On Saturday (21 July), M and I went to lovely (ugh!) Camden, New Jersey for the XPN-Festival.

The weather was fairly decent. Sunny, warm, but without the soupy humidity that settles around this area in the summer months. Sitting in the sun for most of the late afternoon made us appreciate the cooling of the evening that much more once the sun set.

The XPN-Festival is a 4-day musical event sponsored by a local radio station (WXPN). It’s held in Wiggins Park on the Camden Waterfront. They have two stages set up as well as numerous vendors selling beer, food, other drinks, and a wide range of stuff (t-shirts, jewelry, etc.).

The directions to Wiggins Park provided by the XPN website were not very good. They got us to Camden, but didn’t lead us to Wiggins Park or the Waterfront area. This resulted in us taking a small and unwanted tour of Camden. I’m fairly well convinced that Camden is one big, bad neighborhood, but I could be wrong. The areas we found ourselves in made us both uncomfortable and it was good to find our way back on a main road and headed in the right direction.

The acts we heard/saw were great. Ryan Shaw was awesome. Good energy, great music, and I had the added advantage of being familiar with his music since we own his latest CD, This Is Ryan Shaw. I highly recommended it if you like R&B.

I also enjoyed Los Lonely Boys. I’ve only heard one of their songs prior to this concert so I wasn’t as familiar with them. Their music is pretty diverse, combining Latin sounds with soul, blues, and Texas-style rock ‘n roll.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals were the last act on the main stage. They’re best described as a blues-rock band. Grace Potter’s voice is a little like Janis Joplin and a little like Bonnie Raitt, but not enough to be anything other than her own style and sound.

The big excitement of the evening didn’t happen on the stage. Some crackhead, being chased by the police, drove into Wiggins Park.

M had gone in search of dinner for us. All the food vendors were located in one area. We had agreed on cheesesteaks. Our cheesesteak and hoagie time grows shorter and shorter. We indulge when and where we can now. (No doubt gaining weight in the process.)

The first time M went in search of food (leaving me behind to save our prime spot on the lawn by the main stage), it was between acts and the lines were so long that he decided not to wait but to go back later. This is an important detail to take note of, the fact that the lines were long and the food vendor area was massively crowded.

He went back later, while the Los Lonely Boys were playing, to find that the lines had died down considerably. He walked up to the cheesesteak vendor only to be disappointed as he wasn’t serving anymore. I don’t know why. Perhaps he ran out of cheesesteak ingredients. Since our second choice of food was gyros, M went to the gyro vendor.

While M was waiting to order our dinner, the above mentioned crackhead, driving an SUV, came barreling into the park. He smashed into the cheesesteak truck where M had been standing just a moment before. The idiot then smashed into the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream truck, swerved and hit a 10 year old girl who was thrown into a tree, then went barreling down a grassy area that had been coned/cleared out (thank the gods) for the performers’ vehicles to get through so they could bring their instruments down to the stage. He then ran into a truck near the porta-potties which finally stopped him. Had that clearing, with orange cones, not been there, or had there been an act performing on that stage, he might have driven over a lot of people sitting there.

It’s also a damn good thing the lines near the food vendors had decreased considerably. Otherwise, a lot of people could have been hurt in that area.

I saw none of this. I was busy saving our seat on the lawn and listening to the Los Lonely Boys. M came back with the food (amazing! I’d have forgotten about it), all wide-eyed and shaking from having witnessed the entire spectacle. Poor man. He was shaky for most of the rest of the evening.

You can read about the incident here.

It’s a miracle more people didn’t get hurt. It’s also a miracle that M had moved away from the cheesesteak vendor just before the crackhead showed up.

I suppose it’s not fair to call him a crackhead as I don’t know that he is a crackhead. Consider it a term of non-endearment. It’s said that alcohol and drugs were found in the vehicle.

Yet another reason to take those stupid SUV’s off the road. Not that it’s the SUV’s fault. There are too many stupid people driving around in those large, gas-guzzling vehicles. I’ve noticed, too, that a lot of SUV drivers act as though they own the road, without thought of who they might run over (as if putting a person in a large vehicle makes them invulnerable or something).

Didn’t mean to start ranting there. My apologies to any SUV drivers who know what they’re doing when they get behind the wheel.

You may have noticed the lack of photos in this post. I didn’t take my camera along. I sort of wish I had. Whenever we’re going somewhere that involves large crowds, I generally don’t take the camera as I don’t want to have to worry about it getting stolen. The crowd at the XPN Festival was a good crowd, though. Mellow. I don’t think I would have had to worry about the camera.

Hank’s Place

I’m going to be churning out multiple entries today in hopes of getting caught up here at the blog. We’re rapidly reaching the end of our sabbatical adventures, and I don’t want to leave anything out.

Before I continue with our goings-on, a little restaurant review is in order.

If you ever happen to be in the Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania area, stop by Hank’s Place for some breakfast, lunch, or an early dinner. Here’s the basic info (with a link to their website:

Hank’s Place
Routes 1 and 100
Chadds Ford, PA 19317
(610) 388-7061

Hank’s Place is popular with the locals. It’s likely you’ll have to wait in line for a table or a seat at the counter.

The food is good stuff. Comfort food. Home-cooking type food. They serve a lot of local dishes such as Pennsylvania Dutch chicken pot pie (which is cooked in a pot and is not a pie), and pork and sauerkraut. But they also have items such as moussaka, spanokopita, and other interesting specials. They’re well known for their desserts. However, I’ve always been too full to have dessert so I can’t personally verify that.

The food is delicious, freshly cooked and often made with local, fresh ingredients. I had the Mediterranean salad on our last visit. It was made with romaine lettuce, fresh Jersey tomatoes (YUM!), fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, cucumbers, onions, olives, and salami, all nicely tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. M had Hank’s Portobello Burger with French fries. Because Chadds Ford is near the mushroom capitol of the world (Kennett Square), you can’t go wrong with any mushroom dish.

M and I have eaten there several times and have never been disappointed.

If you go, be aware that they don’t serve wine, beer or spirits, but I’ve seen people bring in bottles of wine so it’s possible Hank’s is a BYOB place. Their hours are listed on the website. Remember to go early for dinner and that they only serve dinner Tuesday-Saturday.

The Birmingham Meeting House and Beyond

We wandered around the Birmingham-Lafayette Cemetery for a little while, trying to locate the mass grave of those on both sides who died near the meeting house during the Battle of Brandywine. The directions we had weren’t clear as to exactly where to find the grave.

(Birmingham-Lafayette Cemetery. Photo by Robin. July 2007)

Eventually we stepped over the wall and made our way towards the meetinghouse.

(Birmingham-Lafayette Cemetery. Photo by Robin. July 2007)

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