OOIDA’s tour trailer stops in Bloomsburg, Pa.

October 6, 2020

Chuck Robinson

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OOIDA’s tour trailer is generally headed to the northeast corner of the United States this autumn. The next stop is scheduled to be at Bloomsburg, Pa.

OOIDA’s tour trailer, the Spirit of the American Trucker, is scheduled to be at the Bloomsburg, Pa., TA Travel Center on Oct 7-9. That is Exit 232 from I-80.

The Bloomsburg TA has 190 parking spots for commercial trucks. The Country Pride dining room is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. There is a pet area for Sassi, canine co-pilot of The Spirit’s skipper, Jos Osburn. There is also a walking trail.

“This was a Buckhorn Truck Stop back when I had a full head of hair and it wasn’t silver-blond,” Osburn said.

The truck stop is in an unincorporated area called Buckthorn just north of Bloomsburg. The town of Bloomsburg is on the bank of the Susquehana River, not that you can see that from the truck stop, though the interstate crosses the river father east.

Pennsyltucky scrapple

One of the perks of traveling is sampling regional food specialties, and Osburn says he is looking forward to Bloomsburg on that count.

“I’ll be in Pennsyltucky, so I am going to have some scrapple,” Osburn said.

“Pennsyltucky,” a slang portmanteau of the state names Pennsylvania and Kentucky, refers to the rural parts of Pennsylvania.

Scrapple is a Pennsylvania Dutch specialty born of a hardscrabble existence and the drive to use every bit of meat left over from butchering a pig.  It is a loaf made of pork scraps, cornmeal, wheat and buckwheat flour. Slices are often pan-seared before serving.

Z.H. Confair Memorial Highway/Keystone Shortway

There are signs on I-80 in Pennsylvania denoting it as the Z.H. Confair Memorial Highway. The name commemorates Zehnder H. “Dick” Confair, who was a soft drink bottler from Williamsport, Pa., and was twice elected to the Pennsylvania Senate, serving 1959-72.

The interstate also has been known as the Keystone Shortway, and Confair was an enthusiastic supporter of it, according to an account at the Pocono Record website. In fact, he was president of the Keystone Shortway Association, which was formed to promote the highway. The Keystone Shortway, I-80, from Ohio to New Jersey opened to traffic in 1970. Confair died in 1982. The highway was dedicated to Confair in 1984.

Running 311 miles, it is longest east-west interstate highway in Pennsylvania. There have been multiple attempts to make it a toll road. The Federal Highway Administration denied attempts by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission in 2007, 2008 and 2010 to toll the highway. The FHWA in a news release said the proposed lease payments to PennDot were insufficient.

Currently, the only toll on I-80 in Pennsylvania is the westbound toll at the Delaware Water Gap Toll Bridge between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

I-80 connects two toll highways, the Pennsylvania Turnpike to New York State Thruway.

Stop by when you see The Spirit

If you see OOIDA’s tour trailer, stop by and say hello to Osburn. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. He usually has copies of Land Line Magazine to hand out. You can join or renew your OOIDA membership for $10 off the regular price there. Free face masks are available at The Spirit. You also can get forms for uninsured drivers to get flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccine vouchers at The Spirit.

After Bloomsburg, OOIDA’s tour trailer is scheduled to stop at the TA Travel Center in Willington, Conn., and then heads to Bangor, Maine.

Here is the schedule for The Spirit. LL

Chuck Robinson

Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.