But it wasn't. Once I actually got on the road to Wheeling and points east around 1500, it only took me about three hours to reach I-470, which is standing in for I-70 through Wheeling while they mow some grass, repair some tunnels and generally not waste money on bike trails & mass transit.
I stopped briefly to stretch my legs and check the plumbing at this rest stop, and for dinner in St. Clairsville, which is apparently one gigantic sprawl of malls of the indoor and strip variety. I wound up doing dinner at the West Texas Roadhouse, which is a chain pretty similar to the Timberlodge Steakhouse except with country/western music and "western" ambience instead of "northwoods" ambience and light rock music. Food quality was about the same, too, except for the lack of Coke products.
After that the drive continued uneventfully into West Virginia, Pennsylvania (where I very nearly stopped in Washington to watch the Wild Things), West Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia again. That's the way the map is around here, folks. Since I've already moaned about the hardships of driving an underpowered (though cute!) SUV through this hills in these parts, I'll spare you a repeat. I expect to forge on tomorrow, leaving early enough so as to drive out of the mountains in the daylight, which should do wonders for my nerves and navigation, if nothing else. I'll probably get into Virginia early tomorrow night and start looking for someplace to stay for a couple of days while pursuing jobs and reasonably inexpensive places to live. We'll see how that works out.