It’s a Good Summer to Explore America at Random

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is the premise:

With my summer trips abroad canceled, I decided to be resourceful about travel. Having lived in Northern Virginia for 30 years, I asked myself a simple question: Which local trip have I still not done?

Earlier in the summer I thought I might spend time in scenic Maine, but too many of my friends from the Northeast and mid-Atlantic seemed to be planning the same. I decided a more adventurous course of action would be to get in the car with my daughter Yana and spend a three-day weekend on the road.

The column is not easily excerpted, but here is one bit:

Lunch was in Morgantown, West Virginia, but rather than visit the university, we stopped for excellent Jamaican food with jerk chicken, oxtail and plantains — better than the equivalent in the D.C. area. A tip: If you’re ever looking for great food in obscure locales, don’t just google “best restaurants Morgantown WV,” as that will yield too many mainstream options. Pick a cuisine you don’t expect them to have, and Google something like “best Haitian restaurant Morgantown WV.” Whether a Haitian restaurant comes up (it didn’t), you’ll get a more interesting selection of “best” picks. In this case we learned that a town of 30,000 people has several Caribbean restaurants, highly rated ones at that.

Five states in one day (VA, WV, MD, PA, OH) was great fun.  In my view, every excellent trip has one stop or locale at its emotional and narrative heart, and for this trip is was the Native American Earthworks in Marietta, southern Ohio.

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5 states in one day, that’s a mini canonball run

I remember a wonderfully stupid comedic movie from about 1969 called "If it's Tuesday this must be Belgium". Jackie Gleason was in it.

Still worth it to kill a couple of hours.

Here's the link to the whole thing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2lEC58jtMI

Must be really bad if the whole movie is linked. Apparently, everybody is in it. Couldn't find Jackie Gleason, though.

"Apparently, everybody is in it. Couldn't find Jackie Gleason"

Without googling... I think he was in a movie called.... "Don't drink the water" which came out around the same time... I saw it but don't remember much more about it...

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That movie combined with a few others, and books in the same vein, *was* - and remains - my trip to Europe, the trip that most kids now have taken by age eight, I guess.

Suzanne Pleshette, I think? I thought she was so pretty.

I suggest you spend Friday night thru early Saturday morning bar hopping in East St. Louis. It will be eye opening and a chance to see real racism in this country.

checkout the Mercy Childrens Burn Hospital
before leftist wingnuts burn it down

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Or less than a half day. The route from DC to Morgantown is lovely - 85mph is fun through the rolling hills. Aquaplaning, on the other hand ....

I go that way a lot, since it's my route up to Ohio and Michigan from Baltimore. Did it earlier this month for a family funeral in Toledo. By taking I-68 to Morgantown and then 79 north you avoid the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which has gotten pricey, and is prone to traffic congestion, and western Maryland has some beautiful scenery.

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Bart Simpson visits somewhere five states meet. But, alas, I don't think it is possible to do so in real life. On the other hand there is at least one place you can go where four states meet. So if you don't mind going down on your hands and knees, you can have an extremity in each of the four states at once.

Presumably there are several places in the US from which you can see five or more states?

lookout mountain-Tennessee see 7 states
you should check it out before leftist wingnuts burn it down

Maybe See Rock City while you're there.

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You need to be resourceful when restricted to much of a single continent? Especially when following the stereotype of traveling meaning checking off boxes.

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It's a good summer for travel restrictions if you ask me.

see America early this summer
before leftist democrats arsonize it

Visit Columbus while it's still named Columbus

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Tulsa sounds like it is not crowded this weekend. And typing "Tulsa Haitian restaurant" brings this up. "Located in The Tulsa Arts District at the intersection of Archer and Main, Sisserou’s Restaurant concept is inspired by the colorful cuisine of the island of Dominica, the Nature Isle of the Caribbean. Although inspired by a specific little known island, our menu includes a broader spectrum stylized on authentic Caribbean cuisine with a touch of European and American influences. Come in and join us for lunch or dinner!" A bit disappointing, not being located in a gas station or strip mall.

check out Cains ballroom
before twitchy democrats burn it

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In Morgantown, be sure to check out the peoplemover, a nice slice of Robert Byrd pork.

