Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Girls Trip: Philadelphia

April flew by in a blur!! It was such a fun and busy month for us. It started out with Kaisa and I taking a quick trip over the east coast to visit my best friend, Kambria in Philadelphia. Our dear friend, Alyssa came along as well... and we had a full-on girls trip going on! It was so great to have Alyssa come with me to help with Kaisa on the plane and throughout the trip. She is so great with all my kids and they all just love her to pieces. What an awesome friend! 

I've been talking with Kambria for a while about going over to visit her. But money, time, kids always got in the way. She is only going to be over there for 2 years, so I knew I had to make it happen. I missed her a couple of years ago when she lived in New York! I got Shad to agree to FINALLY take some time off of work to spend with the boys, while I went for a long weekend. Alyssa is a 2nd grade teacher and we were able to coordinate the trip with her Spring Break. Perfect. 

We left Friday morning. And we read that its about a 5-6 hour flight, but the thought of how long that actually is doesn't really register. Its long. With an 11 month old, its even longer! Luckily Kaisa is an angel baby and did wonderfully. With the time change we didn't really arrive until 7PM so we just got right to business of eating dinner and settling in for the night. Kambria introduced us to Shake Shack a famous NY burger joint, which also happens to be in Philly. The ice cream.... YUM! 

Right after we arrived. Kaisa bonding with her Auntie Kam at Shake Shack! 

That night we stayed up chatting and catching up till 3AM (Hey, that's only 12 our time!). We planned out the next morning and figured out what we wanted to see and do. I came prepared and had a list of several things I wanted to see! 

We started out Saturday morning with brunch. Apparently thats a big thing in cities... in the east? I'm not sure, but it was fabulous and delish. Kaisa loved it too! Kambria and Preston literally live downtown Philly. It was awesome. We were able to walk to most places in the city and easily come back to apartment to have lunch, rest, and give Kaisa naps. Perfect. It was overall a pretty chill vacation. Normally I am full-on tourist mode when I go places and hardly stop to eat because I want to see and do everything. However, this time I tried to be very accommodating to everyone and especially Kaisa. Its hard to be too tourist-y with a baby! 

Brunching together. 

After stuffing our bellies we decided to hammer out some of the things on our (my) list. First stop: LOVE park/statue. The Love Statue takes awesome pictures. And looks great in photographs. In real life, it is very underwhelming. Its small.  I guess usually there is a foundation going, but since it was still cold out they hadn't started it for the season. Still a fun stop! 

There was a crazy lady, who was loud and hilarious. She was directing the traffic of people and taking pictures for everyone. It was hilarious. She acted like it was her day job... and she willingly accepted tips! She did a great job taking our picture though! 

Doesn't it take great city pics?!

Directly across the street we found City Hall and very large Masonic Temple. Both things I really wanted to see. They were beautiful!! 

City Hall was gorgeous! There is a statue of William Penn on top!

We really wanted to go inside the Masonic Temple and see what that was all about. But it was closed. We found out later that it was open on Tuesday, so we made sure the schedule a tour for the morning before we left! So... more pictures of inside as you scroll down! 

Across from City Hall was this Park with all sorts of giant game pieces from Monopoly, Sorry, Bingo, Chess, etc. Kambria, Isaac, my mom and I used to play Sorry all the time as kids. So we had to send a pic of the Sorry piece to them! 

Also close by, a few blocks away was Reading Terminal Park. An indoor farmers market similar to Pikes Place. They had all sorts of flowers, chocolate, fruit, veggies, delis, cafes, and bakeries. Kambria insisted that we either try a donut, from the Amish, or a cinnamon pretzel. Kambria knew my weakness. I love pretzels. Especially warm cinnamon and sugar pretzels. And these were delicious! They seriously melted in your mouth, yum. I wish I took a picture. 

We walked around for a bit, until our poor Kaisa fell asleep! So we decided to head back and have a rest. (You'll see this happens a lot this trip!) 

After Kaisa refused to nap for us, we ventured out again. We walked along the Schuylkill River, right next to their apartment and wondered our way to the Rocky Steps and Art Museum. The Museum is HUGE. We had plans to go inside the Museum on Monday, because Monday was supposed to be super rainy; but as luck would have it, it was closed. Dang. That was one item on my list I was really hoping to do. Oh well. 

The view of the city there is awesome! You can actually see the Art Museum from the Love Statue, its right in the center of the city. Philly, really is a cool place/city. 

The View from atop the Rocky steps! 

It was SO windy while we were there. It made for some nice super model pictures! ;) 

Kaisa, that stinker, after refusing to nap for us crashed as soon as we got going in the stroller. Its vacation, right? A naps, a nap. I'll take it. 

The next day, Sunday was my favorite day of the trip. 

We started it with going to Independence Hall and seeing the Liberty Bell. First we got in line to see the Bell. It wasn't too long, but once we got in line it really began to grow into crowds of people and tours. But it moved quickly. There was little museum that you walked through that told all about the Bell and its history. Then you got to see the famous bell! 

Kaisa was the star, we all wanted pictures with our girl. 

Next we got tickets to take a quick, 15 minutes or so, tour of Independence Hall. Lots of people. Lots of tourists. And LOTS of old people taking pictures of my baby! That was the weirdest thing. There were many people just snapping away pictures at my beautiful girl. Granted I think she's the cutest thing in the world, so I don't blame them. But still a little weird, right?! 

Independence Hall

Our tour was quick, informative, and wonderful. The history nerd that lives inside me was beaming! I love, LOVE history. And if you know me at all, you know that I absolutely LOVE American History. It was fantastic. 

