Pennsylvania is big and openhearted. This state gifted us stories that we will remember for years to come.
So let's begin by taking a walk together through an insignificant street of Towanda. We stop to take a picture of a house that looked painfully familiar to me. While Lukas is taking a picture, a middle aged guy asks if we are interested in buying the house. Even with amazing windows and high ceilings I was not prepared to live there, where the only grocery store nearby is Dollar General. But I am also not sure if the guy was more interested in selling the house or sharing details about his personal life. He bought the house for $20k and, while working on it, fell from the scaffolding and had to pay another $20k for mending nine broken bones since he did not have health insurance. But here he was, standing in front of us, looking healthy and excited to sell the house and share his personal details such as his profession (truck driver), the amount of money he makes and his 10 years in prison for drug possession. And the house turned out to be featured on the “Old & Cheap Houses” Instagram account, which is where I saw it originally.
After the walk, we headed back home to the RV park. It was a tiny park and hosted mostly permanent residents with a few available spots for walk-ins. We started a small fire just for the two of us using wet wood and ended up having a huge bonfire and a company of at least six locals. Daniel is a nurse at a nearby hospital and was an extremely good companion for any debate, Mark - a granite store employee, who shared wise thoughts about his love to build and the meaning of nurturing the skills you love. He was the most grounded person I have ever met. And the RV park owner Chuck shared his dream to have this RV park, where everyone is treated as a family member. We ate pizza, the bonfire was as high as me, we shared plenty of stories that evening.
We expected to enjoy plenty of bonfires with strangers when we left for this trip, but in reality the opportunities to do it have been very rare. I wish for myself to have more bonfires like these.
I was recently asked if I experience the separateness and coldness of American culture. The longer I travel through this country, the more I realize how universal it is to be a human. The cities kill the social aspect of our lives and the countryside offers extreme amounts of it, as we have just described.
However, besides a really impressive start in Pennsylvania, I was disappointed in the end by Lancaster, which was supposed to be the heart of Amish community in this country. Lancaster was mostly Amishless. I saw a couple of them here and there, but, besides the great market, nothing surprised me. So a tip for other travelers - Ohio is the hidden gem of Amish culture and authenticity.