Friday 13 May 2011
Day 41: Half way through the East Coast stay
We are about halfway through our stay in Philadelphia. Since someone else had pre-booked our houseboat for this weekend, we had to move out temporarily. We've gone down to the Delaware beaches to look for horseshoe crabs. We are staying in a nice hotel, the Bellmoor, in Rehoboth Beach, which is also quite nice. We found a vegan restaurant, and Mike is going back for a cooking demonstration there tomorrow.
Although I like Philadelphia, and still have a few things I would like to do, I am nearly ready to move on. I've never found the east coast of the US stunningly attractive. Some of it is plain ugly, and some of it is pretty enough and a few bits are interestingly authentic or grungey. The Philadelphia skyline seems to the jewel in its crown (sorry Manhattan, I never was that impressed). My worst problem with the east coast is that it gives me serious attacks of claustrophobia. I thought it would be a bit easier having our own place, and it has been, but still... The problem here is the lack of public space and especially access to any piece of countryside big enough to go for a walk in. All the land is private, suburbanized, and there are few to no public footpaths. You get caged into the narrow channels of streets and highways, if the cars will save you any space. If you're welcome somewhere, it's usually so you can be sold something. The state parks and the beaches are tiny oases where you can't realistically walk for more than a couple of miles. Even they are better set up for drivers than walkers. I started to realize that even the center of Philadelphia is a small oasis as far as walking is concerned, surrounded by mile after mile of urban or suburban smush, probably with no sidewalks! There is definitely an irony to the Americans being so proud that they can have access to anything they want, at least in their big cities. Unfortunately, the things I miss most are not on sale at the mall. I feel like a caged beast! I'm hoping things will be easier for me when we get out to the west and where our trip is basically centered around the national parks. Big wide open spaces, here I come... in about two weeks time.