Phoenixville, a vibrant community with a small town feel

This is my version of a travel log:

One of my favorite murals in town.

Getting away doesn’t require traveling far. I’m fortunate to be able to visit a friend who lives an hour away.  My gas tank was full, the car had been washed and serviced, I was ready to go. Turned the radio on, had the GPS ready to assist, adjusted the mirrors and didn’t look back as I headed out of town.

There wasn’t a lot of traffic, but it thickened at rush hour. As I was nearing my exit on the Turnpike, I couldn’t help but notice that the eastbound lane was bumper to bumper. I said to myself, “I’m so glad I’m not driving in that”!

The final leg of the drive goes through Valley Forge. Seeing open fields and rolling hills create a sense of tranquility which is exactly what I was looking for this weekend. At this point, my phone said I was to arrive in 22 minutes. I was making great time!

Just as I was about to enter the park, Siri told me to make a turn. I questioned this but did as I was told. I had assumed I was being redirected due to road construction but immediately realized something else was wrong.

“They say” our smartphones, as well as computers and TV’s, are always listening to us. I’m convinced Siri purposefully rerouted, forcing me to backtrack so I could drive through Friday’s rush hour traffic. Not only did she eavesdrop, which is rude, but she completely misunderstood. Though I acknowledged the oncoming traffic by talking to myself out loud, it wasn’t my intention to have Siri change my route.

I cursed her. When traffic had me stop, I glanced at my phone and the route showed squiggly lines resembling a clover leaf, all in the wrong direction which made no sense.

I cursed some more.

I don’t know who is a bigger idiot, me or Siri. As they say, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. This isn’t the first time Siri has played mind games.

Now, my new estimated time of arrival was 55 minutes. Unfortunately, I was at Siri’s mercy.

Thirty-three minutes later, she brought me back to where the errant turn was made. Again she wanted me to turn before entering the park but I didn’t fall for it this time. Twenty-two minutes later, I arrived at my destination a little worse for wear. My friend had a light dinner ready and waiting.

Following the wisdom “if you give a mouse a cookie”… if you are going to have pizza, you need a glass of wine to go with it. Now my mommy retreat could officially begin. 

Knowing the following day would be full, we turned in early. The stormy night made for restful slumber and cleared the way for a glorious day. When it’s sunny and warm, no humidity and there’s a slight breeze, I call this delicious weather; it’s so good, you can almost taste it!

On Saturday, our plan was, there was no plan. We were just going to let the day unfold. The best part of getting away is not to be restrained by a schedule. Living on a timetable exhausts the soul.

After coffee and a sticky bun, we ran errands, stopped at a fundraising car wash for the local school and then headed to town to window shop. 

Another mural of a Phoenix

The Riverworks has indoor rock climbing.

We then stopped in to check out Riverworks apartments. They were having an open house. Not that I’m looking to move but I do enjoy seeing how living spaces are staged.

Though this is lease-living, the amenities gave you the feeling you were in a well-appointed hotel. The lower level had generous, inviting, open spaces, a state of the art work-out room which included a rock climbing wall. Even the outdoor pool gave that resort feeling. To top it off, Riverworks is pet-friendly.

Unfortunately, they do not allow “all” dogs. I’m going to go on a rant here. The problem isn’t the dog breed per se but the owners. If the owner is permissive and allows their dog to run amuck, then someone’s  Black Lab, Rottweiler, Shepard, Doberman, who have not been properly socialized or trained, can be a problem too. One way to resolve this is by having the dog be tested in a similar fashion as a therapy dog. This will weed out the owners who have dogs they can’t control.

When I was a teen, I babysat an Airedale Terrier. She let me in the house but growled when it was time for me to leave. I love dogs but I felt threatened. I’ve even known a few bad tempered Golden Retrievers. People hate it when they are discriminated against and I feel the same way when it comes to dogs. Ignorance just makes me irate. I guess this has my hackles up because I just spent the weekend with the loveliest, sweet natured dog who happens to be a Pitt Bull.

