Birth of a Republic, more cheesesteak, and pizza

Trip Start Jul 29, 2009
Trip End Aug 08, 2009

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Where I stayed
Hampton Inn and Suites Staten Island

Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Thursday, July 30, 2009

We woke up at a decent hour and Matt walked to the corner for some Starbucks (he's a novice orderer, so I had to write the order down for him.

We ate breakfast, checked out of the hotel and then headed for the historical sites.  We timed it perfectly and only had to wait a few minutes to get in to see the Liberty Bell.  It was much bigger than I anticipated.  Matt and I both enjoyed the placement of the display with Independence Hall as a backdrop.

Tickets are required to tour Independence Hall, so we headed over to the Independence National Historic Park Visitor Center to get our tickets and check out the exhibits there.  Matt got our free tickets for 10:30 so we had time to look around.  We of course stamped our National Park Passports and learned a bit about what other offerings we needed to see.

After visiting the gift shop where Katie bought a mini Liberty Bell, Sarah bought an outstanding plastic snow globe, and I picked up some postcards to send off to Papa Bean to help cheer him during his fight with cancer, we headed over to Independence Hall to wait for our tour time.  It was exquisitely pleasant sitting in Independence Square.  The weather was beautiful.

I don't think the girls were that impressed with seeing Independence Hall, but they can say that they've been there and impress their teachers with some of the trivia they picked up from the park ranger.

Our next stop was Christ Church Burial Ground.  This is where Benjamin Franklin is buried.  A popular pastime is to flip a penny onto Franklin's tomb cover.  If the penny lands on heads, you'll have good luck for the year.  Both Katie and Sarah succeeded (Matt and I did not try...perhaps we will on the way back).  A little web research turns up the interesting note that the penny tradition is possibly linked to his saying, "A penny saved is a penny earned," and that on the day he was interred, many of the over 20,000 in attendance at his funeral placed pennies on his grave.  I'm a big fan of graveyards and love communing with the dead.  I enjoyed it immensely.  It was worth the $2 per head entrance fee.
We stopped at a corner food stand and picked up some water.  We sat down to rest a bit and Sarah, who had eaten only a bite of her breakfast, needed some nourishment.  We went back to the cart for a pretzel.  For only 50 cents, it was pretty tasty pretzel.

Next we headed over to the Mint.  Cameras or camera phones are not allowed in the Mint, so we had to take turns.  Matt and the girls went in first and I enjoyed sitting on the cold marble out front.  When we switched out the electronics, I went in and the girls were in the gift shop and they decided to go on the self-guided tour again, but with me this time.  I was informed that it was penny day.  They enjoyed seeing the shiny blanks on the conveyor belts and seeing the massive containers of finished pennies.  Sarah bought a very cute pair of penny earrings in the gift shop and it was time to move on to the next sight.

Katie wanted to see the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic site.  I, as an English teacher, thought this was a good idea.  This house is where Poe, his wife and mother-in-law lived from to 1838-1844.  The cellar was really creepy.  Sarah took up a Junior Park Ranger challenge.  As is Sarah's nature, she was quite hesitant, but I knew she would like it so I prodded her a bit.  She was soon taking the work very seriously and completed the entire activity packet.  She earned a certificate and badge.  This was a highlight of the day.

Whew!  That's a lot of history...we were starving!  We were going to another cheesesteak place, but took a wrong turn.  Lo and behold, we ended up right near Tony Luke's again.  We had our same waitress seat us from last night.  She recognized us and we all had a little laugh.  Matt was the only one to order something different (pork rather than rib-eye).  My cheesesteak, however, was sooooo much better than last night's.  Even Matt agreed and I think he was a little jealous when I finished the sandwich off and only shared a bite with him.

After lunch we headed off to New York.  We checked into our hotel on Staten Island and headed out for some NY Pizza.  We ate at Denino's Pizzaria and Tavern.  We ordered an appetizer of calamari, two pies... pepperoni and sausage for the kids and "margarita" pie for the grown-ups..., and a pitcher of Diet Pepsi (you get insanely small kiddie glasses to drink from).  We told the girls to look around to get an idea of the proper eating method for NY style pizza.  They saw two methods...the traditional folding of the slice and the method that I've only seen two other people in the world use...the lay the pizza over the back of your hand method (the two people are Matt and our nephew Taylor...they must have New Yorker in their blood somewhere).  The pizza was really great.  I've never tasted a fresher sauce.

We drove back to get rested up for tomorrow's trip into the city. 
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