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Driving the boys to school this morning, I started thinking about all the ins and outs of driving in central Pennsylvania. I’ll try to avoid clichés and stereotypes, but sometimes they’re just too true (incidentally, that’s HOW they became stereotypes and clichés).

The Amish Horse and Buggy: This may seem to be an obvious nuisance, but it’s not the horse and buggy that I have a problem with. On the whole, the Amish that travel the roads where we live are very courteous and competent buggy operators. It’s the morons between me and the buggy that cause the problem. This is the group of people who are AFRAID to pass the buggy. In the absence of a steep hill or sharp curve in the road, the Amish expect to be safely passed. It’s how we share the road here in God’s country. It’s the cowards blocking up traffic behind the buggy that aggravate drivers and, I’m sure, make the buggy drivers more than a little self-conscious.  

Farm Equipment: When my husband was commuting to Baltimore city from Pennsylvania, he used a lot of back roads that, on a good day, made the trip a little faster and more scenic. When people asked how long the commute was, he would say, “about 90 minutes, unless you get behind a combine.” If you’re lucky, Farmer Bob is just moving from the back forty to the next field. More likely, he’s taking that baby in for service, and the nearest Southern States is twenty slow miles away. In their defense, the people driving these behemoths WILL pull over if they can, but when they’re already taking up a lane and a half, they don’t have that many options.

Liquid Manure (Cow Poop — in liquid form): This particular item deserves its own section only because it is responsible for one of the funniest things I have EVER seen while driving. Anyone should be able to understand that spreading liquid manure on a freshly turned field has GOT to be easier than unloading the lumpy sort. So, once in a blue moon, you may find yourself driving behind what looks like a cross between an old heating oil tank and a pit pork BBQ trailer.

Wow. I cannot believe how hayseed I sound right now. We REALLY live in , if not an urban, then at least a solidly suburban area. But, it’s like going off the resort in Jamaica or the Bahamas. It’s a whole different world out there, and mine has a lot of cow poop.

On the day I saw my first liquid poo mobile, there was a shiny gold (dislike!) SUV between me and the truck.  The farmer in front of us was driving very slowly,  with good reason (spoiler alert!). The tank spout on top did NOT have a cap. When he gets to the field, he starts to slowly turn off the main drag. At this point, the SUV is completely up his ass, ready to zoom around him when……..the truck hits a dirt rut and liquid manure sloshes up and RAINS out of the tank onto the hood of the SUV. Holy hell that was funny.

Deer Crossing: There’s a tired question that goes something like “how do deer know that they’re supposed to cross RIGHT there?” Ha ha, you’re very funny. They DON’T and they WON’T. They will plunge suddenly out of a field or forest followed by at least two of their buddies. You didn’t hit the first one? Well, you have a couple more chances. To emphasize the odds of being involved in a vehicular deer accident in PA, I will share the story of a husband and wife who are friends of ours.

Driving home from MAINE (far, far away), they were in the last ten miles of the trip when Mr. Jones says to Mrs. Jones, “Watch out along here. This is the kind of spot where you might see a..” [BAM!!!!!] Yep. A deer ran right into the side of their car. What are the odds? Have you been listening at all? They’re THAT high.

Retirees: There are at least five retirement communities less than ten miles from my neighborhood. Folks are living longer than ever before (Hurrah!) and continuing to drive LONG after the previous generation would have been DEAD. It’s not even that they drive slowly, although many do. It’s that they are ERRATIC drivers. They’re going slow, slow, slow — and then “sakes alive! a yellow light” ZOOM. Putt, putt, putt…”A smorgasbord!” TURN.

We have a pretty good diner at the end of our street…..and a retirement center RIGHT across state road 501. I’d like to propose an above- or below-ground moving sidewalk to ferry them back and forth. If you think they drive poorly on the way in, you should see them when they leave all hopped up on stewed tomatoes and tapioca.

Scenic Covered Bridges: They stop being scenic and start being death traps when the approach on each side is so steep that you have no way of seeing what’s coming. The last one the boys and I pulled up to was literally flooded with bikers on a bike tour of all of the areas covered bridges (a crappy idea right off the bat). After the “last” pack came through, we counted to ten and drove up and in — only to send four straggling bikers up against the inside of the bridge. They were swearing and crashing into the bridge framework with their feet still locked onto their pedals. It was a nice moment for the kids and I.

Fall Leaf Pickup: As we enter fall (yes, I love fall. I am glad we have seasons… yadda yadda), the leaves are changing to brilliant yellows, reds, and oranges. About ten minutes after this miracle of nature, they’re on the ground. Our township collects leaves, and they do it by sucking them off the curb with a giant street sweeper-type vehicle. In preparation for this, everybody rakes or blows their leaves into humongous leafy dunes that overflow onto the road. First of all, I don’t understand HOW the leaves stay there until the truck comes by, which, at this date, is still about a week away. Some blow away, but the majority just sit there.

This is where my just-under-the-surface bad girl starts tapping me on the shoulder, saying “drriiiive through the leaves”. Like splashing people on a street corner, I want to yank the wheel over and plow through all of their hard work. What’s stopping me? The fear that a cute fuzzy mammal is bunking down in the pile. I draw the line at running something over while it’s SLEEPING.

Happy motoring!!!

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