USA day 9 and 10 – Amtrak NYC to Pennsylvania

Day 9, we left the vegan safe house that is New York City and headed out to Pennsylvania. We stocked up on food for the journey as we really didn’t know what we’d find. While waiting for the bus we grabbed some bagels with tofu cream cheese in the West Village. Bagels, when warm and fresh are heaven, and these were.

At Penn Station there were not a lot of choices for food to take on the journey, but we cobbled together a meal by stocking up on a large salad at a build your own salad shop, and also grabbed a vegan spicy tofu wrap and some hummus and veggie sticks from a place called Chickpea. For coffee, all was not lost, they even have almond milk at Dunkin’ Donuts these days. Not great, but better than nothing. The train had a vegan burger, which I didn’t try as we were already well stocked with food.

The 8 hour train journey ran through some post-apocalyptic landscape outside NYC and eventually gave way to green rolling country with picture perfect barns and farm silos around Lancaster in Pennsylvania. I missed the famous horseshoe bend near Altoona as I was deep in a conversation with another passenger about what vegans eat. I showed her my blog 🙂

This ended up in an interesting wide ranging conversation late in the journey with some fellow passengers about US and Australian politics and vegan food.

We arrived at Latrobe and were picked up by our super friendly hotel people from the station.

My impression so far is that rural Pennsylvania is a bit of a vegan wasteland, but then I guess rural anywhere mostly is. In the course of a couple of days we’ve become adept at stitching together meals from peanut butter, fruit and bread and we’ve drunk our coffee black. Mexican restaurants from chains to locals have been good source of food. Removing the cheese and sour cream opens a whole world of possibilities. We’ve had helpful people make a genuine effort to find ways of making a vegan meal out of what is to hand, and others just shrug. Hats off to The Italian Oven and their cheerful staff in Connellsville, PA who served us some delicious pasta and made us some fresh bread with no cheese on it, without being asked.

But generally it is harder outside the city and I am constantly reminded and grateful for how lucky we city dwellers are with vegan options. Our fellow rural vegans are not so lucky.

We have picked up our car for the next few days to get to Fallingwater and a couple of other Frank Lloyd Wright designed houses in the region. I made my first tentative driving attempts around the car park at the small airport where we picked up the car, to try to get the feel of being on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. Since then after venturing out of the car park, I have done pretty well, but we still chant “narrow right” or “wide left” when doing a turn to make sure I end up on the correct side.

We are in a region called the Laurel Highlands and it is stunningly beautiful. We headed up the road to a small town called Ohiopyle and walked along a very small section of the Great Allegheny Passage, a walking and bike trail that runs 400 miles from Washington DC to Pittsburgh.

The Italian Oven
623 Highland Ave
Connellsville, PA 15425
(724) 626-6836

 

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