…and I had a shockingly easy, helpful experience. (See?! There’s hope for everything!)
The license plate is always the first thing I look at when I see a car. Still. Since I was little, anytime we drove anywhere, I would look for plates from states I hadn’t seen before, and daydream about where the people inside the cars were going. I would wonder about what these places looked like, and fantasize about going to them someday.
Today is Tuesday April 29th, and I’m FINALLY getting out a big announcement via email and social media about the all new Blue Lollipop Road!
I had to include the above photo, which is one of my absolute favorites taken during my travels. It makes me smile every time I see it. I stopped at random several years ago on the side of a road with an old digital camera somewhere in Pennsylvania, and this is what I got. I’m sure most of you have seen it before. I couldn’t resist sharing again in hopes to spread some more inspiration. (It makes me feel all happy & inspired.)
To me this photo represents an exciting preparation message for everything to come, a bit of a warning, and a jolt of energy that screams; anything is possible! Like a voice saying “Hey People~ You’ve got one life, just one life. What are you going to do with it?”
It’s my last full day before the car return. (Boo!)
I wanted to give a little tour of this amazing 2012 Honda Hybrid Civic that’s been so good to me over the past couple weeks:
It’s a good thing I love this car so much because I sure have spent a lot of time in it stuck in traffic the past few days!
I thought I’d have a bunch of wander time in the Big Apple tonight, but by the time we spent all afternoon on the Jersey Turnpike and actually getting in to the city, there was only time for dinner and bed. (I have a very early rise time to catch the ferry in the morning to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.) I had to squeeze in at least one NYC landmark food spot, so as suggested by a friend;Â Lombardi’s Pizza it was. (America’s first pizzeria!)
Tomato, basil and the freshest, most delicious mozzarella you could eat on a pie. Mmmm…
All in all most of today was spent in transit, but even a few hours in NYC is a thrill and energy feed that I will take any day. (Not to mention the pizza treat!)
In the morning I go to the top voted spot Honda Fans picked from the Honda Facebook poll and I am thrilled! What a perfect way to end this incredible trip. Thank you again to everyone who voted!
***Total miles driven today, day 17: 117
***Total miles driven since trip start (9/2/11): 2,778
***Total blue lollipops gifted/left behind since trip start (9/2/11): 26
I don’t even know where to begin on this zany, crazy, fun, feast of a stop.
My “plan” for today (once again, plans when I travel seem silly to even bother to make most the time) was to explore at least a couple food spots friends and readers had suggested around the City of Brotherly Love before we hit up the Honda Civic Tour show. I usually like to eat a little here a little there- like a smorgasbord of a city so I can fit it a bunch in when I only have a short time in a place. Well, that was so not happening after our entire afternoon at Koch’s Deli in West Philly. (And I cannot tell you how 110% Ok I was with that!)
Let the best kind of madness began:
…and then we went inside:
Surprises left and right, me stuffing my face again, (Mom- aren’t you proud?) and so much happening I couldn’t keep my head on straight. (Actually, that’s probably because I was on a cheese and pickle high.) Ezra continued to stuff everyones face as he lovingly heckled not only us, but allllll the customers. We made friends with everyone around us including Brita in the orange sweatshirt who was, like my friend Jocelyn- a “virgin” first-timer to Koch’s:
In case you don’t know this, I can eat. (Review above videos and nearly every post I write.) I’m not afraid of some food and a 5 mile run after to work it all off, but my god I ate more food standing in line at Koch’s than I eat at Thanksgiving sometimes! I had about 62 kinds of cheese, 342 pickles and I’m sure equal amounts of meat. Ezra was scolding me to “eat, eat, eat!”- so I threw vegetarian life to the wind and went in head first in a carnivore-fest. I tried pastrami types and random beef something or other. Meats I would never ever usually touch, have never eaten before, or haven’t tried in 10 years. It was out of control and I was in the moment going all the way. At Koch’s there’s something in the air that makes you want to scream NIKE!- and just do it. So I did. The overall vibe and scene in this place is a come, eat, laugh, and whoop it up. You can’t be shy here. I love that. It’s very clear by the hundreds of photos and notes covering the walls that lots of others love it too:
I finally got myself organized from the sensory overload, to order my hoagie: Honey turkey, onion-cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, sweet peppers and oil and vinegar:
Did Ezra slice it right there and make me try with yet another pickle? You bet he did!
