Monday we had a meeting with our largest client in Denver, a very small town (if it is one at all) in Amish country in eastern Pennsylvania (about 4.5 hours away). Strictly a business trip, but I still enjoyed myself…
I drove directly from home, while Jim and Laura met to drive together (it's one of our little rules, that Laura and I can't ride together, for business continuation reasons – can't have the whole company ownership wiped out in one fiery turnpike accident…). I had to take the pickup truck, since my little car was still in the shop. Bleah.
I meant to leave at 7:00a, but it took me 15 minutes and a call to Al to find the truck key. Of course, it was in plain sight, just not in one of the normal places we keep keys to communal vehicles.
Around 9:00, I lost WYEP (my radio station of choice), so I had to switch to CDs.
I started out with Oasis - Be Here Now , which was what Alex had left in the player when he went back to school in January. That was quite enjoyable for this beautiful sunny morning, and I could easily imagine that being the soundtrack to his Spring Break playing Ultimate (Frisbee) in Savannah right now.
Then I took the tempo down a notch with Radiohead – OK Computer, another CD Alex had left in the truck.
Stopped for gas (bleah. Stupid not-hybrid.) at 10:30 at a service station. BUT, it was shirt-sleeve weather outside.
Time to open the windows and crank up Cibo Matto – Viva! La Woman, which is one of my favorite sunny day soundtracks (not exactly sure why, I guess because of the heavy beat on most of the tracks).
As pre-arranged, I stopped at the Highspire service station to meet Laura and Jim for lunch. We chose Sbarro from the food court; I had a (huge) slice of pizza stuffed with broccoli and cheese (and lots of garlic too, not so brilliant before going into a business meeting; luckily Laura had some gum).
We arrived at the Ephrata exit around 12:45, and quickly checked at the Holiday Inn to make sure our reservations had been made as Laura had requested of the client's secretary on Friday. All good, so I left my truck there, and we drove on together the 2 miles or so to their office and plant for our 1:00 meeting. We had a good meeting with their President and several VPs, got a lot accomplished from a relationship standpoint, and got some dates set for further action.
The meeting was over around 3:30, and no one offered to take us to dinner or anything, so we took our leave. We decided to go to Zia Maria, a restaurant Laura had been to on previous trips out here. They billed themselves as the only Italian restaurant in Lancaster County, which I can believe, since it's mostly farm country. We just had drinks and some appetizers (fried mozzarella, and bruschetta) since we had eaten lunch not that long ago, and we mostly just wanted to sort of debrief our impressions from the meeting. I tried the Amish "four-grain" beer on tap (I had to have 2 pints just to be sure I liked it), since what's the point of being in Amish country without trying local foods. It was actually a pretty nice little restaurant, some time I'd like to try it for an actual meal. I noticed on the way out that their marquee said they were voted the Best Italian Restaurant; not surprising, heh (see 3rd sentence of this paragraph).
After sitting and talking for quite a while, we headed back to the hotel, and went our separate ways till breakfast. Laura and I checked our emails, and then basically settled in for the night. I texted with Alex a bit; he said the hat tourney was lots of fun but exhausting, but they found the energy to drag themselves to the beach after the day's games. Laura loaned me "Dorothy and Agatha" by Gaylord Larsen, a mystery book she thought I might like, since I do love both Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. I did finish the book before going to bed, and the story wasn't bad, but I had a really hard time getting past the lack of editing (I mean, this is a published book, one shouldn't have to read "loose" for "lose" every time it comes up – good grief).
For breakfast, we met in the lobby at 7:00a, and went down the road to the Park Place Diner, which Laura said was apparently under new ownership, since it used to be Zinn's (a typical PA Dutch name). I tried the Baked Oatmeal, which was something I'd never had before; it was just that, oatmeal which was made and then baked in a casserole, so it was square and cakey, I assume a regional preparation. They served it with brown sugar, raisins and milk, just like regular oatmeal; it was tasty, but there was a lot of it, so I couldn't quite finish it, and I'm not sure I'd have it again over normal oatmeal, but now I've tried it.
[more to be posted later – I have to leave for a seminar now]
[Well, so yeah, it's almost 3 weeks later – that was some seminar!]
We left the diner by 7:50, as it was just getting light (thank you Congress). I listened to a Spanish-language station for a bit, which was interesting. I've heard there are a lot of (I think) Mexicans who live in this area, at least our client employs a lot, and I know they need to do dual-language signage, etc.
After a bit, I popped in a CD from Paste vol 18, which was a little musical slice of Fall 2005: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Broken Social Scene, Shamekia Copeland, etc. Then for a while in the mountains I was surprisingly able to pick up a Hagerstown MD radio station; it must've been able to make its way up through the valleys. Stopped at Starbucks at Sideling Hill rest area for a cappuccino (having only had diner coffee earlier) – ran into Laura & Jim with the same idea. Interestingly, there's a farmer's market at the rest area; it was too early in the season to be open, but what a great idea!
By this point it had turned into an absolutely gorgeous pre-Spring day! Even more beautiful and sunny and warm than the day before! Windows down, and live Moxy Fruvous (those lovable Canadians)! [drat, I don't know how to type an umlaut]
(Language caution on "The Lowest Highest Point", but it's my favorite bit on this CD)
And that took me all the way back to WYEP-land 🙂
Some random thoughts and observations:
In the eastern part of the state, I saw a number of farm buildings with huge ventilation-looking devices on the sides. I speculated (since that's something our family does constantly) that they were large chicken buildings, since I know they smell horrible normally, so I thought they would most be in need of ventilating. But then on Tuesday I saw one of these buildings with sheep all around it, so perhaps they're all for sheep. And this is unfortunately something I'm not sure how to look (the other thing our family does constantly).
I always enjoy seeing the windmill farm in Somerset County, especially since we buy electricity from those folks to power our plant. This time, though, there was a very interesting juxtaposition (intentional I'm sure)… the PA coal industry (I presume) put up a billboard in both directions in front of the windmills, advertising coal as a Clean Green energy source. What?!? I asked Al later (I couldn't find any reference to this ad campaign online); he thinks they must mean the new technology where the gases from burning coal can be stored underground for later use (not my idea of green or renewable).
Saw 4 Priuses (Priae?), which made me miss my car all the more :~(
4 nice long tunnels each way, which is fun. I love driving through tunnels, not sure why. Maybe the same reason I love being in caves.
568 total miles, on about 24 gallons of gas (would've been about 11 gallons in the hybrid). Bleah.