"In West Philadelphia, born and raised..."

Trip Start May 08, 2014
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Days Inn Philadelphia Convention Center
What I did
Ride The Ducks of Philadelphia
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Money in Motion at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hello everyone!

So I've realized that my posts have taken on a somewhat negative tone since the Pens lost, and I would like to make a few statements regarding that matter.  First off, I would like everyone to know that I am enjoying myself completely so far.  Sure, I may complain a bit here and there, but as much as I hate to admit it, I can find something to whine about anywhere.  It's a character flaw.

Some of the comments I've been receiving imply that you guys believe that just because we lost the game means I'm not happy I got to go to it in the first place.  I would like to say that that is 100% not true.  The entry in which I wrote about the game was written whilst I was in the throes of despair.  Forgive my dramatics, but I was feeling somewhat upset at the time.  I am so happy and grateful that I got to go to the Pens game, and honestly, I feel the same way about this entire trip.  It is such an opportunity for me, and I will be forever appreciative of the people who have made this possible (yes, that means you, Mom and Dad).

And moving on...

So, I don't think I told you guys this yesterday, but when I got to my room last night, the thermostat was set to 50 degrees.  Yes, I did say 50 degrees, which is an altogether horrible temperature to keep a room at, especially when the label on the thermostat itself specifically says, "Do not set this below 55 or above 80."

Anyways, I woke up freezing, despite actually wearing pajamas and socks to bed.  Luckily, the shower got nice and hot so by the time I left for the tour I had booked at 11, I was actually feeling human which is always a plus.

The tour I had booked for today was called Ride the Ducks.  It's called that because the vehicle we were riding in was a newer version of the amphibious DUKW from WWII (also known as a Duck).  So we spent about an hour and change riding around the streets in our Duck, and then we drove into the Delaware River and took a cruise.

I really had a lot of fun on the tour, due in part to the fact that our tour guide was hilarious.  He kept telling us duck jokes like this one: 

What is a duck's favorite food?  


On a more serious note though, he also gave us a lot of interesting information about various places in Philadelphia.  For instance, there is a park in Philly called Washington Square that contains the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary Soldier.  During the Revolution, it was used to bury Colonial soldiers and afterward to bury the victims of the Yellow Fever epidemic.  Overall, there are an estimated 11,000 people buried there.

I know the phrase is usually 'pushing up daisies', but the appropriate phrase for the people buried in this park is 'pushing up carrots' because for some stretch of time between the burials and the present day, the space was also used as a communal vegetable garden for the people in the area.

That face you're making right now...?  Yeah, that's the same one I made.

Also, did you know that Historic Philadelphia has the straightest streets i the country?  Philadelphia was planned out so that all of its streets ran only North-South and East-West.  Well, there is one exception: Dock Street.  Dock Street used to be Dock Creek, but it was blamed for the Yellow Fever epidemic, so they bricked it up and turned it into a street.  It is the only curved street in Philly proper.

When we went out onto the water, we passed by Will Smith's apartment in the city, which apparently used to belong to his father and is now up for sale for the bargain price of $3 million dollars...

Yeah, I'll jump right on that.

He also told us about the USS New Jersey, which is 6 inches wider than its compatriots because it had a patch job back in the day.  He remarked that it didn't really make a difference overall, and I really had to stave off the completely inappropriate joke about what the right person can do with six inches...  

Yeah, no, there were children aboard.

The tour ended pretty soon after that, and I even got a quack-er to go.  It was awesome.  XD

Since the drop off was right across the street from the Liberty Bell, I decided to go see that first.  As I was walking, I almost passed by a street vendor selling smoothies and fruit salads, but I was hungry and couldn't pass up the opportunity for fresh fruit.  So I bought myself a fruit salad and a lemonade smoothie.  Both were surprisingly good, though she packed so much fruit into my salad that half of it ended up on the ground when I opened it.  I suppose there's no way I could have eaten all of it anyway; it was huge.

