on campus and nobody I asked seemed to know where it was. hazelton

Finally a student named Leah (my sister's name) came to rescue me and lead me through an impossible maze to Wean Hall and the proper room. The event turned out to be very enjoyable, with the entire audience made up of female computer science grads and undergrads. The room was buzzing with super-brainy estrogen power. Very impressive.

I was able to bring the Berts to the event, and they were well-behaved, to everyone's amazement. We drove back to the KOA in the dark, something I vowed never to do again (especially after breaking down one night in Ohio), but now it can't be helped because of so many evening events planned for this month. Set up camp in the dark. Slept soundly.

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