July 18, 2010

Into the Pennsylvania Triangle

I have only one more payment to make before my Grand Vitara will be all mine. I have been on so many great adventures in that car and on the open road, she purrs like a contented kitten. It is automotive bliss.

On July 3, with Bob Marley & the Wailers gracing the CD player, my Grand Vitara and I set off on a trip that I refer to as the "Pennsylvania Triangle." Yes, I know what you're thinking, Washington DC is not in Pennsylvania. However, this journey did include a stop at Pennsylvania Avenue so the title is appropriate. :)

Sitting just on the boarder of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, in a town called Lahaska, is a place called Peddler's Village. It is a labyrinthine complex of artsy shops, pristine gardens, ponds, waterfalls, grist wheels, windmills, and cobbled pathways. From the family bookstore to the pottery shop to the old-fashioned toy store, everything in Peddler's Village is quaint and idyllic. It was a wonderful place to stop to stretch one's legs and enjoy a beautiful morning. I had followed the weather forecasts for the week and I heard that it was going to be warm and sunny. Little did I know about the heat wave that was on its way (more about that later).

After a brief breather at Peddler's Village, I was on the road again to Philadelphia. Traffic flowed smoothly and I found myself at the Sheraton in about 45 minutes. I checked in and unpacked quickly and I was soon in the car again heading to the Philadelphia Zoo. I parked in a space called the Zebra Lot and proceeded to walk to the zoo entrance, through tunnels and under bridges painted with elaborate animal patterns and images of African safaris. At a corner stoplight, a man seated on a cooler offered me "Cold water one dollar; three dollars inside." The temperature was already climbing into the mid-90s and the chilly water bottle looked very refreshing in his hand so I took advantage of the situation and quickly gulped down the cool water.

As I walked through the zoo gates, the first sight that caught my eye was the Impala Fountain. Steams of water shot through the sculptures sending a lovely mist into the air. I stood there for a moment as the droplets landed on my face and arms. It felt delightful. The zoo itself was beautiful. Pavilions were set up featuring animals from all over the world with points of interest such as Bear Country, Monkey Junction, Big Cat Falls, Carnivore Kingdom, and Tortoise Trail. I strolled the meandering paths for most of the morning, taking in the splendor of the various habitats and stopping several times to purchase $3 water. The Philadelphia Zoo was a great escape and the perfect beginning to the Pennsylvania Triangle.

After my stay at the zoo, I drove to the historic area of Philadelphia and immediately embarked on Ride the Ducks, an amphibious tour of the city. Quackers are handed out to everyone at the beginning of the trip and the enthusiastic guide instructs us to be ready for "Quack Attacks." The journey begins on land as the Duck drives through many of the neighborhoods, pointing out landmarks and places of importance. Driving down the trendy South Street, the driver points out a group of people at the roadside and declares, "Quack 'em!" All of the passengers on the Duck proceed to lean out of the windows and blow into the Quackers, filling the afternoon air with duck-calls. It was loud and a lot of fun. The city is definitely in on the joke as many people smiled and waved and some would even quack back.

Then the Duck arrives at the docks. The driver tells everyone to hold on and with a huge splash the Duck boat charges into the Delaware. It continues to sail by Penn's Landing, the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, and the Battleship Buckley.

As day turned dusk, I decided to have a meal at Con Murphy's Irish Pub. I sat in the outdoor patio beneath City Hall with its statue of William Penn staring out over Philadelphia. As the flags of many nations swayed in the breeze on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, I sipped a Franziskaner Weissbier, nibbled a spicy pulled-pork sandwich, and wondered how life could get any better.

I still had 6 days left on this adventure and, unknown to me at the time, a furious heatwave was on its way...

"And I will walk at liberty:
for I seek thy precepts."

~Psalm 119:45