Before coming to us, the Twinkie was probably sitting in someone’s yard for many years. Because of this, it was neither registered nor did it have a license plate. And when you can’t just go to the DOL, the paperwork required to get a new plate is a bit of a pain. It took us a while, but earlier this month we finally sent off the paperwork. We knew driving without a license plate probably wasn’t the best idea, but after driving through 11 states we hadn’t had any problems.
Until we reached Corning, NY. Yesterday, we left the RV park for a short drive to the Corning Museum of Glass (yes, like Corningware). About a mile from our destination, I looked behind me and saw lights. Busted. I pulled over and the officer confirmed my fear. He expressed concerns about the roadworthiness of the Twinkie (what-ever!), and we tried to explain that we’d sent in the paperwork but hadn’t received the plate yet. He expressed no sympathy for our plight, and told us we shouldn’t be towing it until we had plates. Then he returned to his car and left us sitting in limbo for at least 15 minutes. At this point I started to worry. Would he impound the Twinkie? What then? The longer we sat there, the more dire the situation felt. Finally he returned with a ticket and an admonition to get it taken care of first thing in the morning. Yes, officer.
Despite the stressful start to the day, we spent a fun day at the Museum of Glass. This museum may have the most comprehensive display of glass technology and history. It was truly amazing. The galleries went on forever. They even had demonstrations of various ways of making, breaking, and using glass. I had to laugh when I noticed that easily half of the pieces in the modern gallery were made by artists in the Seattle area.
These guys were by far my favorite pieces of glass:
Our drive back to Pennsylvania was uneventful. We passed at least 4 cops, but each of them had higher priorities than busting the Twinkie. This morning I called the DOL first thing in the morning, only to be told that they didn’t have our paperwork…including the original title! Oh, snap! Thankfully I sent it registered mail and confirmed that it was delivered. After some searching, the woman at the DOL found the paperwork buried in the wrong pile and got us registered.
Now we just need the state of New York to understand that although we weren’t technically registered when we were pulled over, it wasn’t our fault! Wish us luck….
If that means anything to you, you’re probably from Hazleton, PA. Though not a typical tourist destination, Hazleton is home to Robbie’s friend ,Tom, with whom he travelled around Europe after college. Hazleton is also a struggling former coal town filled with beautiful buildings that are crumbling under the weight of economic decline.
Tom’s a mountain biker, so we took advantage of the technical but fun terrain and did a couple of rides with him.
We also visited the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine. Since Tom grew up in this area, he made it sound like a rinky-dink attraction. But since it involved a) trains and b) mines, we had to see it. Turns out it’s really cool! We took a little train into the main mine tunnel, then got out and walked around the tunnels left by the removal of coal. It’s hard to imagine how much coal was extracted using man, boy and donkey-power with simple tools and volatile explosives.
But the highlight of our visit was dinner with some of Tom and Maria’s friends at a pizza place called Senape’s (pronounced: snaps). This place redefines “hole-in-the-wall.” You enter through an unmarked door down an alley behind the tavern and emerge in a sparsely decorated, sweltering room crammed full of tables. Handwritten signs on the wall implore you not to ask them to change the A/C, as the ovens below the dining room keep the place really hot. We puzzled over the menu:
We had so many questions…
What’s the difference (beside the obvious) between a round and square pizza?
What is roman and what is scamutz?
Has no one pointed out the correct spelling of pizza?
Thankfully we were surrounded by native Hazletonians who could help us through our confusion. The difference between round and square pizza is irrelevant because you have to order square. Roman is romano cheese. Scamutz is basically mozzarella cheese. Subsequent internet research indicated that scamutz is a term used exclusively in the greater Hazleton coal mining region. Robbie struck up a conversation with the owner who informed us that the misspelling of pizza began with an employee in the 1920s who told a painter the wrong spelling and the misspelling became part of the lore of the place. No matter what you call it, the pizza was TA-STY!
And I just have to share this awesome t-shirt worn by one of our dinner companions. She purchased this shirt at the Anthracite Region Coalympics:
Earlier in our trip, I told Robbie that I really wanted to go to Delaware just so I could say I’ve been there. He thought this a relatively crazy reason to visit a state, but when we realized Delaware is just a short drive from Philadelphia, he decided to humor me. We visited Winterthur, the former estate of the DuPont family which houses a huge collection of American furniture surrounded by expansive gardens. The mansion full of furniture was impressive, but we had the most fun wandering around the gardens in full bloom. Since a picture is worth a thousand words…
Philadelphia… Home of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Ben Franklin, the Liberty Bell, and whatever this is:
I’m not sure what possessed the Phillies to choose this as a mascot, but we I like it.
After a 3 month separation, we were lucky to have Gramma and Grampa join us! Of course we couldn’t explore Philadelphia on empty stomachs, so we headed straight to Campo’s for cheese steaks.
Much to my surprise, they made a vegetarian version that I could enjoy!
We spent two days wandering around Independence National Park, the birthplace of the United States, and I found myself surprisingly moved by the Liberty Bell.
We visited Independence Hall (where I felt compelled to sing songs from the classic, though corny, musical “1776”), Betsy Ross’s home, the site of Ben Franklin’s home, and a recreation of his print shop.
But the highlight was the unexpected visit to the US Mint, where circulating coins are made! Unfortunately they don’t allow pictures, but we spent hours there watching the machinery from high above the factory floor.
Of course, no trip to Philadelphia would be complete without playing a round of put-put on their historically themed course,
and lunch at the City Tavern where revolutionary lawmaker hashed out deals over tankards of beer. It’s also where C was introduced to turkey pot pie.
Today we said goodbye to Gramma and Grampa, but we also said goodbye to C! She’s going to Washington with them for a few days. She’ll be back with us soon, but it feels SO WEIRD to not have her with us. We’ve spent every waking moment together for the last 9 months, and I feel like I’m missing a limb!
But we’re already researching mountain biking destinations in the area…