Since you aren’t allowed to make a left turn in Jersey, I bypassed Atlantic City.
Two days into vacation and I’ve learned a couple of things. Hershey, PA is one cool place to visit and driving in New Jersey is a lesson in futility. Why not on day three head to one of the largest cities in the U.S. with three kids and learn a little history? Some call this crazy with that many kids, I call it a cultural education. They think we talk funny, but we talk normal and they talk funny! It was off to the where it all began back when this loud-mouthed British colony known as America decided we would do things our own way. (Note from Miss Madison: America was not one colony but was actually made up of 13 separate colonies.) Philadelphia was this nation’s first capital city way back when, and it was where our adventures led us on this particular morning.
Time to see what all the fuss is about!
This was our maiden voyage into the City of Brotherly Love for yours truly and Miss Madison. She was super excited to see all the old time Revolutionary War era buildings and I was even more giddy for an authentic Philly Cheesesteak. Before it was all said and done, we got to experience both.
Sloane is already learning how to hail a cab!
If you aren’t from the area, then you might not know they build some big bridges to get into Philadelphia via New Jersey. I know General George Washington’s pilgrimage across the Delaware River was under the cloak of darkness on a makeshift naval patrol of cargo boats and ferries, these days you get to cross the Walt Whitman and Benjamin Franklin bridges for a charge. Beautiful engineering marvels for sure, coming from all things Springsteen they bring you into East Philadelphia.
My first impression of Philly was there is a ton of history. I loved the architecture, but bicyclists have a death wish. When you are on your ten speed cutting in front of a 4,000 lb. vehicle you must either be insane or have a hell of an ambulance chasing lawyer on your speed dial. This would happen more than once while I was Tiptoeing Through the Tulips in Philly. Our first stop was the most overrated thing in American history, the Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell has a crack in it due to poor craftsmanship. Period, end of story, it’s depicted in cartoons as this monster bell, my seventh period high school math class had a bigger bell I think. (Note from Miss Madison: Obviously the Liberty Bell had to be small enough to fit in the belfry of a building. How big could you possibly have expected it to be?!) The line we had to wait in to see it while karate chopping every area school group just made it more miserable for me. If you are in Philly and want to see the Liberty Bell, just buy a postcard and thank me later.
I will say seeing Independence Hall was very chilling. I mean our freaking country was born there! I have never set foot in the hospital that I was born in, but I’m sure one day it will be a shrine for other bloggers 250 years from now. That’s how I felt walking on the hallowed grounds around Independence Hall. Beautiful landscaping, amazing scenery, and even better company
Back before I became a blogger, I used to actually read a book from time to time. Usually cutting edge stuff from Dr. Seuss or the latest 8,000 page bible of spy novella from Tom Clancy. Walking through Washington Park, I could completely imagine sitting on a park bench devouring Jack Ryan’s latest unbelievable heroics as a super spy while pigeons surrounded me like I was the last morsels of crumbs on the planet. Well worth a look if you are in the area just for the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary Soldier. It as this point in the journey I might mention this one gigantic final resting place for many soldiers, paupers, and indigents. William Penn intended for it to be a city park initially, Mr. Union Jack instead used it for a mass grave site. This concludes today’s history lesson.
The Liberty Bell was about as disappointing to me as a typical 76ers season!
We even took some time to visit Franklin Square to see a Chinese Art Festival going down. The kids were enamored with the colorful displays and I was shocked to learn that I’m a dragon in the Chinese calendar year. So next time I get called dragon breath by my dentist I politely remind him of this. Downtown Philly was a joyful excursion, but I didn’t have the stamina or willpower to recreate Rocky Balboa’s famous step climbing challenge at Philadelphia Museum of Art. If I ever get into MMA fighting though, I’ll be sure to try it out.
“Yo, Rocco, look at those goofy tourists, hell they aren’t even Asian!”
With all this learning of course by now our stomachs were staging their own hunger strike and demanding food before they would allow us to continue our journey. That meant it was time to head to Pat’s King of Steaks for our first authentic Philly Cheesesteak. I’m sure many of you have seen or heard about Pat’s on various T.V. shows over the years. I was fully expecting all this notoriety was going to be known once we saw the dollar figures on the menu. As usual I was wrong. Ten bucks later , I was sinking my teeth into my fine culinary masterpiece. Pat’s got a solid five anchor rating on the Skipah’s ranking system and even a little extra credit for the outdoor dining experience.
Not pictured: Educating the kids in Philly speak for ordering a cheesesteak. The word “wit” goes against everything they have ever learned in school.
We had one last thing to do before some drunk Phillies fan realized I was a Reds fan in disguise and called in the boys to rough me up. We had promised prison aficionado Miss Madison Jr. (she’s been to Alcatraz and loved it) a chance to go tour the historic fortress known as the Eastern State Penitentiary. This concrete jungle at one time housed some of biggest and baddest hombres to ever run afoul of the law. Al Capone even received his mail here for a short time way back when.
I would highly recommend a visit if you are in the area and need to kill some time.
While not sensing any ghostly spirits or imaginary zombies there, it was pretty neat seeing the inside of the prison. Miss Madison Jr. was happier than a Eagles fan after a win over the Cowboys (bear with me Philadelphians I’m trying to assimilate to your culture) and Sloane was in awe of the audio tour as she somehow managed to be 20 minutes behind the rest of us. Maybe she was doing recon to design her own prison one day. If my little girl wants to be a Civil Engineer and design the next SuperMax facility, I’ll be 100% supportive of her. Besides, if she is leading a design firm working on projects of this magnitude, then my retirement is going to be that much easier!
We bid adieu to Philly right around rush hour in the rain. Solid planning on our part, but the Philly fun we had that day was the theme in the car as I was learning that most drivers in that area are very proficient in one finger sign language and making melodic harmony with their horns.
About it for now, it was time to hit the South Jersey shore in search of diamonds, fresh seafood, and some more magical moments. A quaint trip through the Jersey countryside and a whole new world opened up for us on the beautiful Cape May area of the Garden State. A few Jersey Girls were born, and I found a whole new appreciation for the ocean.