The Little Darlin’/Roxanna Firehall Football Jamboree, Part 6

Day 9. Game Day.  

Fear and Loathing in Tarentum, or How I Almost Didn’t Make It to the Ravens Game.

We left Canton early, eagerly anticipating getting to the campground north of the ‘Burgh, a place called Tarentum.  As my story unfolds, you will discover why the memory of Tarentum, aye its very mention, will scare the bejibbers out of Roxanna, and even more so Little Darlin’, until they shall breathe no more.

Our trip began innocuously enough.  We packed up quickly and efficiently getting on the road by 9:20, hoping to get into the campground by noon or so.  The plan was to eat lunch, take a nap and get ready for the game.  We were planning to meet Rebecca and her husband for a drink at Station Square and go on to the game.  Eeeeeeehhhhhhhhh, NO.

LD took her customary first shift and decided to drive all the way from Canton, as the total trip was expected to be about two hours and a half.  We make to the exit off the turnpike and down 28 just fine.   A few turns, fine.  Oops — sign.  “Bridge out — Detour ahead.”  If you have never driven a 38′ motorhome pulling a four door jeep up the side of Billy Goat Mountain, it may surprise you that “bridge out — detour ahead” is not good news.  

We commenced to detour up and down, higher and yon, hither and thither, missing a turn and frantically working the GPS, trying to get right. During the fiasco, LD performed admirably, refusing my offer to take the wheel, guiding the Behemoth groaning up the mountain and whirring down it.

After 30 minutes of this foolishness, we finally reached the entrance to Gates of Hell Campground. But wait, there are two roads, the sign is tiny, which one … Oh nooooooo!!!!!!!!   There were two roads, one which lead to the campground and one which lead to . . .the gates of hell.  

One thing you should know about a motorhome and a tow vehicle — you can’t back up.  Thus, if you make a little mistake like driving twenty feet up the wrong road, there’s no do-over.  You are going for a ride.  We were going for a ride.  

Up the mountain we went.  Straight up.  I am yelling.  LD is giving it right back.  Unscientific anatomical terms are flying left and right.  Little Darlin’ is yelling and crying at the same time GET ME OUT OF HERE.  GET ME HOME.  There is no room to pull off there is no room to turn around.  Despite past experience, I try to calm LD down. Didn’t work this time either.  I AM NOT GOING TO THE GAME FROM HERE.  THESE ROADS ARE IMPOSSIBLE!  But, honey.  WHEN WE GET HOME WE’RE SELLING THIS THING. GET ME OUT OF HERE.

Code red.  Epic meltdown.  

During the ensuing monologue, it was determined that LD was not staying at the Gates of Hell Campground in the unlikely event that we found it again.  She wanted to find the turnpike and get back to civilization.  Meanwhile, we are still climbing higher and higher looking for an answer.  I spotted a wide gravel driveway with diesel cabs in it.  It looked wide enough to unhitch the Jeep and get turned around.  I pointed and barked pull in.  LD resisted, I insisted.  Surprisingly, she pulled in.  

The property looked like some type of heavy duty trucking place.  Nobody was around so I proceeded to untether the Jeep and LD now had the room to turn the Behemoth around.  One problem solved.  We were planning our next move when I noticed the rig’s steps give way.  Upon further review, I saw a large bolt under the steps. I cannot write what I said. The steps were just hanging loosely, not rigid and retracting as they were designed. I said it again.

I crawled under the Behemoth.  Why would be a good question.  I have led a life of tool avoidance and my confidence that I could repair the steps was comparable to a Steelers fan’s belief that Josh Scobee can kick a 40 yard field goal.  

I tried, I failed.  I saw the steps dangling just inches above ground.  Considering the terrain, I knew driving these roads in that condition would destroy them.  The chances of resolving this mess seemed utterly hopeless. I called Rebecca and cancelled our meet, believing in my heart that we were going to have to eat the Ravens’ tickets.

I returned trying to figure out a fix for the steps. As I pondered my options, a large tow truck entered the driveway.  I approached the driver to apologize for our trespass and explain our predicament, hoping for advice or maybe a helping hand.  

