We took a leisurely morning and left after my writing and a shower. This camp was nice, but not very social. The sites were set off the road and ample foliage separated you from your neighbor. The screen tent provided a good anchor spot to either catch up on the trip or watch a movie. I felt as Hemingway must, when I sat in the screen tent, its mesh preventing invading bugs from entering. I am thinking his bugs were more exotic and carried more of a flair than Southern Pennsylvania bugs do.
Heading Easy on HWY 30, skirting Lancaster and veering North to see Amish Country. We have Amish in Minnesota and Wisconsin but I feel it is more concentrated in these parts of Pennsylvania. My Grandparents used to come her in the 1970’s and I had never been. I ended up in Intercourse PA which Sheri found the name amusing. She texted back, “who would name a town that?” I responded, “the Amish”. Most who grow up on the East Coast don’t give the name a second thought and 8-year old’s only wonder why their parents snicker when an Intercourse bumper sticker is seen. I didn’t locate one for the camper, it might have provided laughs for fellow travelers. Intercourse felt different than Berlin, Ohio, more authentic, more like a town than a spot that grew to sell goods. Traffic was busy and the stores are very close to the street, Mable grew skittish as vehicles passed. And it was hot again, that sweaty hot that has followed us from home. We looked at the stores, our only purchase from a pretzel stand which a young girl staffed for the summer. “Probably hot back there” I stated. “It’s not too bad, we have a fan.” She replied. I would have looked like a drowned rat if situation found me on the opposite side of the counter. The Amish are visible in town and I saw an Amish funeral procession, too many buggies to count, travelling down the road. Out of respect I took only a few seconds of video and if in a better position would have snapped a few photos. I wanted to ask people how they felt about… well… being Amish, but didn’t. They are living lives here, not on display, and would it have been rude for me to come up and say, “Hi my name is Ron, I am travelling the country to see everyday America. What’s it like being Amish? Please reconcile reality to the TV show I heard about. Oh, and by the way this is Mabel.” Maybe I should have, what did I have to lose, can they put you in jail for being curious?
We got back on HWY 30, this time our sights set on Valley Forge. Why not experience American history in reverse, start with the Civil War and work your way backwards to the beginning of our country. I liked Valley Forge but was surprised to see it tucked behind a neighborhood. They have some mean speed bumps protecting the stately homes bracketed by fence rows. I cringed every time the camper jostled over a bump, the next one seemingly only fifteen feet from the last. Grassy fields and the Mason’s monument to General Washington greeted me and I was surprised by the immensity of the park. Not the size of Gettysburg, Valley Forge felt different, more colonial, a quiet sophistication.
Mabel and I viewed the monument and took the car trip eventually ending up at General Washington’s HQ building. Stately in nature, the stone structure overlooked a lawn dotted with trees. A blue flag with stars noted the building’s importance and a tour was in progress. The original forge site is recreated and sits close to the HQ. Did I say it was hot and that I don’t like the heat? Twenty-degree days are nice, today was not. On the way to the car a group stopped to ask if this was Mabel. They looked us up after seeing the website on the camper (thanks Sheri!!) and wanted to take a picture. Maybe she will be on their Christmas card.
On to New Jersey to see my family. It was later in the afternoon and traffic was heavy so I creeped along around King of Prussia. Because of possible delays I exited the Pennsylvania turnpike to fuel up and made the biggest mistake of the trip. A word of advice when travelling in the Northeast: Get Easy Pass!!! I didn’t and paid the price, a large one ($65) for failing to get a ticket when entering the turnpike. An honest mistake after travelling for the day, I entered the lane that said no ticket, this after I just said to myself, “Hey I’m finally getting the hang of this travelling thing”. Panic set in when I saw no ticket machine in my lane. Traffic was heavy and for a second I thought about jumping out of the car and grabbing a ticket from the next lane over. I should have, but with my luck, I would have been hit by an oncoming car. What to do now that I am back on the Turnpike? It was decided, and Mabel agreed, that the best course of action was to continue and hope to find a sympathetic toll worker. I can hear you laughing now. As Steinbeck ran into a “Government Man , so did I and no sympathy was shown, thankfully he took plastic. Maybe there are procedures in place which prevent him from allowing me to pass without the proper ticket. Maybe the auditors live to find situations like this, their screams of jubilation echoing off the conference room table when they discover a discrepancy. Oh well, one lesson learned, expensive as it was, with the second lesson, “Don’t get comfortable” added on. The ride to Moorestown on HWY 295 South was easy after this and I pulled in front of the house to find family waiting. Mabel jumped out and proceeded to shed/molt on their sidewalk. My cousin Jen and her daughter Madeline joined us for supper and I talked with my Aunt long into the night, Mabel resting at our feet. The day was done and sleep for a second night in a real bed was soon to come.
I am thankful today for plastic payment options and the warm smiles of family.