 I was smitten with her as soon as we met. Rant over…

After Riverworks, we walked to the Colonial Theater to see “Paris Can Wait”. The theater had been renovated and returned to its original glory. It’s a little gem. The matinee was reasonably priced at $7. They offered beer and wine, but I settled on the freshly made popcorn instead. I’m not a lush!

The movie matched my “don’t rush me” mood. It was reminiscent of the films shown in a high school French class. Not only can Paris wait, but so will you for this film to end. This is not to say I wasn’t amused, however, it was a typical Diane Lane movie. It had the same pace as Under the Tuscan Sun. On a positive note, it was a visual feast, literally. In the Instagram genre, the movie had close-ups of each dish that was served. Being a Foodie, I wish they gave a fuller description so I could recreate the meal at home.

As we were leaving, the crowd was ambling in to see Jaws. Many were holding what looked to be pink cocktails, garnished with great white sharks.  Fun!

Now that our palettes were whetted, we walked across the street to a restaurant called Taste. All vegan, all yummy, very pretty. I especially enjoyed their freshly pickled, tarragon flavored veggies; asparagus, celery, green beans, and cucumber.

Rose, the patron mascot at The Diving Cat Gallery

The pet store’s mascot

The earlier window shopping led to purchases. Getting a jump on Christmas is always satisfying.  The Diving Cat, a whimsical gallery, was full of unique items. The store owner is especially charming and gracious. He offered wine. I’m just beginning to realize that Phoenixville is a drinking and eating town!  As nice as he was, I was especially enamored with their very beautiful kitty. She must keep the riffraff out. I wonder if she’s friends with the kitty that lives down the street at the pet store?

The day was turning into a moving feast. From here, we walked to Sipps, a local hot spot. Happy Hour was pleasantly busy. I enjoyed sitting at the bar with my glass of seltzer. We caught up with friends, chatted about our adventures and people watched.

Such a beautiful day to meander through town. Time to head back to the house. So I wouldn’t forget (I often leave something behind when I travel), I immediately moved the shopping bags to my car. Feeling self-satisfied with my efficiency, I locked the door and went inside the house.

While standing in the kitchen, talking, I glanced down at the bag I was holding. It was not my black pocketbook but a small black shopping bag of similar size and weight. This could only mean one thing, I locked my pocketbook in the car with my keys and phone in it. Oy! Was my perfect carefree day to be marred because I wasn’t paying attention? I hadn’t even been drinking. Imagine the horror if I had?

Five minutes after calling the local police, an officer arrived to help. With the aide of some wedges and special tools, he was able to get my car unlocked within 15 minutes. This was too much drama for my quiet evening but thank goodness it turned out not to be an ordeal. Note to self, call the Officer in Charge on Tuesday to commend the officer that cheerfully helped me out of my jam.

While we were breaking into my car, my friend made a yummy dish for dinner, Risotto with fresh mushrooms and artichokes. Instead of rice, she used millet. I love it when I get to taste new recipes. After seeing Paris Can Wait, I felt like this was life imitating art.

Fortunately, the rest of the weekend was uneventful. I headed home the next morning feeling refreshed. Shaking up my routine is just what this mom needed. Not only do I feel better but the family always seems to appreciate me more after I’ve been gone. It’s a win-win.

The lesson is, peace of mind can be found not so far away. Taking time for yourself is a gift that everyone gets to enjoy. I’m not sure what part of their enjoying my being away my family liked but will assume they were happy to see me upon return. 


PS- Thank you Lisa and Jack for taking this weary mom in, and for your generous hospitality. It was a fun start to summer.

2 thoughts on “Phoenixville, a vibrant community with a small town feel

  1. We did have a lovely weekend but you truly made it ” come to life” with your travelogue narrative. Mary… thank you for making the trek and for making an ordinary Saturday into a delightful adventure!!!!

    • I always look forward to our annual visit. Phoenixville has turned into such a fun town.
      It proves you don’t need to go to a major city to have big city fun at affordable prices!
      Thanks again!

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