Honeymoon the Second: Chapter Seven

We wandered back to Arch between 5th and 6th to visit the National Constitution Center. We were unable to take pictures for the dramatic telling of the Constitution story, but it was cool and informative, nonetheless. After the dramatic presentation, we played a trivia game in which we were the players and the pieces and took some pictures in a ten dollar bill. In the gift shop, we discovered a penny book that had a “We the People” penny and I thought about buying it, at the time we had only seen one penny squisher in the gift shop, and it did not have that penny. Thankfully, we found the other machine on the opposite side of the entrance from the first machine. This saved me some money, we obtained a “We the People” and a feather quill squished penny.

Thus ends the chronicle of our journey through the historic district of Philadelphia. We exited the city around 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon. The traffic was quite thick due to 8th street at the ramp for the highway in Philadelphia being closed. As we drove I felt a milk-migraine coming on, my best guess was the bruschetta from dinner the night before, although some sausage can cause it as well. What ever I ate had milk product it in. We arrived at the Gettysburg at 10 after 5, the Visitor’s Center closed at 5P.M. We headed back route 30 to a Super 8 we found as we came through. We splurged again on a king-sized bed and tried to nap for a little bit. We found dinner at Bella Italia, absolutely yummy considering I had to avoid milk products, my first just attempt to eat out at an Italian restaurant. Our server seemed to understand my dilemma and assured me that my choices were milk-free. If it weren’t for the headache, I would have asked her more questions. We walked back to the hotel/motel and watched a little more Law and Order before calling it a night. I would just like to say that this trip taught me a lot about traveling with a milk allergy. I am going to pack a larger supply edible food and not gamble at all on bread and sausage products. I am going to pack single serving rice milk and a jar of peanut butter with some crackers, as well as the standard granola bars. Ok, side note here nearly a month after I wrote this, I have found single serving peanut butter containers packaged like applesauce.

Friday morning we traveled back to the Gettysburg Visitor’s Center to purchase an audio car tour CD. We had previously discussed a walking tour using an iPod after ripping a CD, but by Friday morning, we were both “walked out”. I don’t think anyone does a walking tour of the battlefield. We had several choices for a car tour, two different 2 hour ones, a 3 hour one and a 4 hour one. I didn’t say anything, but I secretly hoped that Jason would pick the 3 hour tour. Does this sound like the theme song to sitcom long since in syndication? We opted for the concise 2 hour tour, 16 stops (but 3 of the 16 were optional). I’m not a huge Civil War buff; I have opinions about the causes and results of the war. I know where battles were mostly fought, but not any of the fancy moves or shapes the lines created in an attempt to win. I liked studying the analysis of the causes, the actual battles were of little consequence to me, so a longer tour to me, seemed like a good crash course in battles. Thankfully, we didn’t go with the longer one. We were on the road by after a short program of “The Electric Map”. Does that sound like something out of the 50s? It very well may have been. It was a cool display of the various front lines and formations of the two sides, as well as reinforcements and leaders. Various lights lit as the recorded voice told of the battle, keeping the Visitor’s Center constantly lit, flashing occasionally to remind us of our position relative to the war. It was of considerable benefit to me as I previously was clueless as to the specifics of various battles. As we toured the sites by car, it made much more sense after the map show. I’ll not go into specifics of the “Auto Tour,” other than to say, I took lots of pictures of each stop and the sign so I could remember which site was which in reference to the tour. Devil’s Den was coolie, I’m always a big fan of unique geological formations. Some where around stop 12, we decided we were just about done with the tour whether it was done or not. We skipped the first optional stop and then 13 and 14 as well. I took lots of pictures. I think we decided that the 3 hour tour would have been the same 16 stops, just more information. I’ll caption the pictures so that you can tour Gettysburg at your leisure.

We departed Gettysburg and headed across route 30 to I70/I76. The nature sights were fantaboulous as previously noted at the beginning of this chronicle. I took many more random pictures, but missed a few shots because of trees and trucks. I did take come video footage of our time in the tunnel, why? Because I could.

As for the trip home, it was ripe with penny squishing! We stopped at a random rest stop in PA and found a machine. I promptly selected the one displaying Pittsburg Three Rivers and the Incline-have to look that up. In northern Ohio, we stopped and purchased on at another random rest stop, one of Dayton, home of flight. We were no where near Dayton, but I liked the penny. We stayed at another Super 8, at the “junction” of 80 with 23/475 in Toledo. That Super 8 had wireless high speed, so I brought in my laptop and surfed for a while. My first check of email in almost a week, as well as a nice visit to the penny collecting website listed on the back of the collector album. I discovered that we missed a lot of penny opportunity in Gettysburg, but that’s ok. I don’t want to collect every penny, just the ones I think are cool.

In summary, we squished some pennies, did some things and saw some stuff. At this point in the journey, we have arrived in SE GR to waste some time before we can retrieve my furries from my friend Ruth, which is about where I started this chronicle.

