17 States in 20 Days with One Pair of Underwear | Day 2

A long Day One ended in the wee hours of Day Two in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. On the final part of the drive, the 308 was stuttering at times, particularly on hills, and after filling up on the outskirts of Harrisburg, I found a decent hotel and simply crashed. I woke up early and scoured the yellow pages for hints that a secret little shop existed that could cure the problem with my horse. No luck. Like most places, there were several listings by people who advertise to be “Foreign Car Specialists – All Japanese-German-British-Italian”. Enough said.

Open Road

So I loaded up the car hit the road for Pittsburgh, 204 miles away. Took the Targa top off in anticipation of an 80 degree day and headed for the Interstate. The word that best describes the single unique feature of Pennsylvania Turnpike is “undulate”. Like most turnpikes of its day, it is reasonably straight. It goes through mountains and over hills and while it is a not unpleasant shade of green, it is devoid of any remarkable visual diversions. But it does undulate. The grades are not necessarily steep, but they are long. I measured one, and it wasn’t the longest, to be 3.5 miles long. This geographical phenomenon was a concern to me because on the previous night I noticed that once my fuel tanks were below the half full mark, the car would begin stuttering again. On this day, the problem appeared to have cured itself. From the moment it was started in the morning, it ran perfectly.

I arrived on the outskirts of Pittsburgh just before lunch and stopped in a suburb called Irwin. I have never driven in Pittsburgh and I wanted some idea of where to go before plunging ahead. That’s when I spotted The Shakespeare Coffee Café. Those who know me would recognize that I couldn’t drive past.

Shakespeare's Cafe

The Shakespeare Coffee Café is owned by Paul and Kelly Urban. They have created a warm “home style” café with a very sophisticated coffee offering and lovely menu of fresh and wholesome light foods. It is an oasis in a sea of national chain style coffeehouses.

Coffee of the Day

I explained my predicament to Paul and he introduced me to three patrons sitting quietly by the window who ride motorcycles. They were retired steel workers and they pointed me to Sewickley, a high end and very well kept area of Pittsburgh on the Ohio River.

Sewickley

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the road to heaven may well be paved by the well intended. The road to Sewickley passes by the door of two brothers who sell and service foreign cars. Domenic Import Service and his brother/neighbor Mike at Northside Imports pretty much cover whatever enthusiasts of out-of-warranty foreign cars might need. They are located on Ohio River Road, the busy thoroughfare to village-like Sewickley. Domenic, who looks a lot like a grumpy butterfly, is one of those people who made this trip worthwhile. His shop was busy and cars on portions of his parking lot appeared to be hanging out into the four-lane traffic. I wedged WASRED into a narrow space between two large dowager Mercedes that hadn’t seen wax since Simonize ruled. Domenic took all the time in the world to tell me about what was happening in Pittsburgh car-wise and a new line of super lubricants he is distributing. He and Mike were most helpful and generous with their time and I thank them.

Ron Kean

Ron Kean’s card reads “Certified Porsche Sales Professional” and he is all of that. He helps people at the Sewickley Porsche-Audi-BMW complex. Ron gave me more than two hours of his time and only interrupted his flow of information to take calls from existing customers. He is a traffic director for information, service appointments and obscure Porsche history. He impressed me with his even-tempered disposition and his ability to listen to customers and make good sense recommendations. Despite the undivided attention he gave me, I was impressed by the immediacy with which that politely changed when the phone on his desk rang. This is the man that gives car salesmen a good name.

The big car event in Pittsburgh is the annual Vintage Grand Prix. First run in 1983, the race event in Schenley Park is now part of ten days of related events; gala ball, car shows, rallies and other races at nearby Beaver Run. It is all part of a very successful effort to bring affordable motorsports events for the people of Pittsburgh. By the time you read this, the 2012 event will have taken place, but please keep it in mind for next year. It certainly sounds like a heck of a party.

I spent the night in an extraordinary area called Cranberry. It is at the confluence of an Interstate and a four lane road harboring shopping center after shopping center only interrupted by stand alone national chain stores and strip malls with some local restaurants. I found a local Mexican joint that was set up like all the national chain Mexican joints and had a Mexican joint dinner with a Dos Equis. At the point where the commercial road meets the Interstate is a series of middle of the road salesman hotels and I happily turned in for an early night. Ah sleep…to knit the raveled sleeve of care.

End of Day Two.