I worked very hard for the last year to make this trip possible. For my part, saving enough to undertake this endeavor meant working seven days a week, every week, between doing public relations at PUNCH Media
and waiting tables at the Great American Pub
in Conshohocken (shown here). Exhausting as it was, this hard work strengthened my resolve and sharpened my character, if not contributing to my cynicism on at least a moderate level. And in the meanwhile, I made some terrific friends, including my lovely lady Bernadette
, for whom I have the Pub to thank.
So of course, to show my gratitude, we dropped into the Pub on Thursday night to enjoy some good food and beer. Our waitress was none other than Bernadette herself, who started us off with a pitcher of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
and a heaping plate of delicious calamari.
I directed everyone's attention to the right places for our entrees - Sarah went for the Fiesta Chicken Salad, Joey for the Angry Chicken, and I indulged in the Baby Back Ribs that I'd always wanted to try but never got around to. As is typically the case when I'm eating something particularly sensational, I was sweating profusely by the end of the meal. The more I sweat, the more satisfied I am - and I was one sweaty gentleman on this particular evening.
Some friends came by to say hello, like my fellow server Kate, and our executive chef, Miguel (Mike to his friends). It's such a stand-up place, that Pub, that I just wanted to bring the whole staff with me.
...Which is obviously impossible. There's just not room in our car for all those people. So I settled for a consolation prize.
The Pub is owned by the Hemcher family, who have treated me very, very well in the time I've been working for them. Among the family are four brothers - Tim, Chuckie, Sarge, and Tommy - who posed for a picture a few years back. That picture has been hanging in a quiet corner of the bar for as long as I've worked there.
Not anymore. To show my gratitude to the Hemchers, I decided to pry this photo off the wall and bring it with us for the entire trip. Wherever we go this summer - Niagara Falls, Bourbon Street, the Grand Canyon - the Hemcher brothers will be with us the whole way. I couldn't ask for a better group of companions, aside from the two "real" people with whom I'm traveling.
So look forward to a terrific summer of sightseeing, fellas. You'll be having a blast whether you know it or not.