The young man was the owner of the heavy duty towing service which operated from that location, ad he cheerfully grabbed his toolbox and offered to take a look.  After about twenty minutes, our Good Samaritan had restored the steps.  LD and I were elated and very appreciative of his help.  We offered him money for his help and he refused.  Yinz are nice people.  You don’t have to do that.  We nearly had to mug Dave to give him a few bucks for his trouble.  He finally relented when it was decided that Dave’s four kids will get pizza that night. 

I wish Dave could read this.  Even though we thanked him profusely, we were so grateful he rescued us.  I’m sure he works hard and didn’t need strangers in the driveway when he brought his truck in. Here’s a promise to pay it forward when I get the chance.  

Dave also gave us explicit directions back to the turnpike, for which LD was exceedingly grateful.

It was time to figure out a battle plan. I had pretty much figured we were not going to get to the game as mid-afternoon was upon us. LD made it very clear she did not want to stay on Billy Goat Mountain, and certainly wasn’t going to travel Billy Goat’s roads in the dead of night after a football game. If she was going, it wouldn’t be from Tarentum.  

LD, still driving the Behemoth (she bends, but never breaks), says find another campground CLOSE TO THE HIGHWAY and maybe we can still make the game. I called the place we stayed on the first night which was about an hour from Station Square. We both took a deep breath and headed for New Stanton.

We got in well after four. After setting up, we fed the dogs and got ready and made it to the game.

Well, by now, you all know what happened. Until the very end, I believed we were going to win it.  It was awesomely exciting. We got to see Coach Cowher present the Bus with his HOF ring. When we were at the hall, we wondered where Jerome’s bust was. We found out — it was at Heinz Field.

The defense played its heart out.  Deebo’s sack late in the game was a special moment and the yinzers went gaga. There were so many ways we could have made one more play and yet, it did not happen. There was no Dave of Tarentum to save the Steelers Thursday night. Just Tarentum.

Day 10 – is this the apocalypse?

Thursday was hard. Thursday was mean. Today would be better. Pleeaaasssseee.

Being dog tired from the trauma of induced by Tarentum, the broken steps and That Kicker (I refuse to have his name in my mouth), I slept hard. Refreshed, I took the first shift driving today.

We left New Stanton (great campground, btw) and headed for Lancaster. We had intended to stay in Gettsyburg and take the Bay Bridge to get home. With the storm hitting the east coast like 92 hitting Colt McCoy, we decided to stay on the Turnpike to Harrisburg and stay over in Lancaster.

The rain started 20 minutes into the trip and did not stop. The wind howled as the Behemoth screamed through the mountains of Central Pennsylvania. There was construction through one of the curviest sections, which is fun when you’re driving a monster bus in the wind and rain. No shoulder, just Jersey barrier. It was a much fun as you can ever have with white knuckles.

Little Darlin’ took over a the Plainfield rest stop. The rain picked up and so did the wind. We were prepared for the storm and despite its challenges we made it to Lancaster. We decided to stay a a campground which we passed literally a couple of hundred times, since it was between our former home near Harrisburg and the Delaware beaches where we owned a vacation home before we retired there.

Little Darlin’ drove past the sign for the campground to the entrance driveway for the campground which was…blocked off by Jersey barrier. What?????!!!! I saw the shadow of Tarentum and said…is this the apocalypse?

Of course, it was not. I think. LD turned us around in a couple of minutes. She has a photographic memory for landscapes and knows where things are instinctively. I have trouble finding the bathroom. Anyway we turned around, found our way in. I think they are constructing a new entrance. We check in, hook up. I come into the RV soaking wet to find we have no electricity. I just laughed. LD just laughed.  

We had  to move. I unhooked it all, getting soaked again, and we move to a new site. Voila! Electricity. Sometimes you just have to laugh.  

God willing, we get home today. The Delaware coast is partially submerged so the fun and games will continue. Once we come up for air we will conclude the LD/RF Football Jamboree.  Stay tuned.

One comment

  • This is awesome. At least when it happened to someone else, and I know they made it through safely. I can’t even imagine what it feels like to drive something that large in the situations you did. Well done, LD!

    Liked by 1 person

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