Stay tuned for my random thoughts and investigations on thoughts, ideas and questions resulting from our trip

**note: If links are broken, please check the original post at http://proefrocks.net, the link may have been updated. If you are still unable to view the image, please let me know by using the email address of debra at proefrocks dot net.

~~The End~~

Honeymoon the Second: Chapter Six

We spent Thursday morning and early afternoon finishing up our self-guided tour of the city. We began with the Philadelphia Mint because it was across from the hotel on Arch. We are not allowed to bring cameras, camera phones or bags into the Mint, so it made sense to do visit at the start of the day, close to the hotel. When we arrived, we travelled up two escalators to the third floor, then wound our way back to the first on the self-guided tour. The final escalator dumped us right into gift shop, where we purchased a couple of postcards. While it was a very informative tour and I learned a lot about how coins are minted, I was also able to see first hand how much money that government agency is allowed to waste.

Did you know . . .

We broke fast at a Starbucks, quite Philadelphian of us. From there we rejoined the self-guided tour map at stop 24, the Betsy Ross House. Surprisingly, Ross was her first husband’s name, she married two more times, each husband dying before she did. Her grave stone says Betsy Ross and John Claypoole. When she should have been learning to tend a house and mind a family, she apprenticed with an upholsterer. Could this have lead to her progressive ideals: marrying out of her faith, eventually joining the Revolutionaries mending things, making cartridges and bullets? John Ross, her first husband, was an Anglican which was scandalous to her family, they were Friends. She was read out at the next meeting of the Friends after she was married. At the house, there was a charming fountain, which was not spurting water at the time. The sculptor placed the most adorable kittens in various playful positions. I attempted to take pictures of all the kitties, but was unable to due to the presence of others. I also took many pictures of the raised beds, again with the gardening fascination. In the gift shop, I found a collector’s book for squished pennies and three squisher machines. We squished one of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Sometimes the penny mold has the location of the squisher machine on it, I like that. The penny book came with a Philly, Penn. LOVE squished penny, but I think I’d have to destroy the cover of the book to get it out.

Our journey continued at Elfreth’s Alley (23), it is the oldest continuously occupied residential street in the country, 1702. We did not walk through the museum, just took pictures of the alley and walked through the gift shop. I almost purchased a tin whistle, I thought maybe I would find one somewhere else, so I didn’t. The houses were quite colorful; a few of them still displayed the fire insurance emblem on the fronts. Many of the original houses did not survive, but were rebuilt.

We chose to forgo the Declaration (Graff) House, it was only open 11A.M. to noon, while we were in the city, and we would have had to give up a couple of sites to do that one. We instead trekked back toward the hotel to visit the Church of Christ Burial Court (cemetery). The main attraction there was the burial site of Benjamin Franklin. On our walk to the Ross house that morning, we saw people throwing coins on the grave of Benjamin Franklin. We asked on our way out about that tradition. Apparently, it’s good luck. Somewhere along the way, brides decided it was good luck for the marriage and then others decided it was good fort hem too. One of the attendants said it may relate to the phrase, “a penny saved is a penny earned.” I had a hard time with that because throwing a penny onto a grave is not a penny saved. One of guides at Independence Square mentioned that the Revolutionary War pitted brother against brother, fathers against sons. He alluded to Benjamin Franklin losing a son to that, the only son we saw buried with him was “Frankie,” but he died just over a year old.

Honeymoon the Second: Chapter Five

So my random thought, which I promised would be often and random-we rented a G6 from Enterprise for the trip. It’s been a pleasant ride, but slightly disconcerting for the passenger. The airbag for the passenger turns on at the beginning of a journey if it senses that a passenger is present in the seat. I read the manual about it on the way out because the bag would turn on and off. At first I thought it was a short in the system being aggravated by my use of the cigarette adapter. I am using a different one on the way back and it’s turning on and off with bumps in the road. I think this may be why Jason won’t let me drive; he wants the airbag to work where he sits 😉 Luckily, I don’t have life insurance, unless it is a benefit that comes with being married to him.

On to The Second Bank of the United States, stop 10, you will notice it looks similar to the first bank. I don’t know why the National Park Service has two different pages, other than this one is labeled “archive,” I do like the picture better. Close by was Library Hall (9), open only to researchers and students of a specific school. There is some interesting information around half way down the page. Our next stop was Washington Square Park, memorial to unknown soldier(s) from the Revolutionary War and an eternal flame of peace. (8) I believe it is technically named in the singular sense, but the plaques all over the park indicate that there are hundreds if not thousands buried in mass unmarked graves.

