Brighten The Corners

I was still bitter there would be no 2009 Turnpike Super Bowl, but I shook the weak hangover from the Eagles and Steelers games the night before, and shared one last round of goodbyes with the in-laws. It was time for me to head back home to pack the last few things and put the last bike into storage. We’re moving out of the country for a couple years. Friends, family, comfort and familiarity are being left behind in favor of the prospect of adventure in a new land and all that comes with it.

I’ve done this drive at least 100 times, but I was sort of bored and wanted my new GPS guide me home from south Jersey. Within about five miles, the comforting (yet creepy) woman’s voice on the TomTom directed me to turn off my known path. Before I knew it I was about to cross the Betsy Ross Bridge, which spans the Delaware River and dumps you out on I-95 up around north Philly somewhere.

I’ve lived in the Philadelphia area for more than ten years, and I’ve never found myself crossing the Betsy Ross. It’s not that I’ve avoided it, but I just never really had a reason to cross it. To me, it was just the name of a structure mentioned in the traffic reports on the radio. Only thirty minutes into this new route, and I’d already found something different…and sort of exciting.

Philadelphia is known for having thousands of amazing murals on the sides of buildings. There are books about them, and all sorts of organized tours guide people all around the city to view them. I’ve seen a lot of them in my twelve years in and around town. My particular favorite is the four-story portrait of ex-mayor and South Philly hero Frank Rizzo. As I made my way down 95 towards 676, right before Center City I caught a glimpse of a mural while having one eye on the GPS making sure it really knew where it was taking me.

But then I did a double-take on the mural. Yep…there was definitely bicycle componentry in that mural. I slowed down as much as someone could on I-95 without becoming the subject of one of those traffic reports on the radio. I’d never seen this bright block-wide mural before, and that fact set my mind reeling for the next thirty minutes of my drive home.


I like to think that I thrive on exploration, learning and adventure, and that it comes easy. But it’s funny how and where we sometimes find the catalyst for such things. It’s also odd how we can become complacent and think adventure can be found in foreign lands, when it can easily be found right here with just a little effort.