Then he gave me a smooch:
…and I gave him a blue lollipop:
Of course I left blue lollies for the other staff too. Barbie (who actually was the one who made my sandwich) and Bryce who was slicing and dicing behind the counter. When Bryce heard I was driving a Honda he grinned, piped up and said excitedly: “Hey! My first car was a 1991 Accord and it had 300,000 miles on it!” Meet Bryce, fellow Honda fan:
After meeting the whole staff, talking to the regulars, and eating what seemed like ten thousand samples of meats and cheeses, we collected our sandwiches, said our goodbye’s and out the door for a wrap up video. You guessed it, the surprises were not over:
Oh Koch’s- I will so be back! You might go down in history as my most favorite sandwich experience ever. Thank you Ezra, Barbie and Bryce for such a great afternoon.
Naturally I wanted to check out all the Honda stuff, so we wandered to where the Civic Si CoupeÂ giveaway was. (Custom designed by the guys of Blink 182):
Did I sign up to win it? Heck yeah! Then I got tattooed up for the night:
As we wandered the masses before the show started, I spotted this little rocker dude and had to ask his mom if I could take a picture. Meet Ricky:
How adorable is he trying to be all tough with his mohawk?!
We found our seats and the show was about to begin:
Opening act Matt & Kim came on and got the crowd riled up:
They were hilarious! A sassy duo you would totally want to hang with and get into a little trouble. There couldn’t have been a better opener leading up to the show, starting with My Chemical Romance:
This show was my first time hearing much of these guys. They were awesome, the crowd loved them, and was excited to find another band to be a fan of! Blink 182 still had my heart though:
(Crush time!) Yep, I am still carrying a crush I had over 10 years ago that started after seeing them at a music festival in Upstate, NY. I picked an old-school song of course, to go with my old-school crush.
The amphitheater was packed and the crowd was on their feet and just going nuts the whole show. (We were too!) It was SO MUCH FUN. Being there made me feel like I wanted to be a rock star and wonder why I don’t go to more concerts. Thanks Honda! The guys announced on stage that this was the biggest show crowd on the whole tour and I got to be there thanks to you- yeah!
What’s the best surprise after jumping around all night screaming and singing with thousands of strangers and being exhausted as you sit bumper to bumper trying to get out of an after-concert parking lot? Koch’s Deli leftovers to nosh on! Mmmm…midnight snack. We were so glad we had those. What a day. Talk about going to bed full, exhausted and smiling…
Tomorrow I head to NYC to be close to the ferry for my final day Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty tour!
***Total miles driven today, day 16: 53
***Total miles driven since trip start (9/2/11): 2,661
***Total blue lollipops gifted/left behind since trip start (9/2/11): 25
Driving, driving and more driving- so hello from the car:
Traffic really was a bear.
I’m not joking when I speak of these dance parties I have in the car and belting out tunes. So? I just kept the camera rolling:
Yep, I realize I’m never going to live this one down. My Mother will crack up about my comment on the aerobics (because it’s true.) I certainly didn’t plan on posting this one, but? Ever have those moments when you really want to do something but you get all shy? Then you think- what the heck, just press send you chicken! How embarrassing could it possibly be?
Well, there you have it.
I might just get DORK tattooed across my forehead.
Hello Philly! Let’s go have some more music fun and make fools of ourselves shall we?
Blink 183- I totally crush on you!
***Total miles driven today, day 15: 279
***Total miles driven since trip start (9/2/11): 2,608
***Total blue lollipops gifted/left behind since trip start (9/2/11): 22
Thanks to Honda, it’s about to be Philly or bust for me and a guest to hit the Honda Civic Tour with Blink 182 and My Chemical Romance. I can’t wait to rock out to the good music! (I’ll be that girl in the front jumping around and dancing all night 🙂
I arrived to table #18 full of welcoming strangers and attentive staff immediately at our service pouring bubbly for everyone. (You know how much I love bubbly, so I was in heaven.)
