Driving Back to NYC in the Rain the Whole Damn Way.

January 30, 2013

I'd planned on leaving early. I didn't make it out of Pittsburgh in time. Maybe it wouldn't have changed things anyway, on account of the storm. I drove through rain and storms the entire 400 miles back to Brooklyn. On the bright side I spotted a graveyard I'd never previously noticed in my travels before.

The graveyard is small and unsettlingly adjacent to the Somerset rest stop on the PA Turnpike. This is one of those Starbucks/Burger King/Popeye's sorts of rest stops, all squeaky clean and modern and sanitized. For all that American progress and the glory of the open road, we still reckon a predictable ending, that old graveyard. I appreciate the reminder.

Later, at the Carlisle interchange between routes 76 and 78, I had to satisfy a desire for an MTO. This meant driving a mile out of the way to find a Sheetz. Along that stretch of highway was an empty standalone restaurant-to-be near an abandoned gas station. In the window of the restauarant-to-be was a sign that read "Asian Restaurant Opening Soon."

I find that vagueness of culinary style fascinating. The restaurant isn't given a name to lend it personality. It isn't given a name that implies an origin, like Great Wall or Szechuan Palace or even Taste of the Orient. It gets "Asian Cuisine." Does that mean it's fusion food? The bigger question in my mind, in the middle of rural, rather homogenous Pennsylvania, is how specific do you have to be? When everything else along the stretch is an Arby's, McDonald's, Wendy's or fast food chain is being generically Asian enough to bring patrons in?

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