Don't laugh. Here's what I've found out: it's not too difficult to get tour guides with Tinder. "Here a week and looking for a pal to show me where the cool kids hang out." That kind of thing, maybe something that says "ABSOLUTELY NOT INTERESTED IN ANY HANKY PANKY," and then just listen to your gut and don't get in cars with strange men or do anything sketch. Anyway, that's how I wound up several beers wiser at Reptiland with a brand new tattoo.
Ahem. Let me start from the beginning.
I got to Dancing Bear Farm just before nightfall last Thursday. We'd stopped in Portland, Maine on the way, which is a really charming little seaside town that smells like fish and sells pizza on the street. I was enamored. We also swang through Scranton, home of The Office, for a little Wendy's action and a snapchat selfie that said "Great (Michael) Scott!" I'm hil-AIR-i-ous. I made a road buddy on the way, you know those cars that just happen to be going the sameish direction and the sameish speed as you, so you kinda drive with them for looong stretches of highway? Mine was a little blue Subaru carrying a sleeping woman and her mountain man beau, and I was so sad to see them go that I did two little honks when I exited. Call me crazy, it had been a lot of driving. Dancing Bear turned out to be less of a farm and more of a B&B. Therese showed me where to put my stuff, which was sort of a garage-turned-bunkhouse, and that's where Bix and I slept. The next morning was a whirlwind of whisks and recipe books and blackberries cut in half while I helped make muffins for the farmers' market. I visited the farmers' market too, a tiny operation that had an impressive selection and was overrun with barefoot children.
The next morning, Therese set me to weeding. I weeded for hours and hours and hours, pulling dandelions and purslane from the mulch beds. I got good and sweaty and spent the afternoon lazing by the pool with a popsicle... every WWOOF farm should have a pool. The chickens needing feeding so I did that, and the recyclables needing recycling, so I did that too.
AND THEN... "I got a free tattoo. I could not believe it. The guy said, 'Do you want a tattoo,' opened up the [door to the tattoo parlor], he said, 'It's fo free!' And I said, 'Sure.'" Quote by Rebel Wilson in Bridesmaids but also now by me too. What ha happened was, one of the Tinderboys was a tattoo apprentice and he offered to give me a tattoo, and I thought about it and decided I had wanted a tattoo for a dag long time and I was always too much of a sissy to do anything about it and now that the opportunity was being dumped in my lap I had better darn well say yes. So that's what I did. I rolled up to the Axonic tattoo parlor of Northumberland the next night to find one extremely tattooed man and one not-so-tattooed man and the not-so-tattooed man was the Tinderboy. He said, "I'm Alex," and we all three went inside and drank Yuenglings and Alex and I made sideways faces at each other while the extremely tattooed man (who was the owner of Axonic) told us about his alien conspiracy theories and how he used to be a bouncer and also a convict and how he was superior member of the human race because he had red hair and an unnervingly large tongue. And then it was tattoo time, and Alex stenciled it out in green beforehand and I said it was good and then zip zap zop he tattooed three of the bittiest dots you've ever seen down my side and I left an #inkedchick with joy in my heart and Orion's Belt on my ribcage. Orion's always been my favorite, he's just up in our winter skies with his belt, three little white dots that are the only constellation I can reliably find. It's comforting up in the night sky, and now I've got that constellation all day, year round.
Sunday I got up and walked Bix around some fields. Therese was holding a Quaker meeting at her house, so I went to that. It was small, just six of us, and we all sat in silence mostly for 45 minutes. I had a hard time focusing, but I've never been good at any kind of meditation, and I don't have much practice anyway. We watched a video that talked about why Quakers don't take communion or read scriptures or sing hymns. It's because they don't want to say things that aren't honest to them in that moment, which I think has a lot of value to it, but I personally also like some guidance, some prompting, and I like the hymns. It was nice though!
After lunch I went to Reptiland, which was the absolute bees knees. I have two complaints, and one is that it was kind of depressing to see some of the animals in the smaller habitats because one of the tortoises had actual tears in its eyes and I KNOW I'm anthropomorphizing but I'm also not kidding, and the other is that the thing they called Dragon Talks was just about komodo dragons and wasn't a discussion of dragons throughout history and theories about where they stemmed from and why they're so prevalent across cultures with possible clips from HP, LOTR, and GoT like it should have been. (I ought to create Reptiland curriculums. And maybe design some happier terrariums for the tortoises.) BUT apart from those two issues, I had an absolute blast. I got a different Tinderboy, Chris, to accompany me, because who wants to go to Reptiland solo dolo (actually that could be real fun on account of how much time I could reasonably spend chatting up the Gaboon vipers and the poison dart frogs and that flirty little box turtle. NEXT TIME). Tbh my favorite part was the dinosaur exhibit. There were real live giant plastic dinosaurs that moved their heads and tails and squawked and one of them sprayed water from its mouth and, you guessed it, spritzed me from face to thigh. I petted an emu and that turtle flirt I mentioned earlier, and we saw not one but TWO pythons and did pretty poorly on some snake trivia.
