Monday, June 30, 2008

HOT Times in Philly


After a lovely and relaxing week at Barnegat Light on the Jersey Shore, we pack the beach house say our farewells to family. Taking a scenic route westward, Philomena navigates through the sandy forests and cranberry bogs of the Pine Barrens: New Jersey’s largest natural area. The thermometer topped 93 as we chug across the Ben Franklin Bridge into Philadelphia dripping sweat and craving a cool dip. It is 2 PM and the Chamounix Hostel in Fairmount Park, a mansion built in 1802 that will be our base for the next couple of days, doesn’t open until 4:30 PM. Dave secures a shady parking spot along the Schuylkill River near the historic Philadelphia Waterworks and we picnic. Kim introduces “Drip, Drip, Drip, DROP” a refreshing water game that involves – you guessed it – pouring water on one’s head. Needless to say, there are no complaints. The afternoon is capped off by a quick trip to the zoo were we were particularly enamored with two gorillas, swinging, climbing, playing and staring in their rather human-like gorilla fashion. Checking into the Chamounix Mansion, we are issued sheets and assigned a family room in the third floor attic. Thankfully, it’s cooled to a reasonable temperature by mild air-conditioning and are able to sleep. Common rooms on the ground floor have 10 foot vaulted ceilings, antique furnishings and elegant draperies. The communal kitchen in the basement, where we cook and eat, features a brick hearth and old-fashioned oven in the wall as a reminder of the mansion’s culinary past.

We are up and out early to take in some sights of Philly beginning with the Liberty Bell and Constitution Hall. While fully appreciating the National Park Service’s preservation and interpretation of these focal points of liberty and democracy, our family’s enjoyment meter peeks with street dancers on roller skates, trinket shops in Chinatown, and cheese steaks in the marketplace. To beat the heat (and because Sundays are “pay what you wish”) we check-out the world renowned Philadelphia Art Museum. Out front we park ourselves downwind of spray from the fountain and watch countless tourists running up the “Rocky steps” in beastly city heat! Inside we split into teams, each pair dashing through a wing past priceless European and Asian masterpieces to select an object for the other team to find. We exchange clues and the hunt pursues. We are cool and having fun! In the process, Kim realizes her preference for Asian art over early European (which is too bloody and violent!) Back on the city street, we head to the riverfront to seek out the $1 Italian Ices we heard about from a family at the hostel. Will, who has become the unofficial photo-documenter, snaps the above shot of “Chief” the 81 year-old vender who has been selling cool drinks and candy bars by the riverside park for 65 years! Can you believe that Chief is the same age Ben Franklin was when he signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776!

4 comments:

mwittke said...

WOW! Sounds like Philly is fun. I wanna go...with you. We're home (arrived at midnight.) The show was fun though many of us were tired. We're missing the family fun at the shore, but happy to be back in UT with Tom. It's cool up here this morning, but expected to top 100 in SLC for the 1st time this season. I'm so happy to be able to keep up with your travels here! -M

Lesley G. said...

I love your scavenger approach to visiting the museum! A great idea!

Julia P. said...

drip, drip, DROP! Sounds like an awesome game!!! Thank you for the Salt Water Taffy it's awesome!! Good luck with your adventure. Keep up the blog.

Julia

babz said...

Starting to follow the tour..........Who's first to log-on?! I'll get those other gals up to speed soon.
Miss you already!! Maybe I'll join you in Mexico....
XOXX Babz