Our dinner feast started with soup; Roasted butternut squash bisque with cre’me fraiche:
Then salad. Butter lettuce; lolla rosa, radicchio, port wine poached pear, crumbled gorgonzola, candied walnuts, citrus vinaigrette:
For palate cleansing; Blood orange sorbet:
Between servings, beautiful bride Ginny perused the crowd and greeted the guests:
I will say here again, that she looked like the perfect bride. Of course her hair, jewelry, dress and all were gorgeous, but I really think it was the genuinely sweet and happy way Ginny had about her that made her look so perfect on her most important day. She was the vision of what all little girls dream about.
While Ginny made her way through the crowd, there was lots of dancing going on:
…and of course more eating:
I chose the entree of sauteed filet of beef; Duck fat fried potato dice, creamed salsify, roquefort red wine sauce. I nearly licked the plate. I still wonder how the Rittenhouse could possibly execute 200-plus plates of entrees, all piping hot at the same time. It was as good as if I were dining at a small exclusive restaurant with the chef cooking 10 feet away.
Just as I thought it couldn’t get any better, dessert arrived and cake. (I mean seriously, I was like in food coma, euphoria at this point it was all so incredible.) Dessert trio; Chocolate pate’, cre’me brule’e, coconut ice cream:
Those sweet treats stood no chance with me as I gobbled up everything. Thankfully we all burned off some calories by boogie-oogie-oogie-in to the fabulous band. I just love a wedding where the dance floor stays packed. The band at this one played from the moment we entered the room, through dinner and even extended their playing time beyond what was originally scheduled. Talk about perfectly executed! Eat, speech, dance, eat, chat, dance, eat, drink, speech, toast, dance, chat some more, dance some more, and eat some more.
As I thought the night was wrapping up, and that we could not have had any more fun, or eaten anything else, the groom announced the party was moving into another area down the hall. We had to laugh when he noted that there would be a Philly cheesesteak bar waiting for us:
We had barely finished dessert! Then again, who am I to stop eating when I was in Philadelphia and there was a dish of liquid cheese waiting to be drizzled over meats and veggies? I think I counted 3 mini cheesesteak I consumed in the 2 hours we were at the after party. We all had plenty of cocktails, stuffed ourselves silly and I’m sure looked like long lost friends after partaking in 12-plus hours of wedding festivities together. My friend Jocelyn (who was the reason I was at the wedding- a friend of bride Ginny for years) joked that I was like the roaming gnome from those travel commercials. The one that pops up in random places like photos of families on vacation. Maybe it was because by the end of the night I exclaimed; “Ginny! We have got to get a photo of you and I for Blue Lollipop Road!”…so we snapped this funny one:
As the full day of celebration was coming to a close and the Rittenhouse staff was cleaning up the cheesesteak bar, our table looked like a war zone:
I don’t know if groom Chris will remember this until he reads it here, but see that plate in the right corner? Those were Jocelyn’s leftovers that Chris snuck a few bites from as we were all gathered around the table starting to say our goodbye’s. I can’t paint the scene any better than to say what he asked me, was like when the record stops and the whole party’s eyes are on 1 person. (Remember, I had still not met this man but had been “crashing” his wedding all day and night.) Chris picked up the fork, leaned over the plate, took a bite, looked up at me and said: “Who are you?”
Laughter erupted and there you have the perfect punchline that actually happened during the last moments of the wedding I crashed. It was a riot. That scene will no doubt go down in Blue Lollipop Road history.
Ginny and Chris~
As a perfect stranger coming in to your world, I appreciate your openness and generosity. Throughout the day it was easy to see why so many people came from far and wide to celebrate with you. Your love for each other was a treat to watch and something remarkable. I have no doubt that you will grow even happier together in the coming years.
Here’s to new beginnings, and new unexpected friends. Thank you so very much for inviting me to share your special day!
