Thursday, August 23, 2012

PA - The Finale

Stella is 11 months old today. I bet you came to the blog hoping for her update. Well, I want to finish documenting our vacation first, so you'll have to wait. But don't worry - a Stella update is coming and it has been a busy month for her.

On Friday, we decided to go to Washington's Crossing. Washington's Crossing of the Delaware River is one of my favorite events in American History, so this is a place I've wanted to visit for awhile. Someday, maybe I'll even go there for Christmas so I can see the re-enactment. Anyway, we headed out on Friday morning and, unfortunately, it was raining. We didn't let that stop us, though. Since we had three small children with us and we were getting quite wet, we decided not to do the tour. Instead we just poked around the site for a few minutes.

This is the inn where legend says Washington and his aides had dinner the night of the crossing.

Replicas of the Durham boats that Washington and his army used to cross the river. These boats are used in the Christmas Day re-enactment.

Here we are at the bridge that crosses the Delaware at Washington's Crossing.

The Delaware River.

After checking out Washington's Crossing in PA, we headed across the river to check out the park they have on the New Jersey side. They had a little museum that we checked out and then we headed to Princeton for lunch. After lunch and some ice cream, we stopped for cupcakes at a cupcake place that won Cupcake Wars (it's vacation - don't judge). Then we walked over to the Princeton campus and poked around for a few minutes. We headed out of town, driving through the Princeton Battlefield and drove to Trenton to check out the Old Barracks and surrounding sites of the Trenton Battle. We decided not to tour the Old Barracks because parking was not at all convenient and, again, we had three little kids in tow.

After that, we headed back to the Olsons', got dinner, and then I got to experience Rita's. Mr. Frisby was so excited. Apparently, we weren't very picture happy that day.

On Saturday, we went to Philadelphia. Our first stop was the Independence Visitors' Center to get tickets to tour Independence Hall. After we got our tickets, we noticed the line to see the Liberty Bell was pretty short, so we decided to check it out really fast before getting breakfast. This was a wise move because later in the day, the line was huge and there were mobs of people everywhere inside the building.

After seeing the Liberty Bell, we headed to the Famous 4th Street Deli for breakfast. This place was recommended by my sister and it did not disappoint. After a delicious breakfast, we checked out Ben Franklin's grave in the Christ Church burial ground and then it was on to Independence Hall for our tour.

I really enjoyed the tour of Independence Hall, but it was way shorter than I thought it would be. You have to have tickets (they're free, but you still have to have them) and then they take you into this big room to give you an introduction to the Hall and it's quite a process. So, I expected the tour to be a bigger deal than it was. After the introduction, they took us into a courtroom on the main floor and then into the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed and where the Continental Congress met.

Like, I said, it was cool, but I could've breezed through those two rooms myself without the whole tour process and the accompanying inconveniences. After the tour, we talked with a tour guide for a few minutes and he mentioned that they tour the upper rooms of the Hall during the winter when it's not as busy. Another reason to go back for Christmas, perhaps...

After seeing Independence Hall, we poked around and saw a few more things in Philly. We checked out Christ Church which is where many of the Founding Fathers went to church. We saw Elfreth's Alley which is the oldest continually resided street in the US.

We also went to the Betsy Ross house, but did not do the tour (see above reasons for not touring re: three small children).

We then headed back to the Independence Visitors' Center to decide what to do next. It was very warm and, yet again, Stella fell asleep. Did I mention what a trooper she was?

We decided that, since it wasn't too late, we could head across the river into Camden, NJ so Mr. Frisby could show us some areas from his mission. We don't have any pictures because, well, who takes pictures of Camden? After that it was back to Philly for a Cheesesteak. We went to Pat's because it's supposed to be THE Philly Cheesesteak. Here's the line wrapped all the way around the building. Parking was bad (as bad as the worst neighborhoods in San Fran), so Mr. Frisby jumped out to order all our food while we just circled the blocks. The cheesesteak was good and I think Mr. Frisby was pretty close to heaven while eating it. But, I think the whole experience actually made the sandwich more worth it. Mr. Frisby reported that all around the building they have signs telling you how to order and if you don't do it right and have your money ready, they'll send you to the back of the line. You start by saying the kind of cheese you want. Whiz (cheese whiz - apparently, that's the most authentic way to have it) or Provolone. Then you say "with" if you want onions and "without" if you don't. So, I had one provolone without. Mr. Frisby had one whiz with. And that's how you order. Fortunately, Mr. Frisby was on top of his game and didn't get sent to the back of the line. But, the people behind him almost did.

And that was Philly. We had a fabulous time and it was a great trip. I realized after we left that we stupidly and shamefully did not get any pictures with our good friends and awesome hosts. But, I did get this one picture with them walking in front of Independence Hall. Thanks, Olsons, for putting up with our touristy needs and for your wonderful hospitality. Can we come back someday?

Sunday morning we woke up painfully early to catch our 5:50 am flight out of Philadelphia. Fortunately there were no delays on our return flights and Stella only got really restless toward the end of our last flight. We were, of course, exhausted by the time we got home, but Stella was such a great little traveler and we had such a wonderful time. Goodbye East Coast - until we meet again.


LJ, DC and ML said...

Hurray for the Olsons , cupcake wars and all around awesomeness. Wish we'd gone too!

Jared said...

I've had dreams about that cheesesteak ever since. Long live cheesesteaks!