Last weekend I traveled back to Pennsylvania for the first time since my move to Seattle. The occasion: my friend Jeremy's wedding at the German Cultural Heritage Center in the shadows of his alma mater, Kutztown University. It was a fine albeit rainy weekend for a wedding; I got to meet the whole family and spend hours talking with, of all people, my high school's shop teacher. (Even though I never took any of his classes, he recognized me anyway.)
What really struck me about the travel experience, other than the surprising size of Lehigh Valley International Airport, was the hotel where I stayed. I've stayed at a lot of hotels, but never one nearly as patriotic as the Holiday Inn Conference Center Lehigh Valley / Allentown.
The verbosely-named hotel sent me a brochure the week before I arrived suggesting a few activities to try in the Lehigh Valley. It promised visitors a "cross-section of America" in the fourth-largest metropolitan area of Pennsylvania. When I arrived I found myself in the most patriotic hotel in America.
Being from New York I was happy for the wave of mutual support everyone gave each other nationwide after the September 11 attacks, but then tired of the shallow patriotism and flag-waving that grew ever more hollow in the years that followed. I'm also a fan of The Colbert Report, a show whose set, host, and themes expertly satire the "Megamerican" (or "Lincolnish" in more recent months) overtones of the major news networks. It was with these cynical eyes that I first saw the logo of the Holiday Inn Allentown: an eagle holding an American flag in one hand and a Statue of Liberty torch in the other while fireworks explode in the background. Inside, the walls are decorated with dozens of patriotic photographs and knickknacks. The hotel's restaurant is the America Restaurant. Not happy with just a credo, the hotel features a Constitution written in Gothic letters and signed by the management staff. Everything about the place was so over the top, you would think that Fox News had a bureau set up on site.
I took a dozen photos of the place while I was there, including one of each of the four parking areas: Liberty, Independence, Eagle's Nest, and Freedom. (Remember, kids, we're in the Freedom lot!) Enjoy.