By Dennis Minich
It was one year ago this week I was hospitalized for COVID-19. Many things have changed in the past 12 months and this week I got to do something I have waited all that time to do, take a vacation.
Leslie and I decided to drive cross country for a few days to Pennsylvania, including a long-desired trip to Philadelphia. I have to say visiting the city of brotherly love made me appreciate I love our little Midwest metropolitan area.
While there were a variety of highlights and moments I will never forget, there were also some lowlights which I will equally find myself unable to forget.
As a history buff, it was thrilling to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. On the downside, not checking the rules left us without tickets meaning we didn’t get to go inside Independence Hall. We walked around and saw lots of neat historical places and things, but I will always remember what I didn’t get to do.
I always enjoy a good cheesesteak so going to the home of the original was a highlight. Actually, in two days I tried both of the outlets which occupy “Cheesesteak Corner.” They totally live up to the billing as these are some of the greatest ingredients to ever be placed on a bun.
But driving to get to these places was an experience unlike any I had ever encountered. Cars are parked bumper to bumper for several blocks in all directions. On the narrow streets, it certainly makes driving in the area a challenge and you also need to be in full practice to parallel park anywhere in the area. I was actually quite proud of my parking skills. I still don’t think I could parallel park in Harrisonville, but necessity demanded that if I wanted to eat, I had to properly park and somehow, I did it.
The traffic was monstrous. My GPS would tell me my travel time from one location to another was 40 minutes. After driving for 30 minutes, the GPS would say the travel time was 38 minutes. Ten minutes later it would be 37 minutes. Mostly, the GPS was just guessing.
Of course, these are just things. The real treat in Philadelphia are the people. Their reputation for rudeness is totally deserved.
My first real encounter came at the airport. My friend from North Carolina flew up to join us for a Phillies game. I was in the pickup area and he was about 20 steps away when a cop smacked my windows and yelled “Mooove ya kah.” I said my friend is right there, he replied “Mooove ya kah now.”
We also got to witness the reality which is Philadelphia sports fans. My little league baseball team was nicknamed the Phillies, so I have always kind of had a soft spot for the team. We went to the game. The stadium is beautiful and it was a great place to watch. But the Phillies pitcher was struggling and gave up six runs in the first three innings. The fans booed him – loudly. After another home run given up, the manager came out and pulled him. As the pitcher walked to the dugout, I was expecting gentle applause, as would be normal in Kansas City, instead the booing was even louder than after the home run.
The Phillies lost the game and I was kind of disappointed until we were walking out. We walked past a replica of their two World Series trophies. The first was from 1980, a trophy which should be in Kansas City, so suddenly I felt pretty good about the Philadelphia loss. You might think 41 years is a pretty long time to hold a grudge. Not in my book.
Although we didn’t get into Independence Hall, I did get my picture taken with the Rocky Balboa statue and I got to visit
the real “Paddy’s Pub” for those “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” fans.
I was also fascinated to see the Navy Yards where real ships were either being repaired or retired. It was also fascinating to see row houses and the dugout, old buildings. It was pretty clear we weren’t in the Midwest.
As a vacation, it was fun. Would I do it again? Probably not. We know that W.C. Fields said he “would rather be in Philadelphia” than dead, but he had another quote probably which I can now appreciate: “I spent a year in Philadelphia. I think it was a Sunday.”