Monday, November 21, 2016

American Revolution Road Trip: Philadelphia

About halfway through our American Revolution road trip, I checked my email in our hotel room one night and discovered an email from the ballet department stating that Syd's Nutcracker rehearsals would begin that Saturday.

Plan A wasn't to drive home from our road trip until that Sunday, but I'd been worried enough about this specific possibility (and for those of you who wonder why I didn't just ask the ballet department when the Nutcracker rehearsals would begin, I give you the following: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!! As if the department is that organized! Oh, my gosh, I'm crying!!! That's too funny!) to craft a Plan B.

Plan B stated that instead of spending two days in Philadelphia, we would stay just half a day, and focus solely on Independence Hall. No City Tavern. No Franklin Institute. No Thaddeus Kosciusko National Memorial (and after I'd learned to spell it and everything!). No Ben Franklin Museum. No B. Free Franklin Post Office. BUT we'd still hit the highlight and climax of our American Revolution road trip, get the kid back in time for Nutcracker rehearsal, and Philadelphia will still be there another time.

And that's how we got up at the crack of dawn, drove into the city, and headed straight to the Independence National Historical Park!
Matt wasn't super enthusiastic about revisiting the Liberty Bell, but it was part of the kids' Junior Ranger books, AND I insisted!

I really like this view of the Liberty Bell, because you can see Independence Hall in the background.

Some Junior Ranger badge disappointments in Philadelphia:
  1. The Thaddeus Kosciusko National Memorial is only open on weekends, alas, so I had the kids finish up their partly-completed Junior Ranger books via web research and I mailed them to the site when we were home.
  2. The Germantown White House was closed altogether. An outrage! Sadly, the site also says that they do NOT honor Junior Ranger books submitted by mail, but I sent ours in, anyway. You never know when an especially kind ranger will take pity on you!
  3. You may know that there's a special Junior Ranger badge this year for the Centennial. If you haven't had your kids earn theirs yet, go do it now! My kids received theirs at Minute Man, and were super proud to have them; in the car afterwards, I heard the story at least four times of how the park ranger told them to hold onto their badges and then when they were old, they could ebay them for a lot of money. So, knowing as you do how I feel about Junior Ranger badges, you will not be surprised that I was absolutely appalled to enter the Independence visitor center and see a ranger standing in the hallway with a box of Centennial Junior Ranger badges, passing them out to everyone who passed. Excuse me, but those badges have to be EARNED! Some children have worked VERY HARD to earn those badges, and the mother of those children does not appreciate seeing a ranger simply passing them out as if they were Halloween candy! I had prepared a firm refusal and a tart comment when we were to pass this ranger, but the kids were all, "Mom, ebay!!!" So now we have two extra, but the kids are going to be disappointed when the badges are worthless in forty years because the rangers handed them out like stickers.

 Nevertheless, we simply didn't have time in Philadelphia to fuss about all of these little things. Must keep our eyes on the prize!

One of the prizes? It turned out that we had just enough time after the Liberty Bell but before our guided tour of Independence Hall to hike over and check out Ben Franklin's grave!

And then: onto Independence Hall!

There was a line to get through security and onto the grounds of the site, and a middle-aged woman behind us who was clearly trying to edge her way in front of us in this line. Fortunately, when you have four people in your family, you can take up a good amount of lateral area when you're so motivated, and so cutters rarely prevail against us.

Once we were on the grounds, however, this woman continued to act super sketchy. As I was trying to take photos of Independence Hall from the other side--

--I noticed that as soon as the woman got through security, she immediately pushed herself to the front of the line waiting for the next tour. "She must have been running late for her tour time," I thought. But after a few minutes standing in that line, she left it, and then Matt and I totally saw her sneak in the back entrance of Independence Hall!

"She's a terrorist!" I hissed to Matt. "We should tell a guard!"

"Nah," Matt said. "I bet she just doesn't have a ticket." Tickets ARE pretty hard to come by. I bought ours a month in advance.

The woman only spent a couple of minutes in Independence Hall before she came back out--security was pretty tight in there, so I bet she was caught and asked to leave--and speed-walked into another building that didn't require a special ticket. Nothing blew up afterwards, so I guess that Matt's theory was the correct one. Still, clocking her movements kept us pretty entertained while we waited for our turn for the tour.

Here's my second-favorite detective:

Our tour group was a LOT bigger than I would have liked, but our tour guide had a nice, big voice to match, and the kids and I are short, at least, so people usually give us good viewing spots. We also did credit to ourselves, with me being the only one who could immediately answer the ranger's question of which event a certain painting depicted, the signing of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.

I immediately piped up, "The Constitution!", and it turned out that I was meant to have determined that based on the presence of George Washington, but just between you and me, I actually recognized Alexander Hamilton and didn't even notice Washington.
Here's the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chamber.

And here's the Assembly Room!!! We'd been waiting the whole trip to see this!
After our tour, we turned in Junior Ranger books and received Junior Ranger badges that were EARNED, went to the bathroom, bought Philly cheesesteaks from a food truck, hoofed it back to the car, and ate them on our way out of the city and on the long, long, long drive home.

We got home around 1:30 in the morning, the kid showed up on time to her 10:00 am ballet class, Matt discovered at this 10:00 am ballet class that they'd changed the time of that day's Nutcracker rehearsal to an hour earlier (because of COURSE they did), the kid showed up on time to Nutcracker rehearsal, and over dinner that night she told me that the first thing they did when rehearsal began is start lining up the kids into rows. The kids who arrived a few minutes late?


And THAT'S how I have a front row soldier in this year's Nutcracker!

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