Philadelphia, PA: Cheese Steaks & Pride

Philadelphia, PA: Cheese Steaks & Pride

“Welcome To Pennsylvania” the sign read, and underneath in small imaginary letters  it also said – “You’re Now Leaving the Mid West.” I’m from Illinois. I’ve traveled south for vacation and west for work, but I’ve never driven east. Pennsylvania was uncharted territory for Guillaume and I, which made it mysterious and exciting.

Our terrain was changing. The flat chested land of my childhood, where I would tower over spring crops only to be stunted by them come autumn harvest, began to grow mountainous breasts. The architecture was changing. Mini-mansions and cookie-cutter homes were less prominent, and instead you’d see the occasional 200 year old tiny home, which I assume wasn’t considered tiny at the time.

The night before we reached Philadelphia we stayed at a lovely campground in Burnt Cabins, PA. It was rural, quiet and surrounded by spectacular foliage. The camp store was in a small cottage that was older than my great-great grandparents, but all was overshadowed by the campground’s namesake – the old (yet still producing) mill. We bought the Mill’s pancake mix and a bag of local Middleswarth potato chips. Both didn’t disappoint.

Tiny House In Burnt Cabins, PA at Ye Ole Mill Campground

That evening we cooked our first meal in the tiny house and, of course, it had to be steak! Thanks to our Dometic 3-way fridge, the meat traveled from Shelbyville still frozen.

Tiny House Steak Cooking
Our First Time Cooking In the Tiny House
Tiny House Giant Journey Stars
Tiny House Under the Pennsylvanian Stars

The next morning we set off on a slow, precarious voyage into Philadelphia. The bridges were low, the streets were narrow, and many onlookers were enjoying the spectacle of our house haphazardly navigating through the city. At first I was perplexed by the amount of one-way streets, but it didn’t take long for me to appreciate them. Two lanes were needed for the occasional nerve-wracking turn. After what seemed like an eternity, we parked our tiny home in a gravel parking lot located smack-dab in the middle of Old City and across from the Tumbleweed workshop hotel.

While Guillaume and Deek hosted the workshop, I explored the city and Salies guarded the tiny home.

THGJ Parking in Philly
THGJ Parking in Philly. A friendly local giving us a few tips.

It was wonderful to be in an American city with history. Every cobblestone seemed to tell a story of it’s importance. Just walking around, reading plaques, and soaking in the architecture filled my insides with warm pride. I never had a chance to feel that way before in my own country, and I only assume my admiration will grow as I visit New York, Washington D.C. and other pages from my elementary school textbooks.

Liberty Bell
Liberty Bell
Liberty Bell
Liberty Bell

Independence Hall

Harbor Park was also really beautiful, especially at night. Guillaume snapped a few photos while I searched for a comfortable hammock.

Harbor Park
Harbor Park at Night

There was also a self-built sustainable floating house on display, complete with chickens and a bee hive! It was really amazing to stumble upon another form of mobile alternative housing on this journey.

Self Built Tiny House
“WetLand” – Sustainable Floating Home by Mary Mattingly

Before leaving Philly, Guillaume and I feasted on cheesesteaks from Jim’s Steaks on South street. I chose provolone cheese and Guillaume went with the native favorite: cheese wiz. Sadly the meal confirmed that we won’t be accepted as locals because we both preferred the provolone.

Here are a few tasty restaurants we tried:

High Street on Market – Amazing sandwich and bakery selections. Love the atmosphere as well – very small, hip coffee shop vibe. For Instayum click here.

Old City Coffee – Excellent coffee and bagels. Located on a small backstreet in Old City.

Dim Sum Garden – I love Chinatowns and dim sum. I am always on the look out for XLB (soup dumplings) and I have a favorite place in Los Angeles and San Fran. This would be my preference for Philly. BYOB – important to know!

Chinatown - Philly
Chinatown – Philly

It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with Philly. It’s a special place. Could I live there? I imagine having an apartment in Old City, drinking coffee and watching people stroll by from my stoop. But my tiny home doesn’t have a place in that scenario, so I think we will move along and perhaps return another time to visit.

Next up: New York, NY.

– Jenna

PS. Thank you to all the workshop attendees and locals that visited our home in Philadelphia. If you missed it, check out Deek’s video tour of our home.




  1. Divebum Don
    September 22, 2014 / 3:18 pm

    What an Awesome Journey!! My favorite post heretofore, but I thought youd get in the Pat’s and Geno’s debate. Safe Passage!

    • User Avatar September 22, 2014 / 7:26 pm

      Ha! We thought about going (to either). But couldn’t make it happen. I’ll leave that debate to the locals.

  2. September 22, 2014 / 2:32 pm

    I’m having fun reading your blog and viewing the pics you share while on your journey. I hope to be able to see your Tiny House when you visit the Maritimes. Have fun and safe travels to you!

  3. Divebum Don
    September 22, 2014 / 2:09 pm

    What an awesome journey!! My favorite post heretofore… Safe Passage, Don

  4. Sandy
    September 22, 2014 / 11:23 am

    I am so enjoying reading about your adventure. Keep writing and have fun.
    Aunt Sandy

  5. Paulina
    September 22, 2014 / 10:33 am

    Thank you for sharing your adventure. It sure looks like a lot of fun.
    Travel mercies to you.
    Paulina 🙂

  6. Andrew Greer
    September 22, 2014 / 9:52 am

    I am actually from PA! I have been following your blog and pictures when I can, looks like a fantastic adventure you two are on! 🙂

    If you don’t mind me asking, how are you able to do this? Did you simply save for a prolonged voyage or do you have mobile jobs? Just curious!

    • User Avatar September 22, 2014 / 9:59 am

      We did have a little bit of savings, but we also generate some income from writing, photography and workshop hosting.

      • Andrew Greer
        September 22, 2014 / 10:11 am

        Very cool! Love getting sneak peaks of your travels!

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