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Published: February 17th 2014
Having watched such vastly educational programmes as Man v. Food and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives prior to taking my US trip, I felt sufficiently fore-warned about the potential delights awaiting me there. Suffice it to say that I packed my gym kit. I had visions of careless excess; apple pie, hamburgers, sweet potato fries (maybe in that order), but, I also had to pack my bathing suit, so I tried not to salivate too hard.
Anyhow, I psyched myself up and after getting over jet lag, decided to step out into the wilds of New Cumberland, PA. I got advice about where to run from my brother, which was flippantly vague yet repetitive at the same time. That, combined with my rock solid ability to pick the wrong option when confronted with a fork in the road meant I was very quickly lost. I didn’t panic though, as being lost while jogging can be glossed over – you are already dressed for hurrying and any anxiety on my face would be difficult to spot through the sweaty tomato red complexion.
Not that there were many pedestrians about to notice and/or ask for directions. Far from the white-picket pleasantries of Desperate Housewives I was jogging through deserted suburbia, not a fellow jogger in sight. Of course, it was 90 odd ⁰F and mid-week mid-morning, so maybe everyone had some place better to be. I’d wisely taken a water bottle with me, so I could unsuspiciously rehydrate while squinting at the road signs with bemusement. Should have worn my contact lenses #fail.
Up ahead I saw a woman sat on a fold out chair with a hi-flo vest on. I was so taken aback I could not think but to keep jogging up to her. When she saw me (or rather heard my ridiculously squeaky trainers) approach, she got up and chirpily enquired,
‘You wanna cross honey?’
And she walked out into the middle of the road to stop traffic. Of course. Well there wasn’t much to stop but a couple of cars were brought to a halt and I sheepishly ran across, wondering what had just happened. I still had no idea which way I was going. I headed uphill, then downhill, and recognised a few road names, so I figured I must be going in the right direction. Relieved, I turned a corner and saw what looked horribly like the same crossing guard from earlier, hi-floing me from 50 yards away. I’d gone in a giant circle. Holy guacamole but I could have bewailed in woe. Not wanting to endure the social awkwardness of jogging past her again, this time even redder and sweatier than before, I panicked and cut down another road.
Praying I was now on the way back to the main street, I soldiered on. I was running dangerously close to empty in every possible sense by now, but there it was – Bridge St! Salvation. I could already feel the cold shower awaiting me. I made it back home and tramped inside just as everyone else was finishing up breakfast. The idle sods – I’d already been through the ringer and only just made it back alive. I’d been gone maybe an hour. Felt like a week at least. Maybe I’d check out google maps next time though on the plus side, I was bang up for my share of rib-sticking Americana now. I’d earned it.
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