Friday, August 29, 2008

Sharon, PA

Last week, I took a trip to Sharon (PA) for training. This city in North-West PA (a 6-hour drive from Philadelphia) is a real authentic old-American town that never left the ´70s: a huge difference compared to the East Coast metropolitan cities. Although I wasn’t sure what to expect from this area in the middle of nowhere, I had some interesting new experiences in this local community!

After crossing Amish Country in PA, we arrived in Sharon on Sunday evening. No decent restaurant in Sharon was open, except for the McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and the Applebee´s. On Monday, we noticed the difference with the real world: houses with 41 acres for $ 150.000, and many stores were ‘the largest in the US’ (the largest shoe store, the largest candy store… yeah right).

After our daily training session we had dinner in the Hickory Bar & Grill, a local restaurant with a lot of meat dishes but the only vegetables were salads. (Later that week, I found out that vegetables were not invited yet in this area.) After dinner we arrived in a local bar, with a few bar chairs and three tables, and one-dollar drafts. And it is still (somehow) allowed to smoke in there.

Tuesday was the best day of the week. After training we went to ‘Quaker Steak & Loop’ (nickname: Best Wings USA). Why Tuesday? Because they have ´all you can eat chicken wings’ from a buffet! The menu of chicken wings contains 19 different types with varying heat levels. The SHU values (Scoville Heat Unit, which stands for the units of water that it takes to lose all the heat traces) were on the menu. The most extreme wing is the Atomic, but before you eat it you have to sign a release form! The side dish is fried onion rings, served on a car antenna. I had enough after a few Buffalo wings and many BBQ Honey wings (yes, they were good). And, I added a nice t-shirt to my collection; see the picture below (especially the back)!

Via ‘depression road’, a road filled with closed factories where no one ever comes, the trip continued towards ´The Last Lap´. This bar was, like almost everything in Sharon, all about Nascar Races (even though the closest race track is hours away). As soon as the 11 of us walked into this bar we heard someone say ‘that happens once every few years!’ (a few strangers walking in). My colleague Mark was playing 60´s and 70´s hits on the Jukebox, which made it easy to make friends in this awesome bar. Unique detail: the liquor bottles contained the prices of a drink, making it easy for the bartender to remember.

Wednesday, we visited a nice Italian place (although I still prefer genuine Italian sauce) and Thursday was definitely time to go home…