We woke up in Philadelphia for a jam-packed day of fun in the birthplace of liberty! Our first stop was at Reading Terminal Market for breakfast. After tasting our way through, we walked down to the Liberty Mall / downtown historic area for some sightseeing. We had already seen the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall on a previous trip to Philly with Autumn's mom, so we were able to avoid the ridiculously long Memorial Day Weekend lines for those. Instead we headed straight for the gift shop to pick up some much needed patriotic souvenirs and then over to the National Constitution Center museum to escape the heat for a few hours of air-conditioned bliss. By then, it was time for a cheese steak lunch back at the Reading Terminal Market. It took over an hour in line!! But, we were rewarded with cheesy-steaky goodness.
After lunch, we visited the Franklin Institute to see the Dead Sea Scrolls followed by a movie in IMAX!! I ingeniously had already bought the tickets online, so another horrifying line was avoided!
Our final stop for the day was dinner at Lolita, a mexican restaurant. It was BYOB (as are many restaurants in Philly due to some ridiculous liquor-licensing laws), but I was able to track down a back-alley bar where I could buy the devil's brew! Dinner was great, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time in PA, as always.
Breakfast at the Reading Terminal Market with fabulous neon signs!
Beignets, breakfast sandwiches, candy and cake! YUM!
Independence Hall and 1,000,000,000 visitors in line!
The National Constitution Center had no line AND air conditioning, which were our only criteria for all activities today.
Just me chatting with some of the founding fathers...so interesting!
Autumn and I getting ready to sign the Constitution with George Washington
My genuine Constitution certificate of authenticity
Autumn posing with Washington's flag!
Just look at all the bunting!
Now that's a big flag!
Cheese-steaks in action!
The Franklin Institute
These pots may have contained pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls
(Sorry no photography allowed of the actual scrolls!)
The city of Brotherly Love!
My top-secret beer mission was a success!
(Please note the sketchy-alley factor of the background)
For our first (and only) 3-day weekend during Portuguese training, Eric planned out a fantastic trip to Philadelphia for us! The sun was out (and serious!), and it was time for a road trip...yipee!!!
While in Mexico, planning for a different set of circumstances that did not come to fruition, I ordered a travel book for the USA, thinking Eric and I would have a leisurely road trip from southern Texas to Washington State. As everyone knows by now, that did not happen....but I really am glad I got that book. We are discovering all kinds of hidden gems we had no idea about and are really close to us! We decided to check one out on our way to Philly this weekend. We stopped by Longwood Gardens for the afternoon to explore a huge arboretum built by the du Pont family, and now open to the public. It was gorgeous, and Eric took some spectacular plant pictures!
A tree trained to grow flat against the wall.
Here we are enjoying the sun! Cheers!
Begonias in full bloom. There were a lot of these, covering a part of an exhibit. I love the orange!
One species of the many orchids on display in the hot-as-heck orchid room.
There was a large water feature, too. This water lily was among many water plants.
We don't know what this is, but we do know it is awesome looking.
Venus Fly Trap just asking for your finger! The sign said these are native to North Carolina. I had no idea!
It seemed like every where we looked there were big pretty petunias.
One of many special Hibiscus plants. Fun fact: The Hibiscus is the state flower of Hawaii.
All twisted and tangled...
Up next, topiary garden! So well kept...
Followed by faux-waterfall and Rapunzel tower! Nothing says totally man-made waterfall like the extremely powerful smell of chlorine. It looks pretty though, right?
Here's my baby-cooking progress...6 months of baby in there!!
Italian Garden Zone...I feel I've been suddenly swept off to Europe!
That is one gigantic bumble bee!
On the way out we passed this pretty sight. It looks like something from a fairy tale to me. :)
Longwood Gardens was very fun, and then we hopped in the car and were off for a Phila-dventure!
Guess what everyone!! Tomorrow is Eric's birthday (May 20th)!!! In honor of this, we took a trip out to Virginia's Eastern Shore today para ver e conhecer o que fica lá! (Look at all that learning.) It took forever to get there. FOREVER. The interweb said it would be 3 hours 45 minutes, but it was more...much more. Anyway, after approximately 8 million hours in the car we finally made it to famed Chincoteague Island! This island is famous for its heard of wild ponies and annual pony sale...as immortalized in the children's book Misty of Chincoteague.
Um, something is wrong here. There is no way we are flying over the ocean right now.
Finally, we made it safely over the many bridges and causeways that connect this island to mainland Virginia.
After an amazing lunch of seafood and sweet potato fries (the area is apparently a major sweet potato growing area. Who knew??), we set off for an adventure in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.
We happily parked the car and burst forth to enjoy the first walking trail we could find. This tree appears to have been struck by lightning.
A view into the marshes...
As you can imagine this swampy place was FULL of mosquitoes (and ticks, we found out much later...). For some reason we were not anticipating this.
Look, it's a Monarch Butterfly!! Hey, I saw your fore bearers chillin' in a forest in Mexico earlier this year!!
GIANT thistle flower.
Sweeping view across the swamp.
More colorful swamp-scapes.
Toward the end of our swamp walk we came across this turtle with a psychedelic head catching some rays.
A stand of creepy swamp trees.
After our walk, and 16 good sized mosquito bites later, we decided to enjoy some of the island's car loops. Here Park Rangers had assembled to ensure the safety of this snapping turtle while he crossed the road. The turtle bloqueo was successful, and he made it to the other side, fear not!
The swamp is such a surprise with all of its intense colors.
Here is the Assateague Light House, still in use!
It was very exciting that we got to see these ponies. These are some of the famous wild ponies, like Misty!!
We also saw this giant bird. (Neat.)
Continuing down the loop, we finally made it to the ocean!
This sign almost made me cry. I love my kite. It's called the Dark Star and has two kite strings for double the kiting fun. I brought it all the way from NoVA in order to enjoy some beach kiting. The wind was perfect for it. What kind of mean-spirited park has all of the conditions for good kiting, then says "No Kites". Boo.
Fun with shadows!
It was crazy windy here, but nice to stand in front of the surf and smell the salt. I wish I had a lawn chair to sit in for a good part of the afternoon.
After our park fun, we decided to hit the mini-golf course like a couple of bosses. This was a fun jungle safari themed course. At one point, the course owner started chasing a toad around to get as a pet for his daughter. She immediately smashed it (not killed it, just held it immobile) in her pink sparkle sticker album. Awesome.
Here is Eric, grand champion of mini-golf for the day, carefully planning his next shot.
This is a piece of Smith Island cake, a special cake from (surprise!) Smith Island, MD, one of only 2 populated islands in the Chesapeake Bay. It is the official state dessert of Maryland. I enjoyed this coconut version very much!
Eric had a great birthday trip, aside from the sketchy hotel we stayed in and the bug bites. Only 16 weeks left until our lives turn upside down, so stay tuned for more excitement while there's still time!! :)