Yes, a monorail that connects downtown to UWV campus. Pretty cool. Also, I think it's Spruce Street there that is about the steepest road I've ever driven on - uphill in a 5-speed.

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I wasn't a fan of Morgantown, the couple times I visited. The downtown area's kinda small, a little run down, and the outer areas have bad traffic for a not so big town because the university and the medical complex have grown faster than the infrastructure.

The attraction of visiting West Virginia is its outdoor offerings. Go visit a state park or rent a kayak or something. Do not go to Morgantown to try to find good ethnic cuisine. Tyler's advice here is rotten.

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It lets you look down on the people underneath you.

It let's people who want to be offended get offended.

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Driving around randomly sounds like precisely not the thing you want. Instead, pick localities where they have a good grip on infections...

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Is the Straussian reading of this that it is time for the inhabitants of urban Red America, to escape the crushing dictatorship of their one party Leftist regimes and visit rural Blue America - the land of the free and free range cattle?

VA, WV, MD, PA, OH? Not all run by Republicans admittedly but I bet most of the places they went were.

We took the RV to Tioga County, PA. 20 cases out of 900+ tests (cumulative). Dining in without masks on anybody. We left the campground to visit the Grand Canyon of PA. When we came back, our chairs and other stuff was gone. I looked over to the next site and saw our chairs. I took them back and when those people came back I asked them WTF? The adult claimed that they took them in to protect them from rain, but it wasn’t raining. One of the boys came back with the rest of our stuff, including my wife’s flip flops and our firewood. I concluded that these were really dumb thieves and decided against reporting them to the ranger. I didn’t want to spoil the emotional heart of my trip.

There's a cool old hotel in Wellsboro that I stayed at last summer when I visited. I can't remember the name of it, but staying there was like a step back in time to the 1920's, but with air conditioning. If you're ever up that way again, stop in the lounge or grab a meal there, it's worth it.

I think it’s the Penn-Wells Hotel. We stayed there in 2008 with our two dogs. I remember having very tasty breaded pork chops in the restaurant. We were looking for a place to have breakfast on Thursday, but the restaurant only served dinner. The Wellsboro Diner still looks good, but is apparently closed. We ended up at the Red Skillet - not a mask in sight.

Yep, that was it! Wellsboro is a handsome little town.

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I am pretty sure that my region, pretty much 500 mi and all directions, is increasing in COVID exposure.

So I would say it's still the time to find interesting things to do around the house, in the garage, in the backyard.

Has everybody who could use it taken their online data science courses? Does your at home hamburger beat any restaurant?

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To be honest this is one I have been avoiding, but do you do 100 push-ups per day?

The YouTubes of people who do show pretty solid transformations.

I continue to do the stretching exercises I used to do with my workout buddies at the gym. I Don't have a set of weights at my house but I do have two ten pound hand weights. It's amazing what one can do with two ten pound hand weights. https://www.wikihow.com/Work-Out-at-Home-Using-Hand-Weights

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I had been doing 12 pushups plus 20 body-weight squats until exhaustion every day or at least two out of three days. Then my workload increased & now until August I am doing nothing except work.

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I met a well-known person on my latest trip to the low country. He was visiting not for pleasure but for business. He asked me if the area would be worth a two-week stay for pleasure. My response is that the area is chock-full of history and historical places. He seemed surprised. Virginia is chock-full of history and historical places. Cowen mentions food rather than history as reason enough to visit the places he and his daughter visited. That's a good and sufficient reason to visit; and a safe one at that. An aside, history is not the past, history is an account of the past: the past is forever lost to those living in the present. A technical but important distinction. Historical places help bring the past to the present. What places? Places of great personalities and turmoil. Food is a good and sufficient reason to visit the low country; and a safe one at that.

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I'd like to plug my South-central region.
-Great salt plains, NW Oklahoma (alien landscape where you can dig up buckets of unique brine crystals for free).
-Palo Duro, near Amarillo, TX (An island of the deep Southwest, hundreds of miles from similar landscapes. If you hadn't been to the grand canyon, you'd think this was the grand-canyon).
-Wichita Mountains, near Lawton, OK (herds of bison and prairie dogs, great landscapes).

