Our third day of driving started normally enough. We woke up before dawn and found our way to the waterside to try and capture some color. It was not a spectacular sunrise, but the clouds were still quite pretty.
We picked up coffee nearby and hit the highway. Even if we took hours of time to explore, we still had plenty of time to make it to my home on the eastern shore of Maryland that day.
There were pockets of areas in Ohio that were already showing their fall colors, though not many. We stopped to admire the foliage at a rest stop that looked promising…
I’ve gotten quite fond of using little apps on my phone to send picture updates to my friends and family while on the road. But, I broke out the ‘real’ camera as well…
We didn’t have the best lighting, but we were happy for the fall colors just the same.
Our next stop was Wheeling, West Virginia. Wheeling is a really interesting town. It covers about 16 square miles, but within that space are small pockets of living that seem like towns unto themselves. It is naturally divided with Wheeling Creek running through the city and meeting the Ohio River in downtown Wheeling. The city itself is located on both the West Virginia side of the Ohio River and on an Island on the river called Wheeling Island. On Wheeling Island we discovered amazing neighborhoods full of historic houses, some of which were looking their age, many of which looked to be in the midst of refurbishment and others that had retained or been returned to their former glory. On most roads the houses were all mixed together in their various states, but along the river we found houses that were grander, more manicured and meticulously maintained across the street from their smaller, more humble neighbors. Back on the West Virginia side of the river, downtown was full of beautiful old buildings, quaint shops and the kind of character you only find in old towns. Following the main drag the buildings quickly became so large, they dwarfed the surrounding buildings, and then just as quick they buildings shrunk down and out, the roads widened and we found ourselves amongst big box stores. We returned to the heart of the city, wandering in a place that begs for revisit. Some day I’ll take a trip there and stay within the city, walking its streets properly.
From Wheeling we figured the rest of the drive would be fairly uneventful. We might find a few more pockets of fall color, but mostly we were focused on the few more hours it would take to get to my house.
We were driving through Pennsylvania, when we spotted a field full of miniature horses, horses and goats. We figured, why the heck not, lets take the next exit down the highway and see if we can navigate the back roads well enough to get to the horses. We took the next exit, but it was a ways down the highway and the roads we were a tangle of asphalt and dirt, cutting through corn fields, fields of grazing cattle and farmsteads. We had just gotten on to a gravel road when I saw something fairly unexpected.
Yup. Zebras. On some random road we couldn’t get back to if we tried, on some random farm, somewhere in Pennsylvania. We pulled over, because how can one NOT pull over when you see zebra where they ought not be?
And we looked to the left of the zebra…we were about to have company.
Two by two, like they’d come off Noah’s arc, came wildebeest and camels. I’m not sure we managed more than “What the heck?!”, “Zebras!”, “Wildebeest!”, “Camels!” and “Oh, my!” for a good while.
What was even more entertaining was the fact that Wildebeest are apparently as cuddly as cows.
We hung out with them for a while, photographing them, petting the wildebeest and avoiding the teeth of the zebras. I kept hoping that someone from the property would come out and talk to us. It would’ve been very cool to know what kind of person has such pets! I’m going to go ahead and assume they’re pretty awesome.
Eventually we moved on. We explored the tangle of surrounding roads, where we saw potbellied pigs, miniature horses, horses, cattle and donkeys. It was a very animal-centric area. For days afterwards, we were both guilty of laughing as the memory struck us, looking to the other and saying “We pet Wildebeests.”
We made it to my house that night, thrilled with our experiences on the road from Minnesota, completely embracing the act of finding the silver linings in our change of plans and looking forward to the days ahead. I was excited to get to show Cahlean my favorite local places…