So after the wedding ceremony, Ron our bus driver took us back to the Rittenhouse Hotel for cocktail hour and reception festivities:
We were greeted by a beautiful room full of dapper looking people:
Of course I made a beeline to the bubbly, where I met Maiel:
What you can’t see in this photo, is that there was champagne all over his face. I walked up to the bar through the crowd of people and asked him for a glass. As we were chatting and he was twisting, the cork came out way to fast and shot clear across the room of 200 people as the bottle overflowed and bubbly went everywhere. Somehow the cork didn’t hit anyone. We cracked up and I told him I wouldn’t tell anyone, but all of you on the world wide web. Thanks Maiel! No one will ever know our secret- ha! 🙂
The appetizers during cocktail hour were absolutely delicious:
I managed to steal a quick shot of bride and groom Ginny and Chris greeting guests:
I didn’t want to jump in as the crazy wedding crasher and bother them when they were visiting with friends and family, but I had to at least get a back view of Ginny’s gorgeous gown. We all kept saying how much she looked like one of those perfect bridal magazine models! Groom Chris is British so naturally the two ladies in the fabulous hats were from his side. (We American gals were swooning over their hats and wondering why we don’t dress that way for weddings.) Of course after staring at these two ladies I had to introduce myself and ask if I could take a picture of them. Meet Mother and daughter Lynn and Chloe:
(Confession; This is the first time I have ever played around with red-eye edits on my iPhoto and look what I did to poor Lynn’s eye. This is is why I just leave photos as is, mess with the original and look what happens. Ack! Sorry Lynn, You still look fabulous even though I made your right eye look blurry…)
After a bit of bubbly and a belly full of hors d’evoures, it was time to go upstairs to the grand ballroom for the reception. I found my alias stand in name on the table list:
We were led by staff in white gloves. I felt like royalty for a minute there:
The grand ballroom met us just as it was called, decorated impeccably. I found my seat at table #18 and drooled excitedly as I looked over the menu for the evening.
Finally, the start of the much anticipated wedding crashing post.
Ron was the super sweet bus driver that took us from the Rittenhouse Hotel to the church for the wedding last weekend. We were late for the meeting time, so my friend and I ended up being the only 2 people in one of these busses:
Talk about a personal coach! We enjoyed talking to Ron during the 45 minute ride through spring-fever Saturday Philadelphia traffic.
Ron told us he was from Philadephia, born and raised. He said he drove for a lot of different events like the wedding we were at. We laughed when shared stories about late night trips. Apparently groups of fancy people often get all schnockered up, then have a late-night hankering for the only place to be in Philly when it’s after midnight and you’re in a happy state of mind: Geno’s and Pat’s, so he drives them there to get their fix.
I’m sure Ron could could start his own blog about people on his bus; wit, or wit-out cheese, drippingly good cheesesteaks. We didn’t end up going on Ron’s bus for a cheesesteak run but we sure did have our own version at the Rittenhouse.
I’m getting way ahead of myself here, so a bit of back story on how the wedding crashing actually happened:
A while back my friend had told me she was going to a wedding for a weekend away, driving up, had a hotel set and told me I should come. As everyone knows, I love a road trip and I thought, oooh what fun. I haven’t been to Philly for years, but I used to spend quite a bit of time there. I could explore the city and do what I love most; wander, snap photos, find good food, and hope to meet cool and interesting people while my friend participated in her festivities. I was in.
We arrived on Friday night, went to dinner with some other out of town guests as the bridal party was busy with the rehearsal stuff. I end up meeting the bride Ginny at the end of the night with the rest of the crew I was with. Ginny tells my friend there are two extra spots paid for because 2 guests bowed out last minute and that I should come. Why not?
The rest is history.
The next morning we raced around the city to find something for me to wear just in the nick of time. We got on the bus with Ron, I went to the wedding, cocktail hour, reception, and the after shindig, having an absolute blast, meeting fantastic people, eating delicious food and dancing the night away. It was a marathon of wedding fun and I loved every minute of it.