You could potentially hit all three in a day, or easily two.

Our first case in the extended family is down in Texas, ymmv.

There are about 140,000 people spread out over about a 2800 square mi. tri-county area, so I think you'll be okay in Palo Duro canyon. But if it seems dicey, you can head over to Caprock Canyons State Park.

OTOH do bring, and carry while hiking, lots of water. Not a little plastic bottle.

There's never been any water at the base of the canyon when I've been there.

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It's a good summer to go spreading the virus all around. Covidiots.

Sooner the US gets to herd immunity the better.

Note all those disastrous public health system, blue state in the NE doing so "well" with covid have well over 10K positive tests per million. Without counting the 90% percent of infections not found/reported.

Might be a corollary!

The hoax is democrats are any better at sceicne than Trumpists.

Then NE is closer to herd immunity than the rest of the country. Your conclusion doesn't follow from your own assumptions.

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I just got back from a road trip to South Carolina's beaches. My state's running 2/million deaths a day from covid. The 800 miles I drove yesterday is 5x the risk covid is.

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I've long wanted to see Morgantown, but you should go when the university is in session so that you can take the people mover. A trip to Morgantown without seeing the people mover is like a trip to Rome without seeing the Vatican.

I wonder if all the students are coming back. I feel like all the students coming back to university in the fall is what will kick off the second wave in my area...

They are expected back in the fall. Everything so far: orientation etc has been online.

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I’d probably avoid most of the South right now. Perhaps it’s a good time to explore West Virginia? They have an interesting Hare Krishna temple with a colorful past there...

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The Native American earthworks you mention are a really interesting feature scattered all over the lower Ohio and Mississippi delta. The fact that they were built at the lower end of the last great continental glacier in the last Ice Age is a good reminder of how really nasty climate change affects life. It isn’t just global warming

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Jerk at nite is quite good in DC -- not sure how the Morgantown stuff compares

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Not sure why even travel through these states without trying the local cuisine served by locals. Jamaican food in WV? Why not just watch YouTube videos of WV at home and eat take-out?

Ha, yeah, I feel like a road trip across America would not be particularly worthwhile with that mindset. Hopscotch across America eating jerk chicken. An organizing principal like that suggests maybe you're not really open to domestic travel, and perhaps have not the intrinsic interest in and curiosity about what lies before you that *makes* a Blue Highways type of trip.

Admittedly, I find thinking about the next meal all the time on the road a bit wearisome, and am more likely to hunt for the perfect picnic spot than for a restaurant.

I concur though, about his single locus being the "emotional or narrative heart" of a journey - that tends to be how I tend to file trips of even 3000 miles in the memory as well. That time we spent the day at x, and then reconstructing, more or less successfully, the rest from there.

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My favorite jerk chicken recipe:

http://www.jamaicatravelandculture.com/food_and_drink/jerk_chicken.htm

We don't always have every single ingredient, but it works pretty good if you have most of them.

I use homegrown peppers that are probably more properly habaneros.

Jerk fried tofu for the vegetarian in the family.

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As discussed previously concerning Here are eleven classic dishes you might try in West Virginia.

Charles Town, West Virginia
by Tyler Cowen May 11, 2020 at 2:49 am

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"... and you only need turn the ignition key." This is the right time to use "ok, boomer", yes?

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Have you ever been to New Castle DE?

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You kind of seeing why we urged them to leave.

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I've been thinking about a cross-country one-way drive in August from my East Coast place to California

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It sounds like you prefer an America where everywhere looks like Fairfax County, Virginia. Why go on a road trip?

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I recommend Suffolk County, the one that is as close to NYC as you can get without being in Nassau County.

Miles Davis and Wodehouse both chose to live, during the most creative parts of their lives, in fascinating neighborhoods therein, each of which is totally worth visiting (you will be the only tourist there, trust me) and Paul McCartney loves the Hamptons, as does Billy Joel, whose great passion in life apparently is now riding his classic motorcycles at a slow speed through the summer Hamptons. And Mark McGrath says that Billy Joel, if he wanted, could spend 2 hours in the studio right now and put out a better album than 99 percent of the albums that have been released since 1994, the last time Billy Joel released a popular music album (I have not listened to his classical music and have no opinion, although I like his choice of publishing company for his classical compositions.... I grew up playing Czerny etudes from the same composer).

