February 20, 2013

Crossing the Line

Yesterday we crossed the Mason Dixon line. Perhaps in our modern age of few who care about history, many of you may not know what I'm referring to. But for us historians, especially those of us who are southern historians, the Mason Dixon line is well known.
The Mason Dixon line has played a role and symbolized many things in its history, but for me, crossing the line means I'm either entering "enemy" territory (the land of the yankees) or coming home.
We've crossed the line three times in the past two weeks. After 5 years of hardly ever going into the northeast, we've had two trips in two weeks into eastern Pennsylvania. Last week we went to Allentown, and then reloaded at a little town north of there and so far east that I spent the afternoon watching the Delaware River and glaring at the New Jersey shore with dread.
We used to run in New Jersey and into NYC and beyond, back in the beginning days of my driving. I don't have pleasant memories of that period of driving. If you, my dear reader, happen to be from that area, I hope you won't take personal offense. There's plenty I'd like to go visit and see in New England and the Northeast. But in a truck, it is a miserable experience.
And also don't take offense to my calling your part of the country "enemy territory." I think a small part of all us southerners thinks of you that way, but for the vast majority (myself included) it's just a phrase. We harbor no lasting hard grudges and hateful feelings towards you. The war ended 148 years ago.
So I sat glaring at New Jersey because I feared we may soon see the day when we have to cross the Delaware (it will be easier than when Washington did it now that we have bridges and such) and travel around in those tiny states with tiny roads and way too many cars.
But not yet, and according to our broker, not any time soon or ever unless it really really pays. 
After loading, we hurried south to the Pennsylvania border, back across that symbolic line. Then 13 miles through Maryland, 22 through West Virginia, and then a couple hundred through Virginia into North Carolina, where we delivered the next day. And it was all in the dark and I didn't get a single picture. I was disgusted, because I could have actually blogged about that. Something new. Something different. But hard to capture in the dark.
So last Friday when we got a load from Texas to Hazleton, PA, I figured I'd just been handed a second chance. We loaded Monday morning in Texas, and we crossed the Mason Dixon line around 10:00 Tuesday morning.
It was soggy and 35 degrees with light flurries falling.
Which changed to heavier flurries the further north we went.
One of the neat things about driving around in the northeastern states is all the history. I mean the really old history. And I understand that it's not really old compared to European history, but as far as American history goes, this is where we started. This is old history! 
When I think of Pennsylvania, I think of incredibl barns and houses (many of them built of all rock)...

...lots of dairys and farms....

...and some tight squeezes because these towns were established a long time before cars, and especially before trucks of our size.
Shippensburg, PA established 1730
Southwest of Harrisburg, there was a backup on the interstate and we found out in time to be able to jump off and go around it on the side roads. Turned out, it probably didn't save us that much time. Between having to slow down to go through Shippensburg, and also slowing down for the other traffic on the roadway...
....we didn't make that good of time. But the scenery was enjoyable and so I didn't mind.
Back on the interstate we crossed the Susquehanna River at Harrisburg...

...and from that point I-81 moved into some really hilly terrain. Also the snow had picked up considerably and we were once again slowed down by slow moving traffic and a number of snow plows that were out doctoring the roads.
Our thoughts were that it would be best to get to Hazleton and get unloaded and back south before the temperature started dropping for the night. We didn't quite make it, as by the time we left Hazleton it was dark and had restarted snowing in random spurts of hard wet showers of big fat flakes. Traffic was really slow heading out of the mountains. Right about the time the snow would let off, there would suddenly be this incredibly heavy fog bank that forced traffic to a crawl. This happened over and over again until finally we got back down out of the hilly country and to Harrisburg. From there it was smooth sailing into Virginia.

This morning we're loading in Timberville, VA and heading on a short load into North Carolina.
The last two times we passed through Virginia, it was dark. So I enjoyed the scenery this morning. The Shenandoah Valley that I-81 runs the length of is really a beautiful part of the state. If we can get loaded and get going before too late in the evening, I'll try and get some pictures.
As to why we're crossing the Mason Dixon line more often, and why I expect to be seeing more of this part of the country...
California kicked us out and told us not to come back.
Frankly, our feelings weren't that hurt. There are some things we'll miss of course, but California has just gotten to be a pain to deal with (again if your from that part of the country and reading this, please don't take personal offense). But since September, we've been banned from California, and since coming and going from that state made up about 70% of our freight, well....it's changed our loads and regular stomping grounds around a little.
I'll tell you about it later.


Marissa said...

Haha, I live in California...and I can definitely understand it being a pain to deal with!

Muffy's Marks said...

Love today's post!! I so enjoy seeing photos from other parts of this great land of our!! Thanks!!

Dreaming said...

You were banned from California?? Is it an emissions thing? How unbelievable!
We used to travel to PA to see my dad and our son. It is a pretty area and you are right about the history... but oh, those gray days - yuck!

thecrazysheeplady said...

So glad you're back!!! :-D. Great pictures and stories...of course...and I'm dying to hear about Crazy California!

Shanbone said...

I-81 is a beautiful drive. If one could eliminate the weight stations in Roanoke, it would most likely be my favorite stretch of road. BTW there is a small truck stop above Winchester one exit south of the flying j. I like to take my break there. Has a good restaurant and since it's almost impossible to see from the freeway, I don't have to worry about a rookie taking the bumper off my truck as he tries to park.