Monday, August 13, 2012

Feelin' the Love

The Barefoot Hippies have been getting historied. And, I for one, have been loving it.

Tuesday, after VBS finished for the day, we took off for Philly, "The City of Love." We headed right to the historic district-where everything revolves around Independence Square and the Liberty Bell.

We parked within a few blocks of the Independence Square National Park Visitor Center, and we did a lot of walking and gawking.

I love history, and I have read a number of books-fiction and non-set in Philadelphia. I was super excited to finally be able to visit.

(And, if your "Philly" experience is solely based on National Treasure, the reality is not too far off.)

We watched a man lash rope, and he showed us how they used to haul cannons, using the same rope design he had braided.

We visited the Second National Bank, which has been converted into a portrait gallery, with a lot of the Peales' paintings.

We took a Ranger guided tour through Independence Hall, and the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

We checked out the Liberty Bell. Took our picture with it. Learned some interesting history about it.
I think pedestrians can cross this bridge. I'd like to do that next time.

And then walked to Christ Church-which had just closed.

We also struck out on Penn's Landing. Part of it was closed off for a concert, and I didn't have the heart to make my kids walk the extra mile (plus) around.

We decided to call it a day, and head back home soon after that.

Longwood Gardens

Yesterday we got a particular treat. We visited Longwood Gardens.

Longwood Gardens was started by Pierre Dupont (of GM and Dupont Chemical) in 1906. Pierre bought an over 200 acre farm, and slowly began converting it into a mass of gorgeous gardens.

We have visited a number of Gardens: Fredrick Meijer-in our hometown, Kew Gardens-outside of London, and the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis.

What stands out about Longwood is the sheer vastness of the gardens. It is a huge area now covering over 1075 acres.

The conservatory is a 26 room affair, constructed in the early 1920s. There is an awesome Children's Corner. The Barefoot Hippie offspring, and their parents, loved the kids corner. It is full of fountains, and water, and was really kids appropriate.

There were amazing lily pads in the pools in an inner courtyard of the conservatory. To say nothing of all the gorgeous plants that were featured in the different rooms.

There were several fountains and a waterfall throughout the gardens. I love the sound of rushing water. And tinkling water. It is a very soothing sound for me.

There is a chimes tower with a carillon set of 62 bells. It sounds on the quarters of the hour, as well as special programmed concerts at different points during the day.

There is light/glass globe art on display by Bruce Munro. It was beautiful during the day. I am sure it was unbelievable at night.

There are three very cool tree houses. I think that was about my favorite part. They were simple, for houses-but intricate, for tree houses.


In traveling with kids, there are several things we have learned.

1. Buying or reserving tickets online is almost always a good idea. We did this for the Independence Square tour. Tickets are free for that, but are often gone before 1:00 p.m.. For a nominal charge ($1.50) I didn't have to wonder if we were actually going to make it in.

2. Keep moving. Kids attention spans aren't very long. We joined a tour, we visited the portraits, and other small museums. We listened, and we asked questions. But we didn't stop too long anywhere. It keeps things interesting. Which translates into less tired/sore/hungry complaints.

3. Bring lots of water. Everyone invariably gets thirsty. If you bring a water bottle, you can just keep refilling.

4. Think of what is being taught and learned as line upon line. Which means that you don't have to see everything, experience everything in this trip. What they are seeing and learning is adding to the base of knowledge they have. It is profitable-whether you were able to see it all or not.

5. Have fun. Such a simple rule-but so often overlooked. Enjoy what you are doing. Don't keep looking for the next exhibit-enjoy where you are at.

6. Take breaks. Lunch break, mid afternoon break. We often try to get ice-cream or cookies around 3:00 when we are sightseeing. We sit down. We talk about our favorite parts up to that point. And then we are able to pick back up and go again for another couple hours.

7. Avoid the gift shops. With kids-it is always a disaster. Not necessarily in a breaking something way. I have found that my kids want some over priced junk that they don't have enough allowance for, and I'm not buying for them. It just ends the day on a sour note. (maybe I am an exceptionally bad parent-but that is what it is.)

LC and her friend that we stayed with all week.
8. Engage the employees, rangers, or volunteers that are standing around. They are wells of information that they really want to share with someone who is willing to listen.

9. Take time to close your eyes, sit and listen to the fountains.