Friday, July 22, 2005

Back from Philly

I see that the comments are pretty bizarre for the last few days, so everything is normal for this blog. I was in Philadelphia on business for a few days and boy am I glad to back in good old Oregon.

Hot, Wet Airport Action

My business partner and I landed in Philadelphia at the tail end of a drenching thunderstorm, a remnant of Hurricane Dennis. We loaded up our baggage and walked out into a sauna. 90/90. That is ninety degrees F and 90% humidity. Yuck...Portland had been so beautiful. We were gone from Sunday to Wednesday and the humidity didn't start to break until Wednesday (as the temperature rose).

No-Tel Motel

We arrived at our hotel at about 10pm. The place was painted a dingy yellow and the neighborhood consisted of run-down businesses and pawn shops. Nice choice. We checked in with the teller desk person (who was safely behind a piece of plexiglass) and went to our room. The room was much nicer than the environs, but the bathroom was sparse. The room was hotter than the air outside, so we cranked on the A/C and weighed our options for a belated dinner. We walked down the street hoping not to get killed and found a Chinese place with mediocre, but edible food. Unfortunately, the place has no tables. We carried our meal back with us. We were drenched in sweat from that short walk. On the plus side, there was a fridge and a decent Wi-Fi setup in the room. Also, we only saw hookers once our whole time there and that was nice.

I (not a heart here) NY

During the heat alert, I had a chance to visit a customer site in Manhattan. We took the slow train from Trenton, NJ (near Philly) to Penn Station in Manhattan. The trip was okay. However, the subway tunnels are hotter than the outside air and just as humid. Nonetheless, this was my first time through the NY subway system and I took it all in including the occasional urine smell and the hyper-alert police looking for people with backpacks (my coworker had one). Above ground, the city was not too crowded. I imagine people were avoiding the heat/humidity and staying in the buildings. We arrived at the customer site and as soon as I sat in the waiting room, sweat broke out and started rolling down my face. Yuck.

We finished up there and took the subway over to Times Square. We ate lunch at BB King's which was standard corporate fare (like Applebee's I guess) and took a few pictures of giant electronic billboards in Times Square. To be honest, I think Portland's Pioneer Square has more going for it, but I digress.

We wanted to see more (Seymour?), but we were out of time so we subwayed back to Penn Station (all day pass for the subway is $7, BTW), saw the huge Post Office and Madison Square Garden, and headed back to scenic Trenton on a barely air-conditioned train. I should have brought a dang towel with me. I was soaked in humidity. It was getting old.

Chomps: Good, Bad, and Ugly...ok, not much good.

I told you about a couple of highlights. The best meal I ate in Philly was at a place called Chickie's and Pete's. Although their much-touted Crab Fries were just seasoned fries and a cheese sauce (that I honestly didn't taste any crab in), the mussels in red sauce were very good. They had an annoying habit...a VERY annoying habit of leaving about an inch of head on their beers. I guess they don't know how to pour (obviously they do know how to rip people off). Micro-brew is not a big thing there, but the Yuengling beer was pretty good.

We had a pizza in the office that was rectangle and it tasted just like the rectangle pizzas from my grade school. I had a strange urge to drink 8 oz. of tepid milk from a carton and eat some green beans with spillover syrup from the peaches in the next tray. There was more slightly less mediocre Chinese food as well.

We finished the Philly leg of the trip with a dinner at Pat's Steaks, where the cheesesteak sandwich was innovated. I've written about this place before, so I only summarize to say that you get a french hoagie sandwich with fried, shredded beef steak with your choice of toppings (onions are ordered by saying "wit" and if you don't like them, say "wit-out"). It isn't complete without a slathering of Cheez-Whiz on it. The history and location make Pat's the second best food we had on the trip.

(One trip to a standard McMenamin's would blow away anything we had at Philly. Sorry, the truth hurts.)

