2012 Road Trip – Philadelphia (Part 2)

(Read about the first part of our trip here.)

Sunday morning, we made the drive to downtown Philadelphia.  Alex is a huge history nerd and had never been to Philly before. Since it’s the birth of our nation’s independence, we opted for a bit of a history lesson while we were there.  We swung by the Liberty Bell on the way to tour Independence Hall.

Do we look like tourists, or what?

Yeah, he was pretty stoked.

Apparently the park ranger that we were stuck with for our tour time was aiming for an Oscar nod in her performance of tour guide.  And, she hated kids.  If my kids would make so much as a peep, she would take a dramatic pause, glare at us, and inform us of the exits if we needed them.  I simply smiled through a completely red face.  Kill ’em with kindness, that’s what I say.

KIDS – STOP EMBARRASSING ME!
(George Washington’s chair in the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed.)

We made it through Independence Hall in one piece (and without flipping off the witchy Park Ranger) and Alex was excited to have soaked up some history.  But, the fun wasn’t going to end there.  Outside of Independence Hall, you could board a ‘Ride the Ducks’ tour.  We rode the Ducks once in Branson, Missouri, and knew that they would be a bit more welcoming of children, so we went for it.

Much more our style!

The tour took us all over downtown Philly so we could see a ton of the historical sites.  We even went for a little float in the Delaware.  Even for a non-history geek, it was pretty cool. We saw a TON of Philly landmarks (City Hall, The Philadelphia Mint, Ben Franklin’s grave , Betsy Ross’ home,  LOVE Park, etc…) in a relatively short amount of time.  Since we weren’t planning on going back to stop at any of those places, it was perfect.  Bang for the buck – worth it!

Soak it in, kids.

Rocky, Rocky, Rocky

After the tour, we loaded in the car and set out to find our very first authentic Philly cheese steak.  Alex is a bit of a foodie, so he had taken it upon himself to research where to go.  We ended up at Pat’s King of Steaks.  The kids were asleep in the car, so Alex bravely ordered for us.  Apparently they have a whole new language when it comes to cheese steaks.  Alex ordered his ‘whiz wit’ (with cheese sauce and onions/peppers).  I decided against that, and opted for provolone.  Bigtime mistake. Alex’s was WAY better than mine.

Pat doesn’t lie – he is the king. And his cheese steak melts in your mouth.

Maybe not the most appetizing to look at, but looks are so, so deceiving.

Regretting my decision, we headed back to Sesame Place for another round at the park.  At the park, we watched ‘Elmo’s World Live’, rode some more rides, ate dinner, and caught a glimpse of the parade. Anna’s Sesame Street cup runneth over.

Let’s play ‘Chopsticks’!

Hi, Oscar!

Monday, we were up with the sun.  Really no different from any other day of our lives since bringing children into this world.  We drove into rush hour toward the Philadelphia Zoo.  We’ve decided that we’d like to try to visit a zoo in every state in the US.  We’ll see how that goes… Anyway, we can now cross Pennsylvania off our list.  Bonus – the Philly zoo was the first in the country.  I don’t think the animals are original to the zoo, but some of the structures were.  It was neat to see how everything was set up and how the exhibits were laid out in a tiny space.  The downside was that the zoo was expensive and all but one food stand was closed due to lack of traffic.  Not my favorite zoo, but not horrible by any means.

Mom! Those birds are PINK!!! *GASP!!!*

And this bear is … WHITE!

We managed to find some food for the kids at the zoo, but Alex and I decided to swing back through at Pats King of Steaks for another round of cheese steaks.  I was still disappointed that Alex’s cheese steak from the day before was so much better than mine.  I wanted a redo, and Alex was more than happy to oblige.  Heck, he was now a pro at ordering them.  Could have passed as one of the locals…

Alex and I managed to eat our cheese steaks in the car while the kids napped.  ‘Whiz wit’ is the way to go – I made that sandwich my ‘B’.  We made it back to the hotel just as the kids were waking up.  The plan was to check out of our hotel the next morning, so I needed some serious time to do our laundry and pack.  There was no way to fit enough clothes for all of us for the entire trip, so I was planning on doing laundry mid-week.  Alex took the kids swimming while I schleped our dirty clothes to the laundry room and started packing our stuff up.  It’s amazing how quickly stuff scatters and expands.

