Almost 8,000 miles, covering 25 states, in 20 days is ambitious to say the least. Maybe a little too ambitious? I think I have all of my lodging worked out except for one room; that motel won’t let me book until June. Lately my thoughts and planning have been focused on logistics, fine details, and supplies. I’ve purchased supplies for my binder and have been evaluating purchasing a new GPS. I’m using the Penny Collector website to map locations and see if any fall on or near my route. I’m also looking at hours of operation for many of the stops. I need to figure out how early I have to leave each morning to get to a stop before it closes. I also need to take into account how long I can visit the stop before I have to leave for the next.It is with a heavy heart that I cut yet another line from my spreadsheet. Day 2 is a long day filled with a myriad of stops. I have two places where I want to eat, two quick photo opportunities, and two states I want to stop and geocache in (the goal is to find a geocache in each of the 25 states…I’m cheating and counting DE, PA, OH, and MD since I’ve already found some in those states). Slowly I’m building another road trip focusing on Indiana and Michigan where I’ve cut several stops. Since those states are so close, I can easily make a long weekend trip.
So what wonderful place is no longer on the docket for this trip? Our Lady of Mount Carmel Monastery and the Carmelite friars housed within will not get a chance to meet The Yuppie Hobo this summer. This stop doesn’t fall into the motto of this site: “Adventures amidst tourist traps, tacky gift shops, and Americana.” I’m sure the gift shop sells religious items, not novelty pens or bumper stickers. It’s only Americana in that it exists in America and brings more diversity into the melting pot. It was founded by friars who served in the Free Polish Army in WWII and serves the local Polish-American community.
I hate to say it’s a tourist trap because that belittles the beliefs and faith of its followers. I also won’t call it tacky. It isn’t. It’s beautiful in it’s own resplendent way. But it has some unusual aspects that match my love of uniqueness in the unknown gems scattered through the US. There are some severe sights through the monastery. There is a shrine to Maximilian Kolbe, the martyr priest of Auschwitz, surrounded by barbed wire. There is a Flagellation Chapel (ouch!) with a marble statue of Jesus tied to a pillar with a “facial expression of intense pain” (a quote from the official guide sold in the gift shop).
So why was this on my list at all? Are the friars nothing but miserable, self-abusing guys in brown robes? I hope not, and there is one reason to think otherwise. The Memorial Chapel holds an exhibit of the Archangel Gabriel (who I always picture as a blues player with a pork pie hat playing his trumpet) and Jesus (who would also look cool in a pork pie hat, but I can’t picture that) raising the dead. What really makes this exhibit pop is the fact it’s lit by black lights! The end of days are shown like the poster section at Spencer’s. Roadside America’s page for the monastery is labeled as Ultraviolet Apocalypse! And that is why it was on my agenda. Sadly there are too many scheduling conflicts. I wouldn’t be able to make a few other stops that day if I gave this place the attention it deserves. Another time, another trip!
I’m not sure about the rules for stealing pictures off a person’s public tumblr page. I totally ripped this from someone’s and if she finds out I’ll be happy to take it down. If she doesn’t? No harm, no foul.