About Us

The Open Road Project exists to spread kindness and meet the needs of strangers. We travel in a 1979 GMC Vanguard named Lily. These are our stories.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Tim here. Our time in the City of Brotherly Love was one serious adventure. We began our second day in the city rather slowly, as we waited to hear back from a few contacts that we had made. After walking around for a while we decided it was time to settle on a place that we believed would be the home of Philadelphia’s finest Philly Cheese Steak. Naturally, we wanted to enjoy a true Philly Cheese Steak. A Philly Cheese Steak that people from Philly loved, and not necessarily from a place where hundreds of tourists walking along South Street frequented. As we chatted with locals, we were told about few fine establishments, but a particularly strong recommendations landed at "Ishkabibble's" and let me say we were not disappointed.

After chowing down, we split off into 2’s to meet some people to and spread a little bit of love.  Zach and I walked around for a while and ended up meeting a homeless guy named Robert, who was looking lunch around 3 (the first food he would have eaten all day). We offered to take him out for something to eat and a drink and naturally got chatting. In 1999, he was caught in a drive by shooting and had to have his leg amputated. He has been homeless for the last three years along with his daughter and grandson. He talked quickly about the struggles of finding work and the conditions of the shelter he stays at during the nights. We then prayed with him and wished him the best.

Jer and Tyrone had a great time chatting with a social venture in the apparel industry and with some folks who were tending to a community garden in the city.

Thankful for the sunny days
After we met back up, we went to a record store on South Street and were skimming through the hoards of albums, trying to find a few gems. Tyrone struck gold and finally found his holy grail, Neil Young’s Harvest, at a pretty fine price too. We got talking with the record store owner about his shop, the ups of the early and mid 90’s where business was fantastic and about tough times for him after the digital revolution. Eventually we began talking about the game “bigger and better”. Now if you aren’t familiar with the game, it’s all about trading what you have to someone else for something of bigger or better value. What we had to offer was a box of matches, not much sure, but something. The store owner wanted to give us something he had that possibly was valuable but he wasn’t sure. It was an antique Pittsburgh Pirates pin in a little box that a past customer left and never came back to get. The exchange was made and so the game began.

After we visited Love Park and chatted with some people with a neat organization that helps homeless people called One Step Away, we passed a little pizza shop that seemed quite welcoming. An old man named Ed was sitting eating some za, and let us know that he had been eating at "The best pizzeria in Philly for 40 years!" Well, one thing led to another and we found ourselves eating pizza with Ed and listening to his stories of being in the navy, traveling the world, becoming and architect, running a bank and ultimately turning an old abandoned Episcopal Church into an apartment building. At 80 Ed was unbelievably sharp and loved to crack jokes. He continually reminded us that life was too short to not be able to laugh and joke around. We continually heard Ed say the phrase “Don’t be nervous!” whether it be to us, the cop he talked to at the counter when he paid or when he said goodbye to the grand daughter of the original pizza shop owner. We laughed it off and soon realized that it was a phrase that he tried to live his life by. After a while of talking he asked us if we would want to come see the apartment building he put together. He welcomed us into his personal apartment to show us around and show us some pictures of what the building looked like when he first saw it. He was an incredible guy who was nothing short of humble. Before we left we asked Ed if he would be interested in our “Bigger or Better” game which he said he didn’t want to take anything from us but wanted to give us a gift. From a shelf he grabbed a little miniature replica ship that was put in a little glass block. We asked what the story was behind it and Ed said he wouldn’t tell us and that we should make up a new story for it. After Ed gave us his business card, we shook his hand and promised to visit him again if we were ever in Philadelphia or Washington again. As we said goodbye, Ed reminded us one last time to “not be nervous” and he bid us safe travels.

With some great Old Man wisdom ringing in our ears, we headed back to Lily. Next stop: Scranton Pennsylvania, the home of the beloved TV show, The Office.

Home is where you park it,
Tim and The Boys

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