Flying Home (we hoped)

Thanks to a great guy named Joe, we got to the airport, grabbed our luggage, and headed towards check-in. We were fortunate enough to only have ten people in line on front of us. However, with the typical Philly lack of self-driven people, it still took us a half hour to make it through to security. The plane to Vegas loaded late and it took forever for the lumbering people to get settled. Nonetheless, the pilot gunned the plane onward and arrived 30 minutes early in Vegas (where it was 109 degrees F at 11pm). We sat on the tarmac and were warned that we were waiting for a plane to leave the gate. We waited about 10 minutes. A helpful flight attended mentioned in a sarcastic tone to some passenger that we were early, so don't worry about connecting flights. The ten minutes turned in 45 minutes before we finally were able to deplane. People off-loaded as slowly as they got on, but at least we were closer to home.

We boarded the flight to Portland much more quickly and were on our way home. I saw Mt. Hood in the light of the full moon as we descended to land. We deplaned into a nearly deserted airport, got our baggage and walked out into the luscious 65 degree F night air. I got home around 3am and went to bed.

All in all, the trip was an exercise in patience. It is always good to be reminded of how lucky we have it here.


Pandabonium said...

Good 'ol Philly, crime capital of the USA. I've never had the pleasure of going there. Thanks for the heads up - I won't go in the future either.

Nothing like a trip to the "big city" to make one grateful to get home. A bullet proof front desk would really help one get a good night's sleep. I started having chest pains just reading about the food - steak sandwhich with cheese whiz? Are there abulance-taxi's cruising the streets? The mussels sound good though.

Other than the hot weather, it reminds me of being stuck in Yuba City, California (voted worst place to live in the USA on at least one occassion) one Christmas eve plus a few days after being defeated by bad weather while flying in a Cessna 172 home from Redding. The only hotel with room was a tad seedy and four of us shared a room. There were no restaurants open and we went to a movie and ate hotdogs and popcorn for Christmas dinner.

It feels sooooo good to get home after such adventures.

Thanks for sharing that experience. I'll be more mindful of voicing any complaints at home.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Dewkid used to live in Philly.

What's your take on this, Dewkid?


Seymour said...

I hate to say it, and I know Tigre will agree with me, but the whole East Coast is pretty much as Don described it. And by East Coast, I mean all the way to the Rocky Mountains! The summers are hot and humid. That's just a fact of life. I mean over 70% humidity, everyday, through October. It sucks, but that's why The Goddess and her Consort, Lord Cthulhu created the North West.
I mean the mid-west is the 'Tornado Belt' right? That's because the cool blessed air of the Northwest, spills over the Rockies into the Nether-regions of the Flatlands. It sinks through the fetid misama of the East and forms powerful 'cyclonic action' as seen on TV! This vacuums up the unbelievers and returns them to Lord Cthulhu's Pleasure Grotto, usually sans limbs.

Welcome home Don!!

DewKid said...


Vulgarius said...

Indeed! Welcome back!

Catfish Johnny Redbeard said...

The oppressive heat and humidity subside in early September. However, that leaves late September and early October in NY as one of the most pleasant places in the world. Nice 60-70 degree days, the hint of autumn on the wind, and all of the tourists are home, getting their kids to school.

thehim said...

Harsh treatment for my hometown Don, but some of it is likely deserved. They say that you can tell which tourists in New York came from Philly because they're the ones that are amazed at how clean it is.

McMenamin's better than anything in Philly, though? That's a stretch. Maybe the Portland one is better, but the Seattle one isn't even the best restaurant on Roy St.

Glad you got to suck down a few Yuenglings out there though. My grand plan to have a keg of Yuengling shipped out here for the wedding fell apart like a greasy cheesesteak.

Don Snabulus said...

The harshness was confined to this particular trip. My last trip to Philly was much more enjoyable with better food, etc.

I'm sure someone who stayed in a dive in Portland and subsisted on sub-par deli and bar food would feel the same way.