one of my favorite things to do in life is roadtripping. while i dream about saving up thousands of dollars and taking a year off of life to go on a cross country road trip, and i hopefully will be able to someday, sometimes you just have to satisfy the urge with a day trip. i attribute my love of day trips to my father. some of my fondest memories of my childhood were spent sitting between my mother and father in his red ford pickup truck on a sunday driving around for the entire day. some constant themes were the hard vinyl seats and a gallon jug of water and talk radio. somewhere in there we would inevitably stumble upon some kind of pipe sticking out of a rock spouting fresh mountain water to drink, some kind of cheese product, a winding road up and around a mountain and if we were lucky, a swimming hole or a shopping mall. i also enjoyed our annual summer wild huckleberry picking, making sure to watch out for snakes and bears. as night would fall, we would head home and i would watch the tracey ullman show and think about how i didn’t want to go to school on monday because i didn’t want sunday to end. to this day, i still get nostalgic on sunday evenings. either to be a child again or that i wish my father was still alive or that the tracey ullman show was still on tv.
last week my friend amber and i spent the entire day driving around the greater philadelphia area taking photos and laughing and listening to music and stopping at cute little places to eat. we started off having breakfast at the morning glory diner. its always so good there and they have the best homemade ketchup! from there we just started driving. thats always how it works. we get in the car and drive with no destination and no time constraints. it was raining out and i was reluctant but sometimes the best remedy for that soggy day slumber is to get the heck out of your house and see things. anything other than your comforter and the four walls of your bedroom. i’m sure you all can identify with those days.
from center city, we drove west.
amber and i, especially amber, live for driving into the most run down parts of town and exploring the beauty of squalor. there is always something so exciting about deterioration. the paint over paint over paint and the subsequent peeling back of the layers. the graffiti. the accidental color combinations. the frozen in time moments. the danger of the setting. it is a photography dream.
then we drove northwest.
for every few blocks we drove, the backdrop changed architecturally and socio-economically from abandoned row houses to slate roof mansions. at some points we thought we were in a third world country. other times, bavaria. this part of the adventure led us through the “main line”. we traveled through the towns of narberth and wayne to villanova. we saw the houses grow bigger and more attractive and sadly, we watched our inspiration dwindle. perfectly manicured homes, while aspirational, just aren’t as interesting to discuss and photograph as those with collapsed roofs and spray paint on them.
we then headed eastward.
our next destination was chestnut hill. this is a super cute town with great little shops and restaurants. we grabbed lunch at top of the hill cafe where we shared a mushroom barley soup. then we went to my favorite bakery in the philadelphia area. it is called the night kitchen. it is so freaking delicious and if you are ever in chestnut hill, you must go there! when i first started going there, i suggested that they open a location in center city, as they are located about 20 to 30 minutes outside of the city. after making probably too many trips out there, i now advise them not to because if they did, i would go there every day and i would then weigh about 500 pounds. as far as what to try at the night bakery, i would suggest the flourless chocolate cupcake, the pecan bar, the lemon curd cupcake or my favorite of all favorites, the lemon bar. i sort of feel like starting a lemon bar club to find the best lemon bar in philadelphia. might i suggest tartes in old city has phenomenal lemon bars as well.
amber needed underwear so we went to target and then we drove back into the city and to a part of philadelphia that i had never been to out by the stadiums. here we found road after road leading to large warehouse buildings that, i’m guessing, house and distribute nuts, fruits and vegetables, seafood and meat to the area grocery stores. it was very strange but oddly inspiring and we took some really great photographs there. we then headed home, exhausted and feeling like my brain couldn’t possibly handle one ounce more of stimulation. the best part of the day was that we didn’t have to pack a bag or book a hotel or a flight to see something new and exciting. it was right in our backyard. if you are looking for something fun to do that doesn’t require planning, grab your camera, get in your car, or convince someone who does, and go for a day trip!