Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Our Vacation Part 1

Our family chose to head east this year for our family vacation.  We spent 2 weeks away from home, which was the longest we have ever spent away.  It was a wonderful time and made many memories.

Our first night was in Canton, OH, staying at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott.  It was clean and they served a good (free) breakfast to start our day.  We spent the next morning at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  If you are even minor football fans I highly recommend this tour.  You are able to take a self-guided tour and spend as much time in any area you would like.  We were fascinated by the early football uniforms (see photo) and all the records that have been made over the years.  At the end, there is a game room of sorts where you can practice throwing the football, play any number of football related games, trivia games, referee type games, etc.  Plus you can eat "game day food" in their cafeteria.  We could have spent all day here, but instead spent about 4 hours which I would think would be a minimum.  Of course there is a gift shop as well, with all kinds of NFL related items for young and old.

We then headed to Punxsutawney, PA to meet Phil.  We are fans of the movie "Groundhog Day" and thought it woud be fun to stop there.  We ate at Lily's Cafe, which was a quaint down-home restaurant with a bakery next door.  We visited "Phil" at the town library, which is where he lives.  There are several Phil statues throughout town in various costumes.  We then stopped at Gobbler's Knob where the February 2nd ceremony is held each year.  The kids enjoyed reenacting the ceremony and announcing whether Phil saw his shadow or not.

We then stopped by my Uncle Dewey's and Aunt Win's home which was just south of Punxsutawney.  It has been at least 12 years since I have seen him and he has never met my husband or children.  We enjoyed catching up and sharing stories.  We then headed to Bedford, PA to stay the night.  We stayed in the Best Western Bedford Inn and it was more like a "motel" with outside entrances to each room.  I was nervous that the rooms wouldn't be clean, but was pleasantly surprised.  The rooms were very clean even though it looked a little old on the outside.  There was also a breakfast buffet that was free and another good start for our morning.  At $82, this was our cheapest night stay and well worth it.

Day three we realized how much we dislike paying tolls.  There are no toll roads in Iowa and aren't used to these.  We were quite suprised how much money we were handing over as well headed across the country.

We opted to stay in a suburb of Philadelphia called Warminster.  It was farther away from downtown, but offered much cheaper hotels.  We chose the Holiday Inn Express.  It is only about 1 1/2 years old and we were very pleased with it.  The staff were helpful and pleasant.  We stayed here 5 nights and were well taken care of.  Since we were so far from downtown, we took the train downtown and the train station in Warminster was just minutes from the hotel.  It cost our family of five, $28 to to take the train round trip and about 45 minutes.  It was much easier than driving and trying to find parking and paying for parking.  Plus the kids got to experience a big city train.  Unfortunately it was quite busy on the ride back home and we had to stand for a good share of the trip.

In downtown Philadelphia we toured the US Mint.  No cameras or video cameras are allowed inside.  We enjoyed the mint tour and found out my dad could be called a numismatist or a coin collector.  We purchased a set of 2010 coins for him for his birthday from the gift shop.

Right next door to the mint is the Christ Church Burial Ground where you can see the graves of many early heroes including signers of the Declaration of Independence and Benjamin Franklin and his family.

We then spent the rest of our time inside the Independence visitor center.  I recommend getting tickets ahead of time online for your tour of Independence Hall as the tours fill up quickly and are often sold out.  We toured Independence Hall and saw where the Declaration of Indepence and constituion were signed.  We also saw the Liberty Bell.  You could easily spend an entire day here and maybe multiple days depending on your interest in history.  Be prepared for expensive food.  Our lunch in downtown Philadelphia was $45 at a deli!  YIKES!

The next we crossed the Deleware River and headed into New Jersey to visit the USS New Jersey in Canton.  We arrived in the afternoon and it wasn't too busy, but there were no tour guides available as they only work in the mornings.  We took a self-guided audio tour which was just fine.  The kids and I listened to the kids' version and my husband listened to the adult version.  Each area was numbered and as you got to that area you punched in the number to hear the information.  The kids really enjoyed the tour.  Thankfully the ship was air conditioned as it was quite hot outside.

Enjoy the photos:

Vacation Part 1 on PhotoPeach

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