|Fall Foliage, Elmhurst, PA - October|
Now, let me qualify that last statement. We’re blessed in the food department, and we know it. Not only do we live in America, where there’s a grocery store or “super” market nearly on every corner, shelves stuffed and stocked to the brim (at least in most populated areas), but we are gainfully employed so can afford to buy some of that food. (We don’t eat fancy, but we don’t go hungry either. We are truly blessed.)
But there’s quantity, and then there’s quality.
The South is known for many things – hospitality, for one, and in the food department, great ham and biscuits. But for native Northeasterners, raised on mouth-watering breads and cheeses, the Southern versions of those staples just don’t cut it on our food-o-meters.
So we were really looking forward to stuffing our stomachs with our favorite pizza (pepperoni from Vince the Pizza Prince in Scranton, Pa.), good real diner food (New Monmouth Diner in Middletown, NJ) and bagels (Hole Lot of Bagels, Middletown, NJ). We even took a big cooler and filled it with pizza and bagels to take home. (Oh, yum.)
But while we’ve been all nostalgic about the food, there was one biggie we forgot about living in the northeast—TRAFFIC and NORTHERN DRIVERS.
When we first left for warmer climes about nine years ago, we knew ourselves to be “Jersey Drivers.” It's driving for survival in the areas of dense population. Gaps in the traffic flow? Fill them...quickly! See an open parking space? Grab it; you may never find another. Be quick. Be decisive. And for God’s sake, don’t stop at a yellow light or you’ll find yourself up close and personal with the driver behind you, and it won’t be pleasant.
We weren't sure we'd ever get used to the slowness of the south. Then somehow, their ways crept into our everyday driving behavior. We found ourselves slowing down...a bit. (Let’s not get crazy here.) We don’t like long lines of traffic, but at least we know our fellow drivers will, for the most part, be polite and considerate. We won’t find people waving middle digits at us or honking horns if we need to merge. They’ll actually make room for us! (It’s amazing.)
The bad part about that is when you have to head back north and drive among the natives again...holy shhhh—I mean, Sugar-Honey-Iced-Tea!
Within 10 miles of crossing the Jersey line, a pickup with a trailer raced up the left lane that was ending, running us onto the shoulder of the freaking highway going 70 MPH. The next day, as we were driving down the main drag in town (a four-lane state highway), a car flashed us as it cut across from our left to get to the far right to exit--crossing four lanes! (We weren’t dragging either. We were right up to traffic!) I hit my imaginary break so hard, I almost sprained my ankle! The next morning going to breakfast, we were cut off by no less than three cars within a space of half a mile.
|An 18-wheeler that was a bit too close for comfort.|
All I know is I don’t remember the traffic being this bad when we lived there. I don’t know if it has become worse, or we’ve just acclimated to the South. Or maybe it’s just that we have aged over these nine years. Whatever, as much as I hate to say it, I was not sad to leave that part of Jersey life behind when we pulled out of the hotel at 0-dark-thirty to head home!
Next time I get a hankering for some of that food, I’ll see if they ship. Or better yet, maybe Amazon will carry it by then. :-)