This was the perfect weekend to drive to Philadelphia - the leaves were changing, the weather was beautiful. Our weekend began Saturday night. Mark and I decided to join a Mini Cooper rally for a late drive to Philadelphia for cheesesteaks.
Sounded fun, but just about everything went wrong. We missed the rest stop where we'd planned to meet some other New York Mini Cooper owners. No one had anyone's cell phone number. Mark had his Apple phone, so as we sat in a parking lot, he browsed online, emailing people, getting a couple numbers and leaving phone messages.
Meanwhile, I scanned the highway for a battalion of Mini Coopers. Of course, it was nighttime, so I couldn't see a thing. I thought I could tell whether a car was a Mini by the distance between the headlights and tail lights, but I was truly kidding myself. We had a walkie talkie with a ten-mile range, and every few minutes, Mark would broadcast an SOS.
After sitting for an hour in the parking lot and getting questioned by a cruising police car, we set off to Philadelphia by ourselves. The plan was to meet at Tony Luke's around 10:30 pm for their famous cheesesteaks.
The place was unglamorous but distinctive. Everything that could be aluminum, was. There was a window to place your order, a window to pick up, and several picnic tables under heat lamps. The cheesesteaks, on the other hand, were astounding. Juicy, littered with slightly crunchy onions, and doused in gorgeously melted American Cheese...I can see why Philadelphians call it their signature dish. In honor of my diet, I had two Texas style hot dogs (beef frankfurter, hot dog bun, chopped onions, and a spicy, curried sauce). They were good, but they weren't cheesesteaks.
Most interesting was the demographic that night. We sat among men in white shirts and ties, older people, younger people, couples on dates, people binging after the hockey game and a couple Harley riders. The couple next to us had driven from New Jersey. After meeting them, late night cheesesteak runs seemed almost sensible.
Just as we'd gotten up from our picnic table, the walkie talkie squawked from my purse. 'There's another Mini Cooper here'.
Happily, it was the other other Mini drivers from New York. It wound up being a rather small rally (just four cars), but the feelings were generally the same - excited to be there, amazed by the food, and happy that delicious cheesesteaks were just a short drive from home.