This is inside: this room used to be the National Supreme Courtroom. So tiny! Pretty much everything was just a replica of the original. 

The signing room. The room were the declaration was brought to life! So cool! 
Also replicas, except for the chair at the front of the room. That chair is original and belonged to George Washington. 

After lunch and another rest/nap time for Kaisa we ventured over to Valley Forge. About 30-40 minutes outside the city. It was beautiful outside and Valley Forge National Park was amazing. Its huge and gorgeous. You can tell that in the spring/summer/Fall its stunning there. Its right along the river and has so many trees and fields. Plus the old architecture and scenery makes it easy to imagine what it looked like in the 1700/1800s. 

A typical solidier bunker. It fit about 12 soilders to sleep. 

Kambria was pretty tough with those cannons! 

Arch dedicated to the the 2,500 men/Continental Army who lost their lives during that winter stay there. 

This is George Washington's headquarters, where he stayed and lead the army. 

Inside Headquarters: 

There was this beautiful church there as well. It was build later in the 1800, I think. But still pretty spectacular. 

Valley Forge was really cool! We only took about half a day there and drove to all the major monuments. But they have a 5 mile walking/bike trail that spans the entire park that would be so fun to explore! If only we had the time! 

On the way home we stopped for some dinner take out (Thai!) and a quick trip to the local grocery shop to get some supplies for Kaisa and snacks for us. Every night we were able to chat, laugh, catch up, watch movies, and just have fun together while Kaisa slept. I think the earliest we went to bed was 1 or 2 AM. We have to take advantage of friend time and mostly kid-free time for me! 

City living has it advantages! Fresh, warm cookies delivered to your door, until 3AM! So yummy! 

Monday was our most chill day. It was very rainy and wet that day so most walking and outdoor activities were out. Like I said earlier we had planned on doing a museum that day, but as it turns out most Museums are closed on Monday! So, we had a quiet morning together. Gave Kaisa a morning nap and some time inside, and then ventured out to find the perfect Philly Cheesesteak! Kambria had already scoped out the best place for us. And it was yummy! (And I am not a meat lover and I liked it!) Did you know that the true way to eat a Philly Cheesesteak is with Cheese Whiz!? Sounds gross, but its very tasty! 

After lunch, we shopped!! Yay! Kambria took us to the 2nd largest Mall in America, King of Prussia Mall. It was HUGE! And I loved all the girl time. And shopping spree. We all got some cute things. Overall a big success. That night we made dinner in together, and played with Kaisa. I loved having one and one time with her. I don't get that very often. I think she enjoyed it too! 

Kaisa out shopping with the girls! 

Auntie Kam bonding time. 

Tuesday, sadly, was our last day. We knew we wanted to make the morning tour of the Masonic Temple downtown. So we quickly walked over to it. It did not disappoint. It was so spectacular inside. And I never really knew all much about free masonry before so it was very informative. Our tour guide was very impressed with our questions. It was only the three of us and one other lady, so it was pretty intimate. He thought we were very inquisitive and liked answering all our questions. The other lady with us didn't say a word! After a while the tour guide figured out that we were LDS, just by all the questions we were asking! It was fascinating. I'm trying to convince Shad that he needs to join the Free Masons now.

Lots of pictures of inside. It was so pretty. 

These are the thumb prints and marks of all the men that helped construct and build this huge place. 

Kaisa was so good for the whole tour! She is such an angel baby!!! 

This apron belonged to George Washington:

And this sash belonged to Benjamin Franklin: 

The only picture I have of all of us at the Temple, from Kambria's phone! 

After the Temple tour and lunch we headed over to the Franklin Institute. Also, right near Kambria's apartment. It was so great that she lived so close to everything! The Franklin Institute is similar to the Seattle Science Center. It had all sorts of fun exhibits and activities. There was this exhibit of the 50 Greatest Photographs from National Geographic. That was my favorite. There were some very powerful images. It was sort of loud and crowded for the most part so we didn't spent too much time there. 

These ladies were so great at helping out with Kaisa the whole trip! Kaisa fell asleep while we were looking at all those amazing photographs. Girl- just doesn't know how to appreciate fine art! 

They had a train exhibit there too, Owen and Nathan would have LOVED it. I took lots of Train pictures for them and bought them a train book there. 

They also had this tribute to Benjamin Franklin. Love him. And he is everywhere there! All over the city they have tributes, museums, statues, monuments to this man. It's great. 

After heading home to pack, and another failed attempt to give Kaisa a nap we headed to the airport for our looooooooooong flight home. 

About ten minutes before we arrived at the airport they had closed down our entire terminal for security reasons. Which caused a 45 minute closure! Kaisa, of course, fell asleep here too. So the only good thing that came out of the that closure was Kaisa got a decent nap! 

All tuckered out from a long trip! 

We had to then endure long ticket lines and security lines. As soon as we got to our gate they were flagging us down because they were about to take off! But we made it and all was well. The flight was slightly delayed, but not by much. It was a super long flight home. Kaisa did great, she was so sleepy, but still a champ. She slept for the last couple hours of the flight. 

It was such a fun trip! We got to see a lot of things I wanted to see in a short time! There is so much to see and do in Philly! I already want to go back! I feel like we barely scratched the surface of everything there is to see! I love all the history there and how they embrace it! What a fun trip. Plus I love that I got to spend so much girl time with two of my favorite people and friends. Love these ladies so much.


F said...

looks like you had a great time!

Camille said...

Wow, you sure packed a lot into this trip. Looks like fun! Great pictures!

Tara said...

Awesome! What a great trip.

Ben and Carrie said...

So fun! That looks like such a great trip. Hooray for good friends, great entertainment and a sweet baby who travels well!