Tuesday, January 23, 2018

T Stands For First Road Trip to Pennsylvania

or eating our way through apartment hunting.

Rather suddenly, just after Christmas, the Eldest announced she had accepted a job with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center - Horizon and would be moving to Pennsylvania with a start date of 29. January. Pennsylvania didn't seem so bad. Not too far from the New York border except The Eldest was moving to the other side of the world to Western Pennsylvania a spit away from the Ohio border where she had no family, no friends, and didn't know a soul. She blithely announced she would look on Trullio  or some such website for an apartment. When I went to the website, I found the apartments looked like holes. Not a nice, clean, Hobbit-type hole, mind you, but a pit. A run down, rented room in someone's shed.

So I suggested she contact a real estate agent found on the town's chamber of commerce page. And since Himself and I were on Winter Break, we could all take a road trip to check out the area and The Eldest could see about finding a suitable apartment. She contacted the real estate agent, who turned out to be awesome and would meet The Eldest mid-morning on Wednesday

Tuesday morning, we packed our belongings and ourselves into the car to begin the 9 or so hour ride. Our route would take us down I-84 through Connecticut to I-81 and I-80 in Pennsylvania. While driving the highway we spotted a sign for a Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Fishkill, NY, and we decided to stop for lunch as we were well acquainted with the restaurant and liked the food. The fun thing about Cracker Barrel is all the restaurants are set up the same way. There's a country type store, restrooms, and the restaurant.


So grab a mug for your favorite beverage as we eat our way through the week.


The Eldest had some La-Di-Dah  (Latte) a new addition to the menu.


I had a welcome cuppa.


Himself had a Coke.


A bacon cheeseburger for The Eldest. I love a restaurant where you can get breakfast all day long. One of the things, I love about Cracker Barrel. That and the grits that are served with breakfast. Grits, a fluffy, biscuit, Sawmill gravy, bacon, scrambled eggs, and warm apple slices.


Himself had breakfast, too, with pancakes, but no grits.


On the way out, The Eldest spotted this cookbook. We needed to get on the road so I didn't have time to look at the book, but noted the exit of the restaurant so when I drive down with her to help her move it, we'll make another pit stop. I doubt the book will be gone.


The foothills of the Catskill Mountains.


Sustenance for the long road ahead.


crossing the Hudson River.


by way of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge as seen through my filthy windshield. I had hoped to take snaps of the scenery, but the wet day and road mist made that impossible.


A comfort stop somewhere in Pennsylvania, I think. While Himself and the Eldest went for a comfort stop, I gave the windows a much needed wash. After what seemed like decades in the car, especially the last hour when the digital readout on the clock stood still, we finally reached our destination. A lovely Cobblestone Hotel. While hunting online for hotels in her town, I spotted the Cobblestone and across the street a Perkins Restaurant.

In 2006, while attending a Western Writer's Convention (okay, a Big Valley FanFiction Writers Gathering) in Minneapolis, MN. My friend and real author, Erika Vetsch introduced me to Perkins and their out of this world pies, especially the Heath pie. Disappointingly, no longer on the menu.


I had a Cherry Coke.


We ordered an appetizer sampler: mozzarella sticks, fried pickles (don't knock them until you've tried them) and some chicken fingers.


I shared my salad with The Eldest because she loves cheese and I think raw cheese is nasty. Will have to remember to ask the waitress to hold the cheese next time we visit.


I had chicken pot pie.


The Eldest had salmon.


and Himself posed with his pepper steak also showing off his tee shirt. Never underestimate an old man with a chemistry degree.


We packed up the leftovers for awesome dinner the following day as our hotel room had a fridge and microwave.


Our room was clean, spacious, and very comfortable.


After enjoying cocktails (a white Zinfandel for me) and a Tequila Sunrise for the Eldest, we settled in to watch the premiere of The X-Files followed by a good night's sleep. After a nice hot breakfast buffet (included), we met the real estate agent for a tour around town and to visit 6 properties she had picked out for The Eldest to see. 

The first, was a second floor apartment in an old house. Parking was on a side-street and the street was  not plowed very well. The apartment was nice enough, lots of windows and light.

The next stop ended up being a bust. Another apartment in an old house. The real estate agent got a bad vibe about the property so she wouldn't even show us.

