Destination: Pennsylvania

Travel Morality Tales

Travel Morality Tales Screen shot from commercial for DIRECTV

Parsing the hidden travel advice in two DirecTV commercials

Read More »

Pittsburgh’s Conflict Kitchen: Axis of Edible?

Over at Gadling, blogger Jeremy Kressmann has a cool find: A new Pittsburgh take-out restaurant that serves up food from those countries that America most often finds itself at odds with on the international scene. First up at Conflict Kitchen? Iranian kubideh. The restaurant’s theme will rotate every few months.

Awhile back, we talked to Rick Steves about travel—to Iran and other less-visited countries—as “a political act that broadens your perspective.” I guess we could call this eating as a political act?

The Roads Home

The Roads Home Photo by Nicholas_T via Flickr (Creative Commons)

On a bi-coastal life amid the bridges of the Delaware River

Read More »

Schrute Farms: Fake Destination Still Garnering Fake TripAdvisor Reviews

Faux Schrute Farms debuted on TripAdvisor in 2007, right around the time that Dwight Schrute, the ninja-loving paper salesman on the U.S. version of The Office, mentioned it on an episode of the series. Like many, we had a little fun with it at the time, then forgot about it.

Turns out the fake page still exists and it has more reviews than “many major Manhattan hotels.” From the New York Times:

Many reviewers add their own funny flourishes, enhancing the show’s mythology: Mandy Pyszka from Milwaukee, who stumbled upon the TripAdvisor site while searching Google for Dwight Schrute quotes, raved about the beet pudding.

Carla Harrington of Fredricksburg, Va., was surprised to find 82 percent of reviews recommended Schrute Farms. “I thought about what it would feel like not to know them as TV characters but to really go to this B & B,” she said in an interview. Her one-star slam called Dwight “an overbearing survivalist who appears to have escaped from the local mental asylum.”

Video: After-Hours at the Pittsburgh Airport

(Via Boing Boing)

Two Cheers for Gloom

Contemplating and celebrating the world of travel

Read More »

Pulitzer Finalist Takes Road Trips to Wawa, Sheetz

Hank Stuever spent part of his summer traveling to the competing convenience stores throughout the mid-Atlantic, “a local sort of road trip, a mini-mart epic.” His story about it is odd and kinda brilliant. He writes about Wawa vs. Sheetz: 

It’s even a toss-up to which one gets stranger as the night wears on. They come into the Sheetz on Prince William Parkway in Dale City in the darkest of night, and poke-poke-poke at the made-to-order menus on the touch-screens. Touch the picture of the sandwich you want. Touch the picture of the kind of cheese. Now touch the pictures of lettuce, the pickles. Now touch the mustard, the ketchup. The touch-screen system is not merely there to impress you. “We used to do it where you fill out a paper form and leave it in the basket, but people got smart and realized the paper at the bottom of the basket comes first, so they’d stick theirs in at the bottom and then you get problems,” Stan Sheetz says.

Also: “You would be shocked how many people can’t read and write.”

I also love this comment on the piece from JOKR715: “Finally, a fluff piece I care about!”

Dr. Phil Hops Aboard the Acela

Dr. Phil Hops Aboard the Acela Photo by Danielle Scott via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Danielle Scott via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The talk show host and self-help kingpin will film a special episode on Amtrak’s Acela Express on September 9, Gawker reports. According to the press release, Dr. Phil will be “speaking with Amtrak customers about everyday problems.” Somebody see if he can do something about those rubbery, microwaved turkey sandwiches, OK?

Trip Planning: Museums on Twitter

Trip Planning: Museums on Twitter Photo by biskuit via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by biskuit via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The experiment: ignore various, er, discussions over whether Twitter is good, distracting, or evil and find other ways to use it to enhance future travel experiences and planning. Since I tend to like museums big, small, and flat-out odd, I figured I would see what some U.S. museums are doing with it.

I’ll admit, I didn’t use the most scientific of methods. I searched Twitter for the term “museum” and, click by click by click, signed up for the first couple dozen on the list.

The information started to drip, drab, and, in some cases, flow in. Philadelphia’s Mutter Museum, famous for its jars of medical oddities, was (and I love this!) offering free health screenings (@MutterMuseum); Northport, Alabama’s Kentuck Museum (@KentuckMuseum) wanted you to put its April 24 poetry festival on your calendar; and Baltimore’s Walters Museum (@walters_museum) offered up a behind-the-scenes photo of an intern working on a Roman sarcophagus and an invitation to its college night with “mash-up DJ artists, tours, & more!”