As our story continues, we are on an adventure in Philadelphia, Penn. It is the sunny Wednesday, afternoon of September 12. From Washington Square we walked by the Independence Hall buildings, collectively referred to as Independence Square. From the park, we saw barriers with armed guards and the same from the street side. Unable to discover how to enter, we settled for pictures and started to move on to other stops. Some where we saw a sign that sent us to Independence Visitor Center for tickets. After meeting a smart-alecky, but slightly humorous park ranger, I obtained two tickets for the 2:30 showing. We went straight back and managed to get in on the 2:15 tour. We had a lovely guided tour of Independence Hall (4), after going through a rather thorough security check point. Our park ranger was very informative; unfortunately, I did not retain his name. Independence Hall in colonial times was a government seat for Britain’s laws/courts. While independence was being planned, it served as a meeting place for the framers. Much was argued and debated, ratification was voted upon, and states participated, boycotted or abstained. I did a little more learn about the division of power intended by the framers when we toured Congress Hall (5) with a different ranger, Bob King. I already knew that many of the framers wanted a decentralized federal government with more states’ rights, so we ended up with three branches and no one entity or person as a final authority. I learned on the original purpose of a bicameral congress. The Senate was supposed to be sure that the states’ rights were always represented in legislation matters, while the House was supposed to represent the people’s rights/interests in legislation. In this manner, the states were not more important than the people, nor were the people more important than the states. In between the two guided tours, we self toured the west wing of Independence Hall. Much of the furnishings in the buildings were reproductions, some was original, often less than 50%, the rangers liked to talk in percentages, it probably sounds better than the actual number of pieces. If they reproduced it, they tried to match the original. On display in the Old City Hall were several copies of various documents: The Declaration of Independence as distributed to the masses, typeset, Articles of Confederation, Constitution of the United States and an ink stand; we did this as a self-guided tour. Philosophical Hall was a part of Independence Square, however, tours were limited to a specific time or purpose as it was privately held.

Across the street (Chestnut) from Independence Hall, we visited the Liberty Bell, which we learned used to be the Penn. State bell. That was a bit disappointing. I had been under the false impression that it was cast for the purpose of celebrating our independence from Britain. The hall was huge, had exhibits on various groups that latched on to the Liberty Bell as a symbol of the cause. I did enjoy the history of the bell.

After an absolutely yummy dinner at the hotel, we tried to do the Lights of Liberty tour. It was supposed to be a tour of 5 or so landmarks with coolie lights on the building a headset to explain something. We visited in the afternoon and found out what time it started. Unfortunately, the unhelpful information desk woman did not tell us we needed reservations in advance and two people were not going to be enough for them to do a whole show. We decided to continue to wander the historical district at night. We managed to find some ginger lemon tea for Granny at a fun little corner shop. That area of Philly didn’t seem to have supermarkets, just small stores that carried some basics, but what more do you need? On our way back to the hotel, we realized it was Wednesday evening and could have attended the Wednesday evening meeting at the Friend’s Church directly across 4th (right next to the hotel), by the time we realized it, it was rounding on 9P.M., so we went back to the hotel and cleaned my white had that got stained, as mentioned previously. A washcloth and bar of soap made short work of most of the stain, it is still stained, but passable. While in the bathroom, Jason hollered at me about something about having something of mine and was sure I would want to know about it. I asked as many questions as I could in a vain attempt to determine what he had. He knows how the seemingly simplest clue can give it away, so he was deliberately vague. When I finally gave up, I hadn’t left or misplaced anything recently; he showed me my nice, shiny, silvery ring that I lost last February, presumably in my car or his driveway. Apparently I lost it in his house; it had fallen or found its way into his duffel bag. He only found it because he knew that things often made their way under the hard bottom and had checked to see what treasures lay beneath. So my ring is back on my finger.

Walking Tour Brochure

Honeymoon the Second: Chapter Four

Off to Carpenter’s Hall (17), the First Bank (16), and a failed attempt at the New Hall Military Museum(18). A bit more research may have proved useful at this juncture. The Military Museum was closed; I think it was only open one day a week. Had I not been with Jason, I would have thought it was a simple guild, looked at the neat tools and models, then moved on. He (we) had a lengthy conversation with a member of the guild/society. The man had a wonderful bow-tie with colorful hand prints all over it. Jason mentioned to the man that the set up of the room looked “fraternal” to him, as he was comparing it to the look of the Elks Lodge. The gentleman indicated that in its time, it was more of a guild or association. On our way out, we saw all the locks on the back of the door, causing us to wonder what they were locking in or out. Many of the revolutionaries used this building to conduct various meetings as they prepared for declaring their independence. Now all that is left of it is the one building they kept, Carpenter’s Hall, and an organization of professional engineers, architects, etc. The First Bank is no longer open to the public, but we took some cool pictures.

As we walked from one historical stop to the next, we understood the need for the tough, hard-soled shoes of yesteryear. We encountered many cobblestone walkways that were rough on the feet. Luckily, at some point, it appeared as if tracks for carts were paved a little flatter surrounding the cobblestone. Some of the walkways were brick. As an aside, many of the historic monuments were preserved and held by the National Park Service, so I took some pictures of the cool architecture that is a perfect waste of money and the Philadelphia City Hall. Many of the historic structures were rebuilt because the original didn’t withstand time. Across the street from those was The First Bank (16), held by the National Park Service and used as offices, and not open to the public. We took a picture or two of it.

