This was one of those days...
We thought we had a pretty good plan going in. We were really tired of all the long distance driving we had been doing and decided to find a campsite early in the morning which would allow us to unwind a little and free us up to relax and maybe do a little reading, blog writing, and more or less bum around. We had been averaging close to 250 miles a day the past three days, and although we have driven much further than that, this trip wasn't about churning up the miles to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, it was about the trip itself. You know, smelling the roses along the way and all. So we had set our sights on Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania, a mere fifty nine miles down the road. It looked like a pretty neat spot, set up on a peninsula sticking way out into Lake Erie, and being that it was only an hour away and we were packed up and ready to go by eight am we would be getting there in plenty of time to at least secure a site for the evening even if it meant waiting a little while before being able to set up camp.
Our overall driving speed was now about four miles an hour, and we were now completely surrounded by lots and lots of walkers and pseudo runners, of which about a third of were dressed in wild and whacky attire. Really cute under the circumstances.
We continued to press on like some sort of low budget float in a small time parade, and hoped that around each bend the campgrounds would appear and allow us to exit this slowly moving morass of humanity.
We had now been on this little park road for about a half an hour, which as far as Jerani was concerned was about 29 minutes too long. The road of course was only heading in ONE DIRECTION, and every available pull-off had been commandeered by water support stations or cheering throngs of well wishers. "You can DO IT, YOU CAN DO IT! YAY...WHOO!!!!"
|Nasty Picnic table|
|View from our campsite. Lake Erie State Park, NY. Paradise on Earth.|
|Dunkirk coal plant|
|Another nice Dunkirk residence|
Well when we pulled into the parking lot we were happily surprised to find what looked to be a "normal" halfway decent looking grocery store. (Our initial impressions would be proven wrong in just a matter minutes)
Entering the store the first thing that struck us was how barren and utilitarian the design was, with little or no thought put into esthetics. Coming from the west coast, and also working for a brand new top of the line grocery, we are used to very nice finishing, stainless steel, granite, and high end materials. This store was bare bones, without any details that might make it special. We were also taken back by the lack of quality produce and meats. The produce cases were full of sad little apples, and wilted lettuce. It seemed picked over, half full, and under-worked.
The meat section was even worse. The meat was all dried out and smashed into packaging, and none of the bones or fat had been trimmed away properly. It looked as if no pride had been taken in the cutting or presentation of the meats. The shelves in the main isles were filled with rows upon rows of Goya products. I mean it took up a whole section. I had never seen such a thing in any grocery on the west coast, where one product line could dominate in such an open way. What ever happened to the concept of customer choice?
But the thing that really resonated with us and that set this market apart (and not in a good way) from any grocery store we had ever shopped at were the checkers. We're used to be greeted by amiable checkers who usually greet us with a "How are you today!" and a big smile. The workers behind the check-stand at Martin's were anything but friendly. Actually they were close to being openly hostile. The woman waiting on us never once acknowledged us, she just started taking our items off the little conveyer belt, scanned them, and then tossed them towards the back of the counter. We both noticed that she never brought out a sack or asked us "Paper or plastic?", she just kept piling up our groceries up unceremoniously. Puzzled we looked around and noticed that all the other shoppers at the checkout stands were bagging their groceries as the indifferent checkers slung them at them. Jerani sorta chuckled and said "So we have to bag our own groceries?" which was met with absolutely no response. Now don't get us wrong, it's not that we are incapable of bagging our own groceries, and have in fact on numerous occasions happily volunteered to do so when the checkers seemed in need. But being forced to bag ones own groceries as a paying customer as the snide little checker just stares and leans against the counter, now that's no bueno. It seemed REALLY unwelcoming. Sort of a final slap in the face to your loyal patrons. Luckily we weren't loyal, and if we had anything to do with it we would never be shopping at another Martins if we had anything to say about it.
|Actual picture taken out the back window of our RV in our REALLY PRIVATE campsite. Nice, huh?|
The rest of the night was spent with tightly sealed windowshades playing music loud enough to drown out the children and just praying that this day might sometime end.