Crossing the Mason-Dixon Line (Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia)

Alright, so we finally left New York State! Wednesday night we slept in a Walmart parking lot in St. Clair, Pennsylvania. Then we drove about 200 more miles on a bunch of backroads, trying to avoid tolls. Not a good idea in retrospect. Bumpy as hell and very stressful for Joey, the captain. We stayed over at Cedarville State Park in Brandywine, Maryland. It was nice, but unfortunately we received alerts on our phone that the air in the general D.C. area was fucked up and people were advised not to go outside. So…we moved on pretty quick, and drove another 150 miles to Hampton, Virginia. We’re staying over at a small state park. We’ll be here a few days, because I have a book reading in Norfolk on Saturday.

I haven’t been to the south since I was a kid, and I have virtually no experience in southern states. Joey and Drew lived in North Carolina and Florida for a while. I’ve practically lived in upstate New York all my life. So this is pretty exciting to me to be somewhere very different, even if we haven’t done or seen much yet. Here is a small sampling of what I have seen so far.

Elliott's Tire and RedNex Guns and Ammo, somewhere in Virginia
Elliott’s Tire and RedNex Guns and Ammo, somewhere in Virginia
Trees at Cedarville State Park in Brandywine, MD
Trees at Cedarville State Park in Brandywine, MD
Truck for, um, Kegel…fruit. Lancaster, PA
Truck for, um, Kegel…fruit. Lancaster, PA
Surprisingly beautiful scenery I woke up to in a Walmart parking lot in St. Clair, PA.
Surprisingly beautiful scenery I woke up to in a Walmart parking lot in St. Clair, PA.

The Cats of Chamounix Mansion, Philadelphia, PA

A penny jar at Hostel International at Chamounix Mansion

It’s been over a week since I last wrote and it’s high time I got to telling you fine folks about my trip to Philadelphia for the Philly Trans Health Conference. I know you’re probably dying to hear about how I actually did at the conference, and all the interesting things that happened being surrounded by so many other trans people…and how it was empowering, and uplifting, and blah blah blah. BUT. First, more importantly, I need to tell you about that cats at Chamounix Mansion.

The guest house where we stayed
The main building for the hostel

That is the place we stayed. We couldn’t pronounce it so we called it Shamwow Mansion. It’s an international hostel and it was cheap, but amazing. We had a private room in the guest house and it was only $55 a night.  It was located in this beautiful park about a ten minute drive from the convention center and downtown Philly. The first thing I noticed upon arrival were THE CATS.

This guy, who I call Spike Jr., kept walking out in front of people’s cars. He may have had a little bit of a death wish.
Tuxedo Jones (I have a habit of naming cats when I see them, so assume that these are the names I came up with unless otherwise specified).
This is Bacon. He is the only one who isn’t feral, and I didn’t give him his name. He lives at the mansion, sometimes in the masion. Nobody else is allowed inside. He is king.
Whitey II immediately jumped atop Joey’s car after we parked.

I was kind of disappointed that we had to go to the conference at all because this place was awesome. I could have hung out with the feral cats and horses and roamed the grounds all three days, if I didn’t have to sell books.

Another shot of the guest house, in the evening.
This is apparently the kind of hostel where people keep horses in a stable and play polo during the day…? So odd.
Smokey was very friendly and we chilled outside the guest house for a while and I tried not to smoke on him. He kept wanting to get in my lap though, so eventually I just put out the cigarette. It’s a good friend who tells you things you don’t want to hear. Thanks Smokey.
Joey took lots of nature photography from the windows. He was lucky and just stayed at the mansion the second day while I went to sell books at the conference.

Anyway, maybe I’ll get around to telling you about the conference eventually. Some cool stuff happened, though I’m having trouble remembering. It was all kind of a blur. However, as slippery as my young memory can be, I will never forget the cats of Shamwow Mansion.