Alright, y'all, I have to start a new paragraph because it is PLOT TWIST TIME. So when I had been convincing Chris to go to Reptiland, he said he'd halfway made plans and I told him to just invite whoever he'd made plans with, but when he showed up alone I had figured that hadn't worked out and possibly someone was not quite as enthused about Reptiland as I was (what??!?). Turns out, she showed up when we were nearly done and was waiting in the parking lot when we got out. The three of us when to Thad's for ice cream, which I highly recommend because it costs $1.50 for a waffle cone with two scoops of ice cream in it, and after trying about every flavor they had I ordered red velvet cake and something mocha chippy. The three of us got a table outside where we slurped at our cones. "So how do you two know each other?" I asked Chris and Hannah. They exchanged glances, and Hannah said, "We met on Tinder." "No way!" I said, "We ALSO met on Tinder. How long have you been friends?" And that's when I found out they'd also found each other through this doofy app on Friday and then gone on a date on Saturday and then it was Sunday and the three of us were sitting there with our ice creams, two Tindergirls and a Tinderboy. We had a good laugh, especially Chris, and then we drove the back way to a bar in downtown Lewisburg where I got a sour cherry bier that tasted like a Warhead. And gods-be-good, I HAD TO PASS A HORSE-DRIVEN BUGGY. Hi, Amishland!
That was the night I got home to a full dinner table and a plate just waiting for me to fill it with corn on the cob and potatoes, and in the seat next to me was (drum roll) the other WWOOFer! She was only there Sunday through Wednesday, but we would be sharing the bunkhouse, and honestly, if you'd ask me to cook up a more perfect partner-in-WWOOF, I wouldn't have been able to. We're both right in the middle of our twenties; I've got Orion's belt down my side, Kara's about to get all of Orion on her back; I like talking about deep dark secret stuff with people I've just met, so does Kara. We got along swimmingly and spent our days weeding and exploring and talking and making faces at each other when people couldn't see. On Monday, we drove to Lewisburg to See The Town! Turns out, the town is closed after 5 especially on Mondays, and when every restaurant was operating on their not-so-Monday-friendly summer hours and we were staaaarving, I asked Siri for pizza places near me and found Larry's, which was half a mile away and had four out of five stars so we said, "Let's go!" and hit the sidewalk. When we found Larry, he turned out to be a takeout only kinda place but we were super hungry and extra super thirsty and they just so happened to be having a large-pizza-and-2-liter-drink-for-$8.99 special, and we said "YES." We waited at the lone picnic table they had on the sidewalk outside, and when a guy showed up with his cigarette, he sat down at the same little table. When our pizza came we were still all facing towards and when we opened the lid to the pizza box, Kara and I looked at each other, and her face said NOPE all over it. "DO YOU WANT TO TAKE THIS SOMEWHERE SO IT CAN COOL OFF," she said. "YEAH," I said, "LET'S GO TO THAT PARK WE PASSED!" and we slammed that pizza lid down faster than you can say "Larry's" and were outta there and away from that cigarette-smoking, pizza-leering dude in no time flat, giggling like maniacs. The next day, Tuesday, we drove back to Market Street at a nice safe 1:30 and visited just about every store on the whole four blocks. Collectively, we bought a wallet, a pair of leggings, a clip-on doggie bag holder, socks that said "kick this day in its sunshiny ass," and a kitchen sink (actually). There was an art store, and we both wanted to buy just about everything in it, so if you're ever in Lewisburg, check out Brushstrokes. It was a great day, and we rounded it out by watching Elizabethtown and ogling the hell out of Kirsten Dunst. "I'd say on my best day I might look as good as wet Claire..."
On Friday evening, TinderChris and I went to Knoebels, amusement part extraordinaire (the K is not silent), where I had THE ABSOLUTE BEST TIME. We rode the Twister (the best one!) and the Cosmotron (it goes backwards!) and the Impulse (not worth the wait!) and the Spinning Wheel (pee first!) and the Phoenix (twice in a row!) and ate amusement park pizza. There were dogs and kids and rides and food smells and things to win and loud music and people absolutely everywhere, and I was in heaven. Biggest-grin, dancey-feet, twinkle-finger heaven. The next day we hit up the Little League World Series for a while and then confessed to each other that we didn't really actually like baseball all that much, so we went back to Knoebels instead. It was even more crowded this time around, and we waited almost an hour for a minute-long ride (the world's only wooden bobsled roller coaster!). I told the sisters in line behind us all my really stupid jokes, and the fourteen-year-old responded with a slew of dirty pick-up lines. Then we rode the Twister some more, and got a funnel cake apiece, and the kid behind us on the swings screamed bloody murder the entire time because his mom wouldn't let him get off. Hooray, Knoebels!
So THAT, in a rather large nutshell, was the crazy adventure that was Pennsylvania. I'm in Indiana now, racking up as many interesting stories as I can. Peace out, more later.