In the last episode, our hero and heroine were stuffing their faces with $14-a-piece Philly cheese steaks. In the great wisdom of youth, they had then donned swimsuits to splash around in a highly chlorinated, slightly heated pool. What will they do next?
Dadadun! The next morning (Thursday) we woke up at 6:30 to get to this building: Independence Hall. We tried to reserve tickets for the tour the night before, but all the slots were taken for the entire day. We were worried that we would miss the opportunity to see it, so we rushed to get to the Visitor's Center as the doors were opening at 8:30 to secure two of the tickets they hold in reserve for the walk-ups. It turns out we didn't need to stress so much, because despite the line of some hundred people who squeezed in before us, we were able to get two for the 9:15 tour.
Since we had a few minutes before crossing the street, Sweetie leafed through and selected a half dozen maps and brochures from the counter. Guess who got to carry them around aaaall day?
I'm ecstatic to be there.
In case you didn't notice, Independence Hall is under construction. The top part is all 200 year-old wood, and apparently it's been threatening to fall apart for a few years. But according to the tour guide, they tell the kids a different story.
Guide: "Did you see the movie National Treasure?"
Guide: "You know the part where Nicolas Cage takes a brick out?"
Guide: "Now we have to go in and fix it."
This is the first room we saw after the customary orientation: the main room for the Philadelphia court house, where many a criminal faced down a jury of rich white men.
And this is the aforementioned tour guide in the room, where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed.
He said he moves around a lot, so he ends up in a lot more pictures than he was supposed to be in. But in such a small room, with us on one side of the blockade and him on the other, it's kind of hard to keep him out of the frame. It looks much grander in the movies.
I have to include this picture because Sweetie is so proud of it. It's George Washington's chair...but he really doesn't give a damn whose chair it is. The important point is that he took a clear shot of that rising sun from aaaalll the way on the other side of the room.
After the standard tour, we waited in line to see the west wing as well. Right behind us came a large group of seniors on a cultural outing. So when we sat down in the cushy chairs of the first Congressional Hall, we got a good idea of what the government for the human colony on Antarea might look like.
"The representative from New York respectfully abstains."
Here's the big chair up front, with the original artifacts.
And upstairs, the meeting place of the first Senate.
These pictures are grainy partly because the windows filter out natural light for preservation, and partly because using the clarifying flash on the camera messed up the colors.
See? A lot clearer, but the first one is more accurate. For our obligatory smile-and-wave photos, Sweetie has taken to Photoshopping the in-focus version of us with flash onto the proper photo of the room without.
After that, we stepped in to see the working documents of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, which to a librarian-in-training like me is much more interesting than the actual thing. Then we did a short tour of the "Other Buildings," as literally labeled on the directional signs outside: the portrait gallery, the gift shop, Carpenter's Hall, the military museum, etc. For photos, you can see the gallery Sweetie put together here: http://bghq.com/photos/gallery.php?g=40; I'm too lazy to select and format them myself. I will, however, include this statue of a guy drinking the Constitution.
It was made in 1987. Super historical.
Skipping ahead to the good parts, we rounded off the day with a visit to the Liberty Bell. We did have some qualms about seeing it, as humans are not allowed in the building.
We made a beeline straight for the Bell, but on the way we spotted a shot of the Dalai Lama paying is respects:
His Holiness always knows how it should be done.
By the way--the tour guide who said he shows up in more photos than he was originally intended?
Yup. In a totally different building two hours later, too.
After this we walked a few blocks north to see what was at the Constitution Center, but it turned out to be a lame museum with hefty admission fees. So we took photos of us holding things in the gift shop instead.
No one has called me "Tammy" in about four years. And the font makes it look more like "Jammy." But what the hey.
Sweetie and I are weak, weak people, so our legs were already aching by 1pm. We decided not to push it, since we'd already fulfilled our obligations as natural-born citizens, and headed back to the train station. On the way, Sweetie took one last panorama of my behind.
Just because I criticized his behind-photographing habits, of course. I used to do that when my mother gave me disposable cameras on trips...at least modern digital cameras don't waste film when you take excessive pictures of your companions' backsides.
And then a sandwich shop called "Così" pried twenty hard-earned dollars from my hands for flatbreads that tasted pretty much like Subway, only really difficult to chew.
My $20 paid for hip waiters and hipper colors on the walls. And the superfluous grave accent on the letter "i."
For the rest of the day we were dead to the world, having expended the last of our Qi walking the half mile back from the train station to the hotel (I'd decided by our second day there that taking it all the way to the airport just to catch the complimentary shuttle wasted both time and money). On Friday, we undertook the long drive back to Bloomington, and by Saturday were more or less back in the rut. Except I had been paying a lot of money for very little food for an entire week, and it didn't hit me until the weekend that I was starved. So I ate a lot. But otherwise, it's been pretty easy to get back into things. I think we're leveling up as travelers.
As much fun as we had, I don't feel any particular pull to go back to Philadelphia any time soon. Sweetie and I have determined, without a doubt, that we are not city people. They're nice to visit, but we're much more comfortable here in the inconvenient, boring backwoods.