Friday, September 03, 2010

Pittsburgh Road Trip: Preview

It's road trip time again! Jon and Stephanie are getting married in Pittsburgh this weekend, and we're invited! ... Actually, they were officially married months ago; this weekend's shindig is just a ceremony and reception. Is this technically a "wedding"? Probably not, but I'm going to count it as one anyway.

If you think just about every wedding we go to is a Pennsylvania wedding, you're right! By my count, this is the 9th wedding I've been to, including my own. Of those nine, six are Pennsylvania weddings, including all three this year. We're even starting to repeat venues: two of the this year's three weddings took place in the same church (Eisenhower Chapel on the Penn State campus), and this weekend's wedding reception will be my second at the PPG Aquarium. Seriously, folks, a little variety would be nice! But in all seriousness, it'll definitely be good to see everyone.

Now, let's talk road trip! The consensus fastest route from Durham to Pittsburgh is the I-77/US-19/I-79 route:

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It's been a while since I've done the US-19/I-79 drive, and it is a very pleasant drive. The New River Gorge bridge is my personal highlight. But are we going to go that way heading up to Pittsburgh on Saturday? Nope. What about the Monday return trip? Nope. Here are the routes we'll be taking instead: (western route = northbound, eastern route = southbound)

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This northbound route features miles upon miles of slow, curvy, mountainous roads. I chose this route for two reasons: because it looks fun, and because I'll pick up several new counties along the way. (I stand to get 8 new counties on the northbound drive, plus one more on the southbound drive.)'s very possible that this drive along VA-311 and WV-20 will take a very, very long time. That's why we're waking up at 5 AM tomorrow morning. That's also why I have several "bailout routes" planned out in case we get sick of it or just want to get there, as we did when we tried taking US-220 all the way through West Virginia and Virginia. We'll see how it goes. I would say that I'll be live-tweeting the drive tomorrow, but I don't expect to have a whole lot of cell phone reception along this drive, so that would be wishful thinking at best. (I will live-tweet the "wedding" and reception, though, as I've become accustomed to doing.)

Farther north, we're leaving I-79 at Morgantown and going up through Fayette County, PA via the not-yet-complete Mon-Fayette Expressway and US-119. Why? 1) To cash in another new county, 2) because our hotel is east of Pittsburgh anyway, and 3) to bypass the I-70/79 intersection in Washington, PA, which we've been told is under construction. I don't think I've ever seen that intersection not under construction. Yay PennDOT!

Now...we would take the consensus fast route on the return trip, but here's the problem with that. Labor Day will be a busy travel day, and because of that, I'd really like to avoid I-77 in Virginia if I could. (I-77 in Virginia, particularly south of I-81, is a common bottleneck on busy travel days. We have a lot of experience with that from our Toledo trips.) So, instead, we'll head east along a portion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike that I've never driven before (including another new county!) to Bedford, where we'll pick up the tried-and-true State College route.

Should be a fun trip! There will be plenty of socializing and road geeking to be had.


James Allen said...

Copycats. But we all know who had the first ever reception at the aquarium.

James Allen said...

Or you could try the crazy way we took from Pittsburgh to Shenandoah. Just go to Google Maps and get directions from 16066 to Front Royal, VA.

Spartangoogle said...

And what's with the September weddings? I thought June was the traditional time. Probably a result of "climate change".