Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The First Capital

In my blog post, Philadelphia, I talked about my last trip north to Pennsylvania.  That awesome visit with Sophie Lynne and Linda Lewis, and a day spent in big city, was Part 1 of this early May trip.  Things got a little crazy here at the end of May when my dad went to the hospital, so I'm just getting around to writing about Part 2. 

Even though my mission on this trip was electrolysis, in Part 2 I had another fun day with friends in Lancaster and York, PA.  Of course the second half of this trip was an adventure all its own with some unexpected twists thrown in for good measure.

When I woke up Thursday morning I hadn't shaved my face in 48 hours.  I'd spent Wednesday in Philadelphia and Friday's scheduled electrolysis was the reason I couldn't shave.  I'm so glad to have made such good progress with hair removal that this doesn't hold me back from going out and having fun on these trips.

The plan for Thursday was to drive to Lancaster and meet my friends Jane and Julie for a little shopping, then dinner with Jane and possibly more friends that night in York.  I've met quite a few friends online that live in the Keystone State and when I make these short jaunts up there I try to meet more and more of them.  One day I will get to meet you all!

Leaving King of Prussia and heading on to Lancaster and York.  I remember my first trip north for electrolysis, being terrified to be seen by anyone.  Each treatment things get better and better.
My first stop in Lancaster was the Tanger Outlet Mall.  On the way over I'd gotten my first real look at the Pennsylvania Dutch country since visiting with my parents when I was a child.  Even from the busy highway this is a very scenic and rustic land.  In busy Lancaster County it is sort of like modern life meets traditional Amish culture, as silos and grain fields plowed by horses are often right next to gas stations and strip malls.
My infamous Amish man plowing a field picture.  After talking with PA natives, I decided it was ok to post this picture as the man did not pose for it and it doesn't show his face.  I post it with all due respect to a traditional lifestyle and a proud, strong people. 
Jane and Julie Ann were already at the outlets shopping when I arrived around 2 PM.  It was so great meeting both of them for the first time!  We were very comfortable there in our natural habitat and did some productive shopping, then had lunch at Subway where we had a chance to have a good talk.  Both of these girls are fairly early in their transition but I really have to admire them for going out and doing the things they want to do.  They both remind me of myself in many ways, as I was eager to get out into the world as soon as I could.  People just have to realize that today we can do anything we want to and there is No reason for any fear, other than being careful like any woman should.  Of course blending in easily like all three of us do makes it pretty easy.
Me, Julie and Jane after a fun afternoon of power shopping
At home in my natural habitat.
Unfortunately, Julie had to leave when we were through shopping but I was glad to tag along with Jane as she showed me a few more sights there in the lovely Lancaster area.  We drove through the Amish countryside, over to quaint Stasburg to see the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.  The museum itself had closed by the time we got there but we did walk around and take a few pictures by the trains and outdoor exhibits (see heading photo).  This place is very cool and I hope to go back when we can spend more time and it's open.  Jane is really into old trains and railroad history and I think they are awesome too.  In fact, there is a possibility that I might get to ride a steam train on my upcoming trip to PA, so stay tuned....

At the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum in Strasburg, "after hours"
Down the road from the museum we found the Red Caboose Motel.  This has got to be one of the coolest motels I have ever seen as each of the suites is actually it's own unique caboose.  We drove through and checked it out, but I would love to stay there sometime if I was going to be in the Lancaster area.  It's just a little too far from where I need to stay when I am in the York area, but perhaps I can arrange a trip around staying there sometime. 
Pretty covered bridge in the Strasburg area.
Each caboose is outfitted differently and is its own individual suite.

Pennsylvania countryside, Lancaster County...
Before heading over to York, we stopped in a smaller outlet center in Strasburg for the last shopping fix of the day.  Then Jane took me back to my car at the Tanger Outlets and followed me over to York.  After dropping my stuff off at the hotel we headed downtown for a few drinks and dinner.  Jane is like a party planner.  In fact, in her some of the PA groups she's been designated just that.  It is hard to arrange for people to travel from other parts of the state on a weeknight but if I came up on the weekend she will set something up and we will have a big blast!  This is going to happen before too long and maybe I can even bring Mitchell along with me. This week I'm heading back up there again and I believe Jane has arranged for several friends to get together for us.  I can't wait!!
Downtown York, PA
Holy Hound Taproom
The Holy Hound Taproom serves about different 30 craft beers on tap and is one of several happening night spots in downtown York.  I'm so glad Jane took me down there because I'd only been downtown once, to a restaurant with my friend Suzanne and electrologist James Walker.  All the buildings there are historic but many of them have been nicely restored while keeping that old timely feel.  York is so seeped in history that it has the claim to fame of being the first capital of the United States.  Back in 1777, during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress moved the capital from Philadelphia to York for a time to avoid a threat from the British.  Yes, I can thank my tour guide Jane Reynolds for teaching me that bit of classic local history. :)

