Aren't I bloody awful, taking photos of them like that and stealing their souls. Not respect. However, I should point out that they were the ones who named the town Intercourse, so who started it? We had driven early from York to Lancaster County to get some breakfast and just because why not. It was a fairly short drive from York and as such I groaned when I spied barn-style Pennsylvania Dutch restaurants which we could have eaten in the night before, instead of a roadside diner. The breakfast we had was, by all respects, a decent compromise on that situation.
We didn't have a firm plan for the day besides an endpoint to the northeast, and so we wandered towards Valley Forge for another slice of early American history to contrast the previous day at Gettysburg. A short film in the visitor center was instructional insomuch as it confirmed that at Valley Forge the main enemy was winter. Then we went for a drive around the park.
While at the main visitor center I fought the urge to buy toy muskets for my children and instead took the opportunity to call a fellow whom I had never met before and ask if he wanted to meet an Australian who hadn't shaved in a fortnight. His name was Matt and he instructed us to meet him at an Irish bar in the college town of Narberth, which was surprisingly close by. Shortly thereafter I was spilling Guinness on myself and eating, for the first time, a Philly cheesesteak which was both delicious and messy. I was familiar with Matt's political and social background already, and so dad wound up asking a lot of the topical questions, though he had to have terms like 'lolbertarian' explained to him. As the afternoon was moving on we were bound to return to the car, but not without first posing for a photo.
(if the above image is incorrectly oriented, fucking photobucket)
Dad had been keen the whole trip to avoid turnpikes, but after the Chicago experience of driving through miles of suburbs I voiced my concerns. Thus we availed ourselves of I-76 and in turn, I-78. You can guess where this is going.
I'm afraid to say I don't have any more pictures for the day beyond that sign, because the overcast conditions combined with Interstate speeds and my lack of photography skill meant that any frames would have been a blurry mess. Instead I can tell you that when I first spotted New York City, it was early evening and it was sparkling
I had been slightly begrudging of New York as the end of our road trip, since I had been there previously and the original destination was to see a shuttle launch. Yet when I saw those buildings, the bridges, the instantly recognisable sights, I didn't want to be anywhere else. We passed Newark, where I had first arrived into the area in 1992. Dad had originally planned to find a place to stay in Jersey City and ferry or subway over the Manhattan the next day, but he must have been hypnotised as well because then he said "I'm not driving all the way across the U.S. to not
drive down Fifth Avenue." And so we made a beeline for the Holland Tunnel. As we emerged into Manhattan, there was a brief stop at a red light and dad seized the chance to open the roof, even though it was evening and raining lightly. The man was possessed, and I can understand. I had lost all sense of direction and could suddenly only look up.
"Start looking for places to stay that don't look expensive" dad instructed. We drove through Chinatown and before we knew it we were on the Manhattan Bridge, because shit, why not. We recrossed the East River on the Brooklyn Bridge, and he asked once again. "See any accommodation?" I shook my head. "I'm sorry, dad. All I can see is New York."
We drove around for another twenty minutes before suddenly, a few blocks east of Times Square on 44th, dad pulled the car over. He left me with the car and came back roughly ten minutes later as I was fighting to contain the pints of stout I had imbibed some hours ago. I asked him if he had secured a room. "Just bear with me a minute." I have come to recognise this phrase and the tone it comes out in over the past three decades. It essentially means that he has caved into himself and paid more money than he was hoping to for something, and can't wait to see my impressed reaction. We drove around the block - literally, because we pulled up fifty metres short of where we had been stopped, outside the Sofitel. As valets fussed over us we pulled packs out of the Mustang, and I saw a well-dressed middle age couple smiling at me. I must have looked a state; unkempt beard, stained t-shirt, a hiking pack, but this couple noted the licence plate on the car and cheerfully commented, "you boys must have done some stuff!"
or something. Either way, I felt instant cred, but a sudden pang of sadness. This was the last time we would be getting out of the Mustang for the night. We were still several days short of returning to Australia, but the road trip itself was at an end.
After finding our room we changed and headed out to eat. It was natural to head to Times Square and almost inevitably we ate at the Hard Rock, lured like insects to the lights. I had ribs for the first time on the trip. Then afterwards we wandered around, stopped for beverages in a few bars, and I realised I was exhausted. Dad stayed out a while; I returned to the room and the ridiculously soft bed. Big plans for tomorrow.