The Merchants’ or Philadelphia Exchange (14) sits on a land/street peninsula; my guess would be the architecture of the building dictated it. While that website indicates that tours area available, we did not go in due to signage that said it was closed to the public. While the exterior has been restored, a sign led us to believe the interior may not be restored. It was a building for farmers, craftsmen, etc to meet at a common location and sell their goods. I looked up the information about the architect, William Strickland, as it is a very interesting and unique building. I struggled to find an image of the interior of the building, please pass a link along in a comment if you find one or find that one of my hyperlinks is no longer valid.

The City Tavern was our next stop (15), rather uneventful. It’s not the original one, that was torn down and this one was “reconstructed” in 1975 by the National Park Service. It appears to serve period food with the men and women serving guests in period costumes. We were going to go back on Wed. and eat, but our feet were tired and we ran out of time. We did, however, eventually find a cookbook and a baking cookbook with period recipes. We only purchased the baking cookbook, but I get ahead of myself.

Stops 11 and 12 were the Bishop White House and the Todd House. In all this walking, we’ve spent roughly 2.5 of hours and made it around a 2 square-ish block area. We heard or read more about these places, there was a tour offered for the Bishop White house, but we hit it at the wrong time or passed on it. According to the plaque in the window, Dolley’s husband John died of Yellow Fever, then she married a congressman from Virginia, James Madison. I could swear my history books named her as Dolly, but it’s been a while, oh well.

I took a lot of pictures of raised garden beds and various landscaping with plants. We’re thinking about raised beds at home because of the sandy make up of the soil. Raised beds would keep the good soil in place and safe from natural erosion.

(interruption for an absolutely gorgeous sunset in Ohio and some experimentation with the camera, I have recently discovered that as if I zoom out all the way while review pictures I can scroll 9 pics at time, I had only found the 9 to a screen, one row at a time. You need to check out the photos.)

Honeymoon the Second: Chapter Three

We slept in rather late, making the executive decision to spend a day and half there. We had an extra half day or day to spend somewhere, why not here. Our hotel had some great brochures on a self guided tour of the city. If I haven’t lost about 10 pounds this week, I’m going to rebel against something or someone. We basically walked all of Tuesday afternoon, all of Wednesday afternoon, and all of Thursday morning, with scattered/staggered walking in the afternoon.

Jason found us a lovely room at the Holiday Inn, with a king size bed. It was glorious, we could lay diagonal across the bed, and we each had our own side and plenty of room on each side for rolling. Our hotel was at Arch and 4th, which means nothing to anyone unless you’ve been, but trust us, it was close enough to all the sights in the historic district on foot. I think we spent some of Wednesday backtracking because we made up our own tour. As I said earlier, we used a brochure as a guide but we didn’t start at stop number one. We had breakfast at Snow White (Market & 2nd), a fun diner that served breakfast until 11A.M. with waitresses (I think they would have been offended if we called them servers or anything). Not a one of them could have been less than 50 years old; it was cash only with an ATM at the front near the cashier, which looked to be the owner or owner’s wife.

(written from somewhere in Ohio) From breakfast we decided to jump on the tour at stop 21 & 20 (the block between Market, Chestnut, 3rd and 4th) and work backwards. We found the B Free Franklin Post Office & Museum and a neat sculpture that may have been the outline of Benjamin Franklin’s original house. Probably the two neatest things at the museum were the entire sheets of stamps and the trivia about the “motto” of the postal carrier. The sheets were complete and mostly depicted space shuttle missions or commemorating Benjamin Franklin. According to the articles on the wall, one of the architects felt that the post office needed a phrase or saying carved into the building, so he had someone retranslate from a piece Greek literature that he liked-from that came “neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow. Here is an interesting brochure from the USPS about its history. From there we went to a museum of Franklin which was situated under ground, under the sculpture. The ramps inside the museum were huge, but it was difficult to tell how far below we were. The museum would have been cool, except everything had the caption, “While this was not owned by Franklin, this is similar to a insert item name he would have owned.” We gave up on that half way through and climbed up several flights of stairs to the surface again. I would guess we were underground at least two stories.

