I’ve been to almost all the states in the US, but I have a few glaring omissions that I haven’t gotten to yet. The one that seemed to surprise the most people was that going into this trip, I hadn’t been to Pennsylvania! Sam and I had been talking about it for ages, because he went to school at Penn and absolutely loves Philadelphia. After my visit to the mid-Atlantic, I could see why!
I actually visited four new states on this trip – Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware. Both New Jersey and Maryland were day trips. As it turns out, I don’t have any pictures of Maryland, which means that I was having too good a time exploring small towns like Havre De Grace and eating macarons and wandering through thrift shops! Embarrassingly, the only picture I have from this portion is the sign when I re-entered Pennsylvania….
New Jersey was the day trip that everyone thought I was crazy for taking. Yes, I understand that Camden is not the nicest part of New Jersey, and also that New Jersey is one of our country’s favorite states to joke about, and I probably should’ve gone one of the times I was in New York, but this was convenient. And it was on a train line that Sam hadn’t been on, which is really all it takes for him to be excited to go anywhere. The views from the train were pretty cool, actually.
I felt like Camden had a lot of potential. There were some cute areas, but it didn’t seem like anyone was out and about. It honestly felt to me a little like that period of COVID when no one was really out and the cities were emptier than they ever had been. We saw very few cars and very few people. And yeah, the area by the train station was not great, but otherwise, it felt like that shouldn’t be the case? It was the middle of the day on a weekend. I don’t know. I think Camden could be a lot more lively than it currently is and I think that would go a long way to making it a more fun place to be.
I spent most of my time in Delaware working. I mostly had Emmy’s house to myself, with just her cats around during the day. It was an unusually busy week so I was pulling longer hours and by day three, her husband was like “??? Erin hasn’t seen anything, she hasn’t even been outside when it’s light out? She needs to see something of Delaware.” We did find a good night to head to one of their favorite breweries to visit, Mispillion River, which is quirky (as you can probably tell from the lime green beer on the right). Plus, we went to a beach and I saw the ocean, so that counts, right? Yes, next time I’ll come visit in not-January, and we can actually go to the beaches that Delaware is known for. (that’s right, it’s not just a tax haven for LLCs!)
For my actual daylight outing in Delaware, we headed to the Air Mobility Command Museum, which is adjacent to the Dover Air Force base. That’s what had brought Emmy and her husband out to Delaware, and it was fun to visit with Wade! One delightful thing I’ve discovered since knowing him is that every pilot I’ve met is obsessed with planes. Truly, deeply, in a way that you don’t often see with people and their jobs. So he knows tons of facts about planes, and made the tour much more interesting that it would have been if I was wandering around by myself.
Anyway, the part of the trip where I got to be more of a tourist was Philadelphia. I loved Philly! A lot more than I expected, given that my knowledge of it before this trip was primarily from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which…. isn’t the best representation. Most of the tourism is focused on Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, so we started there. My parents have always done the US National Park Service passport books, getting stamps at each site, so Sam and I tracked down as many as we could while we were visiting. We also toured Independence Hall, which was cool and free after we waited in a medium long line and went through security. I also went out to Valley Forge, which is nearby but a little outside of the city.
We wandered around the old town, we went to Penn’s campus, and I visited my first Wawa, which was apparently the most important thing I did all weekend. We tried to go to Betsy Ross’s house/museum, but we were slightly too late to actually go through the exhibits. We also met up with some of Sam’s friends. When Emmy joined me, she and I went through the Magic Gardens, which is a mosaic art exhibit that reminded me a lot of Fusterlandia in Cuba – it was one of those overwhelming but really cool areas to wander through!
One other note – Emmy and her husband and I had gone to a bar, and I know that Philly is intense about their sports. Like, I listened to a podcast about Eagles fans once. I know the stories. But what I was not expecting was the music to pause and then an entire song about the 76ers to play at top volume in the bar, and then to be immediately followed by the Eagles-related song. I guess they’ve got a lot of city pride?
I’m down to my last eight states! I want to hit all fifty, because I think it’s important to travel in the country that you live in. Going to university in the Midwest made it abundantly clear that some of my classmates had not spent time outside of the coasts before moving to Chicago, and while there are some amazing places on both coasts, that ignores so much of the United States. Most of what I have left is in the southeast, since that’s the farthest from where I’ve lived up to this point. Stay tuned!