DNA X #16 Heading West

October 2nd, 2010 by

DNA-XWeather – partly cloudy, 60F
For most of the summer we have hugged the east coast of the US on our DNA X adventure. We aim Blackie west, away from the heavily populated metro areas of the north east and into the state of Pennsylvania. This state is known for its steel, chocolate, coal and rich farmland as well as its historic sites. We head for one of the lesser-known historic sites, a collection of eight natural mineral springs now called the Omni Bedford Springs Resort in Bedford, PA. Snuggled in a small valley in the Allegheny Mountains this property has been used for centuries as a retreat to “take the waters” for their healing powers.

DNA-XNative Americans enjoyed the springs for their curative properties and in the 1700’s shared their knowledge with a doctor who bought the 2200 acres of property around the springs in 1796. He set up tents and invited those willing to make the arduous journey to be cured. Eventually he built a building to house his clientele and the resort continued to grow. Various presidents and other dignitaries have since visited and a few years ago the entire resort was renovated to historic standards with all the modern amenities. We took a hike up the mountain on one of the trails around the resort – there are 23 miles of them! Bedford Springs has one of the country’s oldest golf courses that winds through the narrow valley and the spa is a wonderful retreat still highlighted by the mineral spring water. From there we head out to the Pennsylvania Turnpike (heavy truck traffic) that weaves through the mountains and several tunnels. We passed giant billboards that advertised coal (in green letters) and how it was a clean energy – I think the only thing coal and clean have in common is that they begin with the letter c. We connect with I-80 and drive through Ohio and into Illinois. We have a favorite chain hotel that we have stayed at many times for a night on the road. Hilton Garden Inns have served us well, are usually quite predictable, most have their own restaurant and bar with real plates and silverware and even room service for when you are too tired to stand up.

DNA-XOur HGI stop this time was Tinley Park, outside Chicago. It had been a long day of driving so we checked in and went to the restaurant. Liz, the bartender greeted us and as we told her of our journey we found out she had been to many of our planned destinations (on a motorcycle). She gave us lots of ideas and great service. The chef came out and offered us his latest creation, on the house, for us to try. Jacob is 20 years old and has been cooking since he could stand up. His fresh hummus was great as were the salads he made us. Frankly, the service at this HGI was more personal than many four star hotels we have stayed at. Tomorrow is another long day on the road as we head into America’s heartland.