Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 5th in Philly

We stayed in downtown Philadelphia for one more day and this time we were on our own, just the four of us.  Ella and Jack were both so awesome on the 4th of July with the amount of walking we did—there was absolutely no complaining—so we figured on this second day we’d give them a little break and tour the city in the morning on a duck boat ride.  The duck first took us around the city, by a few spots we’d been to the previous day, but then also to areas we probably would’ve have walked.  We got a little history here and there, some fun music, and then, of course, we splashed into the Delaware River.  It was a fun start to the day and reinvigorated the kids for more walking afterwards—we had to fill those story flags with the stars, after all.  We spent the rest of our day with more exploring, hearing stories, and enjoying some great food in the city.  So many of our family vacations have been beaches or mountains, so it was fun to finally enjoy some history and a big city together.  This trip was a huge highlight of the summer—for the invaluable family time with Jonathan’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins and also for so many cool sights.

{sitting on the duck boat near independence hall, waiting for the tour to start.}

{you can kind of see our duck boat’s reflection here.}

{driving into the delaware river.}

{after our duck tour, we walked around the city to listen to stories with ‘once upon a nation’ and get the remaining 7 stickers on the kids’ flags.  jack’s wearing his duck noisemaker which, of course, they don’t give you until the tour is over…smart people.}

{the story we heard at independence hall was about commodore barry, the first american commissioned naval officer.}

{a very large tiffany glass mural.}

{the fam were actually active participants in the telling of this story of president andrew jackson’s attempts to abolish the second bank of the united states (the building behind them).}

{we headed down to south street for lunch to go to jim’s steaks.  most of the locals we asked said jim’s was their favorite because you get real cheese (no “whiz”).  i snapped this one photo before jonathan practically knocked the camera out of my hand—apparently i was embarrassing him…which i did even further inside, having to be corrected on my order (it’s a cheesesteak with peppers, not a peppersteak with cheese, who knew?), but then jonathan had to be corrected, too.  ha!  it’s all part of the experience.}

{this is jonathan’s “put your camera away, woman, before we get kicked out” look.}

{at the location of benjamin franklin’s homestead (franklin court), the most interesting part of which for the kids was seeing ben franklin’s, well, privy pits…}

{getting the last star for their flags at franklin square—now for the free carousel ride.}

{an incredible dinner on an upstairs patio at the corner restaurant.}

{(on left) if you haven’t noticed, we let jack grow his hair out over the summer.  he didn’t get an actual haircut to style the longer hair until the week before school started.  (on right) this is not jack’s drink.  ;)  but, it was brewed in pottstown, PA where jonathan’s grandparents live—and where we were earlier in the week—so it was worth noting.}

{and this was the ride home the next day.  i’d say we wore them out.}

Monday, July 30, 2012

July 4th in Philly

On the 4th of July we headed down to Philadelphia—what better place to be on our country’s birthday.  Aunt Anita, Uncle Mark, cousin Julia (who lives in downtown Philly), and her boyfriend Brian took us to the Independence Day Parade and then took us on a walking tour of the historical district.  It was awesome.  The city was incredible and the company was even better.  Plus, I think it really hit home with the kids all the history we were surrounded by—and I’m sure Ella and Jack could easily tell you how many years ago the Declaration of Independence was signed, 200 years + Mommy’s age.  :)

{the view from our hotel room and ella and uncle mark on their way to the parade.}

{thomas jefferson and ben franklin}

{surprisingly, we didn’t wait in any line to speak of the see the liberty bell that day.  those are wa wa geese the kids are holding.}

{“the signer” (on left) and (on right) ella rings the bell the start the story.  there were these awesome shady benches throughout the historic district of downtown philly where actors would tell a historical story—with quite a bit of flair—about a nearby statue or building.  you just had to look for the ‘Once Upon a Nation’ sign.  it was great because, of course, the stories were so interesting to us and the kids, but also because it gave the kids a reason to walk the miles and miles all over the city.  there were 13 storytellers and each one would give you a star sticker if you listened to a story and, if you filled your revolutionary flag with all 13 stars, you got a free carousel ride at franklin square.}

{story #2}

{a stop for lunch.  julia and brian knew all the amazing little gastropubs.  we had some great beer and great food on this trip.}

{another story.}

{the kids wrote postcards for the troops.  it was a lot of “thank you”’s and “you are the best”.  very sweet.}

{christ church—the birthplace of the american episcopal church.  the congregation included 15 signers of the declaration of independence.}

{(on right) after the declaration of independence, the priest crossed out the parts of the litany that referred to the king of england—quite a coup d'├ętat at this church of england.}

{at betsy ross’s house.}

{the country’s oldest continuously inhabited street.}

{in the evening, we headed down toward the art museum (walking by the capital building  here) to check out the 4th of july festivities.  we decided not to stay for the fireworks, though, because they weren’t even going to start until close to 11pm, and the place was packed.  so we stopped at another cool gastropub for dinner and then went back to our hotel to watch the fireworks on t.v. (and listen to them outside—you could kind of see reflections bouncing off buildings, too, from our window), saying goodbye to our fantastic tour guides (aunt anita, uncle mark, julia, and brian) for the trip.}