BREEZEWOOD — Rick Sheridan has been a banker, a factory worker, and a commercial truck driver. A Kent State University journalism school graduate, he has also worked as a reporter, editor, and photographer for local northeastern Ohio papers, dabbled in the dairy business, owned his own photography business, and worked in graphic design.
He also spent several years on a pit crew for nitro-powered Harley motorcycle drag racing.
Nearly every single one of those jobs, in one way or another, has taken him through this quirky south-central Pennsylvania crossroads to get to wherever he was going east or south of the Maryland state line.
For him, that one mile dropdown from the Pennsylvania Turnpike into this Bedford County patch of eclectic Americana is bliss. For others, like Michigander Rory Cooper, it is simply a guaranteed traffic jam, a tourist trap, and the perfect example of how government can really screw up.
Neither are wrong.
The truth is that the Breezewood exit literally forces a Turnpike roadster wanting to connect onto Interstate 70 towards a quarter-mile cluster of chain fast food joints, local diners, motels, hotels, gas stations, and trinket shops.
There is no cloverleaf, there is no smooth transition; you are literally forced to be tempted, charmed, or repulsed by the excess of stuff surrounding you.
Some consider it a rite of passage, a tradition, or even a pocket of blessings for truckers, weary parents, high-strung kids, and businessmen seeking an oasis that both forces and welcomes them to stretch their legs, relieve themselves, and grab a bite to eat.
Others, like Cooper, find the experience downright loathsome.
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