The minute my husband and I climb the steep wooden steps and walk under the portal, I know that we will be there for quite some time. The conditions are right — a Monday, no less.
We can make a four-hour trip into an all-day adventure, and on occasion, an impromptu overnight is added into the mix for good measure.
People shake their heads at us for finding more offbeat places along an ordinary road than you can count on a stick (a tally stick). Our marriage thrives with that added zing.
Society loves to program travelers into rushing everywhere and sightseeing as much as possible as quickly as they are able. Personally, I am taking my foot off the gas pedal, and slamming on the brake.
One way to see the countryside on a casual trip — I’m not talking about every vacation either — is to make periodic stops while using restraint speeding from point A to point B.
It isn’t the easiest thing to do without practice, patience and panache. I might add it requires the correct combination of temperaments in the car (I’m still on a learning curve) from those involved, too.
Once my husband and I stopped at a local store on our return from Pittsburgh for a bottle of water and a check of the local newspaper headlines. That got us front row viewing at a Tom Mix festival in Dubois, Pa. There was an assortment of classic cowboy character re-enactors of the likes of Hopalong Cassidy and the Lone Ranger strolling around the park.
Although I don’t remember Tom Mix — I am not that old — I do know that he helped define the Western for all cowboy actors who followed. Between 1909 and 1935, Mix appeared in 291 films, all but nine of which were silent movies. He was Hollywood's first Western megastar. John Wayne was right on his tail.
It was a déjà vu experience for the two of us growing up in the era where playing cowboys and gals was in vogue. If I remember correctly, we ended up too tired to drive home that night after the Disneyworld-like parade complete with a shootout on horseback, and we stayed overnight in a neighboring community that just so happened to be near a meandering trout stream with outstanding fly-fishing. You can guess the rest of the story.
On the other hand, it can be a unique site tucked away site not listed on a travel brochure that catches our fancy.
My husband pulls over by an old weathered barn selling antiques. It is along the edge of the main highway, a typical windy two-lane road running through northern Pennsylvania. I am feeling a wee bit carsick, and should stretch my legs.
Surrounding the front of the structure are sleds, baby buggies and an assortment of upright wooden chairs artistically arranged. That catches my camera’s eye.
We have driven by this barn many times throughout the years on the way to visit relatives, and for some reason or other, we have never stopped. Always there is an excuse.
The owner greets us from the rear, and leaves us on our own to walk the aisles looking for that perfect treasure. I appreciate his style. I have experienced the chatty owner desperate to fill up an afternoon with conversation, and that alone is enough to take my mind off the mark.
Groups of pieces are organized and displayed neatly. The prices appear reasonable, as well. It won’t be too difficult to eyeball the contents.
Don’t get me wrong. I do get a kick out of rummaging through a musty barn tiptoeing ever so gingerly down an aisle like a balancing act. I avoid tripping over boxes scattered everywhere, and I end up covered with a thicker layer of dust than the prize possession I have uncovered underneath brittle yellowed newsprint. Often out of that junk pile the greatest acquisitions come, although it takes longer. Being in the right mood, too, along with a full stomach is essential.
My usual strategy is roaming and noting what is for sale — or could be, with gentle persuasion. It never gets me anywhere when I search with a plan to add a piece or two to one of my collections.
As I move closer up the first aisle, the owner and I begin what I call “the starter” discussion: “Where are you from?”
While we are getting acquainted, he is inspecting a bag of jewelry. He had been to an estate sale and shows me a delicate filigree and bone bracelet.
I ask to try it on, and hoping that I’m not showing too much interest, I hand it back after quickly checking the price tag. I walk away mentally calculating how much cash I have with me, and what will be my bottom line offer.
In the meantime, my husband is browsing miniatures in another aisle. We do best separating the minute we enter as each of us has a different purpose.
The barn is chilly taking away from a lengthy stay. It is time to get on the road again. (I did buy the bracelet.)
We say our farewells. There are items hiding from plain sight that have been playing peek-a-boo with us the entire visit. They spend their hours waiting for the likes of us to return for another round.
Any road is filled with adventure if you reduce your speed.