Saturday, September 11, 2010

En Route to Philadelphia

    When I woke this morning, I decided to do a short hike in the park because one of my few ever changing trip goals (more on this later) is to hike in each state I visit.  I knew I wouldn’t be in Maryland very long, so off I went.  The only reason I mention this is because on my very, very short hike from the campsite I passed a sign indicating I was entering a hunting area.  What the kind of state park allows hunting a stone’s throw away from where people are camping?
From Gettysburg Album
    I had almost decided not to go to Gettysburg even though the entire purpose for my heading west out of D.C. was to go there.  The route I chose to Philadelphia (by the way, there’s actually a sign that says crossing the Mason Dixon line at the entrance to Pennsylvania) ended up going right through Gettysburg, so I said what the heck.  The national cemetery where Lincoln gave his speech was very somber.  There were signs around that said, “Be Silent and Respectful.”  There were even a few poems on signs along side some graves.
    I drove through the area where the Civil War battle took place.  With only getting snippets of information at a time as I drove along, it’s hard for me to get a feel of how the battle went down.  I walked up to the Flame of Liberty (which I didn’t know existed) where there was a seventy-five year reunion of the battle where a ninety or one hundred something Confederate and Union vets shook hands.
    At almost eleven, I headed down Highway 30, and, much to my later dismay, passed up many diners.  I ended up in a small town along a river which I’ll call Shit Hole of the Shit Holes, Pennsylvania.  I had a bad vibe about this place the second I stepped out of my car.  If the evil glare I got from a guy sitting on the side of the street didn’t give me enough motivation to find food elsewhere, the plastic bin full of maggots on the sidewalk should have.  I’m not sure I can remember ever seeing such an elevated concentration of bitter, hateful people.  The first restaurant my GPS told me about was closed along with a slew of other commercial buildings in the area.  I finally found a small Italian place open (there’s something about these small Italian places that just draws me in…).  The guy at the counter raised his eyebrows at me to indicate he was waiting for me to order.  He was on his cell phone before during and after I ordered.  They didn’t serve by the slice, so I got their restaurant’s special sub.  It was delivered by a guy who spoke no English and kind of groaned at me from behind the counter to let me know my order was ready.  At first I thought the sandwich, with it’s collection of brownish meats, was tasty.  Three quarters of the way through it, I started feeling nauseous and left.
    On my drive towards Lancaster, I started feeling so queasy that I was honestly contemplating purging to prevent food poisoning.  I ate a few tic tacs and a granola bar to try to rid myself of the taste.  By the time I got to the city, I felt a little better and decided to see what my metabolism could handle.
    My drive through the Pennsylvania country side later that afternoon was great.  I drove through Dutch Country without even realizing it until I passed an Amish guy in horse and carriage.  They were rolling hills of corn fields and cow pastures everywhere.  I’ve made sort of a pledge not to take pictures while I’m driving, and my words really won’t be able to do the scenery justice.  The only bad part about the drive was it smelled like manure almost the entire time.
    I got to French Creek State Park late in the evening, poised to strike Philadelphia the following morning.  Right after dark, I jogged three laps around the loop of campsites to get some much needed exercise. 
       Being in Pennsylvania really did feel different to me.  I don’t know if it was just my own built in prejudices that I was in “The North” or if there were really cultural differences I was able to pick up on.  I did see a few flags on people’s houses that only had the stars of the thirteen colonies.  It may have been the first time I’ve seen that flag on a residence and I had to think a little bit about what it means.  Is it the counterpart to the “Confederate flag” (“Northern Pride”) or is it something else?  Perhaps it’s just pride in living in one of the original thirteen.  I went to bed mentally preparing myself to enter the city where our country’s government and sense of unity was molded.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ryan, if you are interested in hearing it, I will tell you a story about what I encountered in a very small town off I-81 in Pa, when I was traveling by motorcycle on my way to Syracuse. It is similar, but different in some ways. I wasn't sickened, just frightened.

Mr. M

Anonymous said...

By the way, I am thoroughly enjoying your blog.

Mr. M

Ryan Fuller said...

Yes, I would be interested in hearing it. Glad you're enjoying the blog.

Anonymous said...

In 1971 I was making my way hurriedly from Columbia, SC to Syracuse, NY on my Honda 350. I camped just north of Hershey, PA. That morning I broke camp and jumped aboard my bike without coffee or breakfast. After an hour or so I was ravenous. I took an exit and found myself in a very small town. There was a two-story wooden hotel with a covered wooden sidewalk. It looked to be straight out of a western movie. I found a dining room inside and ordered a usual breakfast. In one corner of the room, a large table of men were eating and one man was addressing the rest. I became alert when I heard, "And we've gotta do something about all the n....gers and hippies that are riding around on motorcycles and causing trouble." With that they all looked at me. I ignored them as well as I could, finished eating, paid my tab and went back to my motorcycle. They all followed me! Nobody said a word. I climbed aboard, adjusted my helmet, started the bike and rode off. They jumped in their pickups and followed me! All the way to the city limits. I thought I'd had it. I guess they just wanted to be sure I left town. A short time later I read that that area of Pennsylvania was a hot spot for the Minutemen, a quasi-patriotic group of vigilante-types. I think I was lucky.

Mr. M

Ryan Fuller said...

Ah yes, the good ole different being equivalent to bad philosophy. Hopefully if anyone asks me threateningly if I'm a hippie I'll just ask if they've ever heard of a hippie from Louisiana and all will be well. They exist, but hopefully they won't know that.

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