Pennsylvania

So we head out of Brooklyn after rush hour has died down and head to Philadelphia. We drive straight through New Jersey; unfortunately, passing a few friends along the way. We pulled into Philly around early afternoon and went straight to Art Museum. As we are walking around, I ask Dad if he can figure out where we are at and if he can figure out the cultural significance of the location. He is absolutely clueless. So I ask him to watch the people running up the stairs in front of the museum to see if he could figure it out, but no such luck. Finally, I have to tell him we are standing in front of the Rocky Stairs. He just laughs and says, I did really like Rocky! I was definitely surprised by this answer since he is obsessed with boxing. We both run up the stairs and do our best Rocky poses at the top.

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We walk down to go check out the Rocky statue, but this was the first time in the US I’ve seen a group trying to hustle tourists. I’ve definitely seen this move in Europe. A group of 3 very large men were hanging around encouraging people to take their pictures in front of the statue. Then they wanted to be paid for taking the picture. Even if you didn’t let them take your picture, they were there to muscle you into paying. Dad hadn’t really noticed what was going on, and asked if I wanted to go take a picture. I said nope and then the group of men were being pushy about coming to get a picture, and again I said no. I just walked on by. Dad asked why I didn’t want a picture when we got to the car, and I told him about the hustle that was going on at the statue. He was definitely surprised that he missed it and surprised it would happen. I told him happens in tourist destinations all over the world.

We headed over to the Love Park in downtown Philadelphia, and grabbed a couple of photos of the Love sculpture. There was definitely a line of people waiting around to take their picture including some very handsome brothers who I got to take their picture for them. Too bad I was to shy to talk to them more, even after my dad had been talking to them for a while.

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I did not tell dad what we were planning to visit in Philadelphia, since he wasn’t remembering the historical significance. So we walked into the old section of the city and into the national park. Finally, he figures out we are standing in front of the Liberty Bell.

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We head into the visitor center to get tickets to visit Independence Hall and go over for our tour. The Ranger leading the tour is born and raised Philadelphian and I can tell he loves his job. He gives the tour just like I would expect an army drill sergeant would give the tour, but it is absolutely fantastic.

Why was George Washington such a bad ass? He wasn’t the greatest, smartest, or best general out there. He was just the one who kicked the British’s ass. That would be like Peru defeating Russia in today’s world.

Then we head into the state house which the Deceleration of Independence was debated and signed. As well as, the constitution argued and worked out by the founding fathers of this country. The writing of both of these documents were well contested and each word fought over. It was definitely amazing to see the desk the Thomas Jefferson worked from and Benjamin Franklin provided his thoughts into the creation of these documents. This tour definitely got me thinking about the US and was my favorite US history tour so far, even though it only lasted 30 minutes.

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We then walk back towards the shopping and restaurant area of Philly in search of coffee. As we are wandering I find this incredible Kenny Scharf mural above a bar called Graffiti. I thought wow, this must be the perfect place for me. So we went into the bar which required walking down a very thin dark alley to get to it. The wall had a large piece of graffiti but it wasn’t signed. I headed straight to the bar to ask about the Kenny Scharf mural to learn more about it. However, the bartenders new nothing about it. They looked at me like I was crazy and seemed like they had never seen the mural. They definitely did not know who Kenny Scharf was. Considering this bar was named Graffiti, I thought this was unacceptable. If you are going to be called graffiti, you’re employees should know a little bit about graffiti at least about the mural painted on the wall above bar. So we left. (Yes, I’m a street art snob.)

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We continue on the coffee hunt and head to Elixr cafe. This was a great little cafe that made fantastic espresso. I had a super tasty cortado. The staff was friendly and the atmosphere of the cafe was very relaxed.

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We then headed over to meet Maria for dinner at Village Whiskey. You definitely cannot go wrong with a restaurant that has Whiskey in the name. We had the pulled pork sandwich with duck fat fries, and it was fantastic. The whiskey cocktail menu was great as well. I had my favorite, a whiskey mule. Dinner with Maria was fantastic. It was great to catch up and see how she was doing, especially with TechEd only a few weeks away. After dinner we headed out of the city and down towards Valley Forge.

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After walking around Boston, New York, and Philly both Dad and I had sore feet and needed more of a day of rest. So we went and wandered around Valley Forge for a couple of hours and then headed over to the closest KOA to get cleaned up and do laundry.

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We did make it over to WAWA for coffee and tasty cakes for breakfast. We’ve had Dunkin Doughnuts and Krispy Creme along the journey. So the adventure would not be complete without a visit to WAWA.

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For dinner, we went to Teresa’s Next Door in Wayne. I had been there before on my last visit to the area, but I wasn’t able to try any of the great beer selection. I was able to fix that issue this time. I had the farmhouse ale Bam Biere from Jolly Pumpkin. It was excellent. Andreas joined us for dinner. Andreas is a former colleague that I had met at a leadership class last year. He’s been following the cross-country adventure on Facebook. It was great to have him come be part of the journey and join us for dinner.

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We headed back to the KOA to get some good rest before we headed to Washington D.C. This is the incredible view we woke up to in the morning.

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In the morning we are taking the long route to DC so we can go though Amish country and visit Gettysburg. WE stay off the main highway route and take the backroads into the Amish country. Very quickly, I see a man reaping his corn using mules. We have to pass horse drawn buggies as we travel down the roads. But those horses do pull those buggies faster than I thought they would. All of the homes had their laundry hanging out to dry. I absolutely loved the farms and fields that stretched across the horizon.

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We reach Lancaster and stop there for lunch at Cafe One Eight. We had a tasty breakfast burrito and coffee to get us fueled for the rest of the day’s adventure. Then we headed on to Gettysburg.

Neither Dad or I are huge history buffs so we didn’t want to see every monument or battle marker in Gettysburg. We went straight over to the Soldier’s National Cemetery to see the mass grave markers and the site of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. In the cemetery, there are markers for each state and it list the number buried their for that state. Pennsylvania had over 500 people buried in it’s mass grave. There were over 51,000 soldiers killed here which is the worst death toll for a battle in US history. At the center of the cemetery is an incredible monument with Lady Liberty at the top surrounded by War, Peace, Plenty, and History. Though my feelings about this country and it’s history are complicated, this cemetery is hallowed ground for this country.

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