Highs and Lows of our One Night Trip to Philly

Considering we were only away for one night, our trip to the City of Brotherly Love had plenty of highs and lows:

1) listening to Steve Buscemi's audio tour of Eastern State Penitentiary was spooky and excellent-- and the kids really enjoyed the ruined ambiance, the haunting anecdotes, and the punishment cells . . . plus, I coerced my son Alex into asking me if I believed in ghosts;

2) after touring the penitentiary, we decided to eat at Bridgid's instead of Jack's Firehouse-- both are great places and Jack's is right across from the jail-- but when we got to Bridgid's, we learned they were serving brunch . . . yuck . . . nobody in my family even deigns to say the word "brunch," let alone eat it and so we turned around and walked back to Jack's and they were serving brunch . . . but this turned out to be fine, because they had regular lunch stuff on the menu as well as brunch stuff, and my kids were highly amused by the finches that kept sneaking in through the big firehouse doors and stealing cornbread;

3) on the ride to Philly we listened to stand-up comedy, something my older son has gotten into lately-- and I tried to turn him on to Steve Martin and Steven Wright, but those early comedy albums aren't recorded all that clearly and the compression is terrible so it's hard to hear the jokes and then if you turn up the volume, the applause and screaming between bits blows out your eardrums;

4) we settled on Jim Gaffigan, he's funny, my son loves him, his voice is crystal clear and his albums are not only family friendly, but he also makes plenty of jokes about hotel rooms and hotel pools, which was perfect, since we were staying in a hotel with an indoor pool;

5) just as Jim Gaffigan predicted, the hotel pool was kind of gross-- it was a billion degrees in the pool room, too hot to lounge and read, and there were some very young kids in the pool, who would have probably urinated into the water if they weren't so dehydrated from the heat;

6) my kids loved Rocket Fizz, a store full of weird candy and "gourmet" soda-- Alex got a grapefruit pop that was tolerably good, and Ian got some sweet marionberry concoction called Martian Poop, which he had trouble finishing . . . but he kept the bottle as a souvenir;

7) we had been walking all day, and we kept on walking-- we started in the museum district (we were staying at the Sheraton) and went all the way down Arch Street, through the old city, out to Penn's Landing and then down to this new spot, Spruce Street Harbor Park, which was full of food trucks and corn hole and giant chess and hammocks and live music and weird hanging lights and would have been fun, if it wasn't insanely packed with people, and so we kept on walking, to South Street and ate at a place called Nora's which had decent authentic Mexican food and incredibly authentic Mexican weather (I sat next to the little portable air-conditioner which was maintaining between 86 and 85 degrees) and I was slurping down lots of their super-spicy churrasco salsa so my balding head was covered with droplets of sweat which my son said looked like "warriors ready to do battle in a forest";

8) after ice-cream on South Street, we took our first family Uber and the driver was super nice and full of information and she arrived quickly, which was fantastic because it was starting to rain;

9) the kids were happy watching a Harry Potter marathon and I was happy to pass out at nine;

10) I was not happy to be awoken at 1 AM by my wife, who told me I needed to find a 24 hour pharmacy and get my son allergy medicine and ibuprofen, because he had a terrible earache-- I blame the gross pool-- and I was less happy when I found a Walgreens and it was closed and then I walked a long way in the rain to a Rite-Aid, and then couldn't get the Uber app to work on my wife's phone, and so I took a regular cab back to the hotel . . . the driver was indifferent;

11) the medicine worked and my son passed out, but I couldn't fall back to sleep-- probably from all the stimulus of walking the city streets late at night-- lots of sketchy folks, drunk people, and restaurant workers finishing the late shift;

12) the hotel pool was closed Monday morning, and so the hotel gym was overrun with kids-- I bailed on my workout after a few minutes;

13) we had trouble finding a spot for some breakfast food and finally settled on Dunkin' Donuts-- yuck-- and the stools were all taken and my son Alex sat on the floor and started eating his Boston creme, until we explained to him that if you're civilized, you usually don't sit on the floor of a grubby chain restaurant in a major city and eat donuts-- Alex is twelve years old, so you'd think he'd know this;

14) we had a great time at the Drexel Academy of Natural Sciences . . . it's not the Museum of Natural History, but it's still full of great stuff-- and the film on how they make the museum dioramas is worth the price of admission-- there are zero bones in those stuffed animals-- and we got to see a possum up close and personal, they are perhaps the most ugly misshapen mammal in North America (and yes I considered the armadillo in that calculation).

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