We like American murals. Do you like American murals? Berwyn, PA.
Several years ago, during an Alps motorcycle tour with my son Adam and sister-in-law Joyce, we awoke one morning in the Lauterbrunnen Valley of Switzerland (some call it the most beautiful valley in Europe) to find 6 inches of snow had fallen overnight. I frantically rushed to the inn’s front desk to determine the condition of surrounding mountain passes. Closed? Open? If closed, when would they open? The tension was building when Joyce suggested we stay in this magnificent valley for the rest of the day; a divergent solution that would never have occurred to me. Of course, it turned out to be one of the very best days of the tour.
This morning, thoughs of Lauterbrunnen Valley were with me when I unexpectedly suggested to Bob we spend another night at our hotel in Exton and ride the bikes into Philadelphia sans luggage. Bob was quick to agree and we became commuters on the Lincoln Highway.
Our first stop was an unexpected visit to Vespa Philadelphia. The MP3s were fine, but by this time our Piaggio addiction called for a quick fix. The showroom was jumping with people coming in and out, trying on scooters, helmets, jackets, etc. Clearly, Philly is scooter country and Vespa Philadelphia is working hard to keep up with the demand. Despite all the action we were warmly greeted by general manager Ginger Knight and her staff. Oil was checked, photos were taken, gratifying comments were made about our blog and we got out of their hair. Upon leaving, we met Bunmi Samuel and his girlfriend Crystall Lane standing by Bunmi’s recently-purchased MP3 250. Bunmi looked like a proud, joyful new dad (see photo) and was eager to accept a "No Age Limit" card from Bob (Bob is a champion card-giver-outer — there are some unfortunate homeless people now in possession of Piaggio website cards). His enthusiasm runneth over; that’s the case with each MP3 owner we’ve spoken to.
We were then on our way to Independence National Historical Park, but time limited us to focus on Independence Square. Interestingly, Independence Hall was slated for demolition in 1816 when a group of Philadelphians saved the old State House. America is big on demolition; we’ve seen that across the Lincoln Highway.
Parking is tough in this area, but scooters have the option of squeezing into spots a car would ignore. I’m embarrassed to admit that despite living 90 miles from this center of American history, I’ve visited Philly for business purposes only. W.C. Fields was wrong when he said he had spent a week one night in Philadelphia. It’s more than worth an extended weekend. Between Gettysburg, The Lincoln Highway and the venerable houses and public buildings of Philadelphia I’ve never felt more American — and it feels good.
A special treat awaited us on our ride back to Exton. In the late afternoon we pulled into the Frazer Diner — which we learned serves only breakfast and lunch — in the town of Frazer. It looked like a classic from the 20’s and was begging to be photographed. In minutes Jeff, the original owner’s son, appeared from his next-door house. He explained how, in 1958, his dad managed to buy the 1928 building, originally located in nearby Paoli. After an offer of $10,000 was rejected (Jeff thinks the seller didn’t "relate well" to his dad), Jeff’s mom returned two weeks later, made an offer of $5,000 and the diner was theirs. Bob and I continued taking photos when Jeff reappeared in his 1957 T-Bird, which, like the diner, was in great shape. Clearly, Jeff and his family value the past and know how to get the best from it. The diner’s been added to our top-10-favorite list of functioning historic sites on the Lincoln Highway.
Tomorrow is it! We’ll be following the Lincoln Highway through NJ (what we can find of it) with Jersey City as our final evening destination. We’re booked in a motel near the Jersey City Vespa dealer, Eric Silverman, in preparation for our escort by the NY Scooter Club into Times Square for a 10:30-10:45 arrival at the Lincoln Highway’s eastern terminus on Monday morning. There’s supposed to be lots of media. It all feels kind of strange and hard to believe that this great journey across America’s Main Street is coming to an end.