Wednesday, November 23, 2016


We have not been to Philadelphia in ages! 13 years to be exact. Recently, we walked into our hotel in the city of brotherly love and had flashbacks to the last time we visited. With family friends for Tori’s 3rd birthday. Truth be told, the lobby and the rooms did not give it away but when we all trooped down to the hotel swimming pool, we immediately remembered the previous visit with lots of babies and swim diapers and bags!
Then with a 3 year old and two babies, plus the friends’ toddler and baby, we never left the hotel.  I remember wanting to see the Liberty Bell but just not able to get everyone out the door. This time we got out. Multiple times. But it wasn’t easy. You would think with three kids, all mobile, it would be a breeze, but getting three teenagers out to see historical sites proved challenging in new ways. I noted that the families at the old town sites all had elementary school children. Perhaps the families of teenagers had already seen Independence Hall  but I don’t think so.
What helped motivate our crew was Reading Main Terminal. Nothing to do with reading and nothing to do with travel. Just food. A bunch of food vendors all inside, serving a wide variety of products. We found a vendor selling only German food, next door to one selling Cantonese food. Both had little stores with products from each place. Confusing and comforting all at once. We found the Amish donuts and the Central American food and the real Philly cheese steaks and kids were happy. Happy enough to walk a little further.
We enjoyed seeing the Liberty Bell, on the second day after the elections. Huge lines everywhere. The park rangers all said visitor numbers were up. We cued up and saw the bell and then went out of the building to figure out the next thing. We then realized we were just behind the Liberty Bell with a great view from the outside. But we would not have heard the detail that stuck: the bell is now only ceremonially rung with a device that looks like a giant Q-Tip. We walked through Independence Hall and saw where the Constitution was signed. We sat in the room where the second president (a distant relative!) was inaugurated. Take away fact there: the second inauguration only lasted 20 minutes. After the long campaign, that sort of brevity sounds pretty good!

We stumbled upon a traveling Doctors without Borders exhibit, set up just outside Independence Hall.We were guided through an overview of the immigration crisis gripping the world today. Our guide spoke of bearing witness to the problem and then told us to quickly gather our things and get into a boat! As our group of 15 climbed into a boat, we were told more than 40 people cram into the same size boat. We walked through the exhibit, shedding our belongings (plastic cards for things like food and money and shoes) in order to pay for the next stage of the journey. We emerged humbled by both the crisis and the work being done to help. Somehow it seemed fitting to have the exhibit so close to Independence Hall, the site of Clinton’s last campaign rally and to the nightly protests about the election results. Highlighting the roles immigrants played in founding this country and as well as the role immigration itself played in the last election. Then a family member asked, just clarifying, if we were immigrants and I thought perhaps we needed to go through that exhibit one more time.


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