Or “I had no idea what to name this, but I’m waxing oddly nostalgic about things and couldn’t justify proper story-writing this weekend for some reason.” Or “Here’s a driving/travel post because I’m visiting Carnegie for Easter.”
Once upon a time, a long time ago in my grandmother’s dining room, the title of this post was posed to a much younger me. Mrs. Ott, a friend of my Grandma June, asked me this question, and I had no idea how to answer it. Sure, there are plenty of answers I have for it now, and I’ll get to those. However, I want to address the Parkway itself, first, because I get oddly sentimental over things that probably don’t merit such strong emotional responses. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said that, I’d be significantly more well-to-do than I am now.
The Pennsylvania Parkway, which is a particular stretch of I-376, (Parkway East and West) is something of a beast. Like any other major road in Pennsylvania, it’s riddled with potholes. It’s got its fair share of construction issues (if you’ve experienced the Squirrel Hill Tunnel lane closure-related traffic, you have gazed into the depths of Hell itself), and it seems to really bring out the stupid in drivers (not unlike William Penn Highway, where people stop at green lights for some reason).
Maybe it’s all the times I’ve traveled it in such a short span of time, but I have a special place in my heart for both Parkway East and West. It’s the very first major highway I’ve driven on for extended periods of time. I refuse to take the Carnegie on-ramp for the Parkway East because it’s a goddamn death-trap, but the rest of the trip either way is pretty easy. Getting super cheesy for a moment: there’s a certain magic to driving along the Parkway West, passing through the Squirrel Hill Tunnels (or coming to a complete stop outside of the Squirrel Hill Tunnels, waiting a couple hours, and then making it through them), driving along a little ways, and suddenly seeing the lights of the Pittsburgh skyline. As far as I’m concerned, it’s Disney-quality stuff, especially at night. Pittsburgh’s skyscrapers, lighting up the night sky, with The Incline visible in the distance. Even the prison looks nice. If you’re ever travelling, and you need to
I’ll get lost driving along, looking at Mount Washington and thinking back to the years I’d spent living in my grandmother’s house. I’m probably tricking myself, but I’m almost sure I see hints of landmarks I remember from my time living there. Traveling along Parkway East got me to Hollidaysburg so I could visit Brianne (and, now, traveling along Parkway West to get back to Carnegie) has become the stuff of many good memories for me, and I’m fairly certain I’ve driven back and forth between Hollidaysburg and Carnegie enough times that my car could probably autopilot itself along the necessary route (if it only had a brain, da-doo-da-doodoodoodoo).
Mrs. Ott passed away far too long ago, as far as I’m concerned, but I’ll pose a new answer for her riddle: we drive on the Parkway, but only so far before hitting traffic and essentially slowing to a parked-like state, and we park in driveways to practice for the time we’ll be driving on the Parkway. Or, to be fair, not many people I know seem to park in driveways anymore, and they avoid driving on the Parkway as much as possible.