Friday, May 29, 2009

Road Trip to Bethlehem

Follow the Star....

Last weekend my co-worker and friend Sarah got hitched in PA. Let me tell you, I have never been impressed with the old state of PA, outside of Philadelphia and arguably Pittsburgh there is really nothing to see. A whole lot of NOTHING. But for Sarah I decided I would brave the drive and visit Bethlehem.

Now, asking Mark to go along seemed to be out of the question as he hates car trips, being bored and PEOPLE. So, I hitched a ride with Amy, another co-worker and friend and promptly asked her to drive as the old 1994 Cavalier might not make it. Especially since the Cavalier got into a wee bit of an accident was was still nursing a broken driver side door. Now, Amy loves road trips and PA so she decided to plan a whopper and this trip became the stuff of legends. Seriously, everyone at the reception was asking us how the trip went since it was going to be EPIC. We had big plans to visit the Yuengling factory, the Roadside America miniature village and a winery or two. My focus was on finding a drink since I heard the reception would be sans alcohol and while I am not a big drinker I am also not good in social situations where I know almost no one without a drink in my hand. At least drinking before the wedding seemed like a good compromise.

Plans were dashed as we got to a late start and the drive took forever and the tolls cost like a million bucks (srsly people, the value of entering PA is certainly not equal to the actual cost). No beer factory tour only gawking at road side signs like the
Balloon Artist
(these balloons were pure artistry, wish the pics were better!). We pulled into Bethlehem with only 30 minutes to spare and lunch on our minds. The only place we saw and therefore ate was the local McDonald gussied up like a real 1960's MickeyD
and very popular with the locals. I NEVER eat at McDonald's or fast food in general really so the apple and walnut salad with a side of fries was a new experience for me. I probably won't be back.

The wedding was in a chapel on the Lehigh University campus which is beautiful and we got lots of pictures of the church. Being a historic preservation major I tend to be interested in and take lots of pictures of buildings. Usually, after a vacation I have random shots of building interiors and have forgotten what they are AND nobody cares. The priest was very funny in a peculiar, crazy uncle kind of way which I was not expecting but did seem to spice things up. It was over quickly for a catholic ceremony and I did very much appreciate it.

We spent the hour between in historic downtown Bethlehem, founded by the Moravians. I learned about the Moravians from a trip Mark and I took to a museum conference in Winston-Salem several years ago. We got a lot of comedy material from our tour of the historic Moravian settlement at Old Salem Museums. On the tour we found out that Moravians used to decide everything by drawing lots so if you had a question you would ask the council and they would draw lots to see the answer. One poor man wanted to get married and the drawing turned him down 7 TIMES. Moravians no longer draw lots. They do still have a special star and some tasty cookies. The best thing I saw in Historic Bethlehem was the Brew Works. That is where we spent the hour; trying the beer sampler and taking shots of beer in order to finish in time to get to the reception. It was really good beer, even the porter, not usually my favorite.

The reception was beautiful and Sarah even made the favors; ribbon embroidered bags with CHOCOLATE inside. We danced to some Jackson 5 and ate some cake from a real NJ Italian bakery. We didn't get out of there until later than expected and asked the bride for directions home to avoid tolls. Winding through the back roads of PA as the sun was setting we saw 2 wineries, lots of farm land and several Amish people riding strange looking bikes. The overall effect was surreal and we weren't sure if we were looking at the Amish on bikes or a group of Brooklyn hipsters with the plaid and the beards and the strange hand-made bikes. I didn't get a picture because my camera had already run out of battery life but if I did, this is what it would look like. All of the scenic distractions caused us to get lost twice and resort to a small stretch of toll road to get back on track. Got home late Saturday night and Mark and Gimp were glad to see me. Mark was especially glad to see the cookies I brought home from the reception in the paper bags printed with Sarah and Thomas' wedding date. MMMM... cookies. Gimp was less excited about the bubbles from the wedding, apparently the world's most fierce Gimp Cat is afraid of bubbles. Who knew?