Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"More Pennsylvania Backroads"

Skip to the random thought

Taking the "back way" to State College (US-522 from McConnellsburg to Mount Union, plus surrounding routes) can be faster than the interstate, but it isn't always faster, because of the amount of (slow) traffic US-522 carries. That makes the road not a whole lot of fun. So, before last weekend's trip to State College, I was thinking: are there any lesser-known roads that parallel US-522? You betcha - PA-655 and PA-829:

Thing is, with some of these three-digit Pennsylvania state roads, you never know what you're going to get. You might get a very fast through road, or you might get a twisty road with no shoulders where you can't break 45 mph. Either way, we win, right? (Just as long as we don't get stuck behind any slow cars.) Let's split up the "recap" into segments:

1) PA-655, US-30 (Harrisonville) to PA-475. This part of the drive really had me wondering what we were doing. The road often had sand and/or dirt on it, it was narrow, and it was slow. But it was fun. That kind of road is okay in small doses.
2) PA-655, PA-475 to PA-829 (Saltillo). This road was slightly more of a through road, and in much better shape. And still with a sufficient amount of curves, too. This was probably the best part of the drive.
3) PA-829, Saltillo to Cassville. This was more like the first segment, particularly after PA-655 broke off, but that's okay. Going over mountain ridges is always fun. (Part of this segment is multiplexed PA-655 and PA-829.)
4) PA-829, Cassville to US-22 (Mill Creek): First off, a word about Cassville. Most of the towns along this route were old and run-down. Cassville looked that way at first, but then as soon as we hit "downtown", we were greeted to a multitide of new-looking houses! Where'd this all come from? Did Cassville strike oil or something? As for PA-829, north of Cassville, it was a pretty fast road with ample passing opportunities. It was hard to pass on much of this route, but there wasn't that much traffic, so it was okay. In all, I passed one car on this route and was passed once. (I also passed one car on PA-416, and one car on PA-16.)

Sure, the route was fun, but on an 8-hour drive that's being crammed into the weekend, the most important thing is the stopwatch. The result: 2h56m from I-81/I-66 (Front Royal, VA) to State College. The other "back way" US-522 route has gone as low as 2h51m, but averages the same 2h56m. (The I-99 route averages 2h59m.) So, on average, this way wasn't any faster. But it was more fun. I'm sure we'll do it again next time.

Last Year: "Fisherman's Paradise, PA". If I keep this up, I may have gone everywhere there is to go in Pennsylvania. (Actually, I still have 10 whole counties to visit in the state, so I still have a ways to go. And in case you're wondering, those 10 counties are: Armstrong, Beaver, Delaware, Fayette, Northampton, Potter, Somerset, Sullivan, Tioga, and Wyoming.)

Tomorrow: "Even More Pennsylvania Backroads". Ha.

Today's random thought:

- I've long praised the merits of State College's Waffle Shop, particularly their fast service. But most of the times I've gone, it's been a party of 2 or 3. Could they duplicate their fast service with a party of 12? Well, I'd say so: I got my meal in 13m46s as part of a crowd of 12, and some got theirs sooner. Waffle Shop has earned their reputation, and they are quite worthy of the all-time record (4m00s). Other Waffle Shop stats: The West College location averages 9m23s in 12 visits. The slowest was 16m11s with a party of two; the fastest was the afore-mentioned 4m00s. The Bellefonte location's average is slower at 11m33s, but three of its five visits (including the slow mark of 19m13s) were with parties of four or five. The two "party of two" visits to Bellefonte were quite fast (5m54s, 8m11s). Courtney's, the closest thing to Waffle Shop that Raleigh (Cary) can offer, averages 10m28s in 11 visits.

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