I have finally had the great opportunity to visit Bucks County, PA. I case you were unaware, myself and my family are moving to the Bucks County Pennsylvania area in June this year. With the move just a couple of months away, we wanted to take a trip over there to check out a few things. My youngest sister got into not one but two boarding schools and was able to tour them both and choose one to attend. We looked at a number of homes in the area trying to find the right one, and we were able to check out the beauty of the area including Peddler's Village, the Doylestown area, malls, and... bookstores!
Best of all though, leaving Pennsylvania felt like leaving home. Despite never having been there before and despite the present lack of beauty while we were there (most of the trees were bare and the grass was half dead from snow), I felt it was the right place to be and I cannot wait to go back.
NOTE: the pictures of Pennsylvania as a whole below are not mine but otherwise, pictures on this post are mine unless mentioned.
We begun our adventure at 4:30 in the morning on Thursday. I worked a closing shift the night before so while I usually head to bed at 8:00 pm, I wasn't in bed until 10:00 pm and was exhausted the next morning.
We drove right to the Redding airport and flew from there so the first leg of our trip was reasonably uneventful. From Sacramento, we caught a plane to Newark, NJ. It was on this leg that I managed to finish reading through my book (The Criminal) for the final trip (though I still hadn't uploaded my grammatical fixes).
This particular plane ride was full of turbulence. It took the plane an extra hour+ to land in Newark due to bad weather conditions. We were mostly thankful that the plane could land. Our plane was scheduled to depart for London later that night so the airport allowed it a diversion to get into Newark (other planes didn't have the same luck). For the last 2+ hours of our flight, we did experience a lot of bumps though (enough to be a little scary).
Unfortunately, arriving in Newark wasn't the end of our day. We had to pick up the rental car and make it to Washinton's Crossing Pennsylvania where our Airbnb was. This process became a little problematic when my dad tried to present the rental car clerk with a printed photo of his license. He had lost his wallet the day before the trip and his license was missing! Of course, the clerk wouldn't take his printed ID (and no surprise there, after all, anyone could print out a picture of a license!). So instead of Dad driving in the dark in bad weather on speedy, multiple-lane roads, Mum did and she was terrified.
Finally, after a stop at Panera for dinner and two different supermarkets for breakfast (the first one closed at eight, something unheard of in Redding), we made it to the Airbnb. After twenty minutes there, we received a tornado warning with the same blaringly painful noise fire warnings in Redding make. We had no idea what to do? Was it a serious warning? did we need to be concerned? In the end, I stayed up until the warning was over and then made my way to the upstairs bedroom I was staying in. It wasn't until after the warning that there was a great deal of rain and wind that practically shook the house but it was certainly an experience for the books.
I was also thankful to find that my brother was taking good care of my dog when he sent us a picture of all three dogs being walked.
Friday was Hill day. My sister had gotten into The Hill boarding school with a reasonably good scholarship. From everything she had seen online, she was leanign towards attending The Hill and not the other school she had gotten into (The Han School of Princeton).
Originally, I planned to sit out the tour and events. I had planned to be dropped off at Doylestown where I would investigate some bookstores, enjoy the area, and find my way over to Pottstown (where the school is) on a train. It was to be an exciting day. Sadly, the GPS had other plans and choose to skip over Doylestown, forcing me to abandon my plans.
While Holly and my parents checked out the school, I sat in Dunkin' Donuts and had a mint hot chocolate while uploading the last fixes on The Criminal. When I had queried my first wave of agents, I packed up and planned to check out the township (or at least whatever was in walking distance. It didn't take long before I realized the town was called Pottstown for a reason. There wasn't anything there! I finally had to give up and buy myself an ice cream from McDonalds while I waited for Mum to come and pick me up.
At least the experience allowed me to join the tour of The Hill where Holly ultimately chose to go to school. I now know how beautiful (and big) her campus is.
After our tour of The Hill, we picked up a few groceries on our way to Ephrata. We were sad to find that there were no golden kiwifruit in the store (my mother and I enjoyed finding gold kiwifruit all the time in Cinncinatti). In Ephrata, I had the pleasure of meeting one of my sister's best friends from Cornell (where she attends school) and their family. The family was kind enough to host Emily over Thanksgiving so she didn't have to choose between being alone or paying for an expensive ticket to Redding. On Friday night, they hosted us as well and served us a delicious dinner. After a tour of their milk-cow farm, dinner, and some lovely conversation, we headed back to the Airbnb, taking Emily with us.
On Saturday, we were finally ready to see some houses. I went on the trip largely for three reasons: I wanted to finally see the area we were moving to before I moved there; I hoped we would find a house and doing so would allow me to check out the space I would be living in and begin to make some further decisions (ex. about furniture); and I wanted to check out some of the bookstores in the area in hopes of finding one I might work at.
