we restarted the vacation portion of our trip and drove from Massachusetts to just outside Philly. We had originally planned to drive home, unpack, repack and go the beach, but then we realized that was a lot of driving, packing and unpacking and we might as well just break up the trip along the way. Where better to stop than Philly?
I must admit I do have a slight ulterior motive: sadly, it's been at least a year (if not more) since we stopped by my mom's grave. It's not something I *want* to do, but at the same time, I feel guilty for not being around to take care of it. You know, because taking care of a grave somehow makes you feel as though nothing awful choked the life out of the person nearly 7 years ago...not. So, we have built in time to pick out some flowers, stop by the grave and perhaps plan a return trip so I can plant some bulbs in the fall. I'll just forget about how we should be driving up to visit my mother, not her grave, but that's beside the point.
Or how tonight, when discussing our plans for tomorrow, Kelsey mentioned how she didn't really remember much about my mom and wished she could still see her. Nicholas is insanely curious about her, but Kelsey does not always mention her. I think she believes she is supposed to remember her, but the reality is that she died when Kelsey was barely 3 1/2. No one could fault her for her memories fading over time, and I am just sad they have to do so. I also forgot how just being in this area could dredge up the sadness.
Yet, the reality is that most of our trip has been fun to say the least. Last night was awesome. We were able to have dinner at the home of my friend, Christy, and that was an absolute blast. We had time to chat, the menfolk manned the grill (okay, Pete was more of a bystander) and the kids got along like gangbusters. I was so glad that we had the chance to get together and that the kids could enjoy so much time together.
We continued the fun today with a historical day in Philadelphia. It has easily been...many...years since I last saw the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall and figured it was about time the kids had a gander. Philadelphia has changed quite a bit since the last time (1976?) I played tourist, so thank goodness for Yelp, Christy's recommendations for restaurants and the iPhone GPS. We had one of our easiest trips finding places, no paper maps to get lost (or folded in the wrong manner) and sandwiched in visits to historical sites between two incredible meals.
Independence Hall was our first stop after lunch (at Jones...yum!). I have to say, it was a bit less than I expected. Not from the tour itself, but maybe from the tour guide? He kept hinting at a presentation (we assumed a movie/film), but that never happened. He tended to talk...and talk...and talk. While the facts were interesting, and the kids were engaged, it just ran...long. Or maybe it was just too much for the 4 year old with us? Nick seemed to enjoy the tour, but ran out of steam in each room when the lectures hit the 10 minute mark.
We followed up that with a trip to the Liberty Bell. It is now in its own building (it was free-standing the last time I saw it) and the kids liked it once we made it there. Waiting in lines and going through security? Not so much.
We had decided to keep the day somewhat short lest we try to pack too much in and go overboard. Our last stop of the day was Fireman's Hall Museum. It was a bit of a walk, but nothing the kids couldn't handle. Whether they *wanted* to handle was a completely different story.
Oh, we were so cruel...dragging them to yet another historical site. Mind you, they enjoy the historical aspects, but apparently there was just too much walking! It was a good 20 minutes after leaving the Liberty Bell that we made it to the hall and I must say, the tune changed immediately after walking in.
We had originally planned to go as we knew Nicholas would enjoy it. I did not realize how extensive the exhibits were and as it turned out, the area dedicated to those firefighters who lost their lives in 9/11 fascinated the girls. I realized that we don't spend much time talking about it at home, so this was a perfect way for (primarily Kelsey) to learn more about it. She spent at least 20 minutes taking in the photos and memorabilia from that day. Cait perused it as well, though her understanding was a bit better to begin with.
Nick spent a bit more time checking out the actual fire engines, and of course, trying on retired firefighters uniforms. He is still extraordinarily fascinated by the career, though Kelsey left the Hall worried about Nick's possible career choice. Suddenly, it seemed a bit more risky and she voiced concerns that she hoped Nick might pick something else. And at that moment, I am so jealous of those amazing sibling relationships...
Rather than overdo it, we planned an early dinner so we could get back to the hotel in time for a swim. We had an incredibly tasty meal at Route 6 in Philly and the only thing that seemed off was the waitress's attitude. Maybe we were not fancy enough? I don't know, but you know when you get that feeling that something is off? Mind you, she was the only one and from the gazpacho to the clam strips (fresh, lightly coated...perfect!), it was amazing and everyone found much to enjoy.
With that, our brief trip to Philly is nearly over and tomorrow, after a few stops in Yardley, we will head to Chincoteague for a few days of the beach. We had debated our final vacation stop quite heavily, but realized that a familiar locale for our very petite vacation might be the best option this year. And with that, it's time to get packing!