July 04, 2004

This Is the Goddamn Bestest Country in the Whole Goddamn World! Sure, you hear everybody say that, or at least you do if you're like me and spend a lot of time hanging around the VFW Hall (always your best bet for dirt-cheap top-shelf alcohol and drunken brawls), but where's the proof, the incontrovertible evidence? Well, folks, this weekend I set out with a few choice companions to finally prove this once and for all.

Saturday was spent with the aforenotmentioned mystery blogger, who bravely overcame what was apparently a huge hangover to meet me in Newark, where I picked her up and began our trek westward. Ah, Pennsylvania, birthplace of freedom, home of Philadelphia's Liberty Hall which we weren't going anywhere near. After riding Route 78's white line for a couple of hours, stopping only to pick up some vital meats and cheeses, we headed on over to scenic Kutztown for their legendary Pennsylvania German Festival for some Pennsylvania Dutch Folklife & Fun. Which we had, in spades, though unfortunately not so much beer which we were really hankering for as the sun beat down and which if we had thought about for more than a few seconds we would have realized that an Amishfest might not be the best place to get hammered. Or pick up women; those people have no sense of humor about that kind of thing.

Anyway, we ate way too much food and were completely regretful about missing out on the all-you-can-eat banquet in the back, and somewhat less regretful about missing out on the frightening ox roast, featuring a half-ton ox on a huge freaking spit. The place was filled with fantastic craftsmanship and gifts, including this "Lady Liberty" pendant, and we were feeling the all-American love as we got back in my car, cranked up the AC, and continued heading west towards Hershey.

In Hershey we ate some chocolate.

Pulling out my trusty road atlas we figured that the logical next stop would be Gettysburg. In a nice coincidence, it was the 141st anniversary of the third and final day of the battle, the day of Pickett's charge, and the day I figured that thousands of angry ghosts would be roaming the battlefields of their demise.

Well, it turns out that my traveling companion had a certain baseless phobia regarding the undead, and not only didn't she want to check out most of the cemetery, but she had absolutely no interest in hanging around the battle areas after dark or going on one of the many Haunted Gettysburg tours that were doing brisk business. Partypooping aside we still had a fine time doing a little touring and walking through the reenactor-packed town. And at dinner we had Yuengling for $2.25 a pint!

Somehow after that we made it back to Jersey, and somehow after all that I managed to wake up this morning and make my way into New York City (passing on the way to the PATH train the Stanley Theater, holding a convention of what might actually trump those Amish gals as the least pickuppable folks in America: deaf Jehovah's Witnesses). And fortunately I did, for my sister had used her International Federation of Competitive Eating connections to hook me up with quite the perk: guest-area access to today's pretty-good-but-not-notably-different-than-the-other-three-times-I've-seen-him Lyle Lovett concert in Battery Park. Now, sure, it was a free concert anyway, but unlike some people I didn't have to worry about hours-long lines or uncomfortable seating, plus I was able to chow down on piles of free food, helping me continue my plan to eat far, far too much this weekend.

And then I finished up the weekend with -- what else? -- fireworks. Okay, I was tired and ended up watching them on TV with the sound down because NBC was broadcasting them with the worst musical accompaniment ever, but still: Yay!
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