None of the houses we saw on Saturday worked well for us. One seemed too extravagant and had an untamed yard that sat to the side instead of behind the house. Another had no backyard whatsoever despite the house itself being beautiful. Another had very little in its yard, was close to a river with the potential to flood, and the house wasn't quite right. None had a finished basement.
In between showings, we did have the opportunity to visit central Doylestown. My parents showed us around the beautiful area and we were able to check out some of the cute stores. We ate lunch in an enclosed hall of cool foodshops. My dad and I had some deicious pizzas and my sisters and mum had a collection of different items from a different cute shop.
While in Doylestown, we checked out some of the bookstores I had planned to take a look at (none of the bookstore photos are mine). The first, Doylestown Bookshop, was larger than I was expecting. In fact, it was about half the size of Redding's Barnes and Noble (which is a huge store, see last photo). I knew immediately that it wasn't quite the kind of shop I wanted to work in. I was hopeful thatwe would find a store that was smaller where I could learn principles particular to small, independant bookstores. We then visited Central Books and while I liked the prices (there were many for under $1), I didn't like the store as a whole. It was crowded with books and reasonably disorganized. There were few YA novels and a much higher proportion of Non-Fiction books. It felt like a run down place even though it was in the middle of central Doylestown, and set in a beautiful Victorian-style house.
Despite the disappointment of the day, we were able to retire happily to the airbnb and enjoyed our night (though the TV wouldn't work!).
Sunday dawned and we had nothing planned to do for the day. That meant we had the chance to do just about anything. While we made the decision not to attend church, I was able to look around for a church that might work for us and found a couple that would be worth checking out. You may have read before that my highest priority when finding a church is community. Excellent community within the church (including many different activities and ministries to get involved with) is incredibly important to me especially as I enter the area without any friends or connections.
Once the decision was made to not attend church, we, of course, started with the bookshop I still had yet to see.
This was the Commonplace Reader bookshop in Yardley (first photo not mine). I actually had the most hope for this bookshop. I had read about it online prior to touching down in Pennsylvania (and even before our trip was booked!!). The store (according to internet sources) was small, sold plenty of YA books, and was in a cute little multi-story house in the Yadley township. When I got to the store, I found each of these things to be true.
The Commonplace Reader bookshop was probably the cutest bookstore I have ever visited. The store has books of every genre well organized for customers to sort through. They have a couple of tables that highlight certain books as well (for example, historical fiction, largely with female protagonists, was located on a central table near the YA section).
I immediately knew I wanted to work at the store when I stepped through the doors. I was able to chat to two of the workers before I had a closer look around and found both to be cheerful, enjoyable, and full of good recommendations. I ended up buying three books (a total of about $52). These included Little Thieves, A House of Salt and Sorrows, and These Violent Delights. Because I spent over $50, I was able to get an ARC of One Bronze Knuckle. They also stuck bookmarks and a little book magazine in my cute bag and I grabbed a free sticker with their mule mascot on it.
But that's not all!! While in the store, I ran into a lady who had clearly been to the bookshop before and we got chatting. She told me about her daughter who works for Aevitas Creative Management turning books into movies (or selling the rights to do so, rather). The daughter had recently moved to Yardley and even found her parents their house. Her mother gave me her contact and suggested I reach out for what she hoped would become a friendship.
While the agent did not get back to me, the meeting encouraged me in my search for an agent. I was in the store at just the right time to meet this lady (who told me my book sounded "very marketable"). It felt like God saying to me, "Yes Hannah. Keep going, I'll get you there."
After visiting the AMAZING bookstore, we continued on to drive by a couple of potential houses and then visit an open house. The house was stunning. There was a room perfect for a retreat; there was a beautiful backyard; the kitchen was lovely; we loved the sunroom and the main living room had the right "feel" to it for our family.
However, we were disappointed to find that there were a number of things not quite right for the family. There was an area that didn't have easy access to a bathroom, the house was not two stories (like Holly wanted) and there was no apartment area for me. Though we felt we could have made it work if given enough time and money, we came to the conclusion that it wasn't worth it.
Still, we ended the day on a good note. With time still left in our pocket, we visited the King of Prussia mall. If you didn't know, this mall is the 3rd biggest mall in the entire US so we barely scratched the surface when we visited it for a couple of hours. It did thankfully have a good navigation system so we were able to find a few stores to visit including Macy's where we tried on dresses and a department store where I was pleased to discover the existence of stunning and cheap items like duvets and fake plants. Our exit from the mall was a bit unpleasant (we stood in the freezing cold wind waiting for Dad to bring the car around) but overall the time was well spent. We then returned home for dinner (and ate one of my favorites: gnocchi)