Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Day Trip I: Cheesesteak and Whips

My son, who has his learner’s permit, needs 60 hours of supervised driving in order to take his driving test. We got a lot of those hours on our cross-country vacation, but he was still short about 20 hours. In order to fill out his driving time we have been taking daytrips on the weekends.

For our first trip, my son mentioned that he had a craving for an authentic Phlly cheesesteak. We have tried most of the famous places like Pat’s and Geno’s, but our favorite South Philly cheesesteak palace is Tony Luke’s on Oregon Street right under I-95. My favorite is their Pork Italian which has sliced pork, mild provolone cheese and either spinach or broccoli rabe. It’s not a traditional ribeye and cheez-wiz sandwich, but it is soooo good.

Not willing to drive a hundred miles just for lunch, I put together a list of activities and festivals to piggy-back on the Tony Luke’s run. We settled on the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire about an hour west of Philly. I roused my family at what is an ungodly hour for them on the weekend and we hit the road about 10 am.

The drive up was a nightmare. An accident in the Harbor Tunnel had I-895 closed for nearly an hour. I-95 in Delaware was stop and go from the Maryland border to the toll plaza. If it weren’t for EZ-Pass, we would have waited even longer. Traffic slowed again from the turnpike rest stop to the split for the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Including a quick coffee and snack break at the rest stop, it took us nearly four hours to go about 100 miles. After our cheesesteaks, we were very late getting to the Renaissance Faire.

On the geek continuum, I am low in RenFaire points, leaning to the SF conventions like Balticon. I went a few times to a local one in high school and went to the Maryland one several years ago. The grounds were much better than the one in Maryland with tons of booths, stages, and food vendors. The number of people in some level of costume approached fifty percent. And there was way more entertainment than we get to in the few hours we had left in the afternoon.

We caught the very funny performance by Don Juan and Miguel, a whip and swordplay act that is played for laughs. The show isn’t listed in the program as explicit, but it is full of plenty of innuendo. The two guys have a hard time keeping a straight face, let alone staying in character as they crack whips and fight with flaming swords. They even have a cameo by “Don Juan’s” real-life daughter who is easy on the eyes and no slouch with a whip herself.

My son bought a Seinfeld-style black puffy shirt and matching jester hat. Normally this would be a frivolous purchase, but he has managed to wear the outfit socially at least one already. The end of the day jousting tournament was just a little too realistic and graphic for my wife, but I thought it was well done. We may even make a return trip.

Blatant Comment Whoring™: We still need a few more daytrips. Anything within about a hundred miles of Columbia, Maryland is fair game.


Jeff and Charli Lee said...

Shakopee MN has a huge renaissance festival. I went one time but quickly tired of the "my-lord" and "my-lady" overacting by university drama department wannabees. The goods were too expensive and turkey legs were overcooked.

I wouldn't be whining if it didn't cost me over 100 bucks just to get my family in.

Impetua said...

Never been to a RenFaire but think I may someday. Just so I can say I did. I notice that many things that you do just so you can say you did end up being kind of unpleasant, like the time we slept on the deck of the ferry from Skagway to Prince Rupert. One night of that and we got a room as soon as humanly possible in the morning. Um, it's bloody Colde on the decke of yon Ferry, milord.

I'm afraid I haven't any suggestions for daytrips since I am a West Coastie, but good luck on that, you dedicated parent! My stepfather (Rest His Soul, or at least Hope He's Dead) couldn't be bothered to teach me to drive let alone spend hours and hours taking me out just so I could get the requisite number. Not that it was required back in medieval times when I was a teen, but had it been, I'd still be taking the bus. You rock, yello.

Anonymous said...

Hm. I don't know whether you wanted to head in a different direction, but Valley Forge is extremely historical and not too far away.

If you dig the Spelunking Tourist experience, Pennsylvania and Virginia each have some pretty cool caves.

Cape May, NJ makes for a nice day trip. If you go down to the beach you can see a bunker from World War II and a chunk of a ship from World War I that sank in the 1920s. The town itself has hundreds of Victorian-style buildings. If you get bored with this quickly it's a short hop to the boardwalk of Wildwood.

That's all I have off the top of my head.

Anonymous said...

Claude, those are good ideas. I was going to suggest Harper's Ferry and the Sharpsburg (Sharpstown? - Antietam) area - lots of history, very pretty - not sure if the back roads still exist. Front Royal would be an easy shot out 66 these days - Luray Caverns, Skyline Drive. You could stop at Linda Tripp's Christmas store in Middleburg!


J.Po said...

Good biking at Valley Forge, BTW. Get on the Schuylkill River Trail at VF, and you can ride all the way into Philly - 22 miles one way, most of it paved and following railroad beds. Stop in Manayunk for people-watching and Ben & Jerry's. And give me advance warning when you're headed into my College of Comix Cardinals Diocese this time!

Anonymous said...

Any of the Dupont homes/houses/gardens in the Brandywine Valley.

Hagely probably has the most of interest as it deals with the history of the Duponts: gunpowder and all. I also love Longwood Gardens.