So here we sit, on the train to Philadelphia. Ironically, as I loaded this page to write to you all, I got a push notification to my phone that there was a train collision in Connecticut. As Tom said, “Not what you want to hear when you are on a train”. Anyway, the only place we could find a place to sit together on this crowded evening commute from NYC to Philly was the quiet car. Now any of you who have met my children will argue, that is not the place for us. Behold, my family. The wonder of technology, not even Tom is complaining that he is bored.
So, our trip to NYC was a whirlwind. We saw and did a lot and Jackson’s feet and Tom’s arms sure are tired. Let me take a pause here to say that Tom realized as we were waiting to push back from the gate in NC that he left his poster for his presentation at the baggage check gate OUTSIDE SECURITY. He frantically rushed off the plane to talk to the gate agent who told him he had no time, when he explained it was his presentation poster, she was like, oh is it this poster, someone just brought it here. Crisis averted, or Jenny would have had to bring a reprint. Wouldn’t be an ATS trip without someone needing to bring something.
So where were we…we arrived Wednesday night, shortly before sunset and decided to head out on an adventure before we went to bed. We had a short walk to Grand Central, Bryant Park, Times Square, and back to our hotel over by the East river. It sure was an experience for us all. Lily was unfazed by the traffic and hustle and bustle, Jackson proclaimed that “New York sure has a lot of smells” and neither of them seemed all that amazed by Times Square.
Thursday, we got up early and headed to the UN which was just blocks from where we were staying. It was really neat to take the kids to. We went to the UN post office and selected some postcards and mailed them with UN postage that is only good from the UN. It was really cool. We also learned that Tinkerbell is the UN Ambassador of Green, making her the most earth friendly fairy we know! Lily was amazed to see her on stamps and all over the UN building. Jackson thought the flags were amazing, and we had fun finding permanent missions to the UN from various countries around NY. We found India, Malaysia, Korea, United States, and Iraq’s. I am sure we passed others, but with so much to see, they slipped right by.
Next up was back to Grand Central for a train ride to Battery Park. As I was heading over to purchase our metrocard, I suddenly heard Lily crying. She was about 30 feet away screaming and crying through a rush of people. She had been standing right next to Tom, and his speculation is that she went to go play on the turnstile. A NYPD officer rescued her from the stampede of people coming down the stairs and scolded Tom when he headed over to collect her. Not as dramatic as it could have been, but scary nonetheless for the 20 seconds that the entire ordeal lasted. Ironically, it was the officer that scared her the most.
Next up, Battery Park, where we got on the Staten Island ferry and headed out passed the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. It was great to see the city from afar, and my kids never pass up a chance to be on the water. Jackson thought it was amazing to see Liberty Island, and Tom and I thought it was nice to sit for a bit on the return ferry to Manhattan.
We wandered for a bit through lower Manhattan and then went to the 9/11 Memorial. It really was amazing to see all the work that they are doing at the WTC. The kids, of course, had no idea what it all meant, but Jackson started to get a small grasp of what it meant for him and the rest of the country. Lily passed out on Tom’s shoulder and slept through most of it. She awoke and saw the fountains and said, “Oh, yeah, let’s go see that!” I was explaining to Jackson that people have a memory of what they were doing that day, just as the generation before knows where they were for JFK, and the one before that for Pearl Harbor. He questioned what event might be the one that he and Lily will always know where they were. Hopefully, it is joyous.
On the walk out of the 9/11 Memorial, Tom saw this sign and laughed pretty hard at the qualifier:
After quite a bit of complaining and whining, we decided that we all needed a break so we headed back to Grand Central with the intent of going to the hotel. Instead, we got some Ice Cream, went to check out the New York Public Library (briefly), sit in Bryant Park, and then headed to Brooklyn for pizza under the bridge. We had a nice time and it was fun to see Manhattan from yet another angle.
We got the sillies out and played at the park on the water and then rode the ferry back to Manhattan where we were close enough to walk back to our hotel. Given the choice of a cab over the bridge (Tom’s choice) or the ferry boat ride (the kids choice), Jackson and Lily’s love of water will always win out. Jackson said it would be amazing to live on the East River and swim in it….I urged him not to try.
This morning we got up and decided to spend most of the day in Central Park. The kids had a lot of fun seeing how big it was. We rode on the carousel and they played at one of the parks 21 playgrounds for a long time. Jackson must have climbed 30 rock piles. Lily thought the squirrels were funny. We had fun finding Bethesda Fountain and climbed to the top of Belvedere Castle.
Next stop, Serendipity’s. I know, it’s cliche NYC, but so is almost everything else we did. Plus it was hot, and the kids wanted ice cream, so we figure, the bigger the better. Plus we all needed a break. There was quite a wait, so we hung out on the sidewalk enjoying the gorgeous day, and the kids had a lot of fun just playing with each other.
Tom felt like seeing Rockefeller Center so we headed down to see that. Jackson insists that he has a fear of heights and since neither kid had a strong desire to go to the Top of the Rock, we saved our money, and the long line and wandered around. Of course, no trip would be complete without Lego something. And where else, but Rockefeller Center for a huge Lego store. I begrudgingly went it, but there were some cool things, among them, a Lego NYC skyline with Batman at the top. Can’t argue with that. Oh, and Jackson’s favorite part was Darth Vader skating in the ice rink.
