New Castle, PA

For the last 17 years, with one exception, I have come to New Castle, PA in early August. My reason is, of course, Pennsic War. Over the years I’ve gotten to know this town, and the surrounding area, pretty well.

Yes, Beer4Less is programmed into my phone. I often arrange for kegs for Calontir’s party. That’s my reason and I’m sticking to it. I’ll be going there in about an hour and filling up the nooks and crannies of my van with cider. It’s a yearly pilgrimage to get “all the beer I’ll need for the rest of the war.”

But New Castle is more than simply a place to buy beer, ice, and groceries, it’s one of any number of Pennsic friends that I have. There are any number of people that I see only during these two weeks, and we catch up, note the changes in the past year, and enjoy hanging out when the swirling Pennsic schedule allows. It’s like that with New Castle, too.

Each year I try to find new places. Now, I’m eating at a nice small town diner, Hazel’s Restaurant. It’s nothing terribly innovative, but it is well executed. The Super Hazel omelet does not include the kitchen sink, I’d know because it would have been so crunchy, but just about everything else. Tasty. Also inexpensive.

It’s one of the joys of being on the road that I get from my dad. He always wanted to try small town restaurants, and every once in a while you’d find a gem. You never knew, like you’d never know if the cat is dead until you open the box. Call it the Howell Uncertainty Principle: “A small town diner exists as both an epicurean delight and a purveyor of wretched garbage at the same time until the door is opened.”

I’ve gotten lucky a couple of times this trip, having enjoyed the Yellow Brook Inn last night. I’ll probably try the Iron Bridge Inn, which several locals recommend, for dinner tonight.

I really enjoy this part of Pennsylvania. It’s lovely country, and there are all sorts of hidden gems off of the interstates. It’s not in fantastic shape, economically, like most of the Rust Belt, but people seem to make do.

I got in another Amish traffic jam this morning, by the way.

Now, I think my parking meter is about to expire. Plus I need to buy cider. Have a great day, I’m going to go get in line for troll.