Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Great Philly Road Trip: Part II - The Happy (a)

My daughter dances in a folk German dance troop. This is her first year and she loves it. Every year, all the Danuaschwabian cultural groups get together for their Landestreffen (national meeting). This year it was in Philadelphia. Since we didn't have a family vacation this summer, we thought - let's go and make it a family event. We arrived a day early and set our for all the historical sites.

First the Liberty Bell. The kids were anxious to see if it was still cracked. I think they are still a little perplexed on why they didn't fix it....

We then headed to Ben Franklin's home/courtyard. This was very disappointing. The museum was exactly like it had been (underground) 25 years ago when I was last there. Ben Franklin was a fascinating person - his museum did not do him justice. It was pretty sad. The only redeeming part was the printing press and demonstration. That was cool.


From there, we headed to Betsy Ross' house. That was very interesting. I realized that I didn't know that much about her. They had managed to preserve a lot of her apartment and store front. I really admire women like her who are able to pull through in times of such tragedy. She lost two husbands and two children while managing to support herself through her upholstery shop.

We finally ended up at Independence Hall. To me, this was the most important part of the tour. So much history happened here. I am glad they are preserving it so well.
After all of that, we still had some energy left over and decided to go to The Franklin Institute. The kids had a blast. It is has a ton of fun science things for the kids to try and play with. Since we are members of the St. Louis Science Center - we got in free (yay!).

Most of Saturday was spent at the Landestreffen (which I will talk about in the next post).

On Sunday morning we had to pick-up a sewing machine - yep, you read that right. I am related to Elias Howe, one of the inventors of the sewing machine. My dad had found one of his machines on ebay. The seller would not ship it from Philly. Very conveniently, it happened we were there, so we picked it up (and I get to keep it!!!).


We ended our historical tour with Valley Forge. I have to admit, this was also disappointing. The land was beautiful, but the actual place was just not that interesting. We also made the mistake of taking the Ranger tour. We only had to go a quarter mile to see some of the cabins - but he talked for 45(!) minutes. So tedious. The kids, though, did have fun playing around in the bunkhouses.

I am really glad we went up early to see all of this. It is a thirteen-fourteen hour drive and I am just not sure when we will get to the east coast again. Both Independence Hall (including surrounding sites) and Valley Forge had Junior Ranger programs. I would highly recommend having your kids do them. They learn so much more by doing the activities then by just wandering around. Yay National Park System!

Tomorrow - Landestreffen!

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