Friday, June 29, 2012

The Trip to OH"HELL"IO.....Chapter Five....The End!

We finally get some sleep on Tuesday night.
After the people next door stopped pounding on their room door every 15 minutes.
These were all no smoking rooms and I guess someone next door was a chain smoker and had to keep pounding on the door after smoking a cig outside, to gain admittance back into the room.
Between the regular intervals of pounding and the glass FILLED with butts on top of the a/c unit hanging on the outside of their room in the morning, I think I am a regular Sherlock Holmes!

We rose Wednesday morning and started working on a plan for the day.
You see, when we planned this trip, we didn't plan the whole thing.
Yes, we are spontaneous that way.

Well, not really.
But we thought we would try to be spontaneous by doing this.

The possibilities for the day included...
1-Go to the First Ladies Museum in Canton.
2-Find something else to do in the area.
3-Head for home and stop in Johnstown PA to sightsee.


I had wanted to go to the First Ladies Museum but I was loosing my lust for it quickly.
First off, we weren't close enough to Canton.  This motel was still a ways off from Canton and I hadn't realized it was so far away when I booked it.
Second, we would have to make an appointment/reservation for the tour, which is given about 5 times a day.  The parking is also gated and you only got the code to get into the lot if you made a reservation.
Since we were not in Canton already(and had not idea how long it would take to get there AND to find the museum), I obsessed that we'd not arrive on time.
Third, it cost money.  And knowing the bill for the car a/c repair that we had in our future, I wasn't thrilled to spend more money if we could avoid it.
Fourth, the Museum was 2 separate buildings that were not next to each other and this would involve an unknown amount of walking.....outside.....in the heatwave which was to continue on Wednesday. A 3rd day of these temps might actually do me in.  In hindsight, I should have chanced the heat doing THIS museum!
Fifth, Hubs wasn't real thrilled about going there.
So that sealed it.
No 1st Ladies for us.

So we tried to find something else to do in the area.
Outside of eating at Chef Ernie's again, there wasn't much call for hanging around this area any longer.
Heading toward home with a stop in Johnstown won the vote.

Though we've lived in Pennsyltucky now since 1986, we've never been to Johnstown to see the Johnstown Flood area and museum.
If you don't know about this piece of history....in the 1870's a group of wealthy folks from Pittsburgh bought a piece of land with a centerpiece of a lake, created from an old damned up river.  The damn had been build decades before by the Cambria Iron Company.  It was not stable and for years people squawked about how it needed repairs, etc. but the socialites didn't want to spend the money to fix the situation.  In May of 1889, this area of PA experienced prolonged rains over days and the damn failed, sending a wall of water down through the valley below into Johnstown and other small hamlets.  Though there was some warning, there was not enough time for residents to flee to high ground and thousands and thousands of people lost their lives and these small towns were destroyed.
So I got to tramp through 2 graveyards AND see a deadly flood area this trip.
I tell you, I am one fun party animal on vacation!

We dropped by the front desk and grabbed some of the free stingy Continental Breakfast(using the term breakfast loosely), checked out and headed back to PA.
The weather was nice(except for the heat which was bad already at 10 am.)and the drive to the border was nice.  We passed a very large lake that didn't seem to be highly developed yet with lots of houses and people and noisy recreational vehicles.  It was a nice scenic drive for awhile.

Then we hit Steubenville Ohio.
And we stopped in the grimy little quaint city.
Because I had to find something and take a picture.
And after a little wandering around, asking a convenience store employee who didn't speak very good English but gave good directions nonetheless, we found him.

I didn't get to see my Giant Praying mantis or my French Impressionist Painting Topiary, but by gum, I got to see my Dean Martin Mural!
Dean was born and raised in Steubenville and is a favorite son of the town.  We rode on Dean Martin Blvd. on our way to get to this mural even.
So when Steubenville started putting up murals in town, as a way to get tourists to stop here instead of passing by on their way to the Casino in WV,  Dino Paul Croccetti was an obvious choice for a painting.
If anyone out there wants to know, Dean's mural can be found on the side of the Kroger Grocery Store in a strip mall outside of town.
Frank and Sammy are there on the side, from his Rat Pack days, as well as Jerry from his Martin & Lewis days.
What made this excursion even more exciting?.....watching a Kroger 18 wheeler truck leaving the parking lot and almost take out an old guy in a wheelchair waiting to cross the highway at the intersection.  EEK!

