Monday, June 9, 2014

From Philly to Maine

Saturday was a rode trip day. We headed to the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside to Lancaster County, and then on to Gettysburg. We left pretty early, so it afforded us time to take the long, slow, scenic way. I am glad we did. As we were driving to Lancaster, we saw a yard sale and did a little bit of shopping. I found some darling artwork and Rinar rounded up a couple of pairs of shoes that Raef and Zach could wear. 

Then we went to the Lancaster farmer's market. It is the oldest farmer's market still in existence and the place was happening. Pretty much all of the vendors are Amish or Mennonites. We bought some raw honey and various jelly assortments from this nice Amish gentleman. There were lots of samples and things to see and smell. Rinar also made it a point to a get a little explanation of the difference between Mennonites and Amish from the lady at the candy counter.

 Outside was a Mary Poppins street musician. You know what I am talking about? He had a bass drum stuck to his back, cymbals, ukulele, harmonica, horn, etc. It was fun. There was even a bucket of various improvised percussion instruments so that othes could play along with him. Fun!

From Lancaster, we made our way to Gettysburg. We took our time doing the auto tour and looked at the many details of the battle. I tried to explain it the best that I could to two uninterested kids. Oy! But I got a lot out of it and I think that Rinar learned a few things as well. In this picture the kids are standing on Little Round Top, a critical moment and turning point in the battle and hence, the war. Gettysburg is just a very special place.

Raef was obsessed with the idea of finding bullets and artifacts, even though he knew that it was illegal. He tried to think of umpteen different ways around the laws and all. It was a nice consolation that there was a gift shop where they sold actual bullets. We also made sure to pay our respects to the greatest president ever to live, Abraham Lincoln. We stopped at the cemetery to see where he delivered the Gettysburg Address. Like I said, Gettysburg is just a very special place.

Sunday was definitely a day of rest for us. We all needed a break from all of this larnin'! We went to church in Moorestown, New Jersey. And by the way, that is a beautiful little town. It is absolutely idyllic. After church was over, I thought it would be nice to go and see Valley Forge, but we modified this plan when the bishop invited us to his house for dinner. It was pretty darn cool. We ate random stuff for this impromptu dinner party and then they were incredibly gracious and spent valuable time with my kids playing Apples to Apples. Raef and Zach really had a wonderful time. Thank you Bishop Rigby and Sister Rigby.

To wrap up the Philadelphia portion of the trip, we went to The Franklin Institute. I thought it was a science museum, but it is really just a glorified kids museum. More than half the stuff is broken and the place was a zoo because we landed in the middle of field trip hell. In addition, it is really expensive. Holy cow. Let's just say, I really would not recommend it. But at least there was this sweet statue of Benjamin Franklin, one of my favorite founding fathers.

And Zach got to ride the Sky Bike.

I suppose it was not a total loss. There were a few surprises along the way. The Philadelphia LDS temple is getting built about two blocks away and that was an inspiring site. Plus, the boys were able to run the Rocky steps. This is something Rinar really wanted to do. I waited by the car because I really did not want to get a parking ticket!

We were able to get out to Valley Forge before rush hour traffic and just before the visitor's center closed. Good thing, because it allowed us to get another stamp for our NPS passport. Before we got there, we stopped for lunch at the Shake Shack. Holy moley, that place is delish. I would say it is the eastern equivalent to In'n'Out, only way better. Plus they have a whole bunch of shake flavors, which made the kids pretty darn happy.

I am grateful we could go to Valley Forge. The name is appropriate because it is where farmers were forged into soldiers. To understand Valley Forge is to understand the terrain there. It is on a hill and easily fortified. At the opposite end of the visitor's center several miles away is the house where Washington had his headquarters. There is a park ranger there and you can tour the house, which has reproductions and period pieces. Once again, I was just awed to walk in General Washington's footsteps.

We packed up Wednesday and got on the road early so that we would have some time in New York City before we got to our hotel in the Boston area. We parked in Staten Island and took the free ferry to the city. It was seamless and worry-free. Plus we got a great view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I had originally planned to take them to Ellis Island, but we canceled that plan because most of it is still closed because of Hurricane Sandy. But we still kept the Empire State Building on the agenda. The ticket price it very expensive, so I decided not to go up because we could save some money and I had already been. While they went up, I headed over to the NYC Public Library for the exhibit they had on children's literature. It was an enjoyable solo excursion that I am sure the rest of the crew was happy to miss. But once we reunited, we headed out to the ferry and our car again.

