I was born in Philly and I moved six or seven times before fourth grade, hitting CT and NY before winding up back in the Philly burbs. I lived in Bucks County through HS, went to college in another Philly burb, went to grad school in VA, lived in GA for 4 years, and then was up in Boston, Mass for four more. I'm back in PA right now and not certain where I'll end up, but I've gained some knowledge in my travels that I am going to share. I'll skip NY and CT because I was too young to pay much attention but here are some handy tips on my other travels...
- I go back and forth between two descriptions of the state. One is a simple word, "Pennsyltucky". The other might help explain the first if you don't know PA..."Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in the middle."
- They try to limit drinking by making the rules confusing. PA has a tightly run system that has two different state run store-types...one for wine and spirits, the other for beer. The state decides which wines are carried (and, IMHO, doesn't pick much good stuff!). The beer stores only sell cases and kegs. If you want a six-pack, those are bought in some bars (I've never figured out why). The state stores are closed Sundays and holidays.
- The Turnpike is a very long, boring drive. It is best to avoid liquids since you can go a long haul between rest stops...in the Central PA area there are closed rest areas meaning it is 100m or so before you see one.
- Wawa is like 7-11. They also have no-fee ATMs. You can usually get a good made-to-order hoagie there. A hoagie is a sub sandwich.
- Soft pretzels make a good breakfast and are often eaten with mustard. Tastycakes are better than Little Debbies (with an exception for Oatmeal Cream Pies). Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes rock.
- There are many towns, especially in Southeast VA, that seem to get their entire working revenue from speed traps. And I swear they are looking for out-of-towners.
- Charlottesville has beautiful wineries but be forewarned that they are a windy, hilly drive. I spent a good while in one once eating crackers and homemade olive oils in order to be able to drive back.
- Wine and beer are in the supermarkets...I believe that includes being able to buy them on Sunday. Liquor is at an ABC store (Alcoholic Beverage Control).
- Fancy license plates (decorative, not personalized) aren't all that much more. I can't recall exactly, but I think my pretty one was only a one-time $15 surcharge.
- There are parts of Northern Virginia ("NoVa") that are in essence just D.C. continued. There are parts of the state that are nothing like DC.
- Lawyers-to-be have to wear suits to the Bar Exam. That just seems beyond cruel.
- This may very well have changed, but absentee voters in 200 got a punchcard ballot in the mail. I was highly amused by the little puncher (like a straightened paperclip) that was included.
- 285 is a big loop, which can be confusing since it means you change direction. It is big enough that you will want to get off and turn around if you miss your stop rather than keep going around. There aren't as many Peachtree-named roads as people will have you think...and really only a couple that you really need.
- Atlanta is its own world. Drive an hour in any direction and then you are really in Georgia.
- There are liberals in the state, mostly in ATL (see above). In fact, I think I knew more liberals in GA than MA. My house was east of the city and I think it was even bluer than the blue dot that is Atlanta. We elected a crazy cop-slapping US Rep (Cynthia McKinney) b/c she was the Democrat. On a cooler note, I liver a few doors down from an openly gay member of the state house.
- Beer and wine are sold in grocery stores but not on Sundays. The aisle is darkened and the register scanners won't let you buy alcohol.
- There are many weeks when pollen will turn your car green if it sits outside for more than 30min or so.
- MARTA is the best way to get to the airport.
- Scott Brown showed this to the country, but MA isn't as liberal as people assume. I find New Englanders to be very much a "mind your own business" group...which means they can allow some social freedoms but also don't like big government. There's also still a heavy Catholic influence. I don't think gay marriage could have passed on the ballot initially but it might now.
- Wine, beer, and liquor are sold in a single store...not state-run. The rules are very odd and allow a few grocery stores to sell alcohol but most do not (a recent ballot initiative to allow all grocery stores to sell alcohol failed). They are usually open on Sundays. There is some move to change an old blue law that doesn't let restaurants serve alcohol until later in the day on Sunday (no brunch mimosa!).
- The Phantom Gourmet is total food porn and addictive. It is a non-snobby restaurant review show that covers things like burgers, fries, and cupcakes...with an occasional fancy spot thrown in.
- Sunlight is scarce in winter. Sunrise is very early in summer.
- They are quite good at plowing but sometimes the snow is just coming down too fast for them to keep up.
- Everyone was born there. Many live in a parent's former home.
- The people in the rotary have the right of way...but don't rely on everyone else following that rule.
- If you REALLY want to go, ignore all traffic laws and go. If there's oncoming traffic, you should still make a left turn. If you don't, people will honk.