Monday, May 16, 2011

Prologue: Part II (Zelienople/Bethlehem)

Day 2: Pennsylvania all day long

There are many strange things that one can think of while driving, given the meditative nature of the process. One's mind drifts along with the green, lush hills and the isolated barns and silos of this state. Driving my W123 is an almost religious moment, the complete realization of the synchrony of all the man-made effort in a single, smooth, unaware cruise.

The drive to Zelienople was uneventful. There is really nothing to talk about except for the tranquility of Pennsylvania's landscapes; the cows grazing quietly in the prairie, the sharpness of the rock next to the road. We killed a chicken on a small rural highway, and mourned it for the following forty minutes. My partner was deeply affected, yet I still believe that particular avian was a work of animal stupidity.

Once in town we were greeted by Randy, who talked to us about his careful building of the trailer and its unusual features, as well as recommended upgrades. The mini Scotty is a tiny ham can trailer with a sunroof and lots of polished aluminum charm, made from the sheet metal of a deceased 60's trailer and a ridiculously strong utility trailer. It has the soul of a veteran, and the optimism of a newborn!

The drive back is a whole new story. The brilliant electronic mind of my (usually) trusty Garmin Sandiego, our GPS, took us deep into the night through empty lanes full of Amish buggies and a covered bridge, to end up in a small village named Bethlehem, up in a hill. Three hours of darkness later, I stopped in a Wawa gas station, and with numb legs I approached the counter to ask for the Sands Casino.

Back in its day Bethlehem Steel was one of the world's premier producers of steel products. Anything from bridges, battleships or Nazi gas chamber doors had come from this pinnacle in the American steel industry. The buildings are exuberant in their neglected greatness, faded and blackened by the years but somehow preserved like an old, worn carcass among the shiny, gaudy designs of the Sands corporation. Their very hospitable staff let us use one of its parking lots to spend the night at the feet of the magnetic foundry.

The next day my partner and I returned to Providence through Tappan Zee bridge, stopping by a gas station where a '56 Chevy Bel Air was getting a wheel alignment. Oh, the car lust.

Garmin Sandiego, with the lush hills of Eastern NJ in the background.

Pennsylvania welcomes you!

Industrial Pennsylvania...

...and rural Pennsylvania.

The beast comes out of the garage. Dun dun DUN!

The USS Newport-Scotty, on a break from its travels.

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