Sunday, August 29, 2010
It was evening when I met Joe, my host in Newark, whose backyard was FULL of bicycles. All kinds of bicycles! No, they weren't for sale - they were for recreation, baby! Maybe a different one for each day of the month? Sweet. He greeted me at the door and showed me around his place - it was rad. Seriously, it was a wonder-world of off-the-wall artifacts. I felt like I was in an oddball museum - with a FREE, private, three-day pass, woo-hoo! After I was done with my oohs and ahhs he introduced me to Viola, a beautiful couch-surfer from Germany who Joe was hosting for a couple weeks before she started college at the university down the street. The more the merrier! They had worked up huge appetites after spending the day rock-climbing, so they invited me to get some grub at Ali Baba - only the most awesome Middle Eastern restaurant covered floor-to-ceiling with authentic decor. Taking in the atmosphere, we grabbed a seat on the comfy cushions and I suddenly felt like I really was IN the Middle East - without the cost of airfare! I wished I had my camera on me! In between our friendly Middle Eastern server swinging by to offer us food and refills, Viola taught us a little German. And EVERY word Joe and I tried to pronounce was met by Viola's strict correction, lol. Gee, danke! Oh, and did I mention that we arrived at Ali Baba via tandem bike? Yep! Joe took me for my first two-seater bicycle ride! Weeee!!!
Monday, August 30, 2010
Viola and I awoke after Joe had left for work, and I invited her to accompany me to Longwood Gardens in nearby Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Like she said, she doesn't have a car, which doesn't give her the freedom to go out and explore a whole lot, so she quickly and delightfully accepted (though I tell myself it was because she thought I was such a swell guy, lol). As we neared the entrance I noted how happy I was to have company on one of my daily adventures. Usually I explore on my own, which I actually really enjoy, because I can go where I want, when I want, and at my own [usually speedy] pace, however it was nice to have someone along for a change. Other than the Italian Water Garden and the fun sculptures in the Topiary Garden, we weren't very impressed with the outdoor gardens, but the amazing conservatory definitely made up for that. The guess-the-scent sniffers throughout, the mix-your-own-perfume exhibit, and the seven foot-wide lily pads (with razor-sharp spiked sides) were our favorite highlights. We were jonesin' for ice cream as we headed to the exit, but were anti-jonesin' for the steep prices the garden commanded, so I took Viola to Wendy's for a frosty, lol. The photos of Longwood Gardens are included in my Pennsylvania album right here.
When we got back I checked my email and found a message from Joe, inviting me to rock-climbing at the facility nearby. HECK YES! Viola gathered her things and when Joe got home we helped her with a quick move into her new, off-campus digs, then Joe and I met his friend Chris for some indoor rock-climbing. They were pros and I felt like a 10-year old grabbing for the little ledges on the 7.5s, as they were spidering up 11s and 12s, but I found encouragement in Chris' compliment, "you've got good technique." ...That's what SHE said.
Afterward Joe and I stopped back at home to grab bikes. He elected to demonstrate his ever-continuing awesomeness by flinging himself up onto a homemade double-high bicycle. Yep, his roomy had taken a bicycle and welded a second bicycle on top! I can't even describe how awesome it was turning many heads as we rode to his favorite watering hole. Oh, and it was almost death-by-semi when I didn't realize the truck was making a wide turn. Oops. Anyway, Joe led me to a table filled with fun friends playing trivia the DJ was putting on, and the well-earned, FIVE dollar, TWELVE inch goat cheese/veggie pizza the server placed in front of me brought me tears of joy. And Joe delved into his own pizza too, and we washed it down with $2 beers. I heart dives.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Even though Joe had plans to go camping with a friend right after work today, he said I could stay the night and let myself out tomorrow morning when I head to Maryland, even without his presence. What a wonderful soul. I blogged for the better part of the day, and come evening time I re-visited Philly (my second time going into Pennsylvania while staying in Delaware, lol) for a spontaneous dinner and drinks with Laurel Winter and her sister Jamie; old friends from back in the day. Read about it in my Pennsylvania entry right here.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I snapped a few photos of Joe's then made my way for New Castle, where I stepped back in time in Delaware's original state capitol. My first stop was at the Court House (est. 1732), where I watched a short video the nice little lady behind the visitor center desk put on for me (after a little confusion with the controls, lol). Then I stepped into the court house room, where I thought I'd just take a couple photos and carry on, before being greeted by a dude that would spend the next 15 long minutes proudly and theatrically carrying on about the history of the this room and the town. And it was especially awkward since I was the ONLY one in the room with him, and his spiel was meant for large audiences, lol. Then I got selfish and did the SELF-guided tour down the cobblestone walks, taking in the in the historic landmarks of the town.
I got hungry and stopped into Jessop's Tavern & Colonial Restaurant. It was perhaps my most favorite restaurant to date. Built in 1674, the tavern seems untouched by time, from the period tables, bar, fireplace and decor, to the waitresses in full colonial costume, and the tavern strives to maintain authenticity in their "Bill of Fare;" with Dutch cheeses, English pub fare, Swedish sauces, and old American dishes. I had their sweet potato tavern fries tossed in their special bend of spices, followed by their bread pudding in a butterscotch bourbon sauce, and I had to try their insanely rich, local-made Swedish Lingonberry Vodka ice cream.