First weekend in the USofA.
Things would have been so much different had Salunga been Selangor instead. After spiralling aimlessly here and the borough of Elizabethtown for an hour, I’d finally declared that I was lost in the suburb of Central Pennsylvania that Saturday, which started mighty well, actually - sunny skies, The-B52s’ Love Shack in the background, a clear highway and the leisurely mindless drive with the guide of a GPS navigator…that died halfway through the journey towards Lancaster. It was partially my fault for assuming that the battery would last at least 3 hours. Where was the charger, you might ask. Oh yes, I'd brilliantly kept it in the office. Suddenly, the anxiety I had of driving on the opposite of the road seemed minuscule. I had no choice but to push on, to stretch my wits in finding the right exit in this quiet piece of foreign land, to reconnect with the Capital Beltway of Harrisburg.
You should have seen that relieved look on my face when I'd finally made it back to the hotel, thanks to a familiar McDonald’s signpost. On that expression as well was a slight beam of pride, for I felt that it was a personal success, achieved only with the help of a pair of yielding, middle-aging brains. Interestingly, another one of The-B52s’ songs came to mind, almost acting as the perfect ending to this misadventure – Roam.
Sunday was a different affair - a pleasurably formal introduction to downtown Harrisburg, where the State Capital building is located. Worth mentioning as well at the heart of the capital of Pennsylvania is Second Street, with it's sizeable number of eateries and bars. To get here, we crossed the Susquehanna River via the South Bridge (which was to be our artery when travelling north) from the Cumberland County on Interstate 83.
This is a very livable town where there's a right amount convenience, cleanliness and greenery. I can picture myself doing a 6-mile run at the Riverfront Park before a meal at Second Street and beyond. The pairing of the Appalachian Mountains and the longest river on the east coast, the Susquehanna, provides the ideal feng shui for longevity, prosperity and happiness...well, to those who believe, at least.
From the Whitaker Centre where we caught an IMAX show called Titanica, we moved on to the State Capital Building, which was modelled after the basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican. The funky lime cupola was a nice touch, I thought. Last Friday, over lunch, I was told that the gilded statue topping the dome was a certain Miss Penn.
The introduction to downtown Harrisburg ended with, of course, a meal. We had an early dinner at the iconic Appalachian Brewing Company (ABC), where there are enough beverages to try for a good few weeks, including some in-season beers. I'm a dark beer fan, so the Susquehanna Stout seemed to be the obvious choice. A black ale with a hint of espresso; it had me thinking of kahlua, only denser and bitterer. Good stuff. I wonder if a few spoonfuls of coffee will provide the same effect when combined with my usual Guinness. It was suggested that I have my stout with the Mile High Meatloaf. Another good choice, I must say. If I was to rename this dish, it would be Mile High AND Long Meatloaf. Measuring 1.5 times of my hand, this monstrous piece of Black Angus meatloaf scored with its juicy mince and adequate seasonings. Nothing too flavourful here. And that's a good thing. Underlying the meatloaf was a piece of crispy, thick Texas toast while topping was mashed red bliss potatoes. The gravy came flavoured with the Susquehanna Stout (aha!) and garnishing the dish were fried onion straws. A well-thought-of ensemble, this.
Appalachian Brewing Company
50 N. Cameron St. Harrisburg, PA
Locals often lament the congestion on the 6 lanes wide South Bridge during peak hours. For me, even as my car's crawling across the river, there's always the majestic view of the Susquehanna River to keep me occupied. It had never failed to awe.
Well, I'll be leaving Harrisburg soon. And I'm glad that I'll be crossing this river one more time, as I make my way to the airport.