There were two units available at a small, apartment complex about 2 miles from the hospital. Both on the first floor and each  had 2 bedrooms. The complex was a little dated from the 1970s, but the property was clean and well-maintained. The landlord was very nice and told The Eldest of the work he was finishing up. Both apartments had hook ups for a washer and dryer. The Eldest liked the unit that had central air. The other unit had a large, wall-unit air conditioner. 

A two bedroom apartment in the Boston area would run over $2,000 per month. No utilities. So while salaries might be decent, the cost of living is so high one can't afford an apartment on one's own. The Eldest didn't want a roommate that she didn't know. So she lived at home while paying room and board.

The rent for all the properties we saw was 1/3 the cost for the same salary back home. Utilities were still not included, but the rent was very affordable.

The next property we saw was right next to an Arby's (fast food, roast beef sandwiches) drive through. The apartment was in another old house and looked a bit like the house that Jack built. The landlord was also very nice and had another apartment right next to the railroad tracks.  The Eldest declined to see that property.

We took the real estate agent out to lunch at Perkins, and the Eldest told her she liked the unit with central air at the small apartment complex. She contacted the landlord so the Eldest could sign the lease agreement the next morning.


The real estate agent also told us she had a client, an elderly woman who was either down-sizing or going into a nursing home and had some living room furniture the Eldest could have. She also thought there was a washer/dryer available.

We had planned on touring the area on Thursday and heading back home on Friday, but the threat of a monster ice storm had us getting out of dodge. We decided we would leave on Thursday after the lease agreement was signed, drive halfway home, and stay in Clarks Summit (a bit out of  the way as it turned out. It didn't look that far off the highway on the map.) 

The hotel was in a busy area. There was a restaurant about 1/4 mile away on the same side as the hotel, and we thought we could walk. No sidewalks and mud from recent rains made that idea impossible.

The restaurant was JJ Bridjes and from the outside looked like a dive, but looks can be deceiving.  Very few people were in the restaurant. We were shown to a table where there was some sports memorabilia. Autographed photographs of the Splendid Splinter, number 9, Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox. He played for the Red Sox from 1939 to 1960. 



There was a poster of Rocky, from the movie of the same name. And some Yankees baseball players, Mickey Mantel. Even though great baseball players, they were Yankees. There's a big baseball rivalry between Boston and New York.


It wouldn't be long before a group of church ladies showed up for dinner. They were planning a fund raiser. A family group was shown into the area behind our table and soon the restaurant was very lively.


A Pepsi, the preferred cola drink of choice.


An appetizer of cheddar cheese and bacon potato skins.


I had a Philly cheese steak sandwich with sweet potato fries.

The Eldest and Himself had Veal Saltimbocca with a side of pasta. I had some, too, as I have always have a taste of whatever Himself orders.



Sadly, we had to leave our leftovers behind as we still had a long way to travel and no way to keep the food temperature safe.

We got back on the road Friday morning well ahead of the storm and made it safely home by early afternoon. Just in time for some nasty weather of our own for the weekend.

Drop by hosts, Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog to find out what the rest of the T Stands For gang is up to. If you want to play, include in your Tuesday post a beverage or container for a beverage. Don't forget to link your blog to Bleubeard and Elizabeth's page.

44 comments:

  1. Well, that was some trip. Your eldest is lucky that you went with her and helped her find a good place. You stopped at some good restaurants along the way, and I'm glad you didn't need to go hungry. My mouth is watering now thinking of things like salmon and sweet potato fries, yummy! Glad you got home safely before the bad weather hit. Happy T Day, hugs, Valerie

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    1. She wouldn't have found the apartment without the awesome real estate agent. Thank God for angels in disguise

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  2. Wow-that was a road trip adventure. I am glad you found her a good apartment. Did you know she had been looking for a job there? I guess she wanted a little adventure, and I hope the job and the new life in Pittsburg goes well for her, and for You CJ. It's tough when they move away, and getting to see her won't be easy as you know. Thank goodness for Skype and other electronic ways to check in. :) Hope you are coping well. And happy T day. Hugs-Erika

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    1. I knew she was actively searching. Someone from an agency in PA saw her resume on whatever website (Monster, Indeed). Told her about the job. The Eldest thought what the hell and applied, but didn't expect anything to come of it. Then she had a phone interview for the job. Then an email with the offer. Too good an opportunity to pass up.

