ROAD TRIP #1 – EVANS CITY/ MONROEVILLE MALL
Well, after several years without a vacation my friends and girl decide it’s time to make a pilgrimage to fame locations none other than Evans City Cemetery and Monroeville Mall, however what made it more incredible the trip to these locations and back, all resulting in zany and crazy time, which mirrored an actual horror movie at times.
We started our journey at 6:00am from Haddonfield, NJ on Monday, August 20th a mere 288 miles trip to stay with family, in Johnstown, PA as Evans was another 2 hours away (96.9 miles more), and we were warned to stay away from exit 99. Now, just in a horror movie one adheres to the warnings from locals, its contains a paperclip like curve over 2,200 feet elevation, so opting for a longer route. I mean with friends the ride can become its own fun adventure, especially since everyone is a horror fan. Most horror fans are likely to recall the town name of Johnstown to the fly over in Dawn of the Dead (1978), spoken early in the film. The worst part was trying to escape the clutches of the Philadelphia city traffic and morning rush hour, I wanted to leave at 4am, but out-voted (though wasn’t the only thing I got voted down). Once on the turnpike the real adventure started, with one person bringing up ridiculous historical factors ranged from the Revolutionary to the Civil Wars and to even Indians, now if were heading to Gettysburg some of it might become interesting but a threat of abandonment at a rest stop stopped the insanity of dullness, after all many know the rules of horror films, some don’t, and I used that against others. This adventure fits in nicely, thinking of these classic movies Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978) both celebrating anniversaries this year.
As we traveled, one could tell the rising elevation, the incredible scenery, well-hidden as we dealt with darkened skies and moody weather, but a cruise control allowed for smooth ride, any fuel stop allowed for our truck to become a pamphlet nightmare of tourist guides. Although fairly, thanks to satellite radio everyone looked for side adventures to wineries, haunted places and cemeteries, most not opened and others closed until October. At one point the rains covered the road in sheets, and signs of “Fog Area” dotted the side of the road, now it’s always dangerous riding into a fog area, with steep hills and little guard rails. In addition, the horror themed issues of fog, namely avoid the Fog, or Mist nothing good happens in them, such as a hearse honestly there in front of us, and varnishing and not present on the other side of the fog, granted we’re unfamiliar with the road hence not traveling at the required speed limit (yeah going much slower).
Bad weather prevented us from immediately visiting Evans, but we went to the famed inclined
, it serves both as scenic and the Johnstown cemetery to the section which houses the graves from the infamous floods, while learning of those responsible who never took ownership of their actions. On Tuesday, with more rainy weather, we visited the somber location of the Flight 93 memorial, this place, might bring some tears to the visitors, it did to one person in our party, and for a while emergency sounds emitted from many individuals’ phones because of tornado warnings, thankfully it past, but it effected trying to get pictures outdoors. Later, we drove down to the base of the memorial to witness the “ground zero” area, and in the distance a boulder noting the center of the area, with a series of deer surrounding it, life returning to area of great sorrow and heart aching tragically. We all promise to return to area, never to forget.
On Wednesday, the skies cleared, ideally perfect weather, and three of us started on the trip originally planned, the rest stayed behind to do their own thing. Hence set out for the Evans City Cemetery
and we traveled up the bouncy narrow road up to the famed location, made a left at the chapel (looks great) and drove up to Blair tombstone.
We spent some time discussing the area, respectful of the location, graves, while Batty Patty needed to water the plants, so she ventures off the grounds and headed into the woods, only to return with dirt stains, her man not with her, so what happened? Let’s just say she lost balance and fell forward, not realizing the ground slated downhill. We noticed the graves in the area contain coinage on them, none of us touched them, would, you, the reference for them more of a remembrance, though echoes back to military. Many people warned us of police and security patrols, but the place was completely silent no one else present, just the dead and us.
I later scared her, and wow can she shriek loudly, from there we ventured to a local eatery though we passed on it, as it looked like something that Leatherface likely worked at, an old water heater out back and rusting signage. We drove onward to Mars, PA with Batty Patty driving, missing a few turns visiting the area briefly, and resulting in an endless barrage of sci-fi humor, including discussing who we should send to Mars. Then we made our way to the famed Monroeville Mall, a few fun delays had us arriving late in the day, but once inside it all looks so different, but we studied other YouTube videos of the pass locations. However, we found the beloved George A. Romero bust that my friend Christian Stavrakis director of Mortal Remains, sculptured and cast in bronze, with a great plaque, here I am position next to it, located on the lower level (by Dicks’ Sporting Goods and in front of Pittsburgh Locker Room}. Now, we had the brochure of the lower and upper levels of mall, so it took a little time, trying to line-up the stores and layout to today’s creation. The security guards mostly played on the phones, though upon seeing us in the Fright Rags Dawn of the Dead tees, warned no pictures, security reasons (a letdown). Nevertheless, a good time, tad rushed as a long drive back to Johnstown and rush hour fast approached and didn’t want to drag out the time to our tour driver Batty Patty we left knowing can return another time.
Our ride back we shared stories, laughs, all on route US 30, with one person arguing it’s not the right road, even though signs stated it, this is person in the movies, you never want to follow, although on the road at night, we drove places with torrid pasts, and through steep winding roads in fog, rain, dense forests, hundreds of horror movies rush the mind. In the end, we survived the Dead only to discover the house of no lights, our friends left behind from earlier, now vanished, worst yet Batty Patty forgot both her cell phone charger and house key. Then a cool wind blew the night, just as a soft rain suddenly started, A quick dash to the car, it started and off we went into the night looking for them at favorite locations in the area, cell reception got us nowhere, and May forgot to turn off the in-car phone, thereby leaving the craziest voicemail ever. All this madness occurring, in the road trips and without any knife for protection, I was once again out-voted, when we left NJ. Alas, we found ourselves reunited and drank always the night with wine, beer and laughs.
Thanks for memories!
**The names used above change to honor the guilty, no one innocent joined in on this adventure.**
***All photos (except where noted/ credited to) belong to The Horror Times, and Baron Craze, done not professionally, rather just for fun, hence people appearing in the background, etc. ***