Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pennsylvania Welcome Center

Not long ago, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania renovated its I-95 Welcome Center which appears as one departs Delaware.  I drive this route most days but had never stopped in.  I am usually with destination, as I was this time, but looking for excuses to delay getting to Mercy Philadelphia Hospital on a Sunday morning, I diverted my path off the highway for a few minutes.  It was impressive.  A spacious open area, immaculately clean, friendly lady at the desk, well lit and with walls of brochures regarding every imaginable place within the commonwealth that a visitor might want to spend money at.  The centerpiece was a vintage car, a convertible, filled with assorted vacation memorabilia.   Outside there was a picnic area, several tables painted red with mesh tops and seats as well as an overhang so those who divert from I-95 can eat while it rains.

Since the brochures were arranged regionally, I took several that announced attractions which  I could reasonably get to and back in a day's drive.

December marks a semi-annual branch point for me.  It is the month where I set projects for the next half-year.  I find my personal situation more stable, more predictable, than at any time within the last few years.  My kids are no longer in limbo on their professional paths. Dad's illness reached its unfortunate but expected conclusion.  My economically precarious office has been replaced by a job where they seem to be happy to have me there.  The ABIM requirements have been completed.  Other than some oppressive tuition and the purchase of Long Term Care Insurance, I have no big ticket items like cars or condos in Florida to seek out.

One of the projects, inspired by the Welcome Center, will need to be some better protection of my time and recreation.  For a number of years, I have successfully pursued a project of going to a new place every months, usually some place local like a new store but sometimes more afield like Bedford NY this month, San Juan last month and Cleveland in September.  After looking at the brochures, including one for steeply discounted motels throughout Pennsylvania, I think one of the projects will need to be a monthly day trip to a destination intended purely for recreation, which the visits to Cleveland and Bedford were not.  A 2.5 hour drive each way is very doable and places to visit abound, I just have to know what they are.  Maryland has a state brochure and a Welcome Center that I've not been to despite driving past it many times.  Atlantic City, Princeton and places in between are also well within my day trip capacity heading east.  Even Delaware has its places I've passed through but never stopped.  The important thing is that there be some dedicated recreation time, a planned and welcome respite from the clutter of my house and the unending not yet completed tasks at work.

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