I’m not quite sure how we managed it, but all of our crap made it back into bags and was loaded into the car the next morning.  It was like a real-life game of Tetris.  Literally – floor to ceiling bags.  We grabbed breakfast at the hotel, checked out, and pointed the car toward Camden, New Jersey and the Adventure Aquarium.  The aquarium was nothing short of awesome.  There weren’t many people there because it was a weekday, so the kids were able to run around like crazy people.  They had a blast.  Heck, we all had a blast.

One with the fishes

Inside a tank … pretty cool!

Bravely touching all the sea creatures.

We grabbed lunch at the aquarium before loading back into the car.  The plan was to make the relatively short drive to New York City while the kids took their afternoon nap.  (Napping in the car served us well during our trip.) We waved ‘goodbye’ to Philadelphia and set out for the big city…

— To Be Continued —

Advertisements

2012 Road Trip – Philadelphia (Part 1)

We started tossing around the idea of going on a little vacation in 2012. We thought about going to the beach, because – who doesn’t love the beach? But, then we remembered that there was an entire theme park devoted to Sesame Street and we recalled that we had a certain Elmo-crazed preschooler was residing under our roof. The more we thought about it, the more it made sense. It was decided that we were going to make the trek to Philadelphia and see the furry, red guy for ourselves.

It was our first official road trip as a family of four. It wasn’t like we were testing the waters – we were doing a cannonball in the deep end of the road trip pool. The entire trip was going to be about 1,950 miles (or about 33 hours) of driving. But, who’s counting? We loaded up everything we could possibly squeeze in our car and then topped it off with DVD’s and every snack you could dream of. Oh, and lots of extra panties for Anna. She decided a week before our trip that she wanted to start wearing big girl panties. Perfect timing…


(Pretty sweet video right here…)

Elmo or bust, baby!

We left on a Wednesday because Sesame Place was only open on the weekend at that point of the year. The first day we drove about 8 hours (430 miles) to Columbus, Ohio. The kids actually did really well. A blend of napping, snacking, and DVD watching made the time pass by for them. However, by the end of the day the kids were getting stir crazy and were ready to get out of the car. We grabbed some dinner once we got to Columbus and then let the kids swim at the hotel pool.


(Another video that you can’t miss)

We were back at it early the next morning. It took about 9 hours (with stops) to drive the 500 miles to Philadelphia. We ended up staying at a hotel that was north of the city. We needed a hotel that had enough space for us – two rooms or a suite with a sink to wash bottles. We also needed somewhere with an indoor pool so the kids could swim and on-site laundry to wash our clothes mid-trip. Those kid of options weren’t feasible in downtown Philadelphia. Well, at least not a place that we were willing to afford. What we weren’t banking on was all the toll roads in the area. We paid a small fortune to drive around the entire time. We don’t have toll roads in St. Louis, and that is more than fine with me.

Hello, Philadelphia!

The first night, I attempted to get the room a little organized while the kids tried their best to kill each other in the living room. Alex grabbed a pizza for us and we tucked in early. A few hours later, I was awake dealing with the effects of a stomach bug. The hotel room toilet and I became very well acquainted that evening.

The next morning, I was still feeling pretty rough but I didn’t want to slow down our trip. Over my dead body was I going to miss anything! I grabbed a Sprite and we headed to the Please Touch Museum. I was sure to keep an eye out for the nearest bathroom at all times.

Alex was patiently waiting his turn.

