Pennsylvania pokerpalooza 2019: Part lucky 13!

June 9, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
June 9, 2019

Upon reaching my car, the first order of business was driving out the main entrance of the casino property, turning right onto Pennsylvania Route 315, driving about 700 feet and depositing my winnings in the nearest automatic teller. Having done that, I grabbed the receipt and restarted my car and made my way back onto southbound 315.

From the bank, it’s only about a mile until the interchange with Pennsylvania 309. Unfortunately, it was coming up on 4:30 by this time, meaning that I had to wait nearly five minutes before I could make the left turn onto the state road.

Route 309 extends only a half-mile to the east it terminates at Interstate 81. You can go straight past the highway, but the road you continue on becomes Pennsylvania 115. Right around the moment I got onto the highway, my phone informed me that I was getting an incoming call. The area code was 570, which I correctly thought was local. I pulled over to the side of the highway just before the exit lane for the interstate.

The call, unfortunately, had been placed the bank branch where I’d just deposited my aforementioned winnings. Guess what? Exactly one year after I’d won money at a Mohegan Sun Pocono cash table on a weekday afternoon, immediately deposited the cash at the nearest bank and neglected to take my ATM card, I had won money at a Mohegan Sun Pocono cash table on a weekday afternoon, immediately deposited the cash at the nearest bank and neglected to take my ATM card.

I groaned as the bank employee explained my options. At this point, given my location and traffic conditions, I imagined it would take a minimum of half an hour to get my card from the bank and navigate back to I-81. I told the bank that I’d call their 800 line and ask for a new card to be issued, after which the branch could destroy my overlooked property.

(This proved to be harder than it seemed, in part because when I contacted the bank, I was feeding the system an obsolete account number. Once I realized the reason why it wasn’t rejecting my information, it was a simple enough matter to rectify; alas, it took me a good 10 minutes of frustration before I registered my gaffe.)

My smartphone navigation app of choice is Google Maps. When I’m using its driving directions feature, as I was on this journey, I like to employ the view that shows alternative routes. For my trip, the instructions said to stay on 81 for about 100 miles, until I reached the vicinity of Harrisburg.

However, one of the suggested alternatives showed my cutting through the backwoods on a route I’d never taken before. The app said this path wouldn’t add much time to my trip. Since I was already going to miss dinner, I took it.

I exited 81, turned right onto U.S. 209, passed through a tiny community called Joliett and drove about five miles further west. The road became the main street of a slightly larger hamlet known as Tower City, which seemed pleasant if remote and slightly run-down.

I turned left on Clark Valley Road, also designated Pennsylvania 325. I followed this byway for the next three-quarters of an hour, covering roughly 25 miles in that time.

This was a remarkable span of road. The central portion of it — about 20 miles — runs parallel to Clarks Creek. The waterway swells for a roughly two-mile stretch into a lake, which I realized after consulting a map was actually Dehart Reservoir. Most of this part of the route is lined by trees; there were no stop signs or traffic lights, and indeed I traveled more than a mile at times before coming across an intersection of any sort.

Buildings were few and far between. I later became aware that for minutes at a time, the only manmade object that I could see outside my vehicle was the road itself. Think on this a moment: When was the last time you drove a mile on a public road without encountering a utility pole?

Homes and farm buildings started to reappear on the far end of 325, which eventually intersected with Peters Mountain Road, a.k.a. Pennsylvania 225. (Oddly, according to Apple Maps, here one can turn right or left and stay on 325.) I turned left and headed south onto joint PA-325/PA-225.

About a mile and a half later, I came to U.S. 22/U.S. 322, which here occupies the eastern bank of the wide, meandering Susquehanna River. Four miles south, I picked up I-81 again, going a few extra miles west in order to bypass the capital’s downtown during evening rush. When I hit PA-581, I turned south and east before picking up U.S. 15 for the rest of my trip.

Throughout the trip, I kept on marveling about my good fortune in my final hand at the casino. I had been balanced on a knife’s edge between collecting the pot, which left me ahead $143 for the session at the $1–$2 table, and busting out, which would have cost me $220.

I got to my destination in Virginia around 8:15 and sat down with my hosts. With minimal prompting, I excited explained what had happened, but, well, they’re not poker devotees — they could sense my enthusiasm, but I fear the particulars went over their heads.

And that, dear readers, is the more or less complete tale of my 2019 Pennsylvania experience.

~ finis ~

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