In the afternoon, we went to Coney Island. I had never been there before. We made sure to ride the Cyclone, a brain-rattling wooden roller coaster from 1927. It was fun and I hope to never ride it again. We had eaten pizza in the city and then opted for a hot dog snack at the original Nathan's on the boardwalk. And yes, the hot dog was yummy.

In the evening, we went to my cousin Lindsay's house in Brooklyn. The plan was for our boys to babysit her little ones and then the adults could go to dinner. Mission accomplished. We bought some mac and cheese, blueberries, juice boxes, and got the kids going and then we split.  Since it is their town, we had them choose the dinner location. They did a great job. We went to Giacomo's, an Italian place just around the corner. It was a darling restaurant and a wonderful time with them.

And can I just give a shout out to my cousin. She is the most amazing woman! And she has a blog if you want to check it out. Lindsay just gave birth to her fourth son. She lives in the craziest, busiest city in the world, their apartment is tiny as you would expect, her husband is the bishop, and some how or another she is keeping it all together. I mean, the laundromat is a block away people. She is definitely a tree growing in Brooklyn. And she has the most darling children. My boys were amazed at her oldest son Garrett. They couldn't believe how smart he his. Zach told me that he thought Garrett was a genius. But I was proud of my boys. When we got back, the kids were in bed, the apartment was quiet and Raef was finishing up the dishes. Way to go, boys!!

We actually made great time from Brooklyn to Boston. And on Wednesday, we went to the Plimouth Plantation, a living history center. They have a Wampanoag village and a Puritan village. The Wampanoag are actual Native Americans and a lot of them are descendants of the Wampanoags. They encourage the kids to ask lots of questions and learn stuff.

The Puritan village is fun because the settlers there are reenactors and stay in character faithfully. We came across a man talking to a group and as I listened to him, realized that he was Miles Standish. Man, was he spot on. I thoroughly enjoyed it. He just acted like we were one of them and was a garrulous guy. There were probably about five of them throughout the village and they really look like they live there.

After Plimouth, we made a quick stop at Plymouth Rock and saw the actual rock they landed on. We also ate lunch at a place called the Lobster Hut. Raef ordered lobster mac and cheese. Let's just say, it was not his favorite. But he ate it because that was an expensive lunch. Every. Bite.

We also made sure to visit Cape Cod National Seashore. And like the last time I was there, it was cloudy, misty, and a little bit dreary. But it was still nice and the kids were able to play on the beach for a while and comb for rocks and such. Rinar and I also stopped and talked to a few random couples. One was from Australia and the other was from Connecticut. I tell you, people are so interesting.

It was a downpour Thursday. We made an attempt at the Freedom Trail in Boston and I just was not up for the struggle with the boys. It was clear that they had reach the limit to all things historical.

And just like the esteemed James Otis, I think the history lessons died that day.  We waived the white flag, went back to the hotel, took hot showers and relaxed for the rest of the day.

We drove to the scenery of New Hampshire and Maine on Friday. Rinar wanted to stop at this house for some reason.

Hi Ken! Do you still read my blog?
 We went to the coast and as we were driving towards Portsmouth, New Hampshire, I realized that Maine was just on the other side.  We had never been to Maine and thought, hmmm, why not? We found a lighthouse in York, Maine and took some pretty pictures. We also met the lighthouse keeper and a local artist with a genuine Maine accent.

The kids played at the beach some more and an old-fashioned arcade and then we headed home. There was a lot of packing to do.


I would say that the thing I enjoyed the most was talking to the many people along the way in each area we visited. People are so interesting. I learned so much more about where we were by talking to the locals. The trip also reminded me of the beauty and majesty of this great nation. I can really say that I am proud to be an American.


Lindsay said...

Thanks for your kind words! It was great to see you!

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

Wow! You guys are really covering your states! Isn't that statue of Ben Franklin awesome!

NormaKimokeo said...

I wish I was one of your home-schooled students along for the historical tour! Your kids are so lucky! You & Rinar are such terrific parents!!

emily said...

My. I am exhausted just reading this blog post! I have done my share of historical sight seeing back east, but no way I would have the stamina you just wrote about. For myself, or dragging my kids along. Wow. That's incredible.

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