There are long drives and then there are LONG drives. In England, my friends raise their eyebrows and make small exclamations of disbelief if I say I am driving anything greater than forty miles. Today we drove 670 miles.
Covering that sort of distance in a day requires some serious interstate driving and although I'm inclined to often try to avoid highways it was impossible to reach the border of Ohio without doing so. However, we were still determined to veer off the blandness and the repetitiveness of the speedy roads (not always bland, but still) and take smaller, less traveled routes. That is where you find variety. That is where you are able to get away from the rest stop monotony. That is where you find real America, right?!
Setting off from Boston at 4am with a 'go west' mentality we didn't branch off the interstate until we reached western Pennsylvania. Apart from looking at the scenery our main goal was to obtain fruit; Pretzels and Clif Bars can only give you so much satisfaction!
We drove through a few towns before my wife noticed the 'Red and White Store' (it was indeed red and white) with a big sign that said 'FRESH FRUIT.' We pulled up outside and opened the door with positive anticipation. I was immediately hit with the smell of stale cigarette smoke that had been lingering in the shop since 1962. Venturing inside I noticed the fresh fruit....It consisted of a box of sprouting onions and a few dried up tomatoes. Stepping down the aisle, the shelves were stocked with a selection of tin cans that donned faded labels with things like 'deviled ham' written on them. It was perfect. Terrible, but perfect.
The shopkeeper (which was probably where the years of stale smoke came from) tentatively asked us if we were looking for anything in particular. Having already passed the array of fresh produce I knew that my question was redundant but I asked it anyway. 'Any apples or bananas?' I said. The gentleman disclosed he had bananas! 'Bananas! Brilliant! Where?!' I exclaimed. He pointed to a high shelf with something perched on it that at one time probably resembled a bunch of bananas but had since been turned into a house by a family of fruit flies. Not having the heart to tell him I didn't want one my wife reached up and pulled a housed banana off the bunch hence creating a flurry of activity that has not been seen in the establishment for thirty years!
We paid the elderly gentleman 25 cents (half of the earnings of the shop for a week) and left the little Red and White Shop for greener pastures to a place called Winward Farm which also had a barely legible sign saying 'Fresh Fruit!' With renewed optimism we parked the car and approached the door...