Our next stop was around the corner to National Liberty Museum (stop 19), where the woman behind the desk was the first to notice that Jason’s hat had the word “groom” on it and wondered if we were newlyweds. The first floor of the museum was dedicated to peaceful cohabitation of peoples, which seemed a bit idealistic to me, in this area were voting machines which asked our feelings about free speech (was hate speech constitutional), the death penalty (was it constitutional) and gun control (should we control whether citizens can lawfully own any gun). We were able to view the results, supposedly divided by age group-over and under 18. It appeared as if the under age population had been successfully taught that freedom of speech can be abridged if you are offended by it, we can’t take the life of a murderer and no one should have guns, Britain here we come. The other floors were much more politically tolerable. There was a nice wing about soldiers who have earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. We could look up WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam medal holders. There was also a nice display of what all the medals looked like. The stairwell between the floors was a 9/11 exhibit, very moving. On one of the floors was a cool painting that combined many eras in American history, worth visiting almost for that. I took pictures of it, feel free to hop over to the gallery. From there we moved to the religion floor, which proclaimed there was no religion superior to another. They had a coolie Judeao-Christian exhibit, heavy on the Noah’s Ark artwork. There was a variety of artists and medium displayed: metal work, glass, and more. The bottom floor was all about peace and harmony, reminds me a Pax Romano, forced peace by threat. Two fun displays were the jellybean kids with butterflies and the mirrors. The butterflies’ wings fluttered when we pushed a button. The children were sculpted out of jellybeans with mirrors on the left and right sides of the display. At the right angle, it appeared as if the display kept going. In the gift shop, we discovered one of many penny squishers. I’ve seen these since I was little, but never did any of them, defacing governmental currency and all. Jason told me that his brother, Jeff, has been collecting them for a while. We decided to start a collection, but not necessarily getting every penny available at each machine, only the ones we like. From the National Liberty Museum, we got one of the jellybean kids and Liberty Torch; I’m guessing it is Lady Liberty’s. The penny squisher here squishes the pennies too long and thin. The back of one of them still has the Lincoln Memorial on the back.

Stay tuned for the chronicle of the rest of the day.

Honeymoon the Second: Chapter Two

We arrived in NY on Sunday somewhere around 7P.M.I took random pictures of the welcome signs as we entered various states. I decided that if we were doing the tourist thing, I was going to act like a tourist from another country and take pictures of everything I would never normally take. (The time on my camera is an hour ahead of schedule; subtract an hour for an exact time of picture.) I drove all the way through Penn. as we drove east and part of the way into NY. It rained a good deal of the trip. The nice days we had were Wed. and Thurs. as we toured Philadelphia on foot. Monday we enjoyed lunch with my parents and grandparents in celebration of my Mom’s birthday, which was on Thursday. For dinner, we went to Schenectady. We saw Carolyn, Aaron, Tabby and Elise, as well as my parents, grandparents and niece. My niece wanted to sit next to the “funny one” in the car that would be Jason. He checked her homework and signed his name as Donald Duck.

We departed NY on Tuesday morning headed to NJ for the Sean Hannity Freedom Concert at Six Flags NJ. It was a very rain afternoon. We got soaked several times, but had a fun afternoon doing coaster after coaster. Most of the park was open, probably about 2/3 was available for play. We sat in the audience for the radio broadcast for about 40 minutes or so, but it was difficult to hear anything with the crowd screaming, hooting, hollering and clapping.

We did most of the coasters-The Superman was almost an inverted coaster-you hang from the top rail in a seat. The seat doesn’t stay upright, as soon as we buckled in, the seat pulled back and locked into place so that we had a great view of the ground. It had loops and screws and oh my word. That was nothing compared to the next one we went on-The Scream Machine. We sat in a normal car with a high back/headrest which was a good indicator that we were in for a rough ride. I think I figured out that if I held myself in, my head didn’t get as jostled. Somewhere in the ride my vision went a little nutty-it wasn’t a blackout, because I was awake and thinking, but my vision went black and I saw lots of pretty colored spots. After that, we wandered a bit until the next downpour. The rain drove us into the Spongebob ride, which was an indoor 3d movie/coaster like ride. We were seat-belted into a chair on hydraulics. It was actually kind of fun.

I think we spent too much time wandering the grounds trying to find things. It seemed to us that the map wasn’t accurate. Paths on the map didn’t exist in the park and some of the attractions weren’t where the map indicated it should be. I think we hit the teacups next, uneventful, other than the fact that it was mostly empty.

We did a haunted house thing, which was not as interesting as we though it would be, but there was a second part, the actual ride part of the house-an illusionary ride really. We sat in seats, three rows that faced three rows with an aisle down the center and bars that dropped to keep us in our seats. The car, for lack of a better description, started to swing forward slowly, then backward. Probably the steepest angles had us close to 90 degrees, perpendicular to the floor. While we were going forward or backward at these wild angles, the room turned out to be a shell between the outside building and the car we sat in, It rotated completely around so that it appeared as if we had done a complete 360.

Our next coaster was El Torro, a wooden coaster that we underestimated badly. I would guess that as we climbed the hills, we were at 80-85 degrees at the steepest with the same to be said of the drops, which were sudden and fast. I only remember thinking that I wanted off and never looked back. Jason says I kept saying “Oh my, oh my.” Whatever I said, I was almost certain I was done with coasters for the day, until I saw Rolling Thunder, a Gemini coaster.

I almost wanted to do Rolling Thunder twice so I could do both sides of the coaster but we didn’t. The tracks were quite similar from what I saw, with the exception that if the left one climbed a hill, the right one hit a valley, etc. I did end up with a bunch of rust that stained my clothing. We sat in a car that had a seatbelt that was stuck. They made me stand up while the bar was down, which is next to impossible to do. I didn’t notice that I was covered in rust until we left the ride. I was able to clean enough of the hat, there are a couple of small stains, but you have to look very close to see them. As my Mom has often, “If someone can see that, he or she is too close.” We’ll see about the pants and coat. The coat will probably come clean, the pants are iffy.