I lived there (Suffolk County) for a few years and dream about the place at least once a week.

Try the egg creams, the "butter rolls", the "clams casino" and the fresh bluefish, and the "farm to table" restaurants.

The shores of the Great South Bay have some of the weirdest most beautiful and poetic beaches on the continent.

I personally prefer Fairfax County (better butterflies, friendlier people, and when I die I am going to be buried there), but Suffolk County on Long Island is also worth a look.

Shelter island is neat as is the town of Greenport. I very much enjoyed my brief stay in Suffolk county as well. It definitely has an old America vibe to it in the north fork at least. Somewhat dilapidated barns with American flags painted on the roofs and cute little towns that haven't been overrun by tourists or anything trendy. The South Fork, basically the Hamptoms, is a lot different but still enjoyable.

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sorry for the typo at the end of the second paragraph: "from the same publishing company", not "from the same composer", is what I wanted to say.
I am smoking a very good cigar at the moment, which leads to mistakes.
(another erratum - Quantico Cemetery is now in Prince William County, about two miles south of Fairfax County - well, even Homer nods, and I am no Homer).

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What, no Appleby's, Cheesecake Factory or Bob Evans?

Cowen is not only a fucking whore for Big Business [previous post], he's damned hypocrite

What's the matter with the food, Ty?

Nothing like revealed preferences!

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Your food choices here are very Bourdainian, which I always found odd that one would travel to a region and not try at least some of its authentic foods, no matter how seemingly unappealing. Its not all terrible foods eaten by deplorables here but family history indicates it will kill you if you eat it regularly enough if you don’t work manual labor. Next time you come through (if you ever do again) a stop at Tudor’s Biscuit World should be top of the list for breakfast. Homemade pepperoni rolls from the gas station for lunch or some WV style hot dogs with slaw, chili and shredded cheese, warshed down with Mt Dew. It doesn’t sound like you made it too far north of Wheeling/New Vrindiban along the Ohio but Steubenville style pizza is also worth a try for a unique experience, though you can create a close approximation with a lunchables. Stop in to Mario DiCarlos in Weirton for your pizza where you can still smoke a cigar indoors and have a chat with some friendly retired/laid off mill hands while they blow their disability checks on Keno.

The new industry is nice and natural gas has meant the decommissioning of many of the old heavily polluting coal fired plants that used to line the Ohio between East Liverpool and Marietta, replaced with cleaner burning natural gas fired plants and crackers and fractionators. But this is nowhere close to 1960s America as you can see from our weary looking downtowns. While you may see today a bustling petrochemical complex along the Ohio it still pails in comparison to yesteryear when tens of thousands were employed in the region’s vast steel mills and the #8 Pittsburgh vein coal mines, to which my great grandfather worked for a time after the farm was sold. Most of those mills have been torn down at this point. While the natural gas business can pay quite well and is one of the few means whereby a high school educated Appalachian can make 6 figures if he can keep his nose clean, the jobs can be quite fleeting in my experience. Overall most here have been quite happy to take the environmental tradeoff for the NYC and Texan’s money for overpriced gas leases and cost-free royalties: a modern day free market Robin Hood story.

I think you meant Tyler‘s approach is non-Bourdainian. Anthony was usually good about trying to find local food, even if it didn’t seem all that appealing.

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I hope you stopped at the Campus Martius Museum. One of the best small historical museums in the country.

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"Pick a cuisine you don’t expect them to have, and Google something like “best Haitian restaurant Morgantown WV.”"

I want to know Tyler's success rate with this tactic. I have tried in the past to use his recommendations from An Economist Gets Lunch, and had the worst Greek food of my life in Fort Wayne, IN. It seemed to have everything going for it, down to the fat greek family running the place. But OMG it was almost inedible.

And yeah - it doesn't seem intuitive to get Greek food in Fort Wayne - but would you have pulled 'Jamaican food in Morgantown' out of a hat and expected it to be good?

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