Day 1- Destination, Levittown, PA
So I start out the day finishing my packing. I think I literally took every article of clothing I owned as laundry was not something I wanted to think about. Around 11:45 A.M. Enterprise picked me up (just like the advertising, for real). It took longer then I figured and didn’t get back to my place to load the car, add the car to my Fast Lane/Easy Pass etc and hit the road until after 1:00. The car was a gold 2007 Chevy Malibu. It was nice enough but they gave it to me with ZERO washer fluid. I mean, on the display inside the car it read “low washer fluid” which should have tipped them off. I mean, what else do they do at car rental places but rent cars, get them back, check to make sure they are in tiptop shape then rent them again. It kinda pissed me off but I reckoned I’d address it when I needed it. Anyway, it headed for the Mass Pike to start the 5-hour drive towards Philly. I’m intimately familiar with this drive from making runs from Cambridge to Philly, Delaware and other stops in the Delaware Valley region. What I didn’t plan on was my delayed departure putting me in a knot of traffic at rush hour on the Garden State Throughway. I finally arrived around 6:30 and we hit the ground running.
Let me pause to talk about Craig and Levittown. Levittown is probably best known as one of the original pre-planned communities that were the basis for what is now modern suburbia (and for an infamous gas riot in the late 70’s). It is the largest suburb of Philadelphia though not most populous. It’s pretty much like most places with its share of middle and lower middle class families. It’s a little rough around the edges maybe but most of the folks I’ve met there are honest, hard working folks. I remember when I first met Craig his stories of Levittown scared the crap out of me. Having now been there a few times now I’m starting to think Craig and his brothers and friends were just plain crazy and not so much Levittown itself. One curious thing was they must really, really hate tailgaters (drivers, not football revelers) as about every half mile in city limits there were signs reminding you the evilness of it.
I met Craig…gosh I can’t even remember now how long ago but it was closer to 20 years then 10 years ago…showing my age. He moved to Arlington, MA after college for work. Like with many of the friends I made post-college we met at the gym and formed a group that went out every Thursday night for burgers and beer. He and I usually ended up out far after the others went home. We got along famously and became fast friends. We always laughed and laughed when we went out. I think on the surface we really weren’t much alike except our warped senses of humor and drinking prowess but in reality were very similar. We had great road trips to Ireland (greatest trip ever) and New Orleans that were unforgettable. A while back he moved back home as he felt the need to be nearer his family, which is as good a reason, as there is for moving. He met a great girl, bought a house in his neighborhood and got married. We’ve seen each other now and then since then but not nearly enough.
So, we met at his house, I dropped my bags, changed quickly, and headed out. We went to nearby Langhorne, PA to a place called, ironically enough, The Langhorne Ale House. It is part of a chain known as Miller's Ale House. Well, needless to say, we ate and drank a lot…to the tune of 50 wings and a TON of beer. I was in disbelief as I’m so used to Boston beer prices and here they were running a bucket of 5 Miller Lite for $8.00 or $5.00 for a pitcher. Fuckin’ Massachusetts. So when we finally had our fill, and let me just say Craig is one of the few people I know that cannot only match my drinking prowess but exceed it, and his wife Michelle drove us back. On the way out of the place we grabbed 2, yes, 2, 12 packs of beer. If you’ve never been to PA you buy cases of beer at a beer store but anything less is bought from a bar. Seriously. We returned to his house and his 2 cats and ginormous rabbits and proceeded to drink beer, catch up, talk about everything that’s happened in forever, and watch funny movies until 4:00 in the morning. We both decided that despite all the time that’s passed we haven’t really changed.
This was my first stop but it established 3 ongoing themes throughout the trip. 1) That Craig really is one of my favorite people and hence when you see each other, no matter how long in between, it’s like it always was. 2) That everywhere I slept there was at least one furred animal and I’m allergic and forgot my pills (more on that later). 3) You really can’t plan a trip like this too precisely as you can’t anticipate things like drinking until 4:00 A.M. Next stop, Richmond, VA
Notes from the road: I wasn’t on the road much this trip but the one note worth mentioning is Jersey, far away more then any other state I drove through, makes you feel lower then pond scum if you don’t have an easy pass. It’s not even close. It’s like, 10 lanes for Easy Pass all right down the middle and one lane for cash a quarter mile all the way to the right. So far my Easy Pass, which I’ll rarely use at home, was my soundest investment