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Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia, PA
Amtrak train from Penn Station NYC to Rochester, NY
August 19, 2007

I returned from Hanover, PA to Philadelphia a few days ago. The strip malls of once rural America have the effect of deadening one’s senses of the outside world- or perhaps I was just sitting on a damn computer all day long, going through the head banging task of putting together and promoting a website.

A website? Why would I want to make such a thing? Why would I want to put anymore time than is necessary for, what has become, basic communication into being on a computer? The world is outside! This I know.

But the answer is simply because I like to write. And I like the idea of people reading my rambles. And the possibility that I can make $10 a day off of it, and could then refer to myself as a writer. I also like the idea that I could eat by writing. It seems so nonsensical, inane, and impertinent a living that I cannot help to be drawn to it. I figure that if I could make $10 a day from writing, I could girdle the globe continuously, working random jobs here and there when they come up.

Philadelphia, PA- a kaleidoscopic mix-about of the atlas. I go vertigo whenever I am in this city. I sometimes cannot tell where in the world I am. Indian grocery marts next to Vietnamese restaurants next to Japanese furniture outlets next to an African market next to a Korean shopping mall next to an Ecuadorian eatery called “Galapagos.” The people that surround me on the streets are straight out of everywhere else. Nobody looks like me, nor is speaking my language. But I am in my country. There is almost no reason to travel anywhere other than the outskirts of Philadelphia. I walk around with Mira, and buy some henna in an Indian shop and try to decipher their Hindi, then we eat at a Chinese place and we speak Mandarin, then we stop by a park and watch a crew of Africans playing soccer not knowing at all what language they are speaking. Philadelphia makes you want to travel, but also removes the logic need to do so- travelling comes to you there.

I was offered another archaeology job in Upstate, NY. I took it because it is near my family, and I would like to be near them before leaving for Asia in a couple of weeks. I am on the train home now. . . with Mira. The saga continues. We went to 30th Street station in Philadelphia this morning so that I could catch my train. Mira decided that she was not going to go, though she was also offered work, until ten minutes before my train was ready to leave.

“What do you have to loose?” I asked. “In two weeks time you could be standing in this same spot as if nothing happened- except you will have a few hundred more dollars in your pocket and you will get to be with me a little longer.”

She could not really answer this. So she hurriedly bought a ticket with the clothes on her back as her only luggage. So here we are riding up to another job. Myself fully provisioned, Mira without even a toothbrush. I like this girl, she is the least crazy person that I have ever met. It would be crazy for her to sit in Philadelphia for the stubborn spite of it as I rode away. It would have been crazy for her to turn down an opportunity because she could not grasp its feasability. To say yes is to prove your sanity.

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Filed under: Train Travel, USA

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3170 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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