Pittsburgh, PA to Pikeville, KY


I drove, as my girlfriend’s eyes were inoperable for the first twenty miles due to flooding. No levy in the world could have held back the raging waters that ensued once she hugged her mom in the driveway before we left. So I got in, reset the trip odometer, and started pondering the number of roadside carcasses we would see that day.

Once the tears subsided to the point of cognition, she remembered she had been craving a Mountain Dew Slurpee from Sheetz for days. The problem was that we were well past the Sheetz in Pittsburgh when this realization occurred. She would not be deterred, however. She made a quick GPS search of the nearest Sheetz gas station, and we set forth on our first detour of the day.

The GPS said it 2.7 miles away. Evidently, it didn’t take into account roads. It may have been a 2.7 mile direct path there, because about 10 miles later out of our way trough some small town, we pulled into the Sheetz parking lot and prayed their Mountain Dew Slurpee machine was working.

It certainly was. My girlfriend is a very small girl. The thing about very small girls is that they have proportionately small bladders. So when I saw her pour her surplee into the biggest cup they had, I knew we were in trouble. This thing was 32 ounces of caffeine-infused, sugar-filled, condensed liquid that was sure to make a B-line to the urethra once consumed. And we got two. I then made her pee twice while we at the gas station so we could at least make it a few miles down the road before stopping again.

Somewhere between getting getting a Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line” stuck in my head and guessing how many Cracker Barrels we’d see along the way, we passed the “Welcome to West Virginia – Wild and Wonderful” sign. I first snickered about the thought of being welcomed to West Virginia, but then I realized that Hell probably has a welcome sign too. In an effort to take a picture of all the state welcome signs, we failed on the very first one as the girlfriend’s camera trigger finger wasn’t quite fast enough.

Enter detour number two. We drive 6 miles to the next exit and flip it around. The road trip photo album would not be complete without the West Virginia sign. We were able to get Pennsylvania this way as well, so I suppose it was worth having to enter West Virginia twice.

The thing about driving through West Virginia is that you always come out dirty on the other side. Believe the stereotypes. It’s a haven for toothless rednecks who love to smile, and come to find out, are terrible pot hole patchers as well. Yes, I know I’m from Kentucky, but West Virginia is the only state we can really make fun of, so I’m taking advantage.

Conversation on the first day stayed strong. Neither of us napped or watched a movie and the radio even remained fairly mute. In depth conversations were often interrupted by one of us yelling out, “Carcass!” when we say a unfortunate animal recently made into roadkill, or when we spotted a new state license plate.

The other cross country mini journey we had planned was to stop at a number of wineries along the way. And yes, there was one in West Virginia. It was 25 miles off course, but it was worth it. Trying to find the place was an adventure in and of itself. Mapquest took us to a road and said we were only a mile away. I use the term “road” lightly. It was more of a collection of gravels and dirt that happened to make it’s way through a forest in a very indirect fashion. About 100 feet into the road, it forked. One one side was more of the same, but other side featured uninviting property. Evidently the owners really liked their privacy or were collectors of “No Trespassing” signs. Scattered across the entire hill was every kind of we-don’t-want-you here sign ever made. “Danger” “Beware of Dog” “Private” “Keep Out” “Caution: Dog Bites.” This did not make my girlfriend have to pee any less.

Now what I haven’t told you is that I had to pee really badly too. And, to her credit, while she can hold it pretty well, I cannot. We had to find this winery, and fast.

After calling the winery and getting the worst directions ever given, we turned to GPS to get us there. Luckily, it put us on the right road, but although it was paved, it was still only wide enough for about a car and a half. I knew the winery was still going to be hard to find and the bladder pain became unbearable. I found a wide spot in the road and jumped out and commenced peeing in the bushes. We hadn’t seen a car on the entire road, so it only made sense that 20 seconds into the flow, a huge white truck would pull around the bend. I quickly clamped off walked around like nothing was going on.

I waved at guy in the truck, hoping he’d pass on through, but West Virginians are much too courteous for that. He rolled down his window to see if he could help. “Naw, I’m just taking a piss.” He laughed, bid be good day, and continued onto wherever he was going. I finished up and we pulled into the winery about 1 minute later.

The winery was very West Virginia. It was ran by a barrel chested woman with several chins and a guy whose teeth were more black than yellow. What teeth he had anyway. Their facial features were…I’m going to stop there. It’s not their fault they were victims of generations of inbreeding.

The tasting glasses were actually plastic dixie cups the size of fast food restaurant ketchup holders. Most every wine on their list was some kind of sweet fruit wine. The guy told me, “We couldn’t keep the lights on by only selling dry wine.” It turns out West Virginians don’t have very mature pallets. There was one wine that stood out to me the most. It was called Ginseng wine. When I asked how it tastes, this is the conversation that followed.

“Have you ever chewed on a ginseng route before?”


The woman thought for a moment. “Well, it kind of tastes how fresh dirt smells.”

Wow. I had to try it. I did. It tasted how I imagine dirt would taste.

We also brought up the gravel road we originally turned around on. The guy said, “Yeah it gets pretty narrow up through there. And it might be flooded. You all probably wouldn’t have made it in that little car there. About a year ago some boy said he was gonna up here and fix it. He ain’t ever done it. I don’t know what he was gonna do to fix it, but that’s what he said.”

We bought the bottle of the wine that was the least disgusting. A couple pictures later in front of the old-timey apple masher, we were on our way back on the road.

Right outside of the winery we saw a donkey trying to have sex with a horse. I really don’t have any special commentary on that. But I promise I’m not making it up.

It rained on and off throughout the rest of the trip. It was like the rain couldn’t make up it’s mind if it wasn’t to come down or not. You might be even say the rain was…wishy-washy. OH!

We finally rolled into the driveway exactly 7.5 hours after left. Our daily totals were as follows:

Miles: 433.4
Time: 7 hours, 30 minutes
Money spent on gas: $58.03
State License Plates: 18
Cracker Barrels: 3 (Although we did see several Biscuit Worlds)
Roadside Carcasses: 17 (12 in West Virginia)

Tomorrow, we’ll be off towards Knoxville. You better bring it, Tennessee. West Virginia set the bar very high.

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