The Weirdness of PA’s Route 30 (Now with BONUS Intercourse)

There’s a time and a place for political correctness and then there are situations where you simply have  to call things like they are and Route 30, (or at least the portion spanning Chester, Lancaster and York counties) is weird as all get out. There’s actually a lot of weirdness going on in rural, central Pennsylvania. This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy it, and this is no offense to people who live there, but  it’s weird. This is coming from someone born and bred in Northeastern PA. NEPA is weirdness personified, but Central PA, you take the cake.

I'm not sure this if this was taken on Route 30 or not but it was taken on a state road in Central PA during a trip to Gettysburg two years ago. There was just a store on the side of the road selling large plastic animals like you'd see at a mini-golf course. See, weird.

I’m not sure this if this was taken on Route 30 or not but it was taken on a state road in Central PA during a trip to Gettysburg two years ago. There was just a store on the side of the road selling large plastic animals like you’d see at a mini-golf course. See, weird. And posing on the bear is not weird, it’s what any self respecting human who needs attention on Facebook would do.

I go to Philadelphia quite frequently. I used to almost always take the Turnpike. It just made sense to stick with highways and it’s hard to get lost when all your exits are spelled out for you. Then, about three years ago, toll prices rose drastically. This sounds petty, but hear me out. I used to be able to go Philly roundtrip for about $25.00 of gas an tolls. Now, it’s more like $30-40 of gas and $10.00 of tolls. I wanted to find a way to get there without breaking my bank account. About the same time I came up with this dilemma, my brother moved to Media, PA, southwest of Philly is Delaware County. The first time I drove to his house, I took Route 30.

US Route 30, or the Lincoln Highway (which was the first road across the US) actually starts in Atlantic City and ends in the Pacific Northwest. I’m going to focus on the portion that runs from Lancaster to Malvern, which is now the way I travel to Philadelphia, not only because it beats the toll prices but because there’s always something new to look at.

Route 30 is what I like to imagine is a throwback to the Route 66 of back in the day, all sorts of Bate-esque motels luring in drivers with promises of vacancy and “hot tubs,” peddlers hawking their wares and strange, kitschy attractions that beckon from feet from the actual road.

I was driving Route 30 this past Sunday on my way to The Whip Tavern in Coatesville. I decided to finally document Route 30’s weirdness and took as many pictures as I could on the ride  to the bar.  I was planning on taking more on the way back, but well, the tavern was fun and I’m the worst at taking pictures, so there might be a part II sometime down the line.

Anyhow, ass I’m constantly telling the children in school: I’m going to stop telling you and start showing you. Here we go:

First up we have the Fulton Steamboat Inn, right on the outskirts of Lancaster City, a hotel and restaurant inexplicably modeled after an old-time steamboat.

I swear, from the road it resembles a steamboat much more than this photo indicates, especially at night. I tried to take a shot from my car, but almost died so this is what we're stuck with.

I swear, from the road it resembles a steamboat much more than this photo indicates, especially at night. I tried to take a shot from my car, but almost died so this is what we’re stuck with.

Just in case the hotel decides to go all Titanic in the parking lot.

Just in case the hotel decides to go all Titanic in the parking lot.

Route 30 is filled with all sorts of road-side shops, many of which put their “wares” out near the side of the road to try and lure drivers in. Now the majority of these are straight up tourist cheese and cater to the sorts of women who like to decorate their kitchens with “country” knick-knacks (aka my mother) but they also have a couple of cool Amish based/inspired woodworking shops (I stop at least once a year with the intention of purchasing an Adirondack Chair and once a year I’m reminded how expensive custom woodworking is) and some nice farmer’s market type stands in summer.

How creepy do you think it is inside the doll outlet?

How creepy do you think it is inside the doll outlet?

Presented without comment.

Presented without comment.

They really play up the quaintness factor on Route 30.

They really play up the quaintness factor on Route 30.

There are large paper-mache/plastic animals on sale everywhere.

There are large paper-mache/plastic animals on sale everywhere.

I could probably get behind a customized hex sign.

I could probably get behind a customized hex sign.

20140323_141543

National Christmas Center.

National Christmas Center.

Completely normal for March.

Completely normal for March.

One of the weirder aspects of Route 30 that I failed to capture last weekend is all the tiny motels. There are literally these real old school roadside motor-lodges up and down the road. A majority of them have no more than 2o or so rooms and there’s often 5 or 6 right in a row. I always wonder who stays there and how they stay in business. If anyone knows, please enlighten me. These are not necessarily specific to Route 30, but Central PA in general. I could probably do a photo essay alone on the weird/small hotels on the New Holland Pike.

A lot of flashing "vacancy" signs, much shades of the Bates Motel.

A lot of flashing “vacancy” signs, and you know you’re still operating old-school when you have to advertise that WiFi is your choicest amenity.

Then we come to the weirdly named Lancaster County towns, in this instance the dubious pair of Paradise and Intercourse (Blue Ball is on another similarly great drive, that I’ll have to photograph for you once it gets nice and I’m in the mood to roll down the window and threw back my hair Springsteen style).

So this I think is actually cool. In Paradise there is a tattoo parlor and bar where it appears an old train station once was.

So, this I think is actually cool. In Paradise there is a tattoo parlor and bar where it appears an old train station once was. I will never get a tattoo but if I wanted to, this would be a cool spot.

The aforementioned bar, that I've explicably never stopped at.

The aforementioned bar, that I’ve explicably never stopped at.

Just some goats, chilling in Paradise. Sorry...

Just some goats, chilling in Paradise. Sorry…

I was stalking this beautiful Airstream Trailer. One of my life goals is to be rich enough to own one.

I got off topic stalking this beautiful Airstream Trailer. One of my life goals is to be rich enough to own one.

Because you're probably all as mature as I am. Intercourse is actually a pretty cool little town. It's another place I'd like to dedicate it's own post to, hopefully when the weather gets nicer (I have gift cards to go mopeding there).

Because you’re probably all as mature as I am. Intercourse is actually a pretty cool little town. It’s another place I’d like to dedicate it’s own post to, hopefully when the weather gets nicer (I have gift cards to go mopeding there).

There’s much more fun, as I mentioned, on the other side of the road, from a sprawling “farm equipment” museum I’ve never seen anyone actually at, to several pretty great truckstop/diner/motel hybrids and plenty of side roads to ride down and lose yourself for an hour or so if you have the time to kill. Route 30 also drives right through the heart of Amish country, which used to fascinate me. Now I just get annoyed whenever I get stuck behind a horse and buggy. I’m becoming Lancastrified.

4 responses to “The Weirdness of PA’s Route 30 (Now with BONUS Intercourse)

  1. Pingback: 10 Things I’ll Miss About Living in Lancaster | PA Weekend Fun·

  2. Pingback: Things I Wished I Did While I Lived in Central PA (aka reasons to visit) | PA Weekend Fun·

  3. I moved to Central PA in 2009 (long and stupid story) from Memphis, TN, and I often tell people that the area is like “Mayberry on acid.” Still, I actually like it better than Memphis…but will probably move on to somewhere else when I can. Outsiders just never seem to fit in here. Weirdly charming, or charmingly weird, place.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s