brantswanderwest | one whiz with onions
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14 Jul

One Whiz with Onions

Written by Trae

Our very good friends, Natalie & Antonio, moved to Charlotte just after we moved there years ago, and the four of us really enjoyed exploring Charlotte over the years.  A couple years ago, they moved to Philly, and since then we had been trying to plan a trip to see them.  This road trip was finally allowing us the opportunity, so we planned to spend 2 nights in Philly with Nat & Ant at their home in Manayunk and just park Bob Argosy somewhere safe.  Seeing as the one way, parallel-parking, uphill streets of Manayunk would not be feasible for good ole’ 26 ft. Bob, Jamie did some research and found a couple casinos in the area that other RVers had recommended for parking your trailer.  We decided to go with Parx Casino located just north of Philly in Bensalem, PA…and learned many lessons through the experience.

According to Jamie’s research, many casinos are more than happy to allow RVers to park in their parking lots, as there is a strong likelihood that those RVers are going to come inside, eat and gamble; likewise, many RVers like to use casinos as a parking option because they typically have clean facilities that are open 24-hours and security patrolling the parking lots.  It is suggested to call the casino first to double-check their policies, so when Jamie did so, they confirmed that they had RV parking.

So as we were pulling into Parx Casino that afternoon, we stopped to ask one of the security guards where the best place to park the trailer was, and he immediately said that there was no overnight parking allowed (conflicting with what we heard from other sources). We made the choice to leave the trailer with a note that included our phone number. Then, packed our overnight bags and headed to Manayunk to eat a delicious take-out dinner from Union Taco with Nat, Ant & their son Enzo.

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At about 1am, I woke up to a phone call from a slightly inebriated man asking if I was selling the trailer. The call woke Jamie up too, and then we were both worried about our little trailer left all alone in a parking lot far, far away. In the morning, we left before morning traffic to go check on Bob. It was just 7am, and after a night of very little sleep, we decided to take a nap in Bob and head out for some sightseeing later on.

A half hour later, my phone rang again from a blocked number

Caller (let’s call him Lt. Dickhead): “This is the Pennsylvania State Troopers.  Your trailer has been flagged as a suspicious vehicle and we have you under surveillance.  We see that you are at your trailer right now.  DO NOT LEAVE! 4 squad cars are on their way to search your vehicle and will be there in 15 minutes.

Frustration mixed with a dash of worry started to boil up. We began to grab all our our proper documentation – license, registration, proof of insurance, even the title to the trailer. As time passed I decided to hook up the trailer so we could leave right away once the police were done. This all seemed kind of odd – 4 state troopers for a travel trailer. After 45 minutes passed, the frustration turned to anger. I called the local State Troopers office but they hadn’t dispatched anyone to my location or received any calls about my trailer. A minute later the phone rang again. It’s Lt. Dickhead – he saw that I have started packing up my trailer. I had had enough – I requested his name, badge number and a reason to keep staying. He started to provide information, then *click* and he was gone. A few minutes later a car pulled up with a man asking about the trailer and saying he called the night before. I was just about to start probing this guy for information when my phone rang again – Lt. Dickhead. I stepped away from the car to answer the call. This time the guy was not answering questions; instead, he just kept telling me not to leave and hung up again. I turned back to the man in the car, he asked a few questions about the trailer and drove off. I decided to make one more phone call, this time to the casino that had a state trooper on duty. He confirmed my suspicion by saying, “A lieutenant wouldn’t be the one making this phone call”. Finally it was time for me to leave – I was tricked, good joke. We no longer leave notes on the trailer. 

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After all this, we could not leave the trailer another night there, and after a quick Google search, found a viable solution: Campus Park and Ride. While it requires a drive through some narrow, crowded downtown streets, Campus Park and Ride is the perfect urban RV campground.  We were just looking for a place to park, but Campus Park and Ride offered full electric, water and sewer hookups, showers/bathrooms, and even free transportation to the local bus stop, which takes you straight to the heart of the tourist attractions. No frills, just a big industrial receiving bay to back up to and plug in – and that worked for us! 

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We got situated and übered over to the famous Philly cheese steak corner where the rivalry between Gino’s Steaks and Pat’s King of Steaks is still playing out.  While we were told by many that neither of these are really the best in the city, we were also told that it is still a right-of-Philly-passage to go there and make our own conclusion between the two.  We were warned to make sure we had cash-in-hand and our order ready to recite the moment we got up to the window in order to avoid chastisement and general embarrassment (I just made Jamie order each time).  We started with Gino’s first, then Pat’s, and we made sure we ordered the same thing, “one wiz with onions,” at both places to make sure we had a fair comparison between the two.  In the end, both were delicious, but we agreed that Gino’s had more meat, and therefore a better meat to bread ratio than Pat’s did. 

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Following our scientific study, we took the SEPTA bus over to Independence Hall. Unfortunately all tours were full for the rest of the day, but we were able to see the Liberty Bell and read more about its history. We walked a few blocks over to City Hall and then to see the LOVE sculpture. In our mind’s eye, we pictured each letter being over 5 feet tall. In reality, it was a small sculpture next to a coffee house, and we were the only ones caring to take a picture of it.  We ended the night eating local pizza with Natalie, Antonio and Enzo. After saying our goodbyes, we went back to our urban campsite for the night. Despite the hectic start we really enjoyed the time with our friends and adding another city to the places we’ve seen.

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Trae and Jamie

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