Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Pennsylvania Anti-Turnpike: US Route 30 from Gettysburg to Breezewood

This is the first of a series of occasional articles on US Route 30 in Pennsylvania.

Most of us who travel by motorcycle like to stay off the freeways, turnpikes and beltways in favor of the "old road". In Pennsylvania we can avoid semis, motorhomes, toll booths and traffic congestion by traveling US Route 30. When you are a biker, being on the road is the experience. It is not about getting from point A to point B the fastest possible. It is about taking the most interesting and fun road to get from point A to point B. So most of us take the old road when we have the time.

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As old roads go, US 30 in PA has a lot to offer. History, food, interesting towns, mountain vistas, sweeping turns, and interesting people are just a few of the reasons to ride US 30, which roughly parallels and criss-crosses the Pennsylvania Turnpike. US 30 runs along or near the historic Lincoln Highway, which was the first paved transcontinental road in the United States before US routes were designated.

US 30 is two lanes in some places, and three or four lanes at times. West of Chambersburg, the elevation is constantly changing. Up and down, up and down, as you traverse the many spines of mountain range that run roughly northeast to southwest in Pennsylania. The mountain ranges between Gettysburg and Breezewood are easy to climb, though steep in places. The curves on the mountian ranges are higher speed sweepers, rather than footpeg dragging hairpins.The pavement is smooth and plenty wide allowing a relaxing leisurely pace of about 50 mph through the long sweepers.

In the towns, you will slow to stop and go traffic. Passing through the heart of these small towns such as Chambersburg and Gettysburg is an opportunity to stop and get a cup of coffee or lunch in a local establishment. Bikers always get attention when we stop in small towns. Some of the characters you can meet make the trip all the more interesting. The best restaurants are always the mom and pop places, and at bikerphoto we are always amazed at how many mom and pop restaurants there are in every town throughout the keystone state.

In Gettysburg the place to visit is National Military Park, where in the summer of 1863 the Union won the battle that was the turning point of the Civil War. It is a solemn thought that 51,000 Americans died in this battle, the streams running red with blood.

On a much lighter note, there is a good biker stop between Chambersburg and McConnelsburg.

Mountain House Bar and Grill

Photo by Matthew Singer.

Heading west from Gettysburg, the road turns to long sweeping turns up to the top of Tuscarora Ridge, where right on top of the summit is Mountain House Bar and Grill. This is a very popular stop for bikers with bikes always in the parking lot. The food is tasty, and you might get lucky enough to be there when they have a live band. The place is a bar, but you can get a soda as well as a beer. It is never a good idea to drink and drive, especially on a motorcycle.

Further west is the commercial strip in Breezewood. This is where I-70 actually pours onto US 30 for a short stretch of hotels, restaurants and gas stations. This is a very unsual gap in an interstate highway. One can only surmise that policital interests in Breezewood influenced this plan to route all travelers through the town.

Coming soon on the bikerphoto blog is the eastern portion of US 30 in Pennsylvania from Gettysburg to Philadelphia. Be sure to check back!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Finding the mom and pop restaurants is harder and harder to do. It would be neat if there was a google map with push pins for these places. There already are push pins for restaurants in general but if you could locate just dives that would be great.