The car hit an erosional vacuity that almost threw it off the road. Geology versus the State of Pennsylvania. Geology wins. In eastern weather, the life expectancy of an interstate is twenty years. Mile after mile, I-80 had been heaved, split, dissolved, and cratered. A
fair amount of limestone is incorporated in the road surface in Pennsylvania. Limestone is soluble in distilled water, let alone in acid rain. “Acid rains eat the surface, then water goes in and freezes, thaws, freezes again, and fractures the hell out of the road,” Anita said, easing down toward minimum speed. “That, of course, is exactly how water works on bedrock. But an interstate can’t be compared to bedrock. An conference room utrecht interstate has no soil protecting it. And it’s mostly carbonate. It’s not very resistant stuff.” We were sixty miles into Pennsylvania and had descended from the Pocono Plateau, generally running backward through time and down through the detritus of two great ranges of mountains. Now the country was familiar-valley, ridge, valley, ridge. We were again in the deformed Appalachians. While the Delaware Water Gap had been a part of the main trunk of the foldbelt, this was an offshoot that curled around the western Poconos-a broad cul-de-sac whose long ropy ridges ended like fingers, gesturing in the direction of New York State. It was rhythmic terrain, predictable and beautiful, the quartzite ridges and carbonate valleys of the folded-and-faulted mountains, trending conference room rotterdam southwest, while the interstate negotiated with them for its passage toward Chicago. Looked at in continental scale on a physiographic map or a geologic map-on almost any map that doesn’t obscure the countiy with exaggerated human improvements-the sinuosity of the deformed Appalachians is as consistent as the bendings of a moving serpent. In Alabama, the mountains come up from under the Gulf Coastal Plain and bend right into Georgia and then left into Tennessee and right into North Carolina and left in the Virginias and right in Pennsylvania and left in New Jersey and New York and right in Quebec and New Brunswick and left in Newfoundland.