Saturday, October 31, 2009

October 10 through 18: Pennsylvania

I thought that rather than breaking the trip into individual entries, I'd just put them all together and only include the pictures where family was included. We took over a thousand pictures just in the one week (granted, there were four cameras!).

As I noted earlier, we were delayed (with our pleasure) a day flying in, which brought us in Saturday afternoon instead of very late Friday night/Saturday morning. We spent Saturday evening enjoying dinner at Friendly's with the remaining cousins from Chris' family. Mom took a couple of pictures, but I'll just share the one of Griffin and his vol-cone-o treat.

Sunday was church and we got to enjoy an Eagles game in the home town! We all put on our jerseys and cheered along with my dad.

We spent Monday morning sleeping in and relaxing a little, then headed out to Peddler's Village, a local outdoor shopping center, to enjoy their Scarecrow Festival. Some of our favorites included:

John also got a good shot of the family on the gazebo and then a random occurrence:

It was a cool morning, so we returned back home, had lunch, and then John and I took Ellie and Griffin to a local park called "Kids' Castle." It's one of their favorite places to go, even if the day is a little chilly.

That pretty much wrapped up Monday. I was pretty tired and chilled through.

On Tuesday, we hopped on the train and went to Philadelphia for the day. Last time, we were really only able to see the Constitution Center. It was pretty expensive and didn't warrant a second trip in my opinion. This time we wanted to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Not only did we get to see them, but we also went to the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier and the US Mint as well.

It's amazing to me how spiritual an experience it is to tour Independence Hall. There's a palpable feeling of reverence inside that building. Everyone who tours is quiet, reverent and respectful. The Liberty Bell tour is so much better than it used to be. Years ago you would wait in line, approach the bell, stand behind someone really tall rendering you unable to see it, and then be escorted outside. Now you can stand there for as long as you want, ask questions, tour the building, go back, look at it from all sides, and then leave. The tomb is located in a park where people had gathered for lunch. There are approximately 2000 soldiers buried in that square. Amazing.

On Wednesday, we toured Valley Forge and Washington's Crossing. When I was a little girl, I toured Valley Forge with my grandfather, Ba. We went to the memorial arch and located the name of one of our ancestors, Griffith. Having shared this story with Griffin, he really wanted to see it himself. Unfortunately, after much searching, we could find no names. We read on a nearby plaque that the arch, having fallen into a state of disrepair, was restored by the Masons. In the process of that restoration, they covered all the names. Fortunately, they left the symbol of a capital G within a compass in several places around the arch. He pointed out to us that his grave was marked by the big G! We agreed and moved on.

Washington's Crossing was another spot that's just humbling. The sacrifices that those men made for our freedoms were unbelievable. I'm so grateful that my children have the opportunity to see these places and appreciate what was done for them.

Unfortunately, we were unable to do much more touring because two nor'easters hit and made it difficult to do anything outside in the cold, windy rain. We spent lots of time enjoying Phillies' games, hanging out with the Chris Hopkins family, and relaxing at Mom and Dad's house. We had Yum Yum Donuts, Nat's pizza, another trip to Friendly's, and Devil Dogs (a personal favorite).

I am so grateful that I grew up in such a historic place. I am grateful that my parents (and brother's family) still live there and give me an excuse to go back east. I loved our vacation and am thrilled that our kids chose this over Disneyland for their fall break. It will probably be the last before Ian leaves for his mission, so I'm glad we were able to spend so much time together.

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