We headed out of town onto the interstate, and into WV for about 5 minutes, before crossing over into PA.
Traffic around Pittsburgh was crazy.  We went around P'burgh to the south, through a system of 2 tunnels, which backed up the traffic even more.  Once we got clear of those tunnels it was smooth driving again.

We stopped about an hour east of P'burgh for lunch at a local Chinese take-out place.  I know....I threw caution to the wind eating there, but sometimes I forget my food poisoning susceptibility while on the road.
I got a water and Chicken with Cashews since it has lots of veggies.....and it did!  Though there were only 4 different ones, 1 of which I don't eat.  At least it was heavy on the carrots and not the celery or onions.  And the sauce was an odd color.
But other than that....lol

Back into the car and we made Johnstown by 2pm.
Now there were a couple of different Johnstown Flood activities to choose from.
One could go to the site of the Hunting and Fishing Club(where the damned lake was)10 miles north of town.(Old abandoned crumbling buildings and overgrown forest to stare at.)
One could go to the huge ass Cemetery where most of the people who died in the flood are buried.(Oh, No!....another cemetery!!)
One could go on a self-guided tour of various places in the Johnstown Flood Memorial Park area, which included hiking/biking trails.(Outside in 98 degree heat..eek!)
One could go see the exhibits in the Johnstown Flood Museum.(Inside away from the heat, an elevator to get to the upper floors and a movie too.)

You should have known that I'd pick the last option.....


The Johnstown Museum is right in downtown Johnstown.
It is in the historic Public Library building.
When the Library was destroyed in the flood in 1889, it was rebuilt by Andrew Carnegie in 1891.
It's a gorgeous old Victorian stone building.  I'm sorry I didn't think to get a photo of it so you'll have to view this photo I lifted off the Johnstown's site.
But you'll see why that thought slipped my mind shortly.

We parked and made the trek to the front door.  Being downtown, parking comes at a premium and is not convenient.
And we opened the heavy wooden door and walked inside the foyer area and no cool blast of air hit us in the face.
No.
There was a hot breeze being blown around by a big box fan set up on the counter by the register.
One side of the room was a makeshift gift shop.  More of a book store with all kinds of Johnstown themed books(mostly Flood related), as well as some books on other historical PA areas/people/happenings.
And right in front, in order to make my stomach churn and my lunch to threaten to make a return appearance was a book about John Murtha....one of the "you'll never get me out of Congress" representatives from PA with a long history of having ethical issues.
Not a fan.

So the young girl running this Museum venue for the day told us the price of the tickets....$8 each!!!....and with her next breath told us the a/c for the building was out.
We should have turned and left.
But we didn't.
We figured if the rest of the place was like this area, with some fans going, we would be ok.
At least they could have reduced the ticket price if we were going to be very uncomfortable while we were in there.
But no, no price adjustment was made when I asked.....because she probably didn't have the authority to do so.

So we paid....!!!!....and we got our stamped tickets and proceeded inside.
And just when I thought it was hot, it got hotter.  The inside was a good 10 degrees warmer than the entry room.  It was nearly windowless, dark with no fans of any kind.  In the center of the room was a large, low display case you could look into.  Inside was a recreation of the topography of the valley that Johnstown sits in and tiny models of the towns in the valley.
There were lights fixed in the display and a soundtrack that started with rain sounds, then downpour sounds, then train sounds(the train had tried to warn the townspeople), then creaking damn sounds, then thunderous water rushing sounds, then water and people screaming and debris hitting stuff sounds.  The lights lit up at various points to go with the soundtrack.
The sights and sounds of the Johnstown Flood playing out every 6 minutes over and over again before your eyes and ears.
In the suffocating heat.
Gawd, I just wanted to hurl myself into the river outside and end it all!

