I mean, I'm used to Park Rangers being in the middle of the woods, on a mountain, or in the middle of a desert, as far from the bustle of a city as one can get. Seeing one with a hoagie in a bag in the middle of Philadelphia was a bit of a shock. All right, and having to explain to Jet that, no, really, a hoagie isn't a hamburger...
The start of the photos for the day, just follow the 2009 East Coast Trip set of pictures.
After our Dunkin' Donuts breakfast (imagine our surprise on finding that they served hashed browns!) we went into town, found parking in the convention center parking, and then walked to the Mall. We wandered about the Liberty Bell exhibit, and the crack really was amazing to see. From there we did the normal wandering thing we do and saw Independence Hall too late to get tickets for the tour. Instead we wandered about outside, listened to a story and then suddenly saw a truly cobblestoned street with the round rocks paving the road, and found a marble building with columns that turned out to be the old Second Bank of the United States. I had never known until this trip that there were three tries at a national bank before the Federal Reserves Bank came into being and started doing what The Fed now does.
There was a map right there, so we oriented ourselves and found the Tomb of the Unknown Solder of the Revolutionary War, with an eternal flame before it and a statue of George Washington above it. That was properly haunting.
From there we wandered onto a street with a number of restaurants and showed our usual disdain for high class dining and went into a little place that did cheesesteaks and breakfast grill items all day. John and I each had a cheesesteak, though he had his with fries, and Jet ended up with scrambled eggs and bacon on white toast. We each drank a bottle of cold drink and then John refilled our water bottle as well. The day had turned out to be beautifully sunny, clear, and hot. Not nearly as humid as we knew it could be, it was still warm enough that we were careful to wear our hats and drink plenty of water.
History lies thick everywhere about here for the United States, it isn't nearly as thick as in China or Europe where the stones go thousands of years back, but thicker than we're used to. The first Congress, the first President, the first seat of government here, the first bank, the first library, and the beginnings and endings of the Revolutionary War. There's a lot that got started here.
We signed up for one of the Dukw tours (Dukws are the trucks that can go about in the water as well as on land) and then went to the Visitor's Center for the whole Mall and sat through one of the movies in the air conditioned coolness. The Center had adds for the constitution museum, the Underground Railroad Museum, the Art Museum with its Rocky Balboa statute, the Benjamin Franklin museum, and all kind of other stuff...
Instead, we just sat around, drank water, saw some of the exhibits and then went out to stand in line for our Duck. The Tour was chock full of stuff, and tore by nearly everything at full speed, with an on-going patter, and plenty of loud music. Which was almost too bad as it got annoying pretty quickly. Jet grumbled mildly about getting a headache, but we saw a ton of stuff very quickly, including the birthplace of Larry of the Three Stooges, three or four early Stock Exchanges, the Philadelphia Mint (yes, Kathy, I got you a few P quarters) of which the only other counterpart is our Denver Mint, and a glimpse of most of the other museums we'd missed.
Then the Duck took us out into the Delaware River. Brown and rolling and a little choppy, it was fast, and fun. There's plenty of ships on the river, come in from the sea, and there's warships and container ships. It was interesting seeing a set of docks that had been used for the old style cargo ships. When the ships went to container ships, the docks were retired and then converted into high end condos. That was very cool to see.
When the tour was done, we started heading back to the car because Jet was tired, but I saw a flag for free admission to the local Bank of the Federal Reserves' little exhibit about how money moves. It was only open until 4:30 and we were there a bit after 4. They were trying to close down the entrance, which had the highest security of any place we'd been to. Most other places had security folks checking out everyone's bags, but the Reserve had an X-Ray machine and little timed air lock like ports that would only let one person through at a time. You had to hit a button on the near side, the near door would slide open, and the you stepped in, which would close the outside door, and then slowly open the inside door. Only after the person was clear could another person be cycled through.
I'm sure there were all kinds of search things going on while one was in there, and they disallowed the use of cameras or phones while in there. John regretted not getting a picture of someone cycling through. *laughs*
And in the middle of the exhibit was a tower holding approximately one day's worth of shredded old paper money, about $100,000,000. *laughs* They shred that much each day in damaged, old, worn out dollar bills each day. The exhibits showed a lot of how the Fed works, what they do to make money flow properly, and some really cool exhibits on how to tell a counterfeit bill. I loved that.
When it closed down, they chased us out, but gave us each a little packet of shredded money, the little label says that it was probably once worth about $100. Hee.
Jet loved that. So it made his day worthwhile after all the other boring bits.
We headed back to the hotel where the boys swam, and I caught up. And then we headed to Cocco's Pizza, where Jet had chicken nuggets, John had an Italian hoagie, and I had a meatball grinder. The "tiny" ones for both of us along with a whole dinner salad and pop. It was another little Family Place with regulars, delivery, and lots of business on even a Wednesday night. My meatball grinder was amazing, as the sauce was one of those slow reduced tomato sauces that was deep and rich and tasted wonderful over tender meatballs on a toasted soft roll. Jet's nuggets were actually real breast meat and he had smiley face fries with that. John's hoagie was layered thickly with meats, topped with Italian oil and vinegar, good crisp lettuce and on a soft roll as well. It was a really nice meal and exactly the kind of thing we like looking for, food prepared by those that really care.
From there we headed back and "happened" on the Anita's again. *laughs* This time I had the strawberry custard layered with their mango Italian water-ice. The water ice reminds me of Hawaiian shave ice in the smooth texture and deep flavor of the 'syrup' or flavoring on them. John got a Georgia Peach ice, while Jet went right for the strawberry custard with rainbow sprinkles on a cone. I am starting to think that the custard is just that rich with eggs and cream. As it really took having the ice to cut it a bit for me to eat much of it.
We stopped by a grocery store for milk and cereal for breakfast. Tomorrow's going to be a travel day. So as much as the hotel is starting to feel like home, we're going to get to pull up roots and head for SW Vermont... it should be exciting.b