Can’t image where I would have picked up a stomach bug…

After grabbing lunch at the museum, and playing a bit more, we sadly left the Please Touch Museum. We could have easily gone back to that place and still have not seen everything. We loaded everyone in the car and headed back toward the hotel. The kids were fast asleep by the time we got back. After a successful transfer to the beds in the hotel, we all took a nap. We ventured out for dinner at an Italian place that the front desk told us was very kid friendly. Turns out, it wasn’t. At all. I’m talking white table clothes and men in sport coats. Nightmare.

Alex took a bit of a turn with the ol’ stomach bug that evening, but was managing the next morning. Our puke and rally days of college were serving us well. We were terrified that one of the kids was going to come down with it. We held our breaths and pointed our car toward Sesame Place. I was giddy with excitement. I knew Anna would be over the moon.

WHEEEEEEE

Don’t touch my hot dog, Cookie Monster!

Anna’s mind = blown.

After Anna’s world was sufficiently rocked, we loaded back into the car to let the kids nap. They both quickly crashed, dreaming sweet Sesame Street dreams. Alex and I heard about an outlet mall that was somewhat near, so we decided to scope it out. It was about an hour and a half drive, so the kids clocked in a pretty decent nap while we paid for more toll roads and drove. Turns out the outlet mall is right next to a nuclear power plant. Neither of us have ever seen one in person before. Have to admit, it’s a bit eerie.

We were in the middle of a Le Creuset store when Anna announced that she needed to poop. We were thrilled! She had been pooping her pants once a day since announcing that she wanted to wear panties shortly before our trip started. If she was telling us that she needed to poop – we were going to jump on it! Alex rushed her off to the potty while I stuck around the store with Luke. Several minutes later, Anna proudly marched back in the store and very loudly announced, ‘MOMMY! I POOPED IN THE POTTY!!!’ People were looking. I didn’t care that we were in the middle of the Le Creuset store. I scooped her up and made a HUGE deal about it. It was the first time – it was a big deal! Surely our fellow shoppers could relate on some level. Right? We ended up buying a few items for the kids at different stores (isn’t that always the case) and grabbing dinner before heading back to the hotel for the evening.

— To Be Continued —

2012 Road Trip – Sesame Place

When Anna was about one and a half, she became aware of Elmo. What followed was nothing short of an obsessive stalking relationship with the little, red, furry monster. She had been a devout Elmo-maniac for almost a year when we were trying to figure out where to go on vacation. We had heard about the ‘Disney World’ of all things Sesame. Sesame Place is the magical theme park that is perfect for every Elmo obsessed preschooler, located outside of Philadelphia. We talked it over and decided that we would head to Philadelphia for vacation so we could visit the Sesame Street Mecca.

The park is only open for certain months of the year and certain days of the week (as it gets colder). We were planning our trip for September, and the park was only open on the weekends. We had to work around our kiddo’s nap schedule, so we opted to hit up Sesame Place Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon.

WE ACTUALLY MADE IT!

We got there right as the park opened Saturday morning. The water park was open, but we decided to skip it. Instead, we promptly tackled all the rides. The park is geared toward toddlers, so Anna was big enough to ride all but one roller coaster. She had a freaking blast.

How do you rock a toddler’s mind – let her do this.


And spin around on these.


And fly around on these.


The true test of toddler patience.


This picture makes me giggle. Can’t really put my finger on it…

The cornerstone of our entire trip was a scheduled ‘Lunch with Elmo and Friends’. I had reserved our table for this lunch MONTHS in advance and was SO EXCITED to see Anna’s reaction to getting to meet her idol and his Sesame Street buddies. Early in the trip, Alex and I had a run-in with a stomach bug. I was terrified that one of the kids would get it and we would have to skip Sesame Place and eating lunch with our fury friends. Luckily, they did not and the day went exactly as planned!

We got to the lunch room right on time and were taken to our table. The whole room was buzzing with anticipation. Alex and I got plates of food (the food was average) for all of us in hopes that the kids would choke something down before the friends hit the room. Wrong! Just as Anna was about to dive into her hot dog, Cookie Monster peaked around and surprised her. The shear look of bliss on Anna’s face was amazing. In an instant, we completely rocked Anna’s little preschool world. It was a major parenting win. I actually cried a little bit. Alex won’t admit it, but he cried too.

