Today: Apr 21, 2024

A dream road trip to Philadelphia

MARK MCCURLEY, SPECIAL TO THE SOUTHERN NEWS:
If I could picture in my mind one day to visit a location used for one of my favorite movies, “Rocky”, I would imagine it something like one last August just before the fall semester began.
Since fall of my junior year of high school, I have wanted more than anything to visit Philadelphia and not just for a cheese steak.
Sylvester Stallone had always been one of my favorite action heroes, but after seeing how residents of the city use the art museum steps for daily exercise, I understand how much of a landmark the film made the area. Initially, a friend of mine and I started thinking about summer concerts
and one fell on the last Wednesday of the month before school went into session. We read the recently reunited nu-metal band, Adema, was coming to a small theatre called Polaris in downtown Philadelphia. Me, my younger brother and three friends set off on our journey (and yes it was quite a journey) around 1 pm. With the help of my GPS, I was able to get through Connecticut without a problem, even through New York and onto the Jersey Turnpike was easy going. When we got into the city, after driving through some of the suburb neighborhoods, we made it to Chinatown and found a parking garage. Then the walking began.
My friends and I wanted to see the famous steps and had to get some world famous Philly cheese steaks before going to the concert. We walked a block away from the parking garage and needed to ask where to go. The first and only memorable direction we were told was to head to the museum of art. Okay just where is that? Follow this long road and you can’t miss it, she said. Well, we did miss it, about four times and about two hours later we finally made it after asking two gas stations and a crossing guard. The best bit of advice, “You can find the museum of art after passing the next gas station.” Well, after about 10 blocks past the gas station we made it. All that walking and the first thing we wanted to do was run, right up the steps just like Mr. Stallone did. We were sure to take some pictures with the Rocky statue as well for memories sake. Me and my little brother raced to the top and took some photos there too. I knew this was the time, five years longed for and I was here. I knew that it was worth it, finishing high school, sitting the hour through “Rocky V “and waiting for a year for the sixth film in the series, getting into Southern, and finally being able to take up writing like I had always wanted to.
My buddies could not wait to fill their stomachs with Philly cheese steaks so we hailed a taxi and got to Geno’s around 5 p.m. I ordered at Pat’s King of Steaks right across the street, and got mine with cheese whiz as I heard was the best way to order it. About an hour later we ordered another cab and went to club Polaris right in time to catch Adema open the show. I have been a fan of the band since eigth grade, when their self-titled first album was released. At the time of the trip, the original lead singer, Mark Chavez, had returned to the band after leaving for about five years to do a few side projects. We were there to see them play some of their earlier work like the songs “Giving In,” “Unstable” and “Immortal,” which was used in the video game “Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance.” I was very glad to have seen them in this line-up. Adema opened for another band, Tantric, who I had seen two summers before with one of the friends who accompanied me on this trip. We saw Tantric perform, to a very small crowd of about 10 people as a matter of fact. The lead singer, Hugo Ferreira said it was the smallest show in the 11-year history of the band. The band finished with their most well known song, Breakdown, and in between songs I met and got autographs and pictures from the members of Adema.
After the show, we had to walk back to the parking garage and luckily
we were only a few blocks away. I didn’t realize it was only about $7 for a day pass initially. After getting everyone in, we made it out of Philly and back onto the Jersey Turnpike after getting some gas. I planned ahead and knew a road trip along this stretch of highway would only be complete after one thing: a trip to White Castle. There were a few on the way, but the one closest off the highway was in New Jersey. Leave it up to my GPS to try and send us through a brick wall. After getting to the restaurant, we saw only the drive-thru was open 24 hours and as such we had to eat in the parking lot. I was sure to pour my drink into my Harold and Kumar cup which I had since the first movie came out. After completing my fast food mini-burger-and-fries meal it was time to go home, 2 a.m. and the highway ahead of us. Getting back through New York City and Connecticut was fine, except for tractor-trailers acting like they own the highway.
The whole ride back I had one of those moments, where everything just…worked. All the plans for the day came together nicely and I got everyone there and back safely. Even though it was just one summer trip for five guys under the age of 25, it was an important day for me, and will always be remembered by us.
It was 5 a.m. and everyone was back home. I did not mind sleeping in and going to work at five the next evening.

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