If I Was Writing a Horror Movie Script I Would Start With a GPS {tales from the road}

by - April 7, 2015

Wrong is a feeling.  It's a slow-building pulse that pushes out from your belly and down on your chest.  It's not exactly like fear.  With fear you can't find humour.  But with 'wrong' your glass is still half-full while you're teetering on the edge of half-empty in a fate-tempting dance that can still crack a joke.

It was our second day.  We woke to snow and bitter winds in Bradford, Pennsylvania and, after swallowing down the pitiful motel continental breakfast and making the children stand by our fancy orange door for a photo, we piled into the piled-high station wagon, plugged our first stop destination into the GPS, got THE WORST COFFEE IN THE WORLD from a drive-thru window that said they were Tim Horton's {but I would swear up and down to high heaven that what they passed me was no Tim Horton's coffee but rather the steeped earwax of an angry ogre} and we hit the road.

Our first goal was Kinzua Bridge.  I discovered it's existence while plotting our road trip route and thought it would be an interesting place to stop and stretch our legs.  

The bridge is an engineering masterpiece hidden deep within the Northwestern Pennsylvania forest.  Built in the 1880's, it once soared 301 feet high and 2,053 feet across, making it the highest and longest railroad bridge in the world at that time.  The designer, C.R. Grimm, predicted it would last 100 years - and it did.  For generations, freight trains and later, excursion trains, roared across the Kinzua Viaduct and, since 1963, it has been the centerpiece of the Kinzua Bridge State Park.

I wanted to see it.  Not so much because it was an amazing bridge but because in 2003 a tornado tore through the forest and 11 of the 20 towers that held up the bridge were lifted, twisted and thrown onto the valley floor.  Within 30 seconds, nature had brought this mighty feat of engineering to it's knees, the bones of it's tragedy left as they landed, spread across the valley in a powerful display of nature and her frightful whims.

"Turn right in 500 metres."

Good old GPS.

I'd printed out the Map Quest directions and they didn't have us going far off the beaten path.  The GPS however, had some different plans.

If a highway is 'the beaten path' then we were in a field.  The road was narrow with tall grasses on either side that I might have touched had I put my hand out the window.

"Continue on road in 1 kilometre."

Not that there was anything else we could do.  There was no place to turn around.  There was swamp on one side and shabby clapboard homes rising up out of the grasses on the other.  

~ Silent prayers that we don't meet an oncoming vehicle, werewolf, or axe murderer ~

It went on and on.

"Are you sure this is right?" Scott asked as we passed a mailbox that looked like it had met the business end of a shotgun more than once.

"You know," I said, "it'd make a great premise for a horror movie...if some nutcase could somehow manipulate a person's GPS and send them really far down an untraveled road, luring them into his kill zone* where no one could hear their screams**..."

Funny how narrow, lonely roads make you remember every scary movie you ever watched.

When the website said the bridge was 'hidden' it wasn't kidding but, after a long stretch of creepy, silent road we saw a sign peeking through and things finally opened up to bring us onto national park land.

And that wrong feeling went away as if it had never existed.

We had arrived.  We were fine. There were no killers lurking in the shadow of one of the biggest train bridges ever built.

Kinzua Bridge, Pennsylvania - road trip

Kinzua Bridge is really not a winter destination.  There was not another soul to be seen when we parked the car by a port-a-potty with a wicked lean. The bitter wind buffeted us as we picked our way through a snow choked path, tripping over old footprints that had hardened into hazards.

We were not dressed for it.  When your final destination is sunny South Carolina you don't think to pack big coats and boots and hats and mittens for everyone.

Kinzua Bridge, Pennsylvania - road trip
But we suffered through it because the bridge was awesome!

Kinzua Bridge, Pennsylvania - road trip
Kinzua Bridge, Pennsylvania - road trip

Kinzua Bridge, Pennsylvania

It would be incredible to go back in the summer when the forest below and around the bridge is in full leaf or in the fall when everything would be on fire with colour.  If you ever find yourself in Northwestern Pennsylvania, put this stop on your list - it's worth it! Creepy serial killer roads and all!

*I might write this script someday.  Don't steal it.
** If you do steal it, name a character after me - not the pathetic victim with running mascara - let me be the strong survivor who heartrendingly discovers the maniac is her long lost baby brother after she knocks him out and ties him to a tree with her blouse***
*** Don't steal that either - it's obviously gold.

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  1. LOL just read this for the first time. The little star warnings at the bottom were 'gold'. You're hilarious!


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