Next to the Museum of Modern Art, just for me to take a peak in the gift shop. Some of my favorite things over the years have come from there and so I wanted to check it out. Oh, PS, Mom…the glasses you got me for my birthday were there. Jackson found a really cool block set that has outlines of the famous city landmarks so you can create your own city skyline. Really neat.
Last but not least, was a fabulous cab ride through the city on Friday at rush hour. Totally reaffirming why we don’t, and never want, to live in Manhattan. It was a great experience, but we were totally ready to leave and thoroughly exhausted after 2 1/2 days. Next time will be longer, hopefully, and more slowly paced.
So there was a break here. We had to get off of the train, more quickly than I realized and rather than finish the previous post and add pictures like nothing happened, I am just going to move forward and talk about our first day in Philly.
We arrived late last night, and upon arrival were told that our room, with a pullout for the kids, wasn’t ready and we would be put in a different room temporarily, with 2 doubles and a pullout for the night, and then we would move the next day. So we get to the room, and it is lovely, but has no pullout couch, and looks like it hadn’t been cleaned since they renovated it (most of the hotel is under renovation to upgrade). So we call down and they decide to move us to the Presidential Suite which was amazing! 2 rooms, the kids had their own bathroom, the foyer was larger than our bathroom back home. It was certainly luxurious, but alas, only lasted the one night. They said they would have left us if there wasn’t a wedding coming in tonight. I guess they should have the nice room.
Anyway, so today we got up and had complimentary breakfast (thanks to the messup from last night) and headed out. Tom was with us today and so we explored the historical aspects of the city. We went and saw the Liberty Bell, which was really neat to see the history of how it cracked, and how they tried numerous times to repair it. Also, Jackson thought it was just neat to touch the casting they had of it that was touchable.
Then off to the United States Mint. Unfortunately, they weren’t printing today, but I guess on average they mint 20-30 million coins a day, 6 days a week. On May 9th though, they had a record day with 34.9 million coins pressed. The kids thought it was cool nonetheless, the best part was this little video game that you play trying to keep the coins from getting lost in the couch, fountains, wet concrete, etc. Think frogger, with people and money. Sorry, no photos in or around the Mint. It was really interesting watching them try and explain that to a huge group of Chinese tourists who had about a million cameras and were snapping away.
We took a rest in front of the Constitution Center while we debated going in or not. Decided it probably wasn’t high on the kids list of things to do. After that a quick lunch in Franklin Square. They had a park so the kids let loose and played for awhile. They had fun running around and playing with other kids. There was an Asian American festival going on as well so we watched the dragon parade for little ones. Lily was not a fan.
PS…Mom, this is the outfit you just send for her and she is ADORABLE in it. She begged to wear it today, and it looks really cute, even with tennis shoes.
Then we headed off to the Constitutional Park Visitor’s Center and met the best park ranger, Nancy. She told us that all the national parks now have their own Junior Park Rangers and gave the kids age appropriate work to complete and that most of them having trading cards. It was really neat. Jackson’s revolved around what they learned at the various buildings, and Lily’s was mostly matching and circling various items. They both earned their Ranger badges. They also had another really cool thing with trading cards. You got a trading card of the liberty bell to start and as you went on various tours and stopped at different buildings, you could have a park ranger quiz you for more trading cards with various people and places (Ben Franklin, Independence Hall, George Washington, etc). Jackson had fun collecting almost all of them (there were like 21 in all) and learned a lot of interesting things.
We were really lucky and while we were standing in line talking with the ranger, they had a last minute cancellation of a tour for Independence Hall, which had sold out tickets for the whole week. The best we could hope for were the limited number of tickets that are available at 8:30 each morning…not happening. So we got a sweet score on that. Jackson’s favorite part of the whole day was the Rising Sun Chair. Google it if you don’t know what it is.
Next up, we went on a tour of the city on a double decker bus. One of the neat things we have learned from visiting cities is that a lot of them have a thing called CityPass where you can get discounted admission to a lot of popular attractions. The Philadelphia one includes on/off privileges for the tour busses at a variety of stops throughout the city. It also has routes by all of the CityPass attractions, so it is perfect for us while we are here.
So, back to the story. While we were getting ready to get on the bus, the sprinkle that we had been experiencing turned into a pretty steady rain, and we got SOAKED. We chose not to see the Betsy Ross house in the rain, stayed on the bus past it and headed back to the bottom level of the bus and got off at the LOVE sign near our hotel.
They also had across the street JFK Plaza which had a ton of oversized relic board game pieces scattered throughout. The kids had fun with that, even in the rain.
Back at the hotel we got settled into our new hotel room. Not as nice, but still ridiculously huge, and very comfortable. Then went to Max Brennans for dinner. If you have never been, it truly is like Willy Wonka in a restaurant. The kids were super excited to have chocolate for dinner. Jackson had Crunchy Hot Chocolate and Chocolate Pizza with melted marshmallows and Lily had a grand time with her Hot Chocolate and Chocolate Waffle. She even got a side of chocolate syrup to pour over her ice cream topping. Both kids’ plates were littered with gummy bears. You would have thought they were in heaven.
Back at the hotel, the sun is getting to set, and we are all in pajamas ready to have an early night to bed. Stay tuned for more adventures!
After I got all done uploading photos this is what the kiddos looked like…
Good Night Philly!!