Read More »

‘Adventureland’: Hooked by Travel Writing and the Adventure of Summer Jobs

‘Adventureland’: Hooked by Travel Writing and the Adventure of Summer Jobs Publicity still via IGN
Publicity still via IGN

I can tell you the exact moment I came off the fence and really fell for Adventureland, the theme park-set comedy romance that hit theaters last weekend.

Early on, not long after starting his grim summer job as a games operator at the local amusement park, protagonist James tells love interest Em what his earnings are for: he wants to move to New York City, complete a master’s in journalism at Columbia University and become a travel writer. But, he’s quick to add, he wants to write travel stories about “real life,” like Charles Dickens.

I’m not far removed from my own dreamy undergraduate perusals of the Columbia website, and I love a good real-life travel story, too—so naturally, I was hooked.

Read More »

See This Now: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater House

See This Now: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater House Photo by pablo.sanchez via Flickr, (Creative Commons)
Photo by pablo.sanchez via Flickr, (Creative Commons)

Will T.C. Boyle’s new novel, The Women, and Nancy Horan’s novel, Loving Frank—both about Frank Lloyd Wright and the women in his life—boost interest in Wright’s architecture and visits to the houses he designed? Perhaps, but Wright’s buildings are hardly hurting for visitors.

Wright’s Fallingwater house, which Time magazine declared his “most beautiful job” shortly after it was completed in 1937, has seen millions of visitors over the years. Located 50 miles from Pittsburgh, it’s worthy of adoration, spanning a waterfall and still somehow blending nearly seamlessly into the landscape. By all accounts, it was the inspiration for Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. The New Yorker once called it “Wright’s extraordinary essay in horizontal space.”

Read More »

Help for Hungry Travelers Who Can’t Handle Gluten

Having grown up with a sibling who has a major food allergy, I give a huge thumbs-up to anybody who helps ease the way for food intolerant folks on the road. Fellow travel writer (and friend) Hilary Davidson does just that on her Gluten-Free Guidebook. Her latest piece discusses Philly tourism’s online guide to gluten-free restaurants.

Know of other online guides for allergic eaters around the U.S.? We’d love to hear about them.

Five Best Mood-Matching Museums

Five Best Mood-Matching Museums (c) Sam Buxton, courtesy Kinetica

What kind of art do you feel like today? Hayden Foreman-Smith knows where to go to match any mood.

Read More »

What We Loved This Week: Kutiman, the Scorpions, Meat (Glorious Meat)

Our contributors share a favorite travel-related experience from the past seven days.

Rob Verger
I loved this hilarious pro-flying bit by comedian Louis CK on the Conan O’Brien show. My favorite part? When he says, “Everybody on every plane should just constantly be going, ‘Oh my god, wow!’”

Valerie Conners
Meat, glorious meat! Went to one of Philly’s more interesting restaurants, Ansill, to try the special “European Barbecue.” It involved a plethora of mysterious meats (think quartered hearts and kidneys from an unidentified beast) and very tasty grilled meats served with a variety of dipping sauces. The experience brought me right back to my days living in Leuven, Belgium, and one of my fave restaurants there.

Read More »

The Economy is Affecting Hotels in Strange and Curious Ways

Photo by MrLunch via Flickr (Creative Commons)

How curious? People are going to Philadelphia—on purpose! (I keed, I keed. Please don’t throw any D batteries at me) According to the AP cities like Portland, Oregon, Philly and Palm Springs have growing tourism numbers—Portland even has hotel rates that are rising—as visitors take short-hop trips instead of visiting more far-flung destinations. Some of the visits are buoyed by cheap domestic airfares as well. 

It’s an interesting phenomenon on two fronts. First, I hope that this is the end of people not going anywhere for vacation; people are leaving home during their time off, even if it’s to visit a place that’s nearby and famous for drug rehab or Cheez Whiz. Second, for hotels, a spate of satellite-style properties is likely in the cards. The Ace is already open in Palm Springs, for example, and rates at the Nines in Portland are at Crazy Eddie levels. As long as we don’t see any hotels with cheesesteak-themed spa treatments, I fully support this trend.