ROAD TRIP NOV 2013 PART 1
Last month I took a road trip to check out a couple of places I had been yearning to see in person – Felder USA in New Castle, DE and Hearne Hardwoods in Oxford, PA. There’s probably no better excuse to bug out than when you’re having the floors in your house refinished so it was an easy call to get a boat reservation and put the pedal to the metal. These two places are only about 50 minutes apart so I decided to throw a dart at the map to find a place to stay that was convenient to both. The dart landed on West Chester PA which is about 35 miles SW of Philly. It’s a small town with lots of college kids, some decent restaurants and just off the Wilmington Pike which is your typical 4-lane divided road with a gazillion malls and businesses on both sides.
I arrived at my hotel at about 4PM on a Wednesday after leaving Nantucket on the dawn boat. That’s a pretty long day behind the wheel but it had been years since I took a trip in that direction so I was pretty pumped to gobble up the miles although, once past Connecticut the lion’s share of the trip was mostly on the NJ Turnpike. Not a whole lot to see there except the home of the Giants (Boo!!) and the ubiquitous meadowlands which made me think a lot about Tony Soprano. Capiche?
After settling in to my room at the Holiday Inn, a really nice room I must say, I decided to check out the lay of the land and look for something to eat. When you live on Nantucket you get used to having limited choices in everything – at the Stop and Shop, restaurants, clothing stores, I mean everything! But in the real world the opposite is true: too many choices! So after cruising down the Wilmington Pike for a few miles I found myself turning into a road between a couple of malls and I saw a sign: Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza. Yes! I will eat here tonight!
So, I went back to the hotel and took a short nap, cleaned up and headed back to Anthony’s which, when I arrived around 7:30 was packed. Turns out that on Wednesday nights they have free appetizers at the bar. They have a rather small menu but seeing as I was interested in pizza I ordered one of their special pies: the Paul and Young Ron with meatballs, sausage, hot peppers and ricotta. Their slogan is “Pizza Well Done” which is exactly how I like it. My waitress was great and I was happy to tell her that this was my first visit to Anthony’s whereupon she offered up a couple of their coal fired chicken wings as a complimentary appetizer. They were fantastic. Their coal fired oven was definitely cranking at full power as my pizza arrived about 4 minutes later. I’m a pizza guy and when I tell you this was great pizza, it was great pizza!
- Pizza. Best food in the world.
This is actually the pizza I ordered on my second visit the following night! Prosciutto and Kalamata Olives.
- Coal Oven baked Chicken Wings with carmellized onions.
If you’re in the mid-Atlantic area or Florida, they have about 40 restaurants. Check ‘em out.
I woke up early on Thursday morning itching to see Hearne Hardwoods which according to Google Maps was about a 40 minute ride away. I’ve been in PA many times, mostly to visit a friend outside State College, and I am always bowled over by the terrain when you leave the main roads – beautiful rolling hills, farms, forests and long straight-aways that allow you to make good time wherever you are going. This road trip was the first time I used Google Maps on my Iphone and it deposited me right at my destination. There had been an open house back in October that I couldn’t attend so I was pretty much on my own for a self guided tour and the first thing I wanted to see was: The Band Saw! They have a monster saw that allows them to slice logs up to about 57” in diameter and about 15 feet long. See photos! Unfortunately the saw was not running the day I was there but, nevertheless, it is one imposing machine. I asked an employee how loud it is and he said that you definitely have to wear ear protection if you’re anywhere in the building. The blade for this beast is 10” wide and about 40’ long if laid out flat with a tooth about every 2.5”. It takes several people to catch the slice as it comes through the saw. You can see photos of the saw in action during the open house on their Facebook page.
- 10″ wide blade. Scary…
Live-edge boards cut from trees from all over the world are their main business and I saw species I’d never seen before and even some woods I’d never heard of! Everything that is cut is stickered, stacked in book-matched flitches and banded. You can see any slice from any log on their website. Really impressive. Bubinga, Black Walnut, Italian Olive, Burls of every stripe, you name it! They got it! They have one special room upstairs with veneers and exotic woods especially for musical instrument makers. They also make tables from their stock and have several Felder tools in a nice wide open shop area. It’s always great to see where something comes from and the trip to Hearne was time well spent made better by the spectacular beauty of the area.
- That’s a lot of wood! Banded and stacked in the order it came off the band saw.
Stay tuned for Road Trip Part 2 soon!
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