We ended up having a couple of local craft beers at the Holy Hound and then met up with another local friend, Katherine.  The three of us headed down the street to the White Rose Bar and Grill for a fabulous dinner.  The weather was so nice we ate outside but the coolest part was that we got to cook our own food!  They bring a hot stone to the table and on it we cooked steak, tuna and chicken as well as a few veggies.  Somehow I managed this without injury while Jane only sustained a small burn on her arm.  Hey, it was a small price to pay for grilling your own food on the vibrant, historic streets of downtown York at night.

Jane and I enjoying after dinner drinks
Me, Jane and Katherine at the Holy Hound
Explaining to Jane how I'd switched to wine because I now prefer sweeter drinks.
The fun night had to come to an end so Jane headed back east to her home in the Philly area.  I had a full round of electrolysis scheduled the next day but was really thankful to be able to live it up while not having to worry about not shaving for a couple of days.  The day isn't too far off where I will never have to worry about shaving at all, ever again.  That's why I tell all my friends to get on the hair removal right now, as I should already be at that point.
Here I am with Saran Wrap on my face, holding in the numbing cream used to make electrolysis less painful.
Friday's electrolysis started out with the most important area, my face.  This took a little longer than last time, over 4 hours, because this time we completely took the upper sideburn area off so when hair grows back there it won't be as thick.  This is a typical female pattern.  James, of Executive Clearance, does a great job of working fast and keeping the pain level down.  Of course, as I've said before, one of the main reasons I travel so far to see him is that his technique does not damage my extremely sensitive skin.  The fact that it's painless enough that I have been able to catch a nap while he works on my face is nice too and this is something others who've had electrolysis with someone else find hard to believe.    
Electrolysis needle inserted into the follicle, and the tweezers plucking the killed hair.
Since I travel so far to get my face cleared and it takes less than a full day, I've been trying to clear other areas as well.  This time we cleared almost my entire upper body on Friday, but the underarms are a little tricky because of the angle and type of skin skin so I had to go back to Saturday to finish one of them.  I was driving back Saturday, so I went back to Suzanne's after check out time at the hotel to let James finish up.  This only took an hour or so, but here's where the twist comes in. 

I've been making green smoothies for awhile, mixing fresh fruits and veggies into some delicious, healthy concoctions.  James takes this process one step farther, juicing the produce into an even more concentrated, vitamin filled liquid.  So Saturday afternoon when we got through with my electrolysis, James told me of a slightly used Norwalk juicer that was on sale at a good price.  All we had to do was drive back to the Lancaster area, check it out and if I didn't want it he would buy it.

Buying this juicer was a pretty big investment but I decided to go for it to take control of my health and put me in a better position to build my system up before and after my upcoming GRS, as well as keeping myself healthy going forward.  This juicer was listed on Ebay but they also had a local ad that alerted to us to this deal.

It rained all the way to Lancaster but we found the apartment and saw that the juicer was almost brand new so I decided to buy it.  I got lost on winding two lane Pennsylvania roads on the return trip but we finally made it back to Suzanne's.  I least I got to see some more of the rustic farmland and Amish countryside, even though it was a miserable, dreary day.


My Norwalk juicer at home, making fresh veggie and fruit juice.
James demonstrated the new juicer for me and the result was a couple of bottles of the fresh, delicious, green liquid for me to drink on my long drive home to North Carolina.   I finally got home at midnight Saturday after driving almost 1000 miles since leaving Tuesday afternoon.  This had been probably my most fantastic trip yet to the Keystone State.  I'd had two days with good friends touring Philadelphia, York and Lancaster.  I'd made my way closer to my goal of finishing electrolysis and I'd acquired a new tool to help keep myself (and hopefully my loved ones) healthy.  I have a lot to live for now and life is good!!!
When I got home Saturday night, my trip odometer read almost 1000 miles!

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