Monday, March 14, 2016

A Fine Philly Weekend

After a hectic week of illness and appointments, we got away this weekend for about 30-hours in Philly.  Our dear friend was being ordained a United Church of Christ (UCC) minister so we took the opportunity to get away for a day.

We drove down on Saturday after kung fu and ice skating, one of our easiest forays on the Jersey turnpike.  We got to Philly, checked into the lovely historic Morris House Hotel in the Olde City, and headed straight for ice cream at Franklin Fountain, which we'd discovered two years ago.  In fact, I think we had mostly the same thing--Bud had Ladies' Choice which had peach ice cream in a raspberry soda; Sis had a chocolate milkshake; and I had a War Admiral, which was a soda with roses, ginger, and milk.  But Mama got something new:  a Dubliner Sundae, which had Irish whiskey ice cream, with a warm whisky cake, and a Guinness-caramel sauce, all so very good.  Yum!  The Irish theme went great with all the drunk college kids and 20-somethings on pub crawls all over the area around us.  One group would stumble out of the pub while another group would stumble off the crowded bus, with lots of loud laughter, shouts, and merriment.  The kiddos were a bit surprised, so we gave them a few pointers on navigating the sidewalks around drunk folks--mainly keep an eye on their weaving so you don't get in the way if they need to puke!   We also popped into the Shane Confectionery next door to grab some sweets for the road.

On the way back to the hotel, we passed the closed Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, so dark, quiet, and completely devoid of people.  We never wait in line to see the bell and so enjoyed an unobstructed view through the window.  One day we'll do the Independence Hall tour, but this time we settled for Bud rapping the opening song of Hamilton, even though Hamilton spent more time in NYC.

Dinner--I know, it was after dessert, but that's how the reservations worked--was at Jones Restaurant. It was comfort food at its finest--in a swanky setting reminiscent of the "Brady Bunch" with shag carpet,  formica-like tables, and wood detailing and lamps that look just like the Brady living room.  It was a great meal:  tater tots (off menu, suggested by Mama's coworker who suggested the restaurant), fried cheese curds, fried chicken and fries, grilled cheese and tomato soup, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and Bud's tuna tacos, which weren't exactly old-fashioned comfort food but still very good.  We even had apple pie and Duncan Hines Chocolate Cake.  Mama also had this odd grape juice/lemonade/Sprite soda combo.  The house manager saw the kids looking at the open kitchen and invited them up to watch and introduced them to Chef Lisa.  They watched a few orders being prepared until our food came.  All in all, it was a great dinner.

That night, after some DS-playing and reading, we all slept with the urban noises around us--people emptying garbage in the alley, the subway breaks under the sidewalks, the people on the streets, even all the birds sining in the early morning.  Which we saw because it was the beginning of Daylight Savings Time.  UGH.  We'd bought 9:30 tickets to see the "Magic of Pixar" exhibition at the Franklin Institute, forgetting about DST, so we were up early.  And then, we got caught in St. Patrick's Day parade traffic, which we weren't expecting.  

But we made it to the museum in time and the exhibition was excellent!  The kids loved manipulating all the stations, which explored the story in art, modeling, rigging, surface reflections (I forget what this is called), rendering, sets, etc etc etc.  They created settings, grew grass to certain specifications, adjusted lighting, drew models in 3D, and so much more.  And I think Mama had more fun with it than they did.  We all posed with the various characters set up around the show--the Monsters, Dory, Wall-e, Buzz Lightyear, and such.  I wasn't as interested, though I had fun making the grass thick or thin, curvy or straight, clumpy or evenly distributed and I also liked playing with the simulations of water, hair, clothes, etc. in Brave.  We kept teasing the kids about how integral all the math was to the art, since they complain about math in school.  But it's fun when its CGI manipulation.  Mama thought she'd even try to see if there were programs where they can start playing with animation.  Despite all of the fun we had, I was, however, very disappointed that there were no Brave souvenirs in the shop--it was all Monsters and Cars, even though the exhibition had as many girls having fun.  Shame on Pixar and the Franklin Institute.  At the end of our visit, Sis even rode the Sky Bike above the lobby of the museum, back and forth over a net, so high up!

We headed to my favorite restaurant, City Tavern, for lunch.  And what a lunch!  Buttery mushroom toast, spicy pepperpot soup, the yummy bread basket (Sally Lunn, Anadama, and sweet potato bisucits), Franklin chicken with Lunn breading and wine reduction and mashed potatoes, chicken pot pie, seafood pasta, and a cured and roasted pork chop that looked like ham.  We finished it with creme brulee, a fig and oatmeal bread pudding with amaretto sauce, and a vanilla corn cake.  And of course, raspberry shrub!  We'll have to make our own again this summer.  There was a table near us of women in full 18th-century dress, though we weren't sure if they were re-enactors or actual museum interpreters.  And we even talked to Chef Staib again!  He'd given the kids a free DVD a few years ago and posed for pictures; he kindly said he remembered.  He's always nice to diners and the staff said he's also good to work for.

After lunch, we headed out to the 'burbs for our friend's ordination.  It was a long ceremony, much like a graduation--complete with processional of folks in robes--with lots of prayers and songs and even a sermon.   There was also communion--which the UCC seems to welcome all to participate in; we had to explain communion to the kids.  Mama and I participated, in the spirit of community, as did Sis; but Bud just wasn't sure.   It was more Jesus-centered talk than our kids have ever heard, being UU and all, almost more than I've heard (and, as a child, I spent dozens of Sundays in churches with friends, be they Southern Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, no UCC though) but then it was an ordination welcoming our friend into ministry.  We saw her a bit before and talked to both her and her wife; they were so glad to see we'd come down.  I think it meant a lot to all of us that we were there.  We stayed for a bit of the light supper--baked ziti and Amish chicken!--but needed to head out soon after.  We did manage to see our friend afterwards and give her the stole I'd made.  She put it on right away and it fit and looked pretty good (which surprised me because I made up the pattern.)  Smiles all around.

And then we headed home, in the rain, on the turnpike, listening to Divergent the whole way home.  Whew.  What a weekend!  But though it was busy, it was a nice escape.  Maybe one day, we'll actually see the tour at Independence Hall!

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