Take advantage of I-86 proximity, but turn south again onto US-15, enter Pennsylvania, and drive through gorgeous rolling Appalachian mountain scenery: inclining/declining view, small, isolated farms; shade-seeking livestock; inviting creeks… Reality perfecting a series of “rural America” clichés.
Roll into cloud-menaced Williamsport/PA. First impressions suggest still another “hard-scrabble” racially-mixed mill town fallen upon “hard times”. Drive through downtown halts as a formidable stone jail, with a prominent “The Cell” sign turns out to be an eatery. Wandering farther find an indented parking lot between several buildings covered with murals of local history.
Williamsport/PA: “The Cell” – jail turned eatery
Pop into Bullfrog Brewery to lunch and am surprised at upscale crowd. Owner Sam spins a yarn of starting in restaurant business, heading west to learn microbrewery processes, returning “home” to convince his parents to co-sign an SBA loan (will be discreet and not mention WHICH parent reminded him mowing a lawn as a child had taxed Sam’s skills at completing a project), and, finally, getting a “deal” on vats and a 150-year-old walnut bar. Eighteen years later, Sam says “The rest is history”, before directing me toward original and current Williamsport Little League World Series Parks.
Leave Williamsport and embark on “one hell of a journey” toward Philadelphia. Obviously, the lady on my GPS is on drugs as she directs me on a bizarre route. As a cloudy day turns darker, and finally, black, struggle on narrow, car-clogged back streets before finding sanctuary in Fairmont Park’s Chamounix Mansion’s uncrowded youth hostel.