Month: August, 2007

Wet n’ Wild

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007 | All Things

What a day to return to the city.

I was awoken at dawn by the sound of howling winds and driving rain pounding against my bedroom windows. The early morning news reported a tornado in Brooklyn (!!!) – according to Wikipedia (where of course there’s already an entry), the strongest on record ever to strike the city.

The storm ripped the roofs off brick rowhouses, upturned over a hundred cars, and felled dozens of trees. Oh, and completely shut down almost the entire mass transit system in New York City.

The scene at every station was pandemonium. What a mess: flooded tracks, crowded platforms, and everywhere stifling humidity and mass confusion. I made it as far as Times Square before turning back: the West Side express trains weren’t running past Penn Station. For a while I considered crossing town to try my luck on the East Side. Good thing I didn’t: the Lexington lines weren’t running at all.

None of which was apparent from inside the station, where hapless transit workers were left with minimal (or just inaccurate) information to deliver to the hot and irritable rush hour masses.

Don’t shoot the messenger!

Subway flood

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Luck o’ the Amish

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007 | All Things, Travel

Final stop: Lancaster, PA

We arrived in Lancaster with a couple hours of daylight left, in time to stop for a round of appetite-spoiling ice cream cones and to catch a drive-by glimpse of the old CTY campus at Franklin & Marshall before dinner. (Ah, memories.)

After a quiet night at the quaint Country Inn of Lancaster on Old Philadelphia Pike (which used to be known as King’s Highway, and once stretched from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh), we rose early for one final round of treasure hunting.

Lancaster corn

A few sights caught our interest along the way, like this farm market run by two young Amish women, which was overflowing with beautiful, luscious produce. We loaded up on fresh-picked corn on the cob, peaches, melons and tomatoes. But please, no photos of the women:

Lancaster corn

Lancaster peaches

For lunch we set up a picnic table outside a local grocery with “smackaroni salad” (a curious cross between macaroni and potato salads), Amish chicken pot pie (best envisioned as a very thick, very salty, chilled chicken noodle soup, with hefty pasta squares in place of crust), and sweetly tangy pickled beets and eggs (which were actually far tastier than they may sound.)

Lancaster horse tie

We wound our way past horse-drawn buggies, through endless miles of cornfields (and the occasional strip mall), skimming along the local townships of Bird-in-Hand, Paradise, Blue Ball and Intercourse, whose saucy-sounding names I recall as a 13-year old were the source of endless snickering.

And suddenly, improbably, we happened upon the very antiques shop J and S had discovered on their last trip to Pennsylvania Dutch country some 4 years ago. It was only a matter of time before we found the farm of the woman S had been talking about seeking out for weeks: the kindly octogenarian who sold antiques out of the barn adjacent to her home. We caught up with her at her house – as she was taking a break from mowing her own lawn(!) – and though she informed us she had closed up her business a few years ago, after just a little bit of wheedling, she agreed to open up her barn and shed for our private perusal.

Lancaster antiques

Lancaster antiques

Our persistence paid off! It was all around the most successful sale day of our trip.

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I would drive 500 miles

Monday, August 6th, 2007 | All Things, Eats, Travel

…but I didn’t have to, because J took the wheel for the entire road trip. (Thanks!)

About last night’s hotel: I’d never walked away from a hotel before, and as of this road trip, I’ve now left two. Our Cincinnati hotel was far from fancy… or even, well… clean, but we probably would have stuck it out if S had not pulled back the sheets of her bed to discover a bedbug. A bedbug — eee! She’d read enough horror stories about these highly insidious, notoriously difficult to elimate critters to know that we should not stay.

On the bright side, it was the smoothest hotel check-out ever. The man at the front desk merely shrugged, before processing our bill almost wordlessly, leading us to suspect that we were not the first to have had this issue.

Within half an hour, we were in our new, much improved (i.e., infestation-free) digs at the Sheraton “North Cincinnati,” actually, “Sharonville.”

We got ourselves an early start; we had a lot of road to cover today. Hours and hours of driving later, I had my very first meal at Cracker Barrel. How I managed to avoid this chain on those New York City-Austin treks will remain a mystery; there are a staggering 550+ restaurants spread over 41 states – almost all along interstates (and none in New York City or on the West Coast.)

I don’t even know where in Ohio we were when we finally stopped for lunch, but here we are. (Go, Buckeyes!)

Buckeyes rocking chair

One of the last opportunities for “a glass o’ sweet” and “vegetables” like Monday’s special “cornbread dressing.” (Yes, I had both.)

Cracker Barrel

Baked chicken and dressing

Peg-no-ra-moose

Sweet tea in New York!

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