      Yes, I'm happy for Skype. Won't be the same as having her around, but will be close

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  3. Goodness. I wish I had all the money you spent in food on that trip to PA. I could eat for a month, I suspect.

    We also have a Perkins, and when they moved to their new facility, their quality went downhill. Too bad since you would think someone from Corporate would have noticed.

    We don't have a Cracker Barrel, but there is one in another town nearby. I went one weekend and while there, purchased a HUGE wind chime. It lasted less than six months, and broke at the top, so was unrepairable. BTW, I tried grits once and you don't have enough money to get me to try them again. I simply didn't care for them, period!

    Thanks for taking us on the road with you and sharing all those meals and drinks and drinks and drinks and drinks with us for T this Tuesday. I'm off to bed, now.

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    1. That's too bad about Perkins because it seems like a nice, comfort food place. And too bad the wind chime couldn't be fixed.

      Off to bed? Did you stay up all night arting or are you feeling under the weather?

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  4. Just read your comment. Northern KS got socked. Southern and central KS got flakes that didn't even make it to the ground. Just wind and bitter cold here. Lots and lots and lots of wind.

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    1. very very strong winds here as well at least 60 miles an hour I would guess no snow though

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  5. wow what an adventure you all had.
    That was an excellent idea of yours to get help from a real estate agent. so glad you ended up finding an apartment. too bad about the weather or you could have snatched up some furniture etc.
    glad you made it home safe before storms whew I bet you all needed a day of sleep.
    so glad you shared with us Happy T Day Kathy oh and I love grits I eat them all the time when I want a hot cereal-grin

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    1. The real estate agent turned out to be an angel. So very grateful for her help.

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  6. What a road trip adventure WOW! And great you found an apartment! We had some big storms recently as well -
    happy T-Day!
    oxo Susi

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    1. I'm so relieved she found an apartment as she starts her first day of work on Monday, 29. January.

      Yes, I saw your Friederike :-O

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  7. That was a marathon of a trip. I'm sure your eldest must have really appreciated you being with her to view the apartments.
    Your meals on the journey all looked delicious, you seemed to have a good variety and choice of restaurants.
    It was good to read that you got back home safely as well.
    Happy T day wishes.
    Yvonne xx

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    1. I think she was relieved to have company on the drive as it was long. With 2 stops, it took us 11 hours. And of course, she didn't have to foot the bill for hotel or restaurants. Good deal for her
      =^,.^=

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  8. Wow, I loved reading about your week and you did such a great job in the time you had to find a new home for your eldest! It looks like you found an amazing place and I bet she is so excited 😁. I'm sure knowing she is in such a nice place and area is comforting for you too 😁. I enjoyed hearing about all the restaurants you visited and I would love to eat all your menu choices, well maybe not all at once ...lol 😉. I love grits, biscuits and gravy and those apple slices from Cracker Barrel and Philly cheese sandwich is one of my favourites too - yum! Thanks for sharing your road trip adventures and wishing you a Happy T Day! J 😊

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    1. I'm relieved she found a nice, safe, and clean place. The landlord seems very nice. She's very excited to begin this phase of her life.

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  9. What a road trip! Nothing like a mama on a mission! Glad to hear The Eldest found a nice place. And how lucky the agent knew of some free furniture! Win/Win ;)

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    1. The real estate agent was a real blessing. Hopefully, the furniture will pan out, too

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  10. love love love your storytelling you are an excellent writer❤

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  11. My eldest is at college, but looking at moving into an apartment for the last two years... so she'll really be moved out. It's 3 hours away, so not bad, but I don't know what it will be like when she graduates and has to move for a job. Your post is a little peek into that future! LOL

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    1. Hope she finds a job that isn't too far away from home. Something so when you have to help her move, you aren't spending days on the road.
      =^,.^=

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  12. Oh no, CJ! Pennsylvania is a wide wide state and a long long drive. I remember hubby and me driving from NJ to WI. We thought PA would never end!

    Love the tee shirt - lol - and the restaurant reviews/updates. No more heath pie? Oh no again. You really did "eat your way" across the state, didn't you? Another fun read from you, CJ.