We took a water break and headed for Runaway Mine Train. As the last coaster of the day, it was wimpy in comparison to the others, but after doing El Torro, it was scary enough. I caught myself holding my breath and fearing the worst when we approached a baby curve. It did randomly come to a complete and sudden stop, which was fun enough. By the time we finished that coaster, we had enough time to do one more of the silly rides and grab some dinner, which consisted of a fruit cup.

There were probably around 12,000 people at the concert. The weather cleared quite nicely for the outdoor concert. The only problem we had was finding seating. We had decided earlier in the day not to get in the line for the concert that formed well before 4P.M. That may have been a poor decision on our part, but the line would have bored both of us. The only places left by the time we did get in line were standing in the pit for the concert or sitting in the wing off of stage right. We basically sat backstage and had a great view of Sean Hannity with his NYPD coat. I don’t know who the other people were, but Sean had a constant stream of people hanging out on that side of the stage. They stood, danced, jumped, walked, talked on cell phones, and were pros at being in the way for all of us sitting in that section. The numbers seemed to vary by artist and guest. Some may have been friends or family of those, but I would bet they didn’t pay to be there. I would estimate there were around 100 of us in that part of the seating. I am not sure we’d do the concert again without some sort of a guarantee for seating. The view would have been extremely interesting had the people not been on stage blocking the view. Most of the time we only saw the back of the heads of the performers and special guests, but every now and then they turned and it would have been a great treat had the special people with Sean not been blocking the view. The special guests included Laura Ingraham, Anne Coulter, Rudy Giuliani, Oliver North, Mark Levin, Jon Voigt, and a possible one or two others. Here’s a link to one of the lovely individuals that was in our way. He seems to think he’s a professional photographer. Stay tuned for other links to come that will reflect unbiased opinions of the concert and guests.

Upon careful inspection of the photos I took from that night, I did find a rather famous looking silver haired back of a head. It turned out to be Newt. The concert artists were Lee Greenwood, LeAnne Rhimes, and Montgomery Gentry. I found it interesting that Laura, one of the first special guests, spoke of the view that the rest of the world has about Americans. She reminded us that our media portrays some of our more famous America women in trashy clothing. That the media, and by extension the public audience, enjoys the drama of which famous person is in or out of rehab, driving drunk or getting away with some crime. She spoke of an MTV award show where none of the women were dressed appropriately. LeAnne Rimes came out about an hour later, in a slinky black dress that didn’t cover much and showed way too much skin for a girl of 25 or any age for that matter.

Lee Greenwood’s performance was outstanding and unique. Among many other songs, he sang God Bless America and God Bless the USA. During God Bless the USA when normally people would be encouraged to light a lighter, he invited the crowd to open their cell phones. The sun had set and it was dark-the view was awesome, small blue lights popped up all over the stadium. Please be sure to check the gallery for photos.

I eventually gave up trying to take pictures of the performers and guests, due to our interesting seating arrangement, and purposefully tried to take blurry streaked pictures that can be used as fun backgrounds or graphics, too bad I left my extra battery in the car. I could have had hundreds of what I thought were extremely cool backgrounds. With a little work, I may be able to pull actual outlines and shapes from them.

We did have a bit of a challenge finding our way to Philadelphia. The directions the park sent people were less than accurate. After a small measure of frustration, wrong turn or two, and a helpful security agent at our destination, we arrived in the downtown historical section of Philly around 1A.M. on Wed.

Homeymoon the Second: Chapter One

I am typing this somewhere in Pennsylvania on route 30, as we make our way to I70/I76. I have a suspicion that if I don’t start now, I may forget more than I remember. I have purposefully stayed off the internet this week. I had a goal to check email every couple of days, but I often forgot to bring the computer into the hotels. I found my way on to the internet at my parent’s house, but the reason escapes me at the moment. Jason has done much of the driving, leaving me to sleep and babble at him, which I find glorious. I am free to have random thoughts, take pictures, and dream up interesting things to share with him. I discovered that I am a bit of a backseat-driver in the passenger’s seat. I took random pictures as we left Penn.; the pictures I have taken will not do God’s creation justice. Trust me when I say the view is spectacular. The mountains in Penn. were covered with gorgeous deciduous trees. Incredible views sneak up on us as we drove. I looked up and was surprised at the huge valley below. As I try to reflect over the week, I know I have forgotten things, since I’m not creating the actual post online, I will probably edit it so that it flows according to the trip, rather than rely on my memory to remember.

We left last Saturday for Grand Rapids, taking my cats to my friend Ruth, she took care of them when I went to Africa and they seemed to enjoy her. LG even began to sit on my lap when I returned. I was shocked when I saw him sitting on hers and hoped I would be graced with his presence a few days later.