Her mind was blown!


Baby’s mind blown too!


Hello, Big Bird. Nice to meet you!


Daddy’s mind is blown – The Count is his boyhood fave.


Meeting Abby – another fave!


Holding Abby’s wand. We’ll never be able to top this.


Scratch that – we’ll never be able to top THIS.


Luke even got in on the Elmo action!

The events and excitement of the day finally caught up with Anna. She was asleep before we even pulled out of the parking lot.

Dreaming sweet, Sesame Street dreams

Sunday afternoon, we made our way back to Sesame Place to use the second day of our tickets and to soak up every inch of the park that we could. We started by catching a live ‘Elmo’s World’ show. Anna was in her element. Even Luke was living it up.

It’s Elmo’s World!!


Playing Elmo’s piano


And saying a quick ‘hello’ to Dorothy!

We had some time to kill before eating dinner and catching the parade, so we let Anna ride some more rides and burn off some energy.

Climbing the nets. Well, actually having me hold her while I climb the nets. Probably my closest version of Hell on Earth.


Teacups again!

About 15 minutes before the parade was set to start, we decided to make our way to the main drag to claim some seats. Big mistake. Huge. Apparently, you are supposed to stake out seats 3 hours before the parade starts. There was absolutely nowhere to sit and watch the parade. It was actually a really annoying experience. Parents were camped out on the curb with their kids. They had their strollers parked behind them, effectively blocking any chance of our kids standing on their own. We had to hold them so they could see. It was hot and we were all getting annoyed. And then people started trying to stand in front of us. My Mama Bear comes out in those situations. I had to tell myself to take some deep breaths – it’s all for the kids…

Enjoying the parade, even if people are rude.


My arm was numb at this point.


She still loved it!

A week later, she was completely over Elmo. She threw him to the curb like a used pair of shoes. Poor guy. He never even knew what was coming.

The Details:

Sesame Place

100 Sesame Road

Langhorne, PA 19047

http://sesameplace.com/en/langhorne

*Open during warmer months – check online for days and times

-Two day admission ages 2+: $59.99, Parking $15

2012 Road Trip – The Philadelphia Zoo

My family has a weakness for animals.  Naturally, a good zoo is always a hit for us!  It seems like we visit the zoo anywhere we go – Philadelphia was no exception.  Turns out the Philly zoo was the first zoo in the country.  How about those apples?

We went on a weekday morning, so there weren’t many people there.  The thin crowd was nice, but most of the restaurant options and some exhibits were closed.  It was nice to be able to let Anna run freely and not worry about losing her in a crowd, but overall we weren’t that impressed with the Philadelphia Zoo.  It was rather expensive to get into and not very large.  In all fairness to the Philly Zoo, we live near one of the coolest zoos in the country – and it’s free.  Other zoos have pretty stiff competition to live up to.

Making a wish!

Flamingos are a natural favorite for little miss – all pink!

The Parsons men and the polar bears

We found our way to the Children’s area for the petting zoo.  I was looking at the rabbits when I realized that I didn’t have my phone in my pocket.  Freaking out, I tore through the diaper bag looking for it.  Still no sign, so I started retracing my steps.  I kept thinking about all the pictures from the trip that were on my phone.  I was in a panic.  Frantic, I stopped one of the workers and asked if there was a lost and found in the zoo.  The kind man radioed somewhere and discovered that a phone was found in the children’s area and was in an office.  He took me with him, asking what color the case was.  When I told him it was grey and teal, he handed over my phone.  I was SO relieved! I give the workers 5 stars!

My little bunny and carrot!

Anna loves a good pony ride!

The Details:

The Louisville Zoo

3400 W Girard Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19104

http://www.philadelphiazoo.org/

*March 1 – October 31: Open daily 9:30a to 5:00p, November 1 – February 28: Open daily 9:30a to 4:00p

– Admission is $18 for children 2-11 and $20 for adults, Parking is $15, some food available for purchase