    I'm glad it was a successful trip and that you can rest easy knowing the Eldest is in a nice apartment in a safe neighborhood.

    Happy T-day! Hugs, Eileen

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    1. Boy, howdy, is it ever wide, wide, wide.

      The town is nice and people seem friendly. I'm glad she was able to find such a nice place on short notice.

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  13. best fishes :) to your daughter CJ !!!

    and I know all to well how loooooooooooong PA is; unlike you; we came from the west and headed east. ohio....not to bad; western PA, and we're ona a roll...

    toll road let's see if we can hit the pedal to the metal; my uncle lived a hop skip anda jump from NJ; I was driving my grandparents and their dog.

    at one point I asked weezer to roll down the window and listen for twilight zone music ♫♪♫♪...

    time to go home.....we left at some ungodly hour when birds are not yet awake; neither were we....I get to the end of the hill my uncle lived on....foggy as all get out...I asked weezer at the intersection; do we turn left; she replied; while "dozing with her eyes shut" .. right; meaning CORRECT, I thought she meant turn...right...two hours later when the fog lifts ....we realize we are going.... east.....

    the next trip out; I made them take a plane♥♥☺☺

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    1. :-D Trouble is, she's over an hour and a half from the airport at Pittsburgh.

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  14. I can recommend Perkins restaurant too, as we have one in our town. You are right, the pies are fabulous, but their giant muffins are amazing too! You had quite a trip, and good luck to your daughter in her new job! It's an exciting time to get your first apartment on your own...hope the furniture works out too. Happy T day from a lifetime Ohio resident. ;)

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    1. I was eyeing the muffins in the case. They were awesome!

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  15. You were a good mom to take the Elder and get her settled in. I love Perkins! Unfortunately you don't find them in the South. And speaking of South, you like grits. I knew you were a Southern Girl at heart;)

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    1. And my family originated in Southern Italy :-D

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  16. PS Did you change your background?

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  17. That was quite the adventure.
    Happy T day!

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  18. Cracker Barrels are always a fun place to visit. The store alone could hold my attention for hours. Your meal looks so yummy!
    Kate

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    1. They have some fun things. Pricey, but fun.

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  19. Wow, what an adventure! I made myself comfortable with a large glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and read it all. Aren't you glad you came with Eldest. Now she has a decent apartment as well as a job, although it is a bit far away.How exciting for her though.Did you manage to get that furniture while you were there?
    All that food made my mouth water.
    Happy belated T-Day,
    Lisca

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    1. Yes, I'm glad we went with her apartment hunting and glad the real estate agent found a very nice place for her.

      I'm here with her now, and the furniture, a sofa, a couple of chairs, 2 lamps and a console that came apart into what could be best described as 3 armoirs and a small dresser which is doubling as a microwave cart, arrived the day after she moved in.

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  20. That was a great road trip adventure! You guys sure had some great food! I wouldn't have been able to do up my seat belt! LOL!
    I am so happy your eldest found a nice place to live and I am also so happy you had a great real estate agent!

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  21. Great pics! I have lived in PA my entire life as I was born and raised in Berks County, PA ... NEVER been to the Pittsburgh area though my best friend and her hubby are both from Erie. The food (homemade chicken pot pie and such) DELICIOUS!!! Just like my nana used to make when I was a kid.

    Glad your eldest is getting settled. It must be quite a relief.



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  22. I sent you a comment here yesterday but with the blogger issues and being slow I was not sure if you got it so I will post again.

    So glad your eldest is getting settled. It must be a relief for you. I have lived in PA all my life, born and raised in Berks County, I still have never been to Pittsburgh. My best friend and her hubby and family lived in Erie, PA growing up.

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    1. Apologies, my Lady, as I have been slow getting around to check comments. I didn't want to bring a laptop with me and then have a hassle with it at the airport. So over the weekend, I had to wait my turn to use The Eldest's computer. Now that she has started work today, the computer is mine all mine! :-D

      It's a relief to know she has a nice, clean place to live in. Her landlord is a real gem. Knowing these things won't make it easier to leave her to go back home, but at least I won't have to worry so much.

      Greenville is an hour and a half, or so from Pittsburgh. The only part of the city I will get to see on Friday is the airport.

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