We spent a little bit of time with my friend Patty; I need to see her more often. I need to get the house in order. Molly has Thursday off, so spending some time with Patty and Molly may work out nicely.

We missed some activities at our church up north to go back to Ada for the launch of a new Sat. evening church service. The Sat. launch at Ada was wonderful. I was able to see most of my former coworkers, I only missed a few. I am going to try to stay current with the series online. We bought the devotional/small group book that goes with it. I thought I would be incredibly emotional and miss Ada horribly, but I was pleasantly surprised. I feel like I am settling into Trinity Fellowship, it almost feels like home, I am meeting new people, getting involved.

After church, we went to Jeff’s & Jeanne’s for a bbq/open house thing. It was fun. It was rather late and dark, so we didn’t stay too long. I love their house, with the exception that I could reach out and touch a neighbor. The physical house is wonderful-two bedrooms upstairs, a half attic storage area that runs the length of the house in that area. The closets are a nice size as well. I don’t remember the flooring upstairs, but downstairs there are wood or wood-like floors. I dream of that someday.

From Muskegon, we traveled back to Grand Rapids. Sarah and her sister (Emily) have the cutest house. I already knew they were both extremely creative from conversations with Sarah. We watched part of the movie Hitch with Sarah, Mike, Emily and AJ. We had to get to bed at a reasonable hour, so as soon as the movie ended we went to bed. I was up at 6:15 in the morning, which was surprising. Sarah made us a yummy breakfast-an oatmeal bake and off we went to NY around 7:30.

To Africa and back . . . (part the second)


June 16

So much for once a week until the story was told. The wedding crept in and stole time from this. As I reviewed the first post, I realized I should back up a few hours and talk (type) about the bus ride.Think back to elementary school, if you rode the school bus, where was the coveted seat? Why was it designated as that? MCF sent three vechiles, a produce truck for our luggage, a van holding about nine people and a bus holding about thirty-three. The larger family spent most journeys in the van, while the majority of us were on the bus. I was often able to have a window seat during our journeys. Before leaving Nairobi, we stopped at a mall-like supermarket. There were many places to buy food, trinkets, clothes, and exchange money. It was supposed to be a better deal than the airport, I think we all would have done better to use American banks. They gave us 64.50KES per USD as long as it was a large, crisp bill. Large is 50 or 100. They won’t take ripped money. My guess is that the money never makes it back to the US. They seem to have an underground that buys it all up, as long as it looks pretty. We all bought some snacks from the supermarket and water for drinking. We were told not to take pictures without permission, a few tried and security asked them to remove the pictures and stood over their shoulders until they were deleted. You recognize the security guards by the machine guns hanging off their shoulders.The scenery from Nairobi to N’Dalani was wonderfully unique. Even in the city there is a lot of green, but it’s a different green, beautiful, but different. The people driving cars are absolutely unpredictable. We would often end up in a similar roundabout with the traffic lights the same and turning left, but do completely different things each time. I understand that the biggest vechiles often take right-of-way, that may be a reason for confusion. We took a lot of pictures as we traveled to MCF, cautiously though. We didn’t take pictures as we drove around government installations, they were posted with signs warning that photography was not allowed.Even though we were unable to enter the slums, we drove near them on the way out of the city and were able to see incredible levels of poverty. We saw many simple shacks that we wouldn’t use as a tool shed here. The entire trip to MCF seemed to be lined with people scenery. We encountered many police roadblocks. My only guess as to why we weren’t searched was the MCF logo on the side of the vechiles. That may also be why we traveled during the day to MCF, few police barricades. Back to the scenery, men would gather at the town centers, which often times were no more than the crossroads of the two closest “main” roads. Women do farm work, children go to school if the parents or caregivers can afford to send them, otherwise they tend to the critters or hang out by the side of the road. We saw critters in the randomest places-walking along the side of the road, frolicking in the field, or being led by a rope. Critters are tied to trees by the side of the road to graze, goats, cows, and sheep. There is usually someone nearby to watch over them. Every fertile piece of soil is utilized, with corn growing sometimes less than 10 feet from the road. There doesn’t seem to be a formal taxi system, people with vans (most likely approved by the government somehow) seem to drive to a random destination, pick up people and take them where they need to go and find more people at the destination to take to a new place. People needing rides congregate in areas waiting. Usually there are men or women selling their wares at these places, sometimes in a booth, but often they just walk up to cars, buses, vans and call what they have with a price. You hand out the money, they hand in the merchandise, most of it appeared to be food-bananas, sugar cane stalks, mangos, and varied other fruits. We wanted to take pictures, but were unsure who or how to ask, so we took as many discrete pictures as we could.

Thousands of half formed thoughts are running through my head as I relive the bus ride. Before meeting the children, my heart was already broken. To see ground that refuses to grow edible food in sufficient quantities, to look into the eyes of people and see an incredible sadness, emptiness, to remember my own hurts and sorrows that are always with me-to arrive at MCF with a heart broken into many pieces.

