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September 2019


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Week of the Living Dead

One thing in life is certain – if you are travelling from motel to motel in the USA, then the WiFi quality will vary between slow and intermittent. Hence the delay in sending the next episode.

Lake Harmony. And Pennsylvania. Been here before. One Christmas, years ago. The place was nothing special, but the past few years have brought on a change. What was OK before, has faded into a grey non-entity. Restaurants that close after 3, and restaurants that do not open till 4. The Galleria ( the main resort centre) was dead as mutton. The gift shop was shut, and the only excitement occurred when the fire-alarm went off! When the gift shop opened the next day, the star gift appeared to be a (small) collection of fridge-magnets for anyone called kyle, robert or terence.

A visit to Pennsylvania’s prime tourist location – the township of Jim Thorpe – revealed that the shops were shut, or selling arty junk ( they call it “repurposed”). The train ride at the station was only running at the weekend. The excitement was bearable.

In desperation, we went to the Wyoming Valley Mall, in Wilkes-Barre. A long drive along a twisting, speed-limited with no passing places, boring road. The Mall would be familiar to fans of George Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’. A dozen or so, shambling figures who wandered aimlessly around, pretending to be a crowd! They had a strange, walking-on-their-heels gait. As the News of the World reporters used to say “We made our excuses, and left”.

We did visit another Mall in Allentown – just past Bethlehem, near Nazareth ( look it up, if you don’t believe me!). Bought a few books, ate at one of those ‘All you can eat’ places. (didn’t eat a lot).

At last, the week ended. We set off to our next location – Niagara Falls. With the satnav set to ‘avoid toll’, we went on a meandering tour of New York State. We had prepared a mass of documentation for our crossing into Canada. A quick glance at our passports, $4.00 in cash for the toll, a smile, and we drove into Canada. Smoothest Customs and Immigration ever. 10 minutes later, we were at our motel. Would this be a memorable visit, or just another oversized tourist trap?

More to come …

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