This road trip to rural Pennsylvania was an unexpected one. It turned out to be rather interesting, which made it all worthwhile in the end. I went to visit my cousin and his family who recently moved to Bethlehem in Pennsylvania. I was apprehensive about the trip at first because the drive takes about three and half hours. That’s nothing to most but can feel like a lifetime for someone who isn’t very fond of driving.
Road Trip to Rural Pennsylvania 2015: Day 1
My plan was to head out early, no later than 8 a.m. that Saturday morning hoping to reach my destination before noon. Thanks to my body alarm, I was wide-awake around seven and was already on the road by 7:30 a.m. My concern was traffic but thankfully I encountered none. The drive was smooth and pleasant, accompanied by sceneries of rural Pennsylvania that were quite picturesque. The route also had me pass through several of the state’s significant towns, namely York, Gettysburg, and though I didn’t know at the time, Lancaster. I safely arrived in Bethlehem just before 11.
I took a couple of hours exploring Bethlehem’s historic downtown but before I walked around town, I grabbed a quick lunch at Johnny’s Bagels and Deli, a local sandwich place right on the corner of Main and Market Streets, and ordered an everything bagel with lox cream cheese. It was tasty, cheap and filling option for lunch. The cream cheese was particularly good. It was creamy and flavorful.
I did a self-guided walking tour of the city, following along its colonial path that highlighted several churches, a small Moravian cemetery, and colonial buildings, some of which are now museums. I found out that the Morovians, one of the oldest Protestant religious sects, founded the city way back in 1741. It was also a city ahead of its time, particularly when it came to trade and industry. The blacksmith I met in the Colonial Village exhibits said that great thinkers of the 18th and 19th century would come to the city just to get ideas. Many of its original buildings are now restored to its former state creating a charming mix of Federalist and Victorian architecture.
After the short excursion, I came back to my cousin’s house, hung out with the kids a bit before heading out with the rest of the family to sight see. We drove towards the Sands Casino and the Steel Works outdoor exhibit. The now defunct Bethlehem Steel Factory, once the second largest steel manufacturer in the world*, stand tall, complete with its rusts and scrapes. The city built an elevated platform complete with plaques providing information about the plant and how it shaped the city of Bethlehem for over a century. It was a very interesting exhibit that takes no more than half an hour to peruse. The park is also free to the public.
After that, we drove up to Lehigh University and stopped at the lookout point where you can see the city of Bethlehem. We took some snapshots and headed towards a small park surrounding Monocacy Creek where the kids spent sometime attempting to communicate with the ducks.
Dinner was a low-key affair. My uncle fired up the grill and cooked steaks and hamburgers. I made a tomato salad as a side using the tomatoes picked up from their own backyard to accompany the grilled corn. Dessert came in the version of the strawberry and blueberry pie I brought with me. The first day of this road trip to rural Pennsylvania ended with a drive-in movie experience, a first for me, at a farm in Walnutport called Becky’s Drive-In where we saw the latest “Mission Impossible” film.
an: US Steel in Pittsburgh is the first