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It’s not a “scissor”, it’s a “pair of scissors”.

It’s not “for free”, it’s just “free”.

When one is in a building, it’s not the “ground”, it’s the “floor”.

Thank you.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yesterday, Mrs. R took the younger gels off to summah camp in the depths of southwestern Pennsylvania, depositing them there for two weeks.

Long time friends of the decanter may recall that I have spoken of the drive to and from this camp in the past as one of my very favorites.  It’s less than three hours each way, but is absolutely chock-a-block with geological, meteorological and historickal interests of the sort that go right to that part of ol’ Robbo’s brain that lab rats get so frantic to stimulate they’ll keep hitting the button rigged to the electrical charge until they kill themselves.

First, there’s the glory of the Appalachians.  Once you pick up I-70 at Frederick and start heading west, first you go over the southern end of the Catoctin range via Braddock Mountain.  Next, you cross over South Mountain, the northern extension of the Blue Ridge proper.  Then it’s across the Valley, that great sheltered land separating the Blue Ridge to the east from the Alleghenies to the west.  Following the Potomac up to the narrow neck of Murrland, you then hook a turn north and start into the far ranges:  Sidling Hill, Town Hill and another one I still haven’t identified.  Once you hook up with the Pennsylvania Turnpike, you then follow the course of the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River west again as it punches its way through water gaps at Tulley Mountain and Evitts Mountain.  You then leave the Juniata before climbing up the side of a long gorge and then literally tunneling through Allegheny Mountain itself, winding up in the Laurel Highlands on the other side.

Then there’s the weather.  This time of year, there’s always something cooking up in the hills upon which one may gaze and reflect upon God’s glory.  I distinctly recall one year, as I crossed over to the east side of Town Hill on my way home, watching a thunderstorm across the way with a cloud base lower than where I was.  I observed several ground-strikes of lightning.  Seeing it from above, as it were, was quite delightful.   Sometimes I like to take along Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony just to heighten the experience.

Then again, once you’re out of the Dee Cee suburban sprawl, Frederick is still a lovely old town.  Nearby is the Monocacy River where, in 1864, Lew Wallace partly rescued his military reputation (wrongly sullied by Grant at Shiloh) by slowing down Jubal Early’s raid towards Washington long enough for the Federals to reenforce its defenses.  Then there’s South Mountain and Antietam Creek.  Coming down the west side of the hill with Sharpsburg visible off in the distance, you can see how the two so importantly related to each other, and can almost smell the gunpowder.  Up on the Turnpike, you pass Bedford, an important frontier town.  The Juniata River itself was a hotbed of savagery during colonial times.  And once you pick up Route 30 near the gels’ camp, you’re on the old Forbes Trail, named after that General John Forbes who originally cut it in 1758 as he took an army to relieve the French of Fort Duquesne and turn it into Pittsburgh.  (Were you to take Route 30 back east, you would pass through Chambersburg and eventually wind up in an out of the way place called Gettysburg.)

With all of that, you can see why Robbo enjoys it so much.  Nonetheless, he was asked not to go along this time.  The official explanation was that, given how ill I’ve been, it would be better for me to rest up.  The real reason, however, was that Mrs. R wanted to do some sightseeing herself and knew that I was likely to make difficulties about it.

You see, as much as I love to indulge in intellectual interests, and to meditate dreamily on the various landmarks as I pass them by,  when it comes to what one might call mission-specific travel, I have always had a loathing for wandering and deviation.  “There and back again” is my motto, and diversions and side-trackings find me glancing fretfully at my watch and worrying about traffic, fuel and time-tables.   (And don’t even get me started about “just going for a drive.”)

In this instance, the mission was to get the gels to camp, but  Mrs. R also wanted to visit the Flight 93 memorial, located about fifteen or twenty miles off the beaten path.  Had we taken the trip specifically for that purpose, I’d have been fine.  But as an adjunct to dropping off the kids?  I don’t think I’d have enjoyed it.  And Mrs. R was pretty certain that I wouldn’t.

Yes, I’m probably insane, but that’s the way I’m wired.

At any rate, Mrs. R got her sight-seeing in peace.  And as I’ll be the one to go and pick the gels up, everybody wins.


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June 2012