**Here is a photo of the exhibit I lifted off the museum's website.
Now I don't know how they got this shot.  They must have put up huge theatrical lighting floods to take it because when we were there, there was hardly ANY lighting at all in the room.  You could barely see your hand in front of your face.
But it does give you a good shot of the "Wall of Debris" to the rear.  That's a wall of actual debris bolted to the wall and spray painted white....for impact I suppose.  I think it's the best thing in the whole museum.


We listened to the screaming and debris rush in water over and over again at a loud decibel as our bodies started to liquify, so we quickly hiked around the room looking at the exhibits.
And we waited for the film on the 2nd floor to begin.
And we waited......and we waited some more......

I really needed to cool off and sit down at this point(of course there were NO benches inside!), so I took the elevator to the basement(where the restrooms were)and the temperature when you walked out of the elevator down there?.....had to be 60 degrees.
Going from over 100 to 60 degrees about did me in.  I didn't want to ever leave that room!

Thank goodness for big old stone buildings with solid, thick basement walls!!!

I sat down there until the movie was going to start.
Then I rode the elevator to the 2nd floor....ugh.
I thought the 1st floor was bad, well, the 2nd floor was worse.  I moved slowly into the theater room and sat down right across from a box fan they had put in the room to blow hot air around.
I didn't care if I hogged the fan......the others should have beat me to the seat!

And finally the film began.
And just to make this adventure even MORE perfect than it already was?......there was NO SOUND!
Yes, the movie rolled but the sound did not.
Just Nifty!
At least they had subtitles so we got to read along with the movie....if you could clear the beads of sweat from your eyes enough to see the subtitles.

This just couldn't get any better.
After the film ended, we rode the elevator down and made a path to the door to leave.
And the air outside the building?.....it was like walking into a refrigerator......a refrigerator set at 90 degrees.  If felt much cooler outside, but it was still 90 something degrees.  At least the air was fresh and moving around.
The Musuem sans a/c was sooo bad.  They really should have closed it down for the day.  Some one could have easily passed out from heat stroke in there(ME!)and then they'd be faced with some legal consequences.  Too bad I am NOT sue-happy.....
A seriously negligent situation.

Though our admission ticket gave us privileges at 2 other attractions(one of which was outdoors), we said no thanks and crawled back to the car and headed out of Johnstown.

Here are 2 photos I shot, before the heat overtook me, to save you the bother and possible heat stroke of going there yourself.

The first one shows the lake after the flood.  The line in the center of the photo shows the level of the water in the lake and you can see how low in it's banks the river is after.  The lake was 72 feet above river level.  That's a whole lot of water....


This is Hubs standing in front of a case of objects that were plucked from the flood waters afterwards.....the surviving objects as it were.   There was a quilt, a trunk, a chair, some other fabric items.  I apologize for the darkness but even with a flash on the camera the room was so dark that I was surprised that my blind aim caught anything really.  Of course Hubs bright ORANGE shirt showed up quite well.



We decided to head home after Johnstown, since we could make it before dark, and not be out on the road in a strange bed for another night.
We stopped for drinks soon after leaving J'town since we were approaching a dehydrated state.
Then we stopped at Arby's for a light dinner.  I had a Roast Beef with Mushrooms sammie and Water.
My jaw was too tired for all the chewing a salad would have required.

And we rolled up into the driveway as the sun set.....worse for the heat and the wear.
I took a little swim in the pool which helped and I hit the bed early, happy to be home.

Looking back, this trip sucked and was doomed from the start in so many way.
Credit card theft.
Heatwave.
No a/c in the Car.
Not enough time to do much stuff.
Some stuff we did was mediocre.
Having to watch the money because of the theft and no cc.

But I won't hold this against Ohio.
Johnstown?.....maybe.

But we stuck it out, did what we could and laughed about it.
Because if you don't laugh about this stuff, you will want to kill yourself and take others with you when you go.

Do I want to go on another road trip?
You betcha!
Just not quite yet......I need to recover from all the fun I had on this one first! ;-)

And here's Dino to sing us out.....




Sluggy


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