Fun fact we learned in 2010: Pennsylvania is really, really, really long. Not as long as South Dakota had been in 2009, but long enough to instill déjà vu. We approached from the west; our target Philadelphia was on its east end. The Pennsylvania Turnpike helps the trip go by faster like magic…but magic comes with a price. Fortunately we saved a little money with every digression that lured us away from the Turnpike.
Once all the necessary errands are run and all defensive countermeasures are in place, we’ll be taking off this weekend for our annual road trip. Each year we drive hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles to other states to view their museums, witness amazing works of God and man, check out roadside attractions of varying degrees of imagination and quality, and generally see firsthand what lies beyond Indiana.
Our 2012 road trip will take us through Kansas to Colorado, including a circuitous route through Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. With the Waldo Canyon fire now 70% contained as of today and the other extant fires being beyond the scope of our plans, we’re feeling less intrepid and more emboldened to sally forth toward the Rockies and whatever they might surround. We’re challenging ourselves to find good points about Kansas as well.
In honor of Independence Day, one of America’s busiest traveling holidays of the year, and in honor of the fact that I have less free time this week because of vacation preparations and mandatory family-holiday quality time, I present a cursory look back at our road trips from previous years, select snippets of a few of my favorite faraway things.
Our first time in New York City became my favorite vacation to date. The sights, the sounds, the subways, the cleanliness, the overwhelming density of activity options — it was like three vacations packed into one and then marinated in adrenalin.
Naturally we photographed Times Square too many times. We attended The Lion King, found ourselves blown away and wishing the other shows had been inexpensive enough to attend four or five more.
Most people view the city from atop the Empire State Building. For a few dollars less, and with no haranguing from enthusiastic street guides, you can ride to the upper floors of 30 Rockefeller Center and see most of the same rooftops. At that height, the view plus or minus a few stories isn’t appreciably different, unless we missed something really cool on 30 Rock’s roof.
A couple of New Yorkers we know thought it odd that we included Grant’s Tomb on our itinerary. My wife the history buff insisted after reading his autobiography. This seemed like an awful lot of building just to provide a tomb for two, but I was happy to oblige.
2010: Pennsylvania via Ohio
Our primary destination was Philadelphia — again, because of history — but our attention wandered to numerous other sights along the way.
My personal favorite: Eastern State Penitentiary, a former famous prison that’s now a “stabilized ruin” you can visit and view from within. Most notable features include a cell once occupied by Al Capone and a self-guided audio tour narrated by Steve Buscemi.
Diverging from the Pennsylvania Turnpike for several miles allowed us opportunities for small-town roadside wonders such as this giant quarter in Everett, created as part of a local contest.
On the way to Pennsylvania, we stopped for lunch at the Thurman Cafe in Columbus, a certified As Seen on Man v. Food pit stop. Below is the Thurman Burger, which is larger than some house pets. Not even in my overeating college days could I leave a clean plate after this meal.
More to come tomorrow!