On a completely funny note, any time we approached MCF by bus, the radio would suddenly change from horrid, modern music in English with awful lyrics, but clearly not American to something Christian. It took us a while to see the pattern and work up the courage to ask the driver to leave it on something Christian.

By the time I/we arrived at MCF, I needed a nap. It was late afternoon as we disembarked to a crowd of thirty or so children. We were inundated with, “Hello, what’s you name?” I think I managed to muster a hello, how are you, what is your name? I wish they had taught us to ask what are your names instead. I would have learned enough names to write letters back. Had this been mid-morning the next day, I would have been all over it, had more intelligent questions and responses ready to keep conversations going. The little ones are learning English, so they have limited conversation. Instead of my usual perky self, I quietly prayed for a small, silent place to be alone for a only little while. God certainly granted me a supernatural measure of patience and stamina at that moment, and really, the entire trek. There is something incredibly powerful about how God worked(s) when I fully submit, on bruised, scraped knees-crying for his mercy and grace.

After being welcomed and greeted by the children, we unloaded our luggage, received our room assignments and set about repacking our bags. Many of us had packed personal things into our checked luggage and needed to retrieve it. We also needed to resort the goodies that were in checked luggage to be sure that each team had the materials needed for the week, as well as the donations for MCF. God had his hand on all of it, all the bags we packed arrived. Some were misplaced until later in the week, but all arrived. It was slightly refreshing to be put to a task so my brain could go on autopilot for a while. Once sorting was finished, each team split the bags, with much of the computer equipment coming with me to wait until “work day.” We were given a little bit of free time to get settled in our dorm rooms. Each room was different, some of the couples had rooms to themselves, families had rooms as well. Some of the couples and families decided to separate by gender and join us. We had 13 or 14 in our girls/women in our set of rooms, 10 in the larger room, 4 in the smaller room, one bathroom/shower. The whole bathroom would get wet during a shower, I was so grateful for the extra large zippered plastic bags. Can you say waterproof? Our big team leader showed a few of us how to hang our mosquito nets, which provided reassurance even though the bugs seemed to leave us alone for the most part. When we left the room and the area, we locked the door with the one key and gave it to the ladies in the kitchen.

Our first meal at MCF consisted of yummy, home-grown everything. Flat bread, potatoes, cabbage, and lentil mush. (I don’t know what else to call it, it was good, it looked like mushed lentils.) I wished I had taken pen and paper to them for each meal so I could call the dishes by their correct names.

After dinner, we all gathered to learn about how MCF operates, what we were allowed to do, not do, where to go and not go. It all made complete sense, but I had to shake my head-so many rules. Rules mean children have been hurt by people from other churches, mission trips, etc. It all made me want to cry, MCF is a safe place for these children, people don’t always get that. I longed for an MCF here-a place to take care of the children no one will protect, no one will love, no one will teach. Every child needs the opportunity to rise above and shine. Why is one of the most wealthy nations so concerned with more wealth, more status? I never advocate interfering with politics of another nation, but humanitarian aid seems to be welcomed and we still hold back, desiring to get ahead in some invisible struggle for an unattainable goal.

After our first evening meeting, some of us gathered for cards, some went to bed, some went for walks, some had laser light shows with flashlights in their room. One group played up and down the river I think-I watched for a little while. This was the only night I played cards-I elected to accept an invitation to euchre. Sleep was elusive the first night, I was sure I would sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, but it was not to be. My heart and head were flooded with emotions I had hoped not to have in Africa-fear, desperation, anger, loneliness, and feelings I can’t being to verbalize. But even when I am weak, even when I stop trusting for just a minute God is faithful, he doesn’t walk away. When I am fortunate, he stands very still, very quiet and talks to my heart in a voice that my heart longs to hear. He invites me to stop flailing and listen to his voice. He reminds me to wait on him, to trust that he has my best in his heart/his plan, he loves me as a treasured daughter and that is worth crossing three continents, crossing the Atlantic and letting go of all of it-to learn that, to be willing to learn that, to trust him with my complete being if only for a moment, to shout God, you are faithful because you say you are and I believe it, to claim his promises as mine and know they are, to see him quench all doubt and fear . . . to be imperfect by myself, made perfect in Christ, and strive to please my heavenly father-there is no greater joy.

Wedding Day

Our wedding was wonderful. We had many friends and family there. Thank you to all who saw a need and pitched in, thanks to those of you who were drafted and participated gladly. You made our day very special.

Final countdown

We went to get our marriage license today, $5 fee and $15 counseling-which consisted of a pamphlet. The girl behind the counter was quite friendly, but she didn’t like my birth certificate, it doesn’t list my parents, nor their birth places. She actually asked if I had another one when I acknowledged that my parent’s names weren’t there.

I have two scrapbooks mostly done, still need to journal it. I may just work on posts and print them. The third scrapbook doesn’t have too many pictures in it, but it leaves plenty of room for journaling. My goal for today is to get the scrapbooks done and possibly the bracelets.