After eating, I went to get in line for the Liberty Bell.  I once more squeaked by security with both my pepper spray and pocket knife in hand (I really need to start leaving the pocket knife in my larger backpack when I'm out in the city).  Unfortunately, the Liberty Bell is a very popular tourist attraction, so at first it was very hard to get a good picture of it.  

Luckily for me, one of the kids visiting with his class threw up all over the floor in front of the bell.  Everyone else cleared out, leaving me able to take pictures to my heart's content.

My ticket for Ride the Ducks had included two ancillary tickets for the Liberty 360 3D show and the Betsy Ross House.  I decided to go to the Liberty 360 show first, since it was closest.  The show was a bit silly and obviously for kids, but it was cute and made me smile.  The basic premise of it was as follows:  Ben Franklin explains how liberty came to be in the US and how it is constantly changing and evolving based on what we do.  It ended with him opening a box that "contained liberty".  The box actually contained hundreds of pictures of Americans, including a picture of me they had taken before the show.  It was actually pretty cool, but definitely more for kids than for adults.

After that, I decided to go to Independence Hall.  Unfortunately for me, they only allow people into Independence Hall by tour and all of the tours had been sold out for the day.  As a result, I was only able to see it from the outside.  Instead, I took a few pictures of it and then ended up touring a few of the other parts of the building since I couldn't see the main hall.

They did have some fairly interesting exhibits about Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence.  I even sat down with some kids and traced part of the Declaration.  We made the discovery that none of us had handwriting anywhere near as good as Jefferson did.  In fact, some of those kids had better handwriting than I did.  It was tragic.

Next, I went to the Betsy Ross House and realized that I wouldn't have survived childhood if I had been born in the 1700s.  The air in the House was almost completely stagnant.  I'm not really sure how to describe it, but after a few minutes in the House, I could feel my asthma rearing its ugly head as my lungs closed up on me.  If I had actually been forced to live in it, I probably would have suffocated in the night...

Overall, the Betsy Ross House was pretty cool to walk through.  Most of the exhibits were geared toward showing how she lived, though they did talk about how the stars on our flag were originally supposed to be six-pointed stars, not five-pointed stars.  Also, did you know that Betsy Ross didn't actually design the flag?  It was Francis Hopkinson, one of the signers of the Declaration.

After leaving the Betsy Ross House, I walked over to the Federal Reserve of Philadelphia.  I had walked past it on my way to Ride the Ducks that morning and noticed that they had something called "Money in Motion" currently being exhibited inside.  Given my area of specialization, the exhibit sounded really interesting to me.

First, I had to get in though.  Unlike all of the other places I visited, the Fed actually had an airport-like setup.  I had to put my backpack and everything in my pockets through the machine.  Then, I had to step through a metal detector.

It took me three tries to get through because I kept forgetting things in my pockets.  *sigh*  I'm just not used to having so many.  Give me a few weeks and I could totally pass this test with flying colors.

And then, once I got to the other side, the security guard asked me if I had a knife in my bag.

Don't worry, guys; I totally played it cool.  Grabbing my stuff, I hightailed it out of there as fast as I could.  Luckily for me, the guard was stuck in his little booth and couldn't follow me.  I still flinch when I hear sirens, but I think I got away clean...

No, I kid.  He actually gave me a little badge to clip to my shirt and took my knife.  He told me I could trade the badge for the knife once I was done in the exhibit.

So, I go into the exhibit and the lady manning the entrance hands me a baggy full of shredded cash.  I kid you not (and I know why you would think I would).  Apparently, this branch of the Fed is responsible for destroying dollars that are unfit for use, and they do that by shredding them and giving them away to visitors.  Can you even imagine how many dollars they must shred a day?  The column in the middle of the exhibit has $100 MILLION dollars in it.  Isn't that amazing?

The Money in Motion exhibit was really, really interesting.  Though I knew some of it from my Business and Public Policy class, there were more facets that we hadn't gone into in class.  Unfortunately, they had a 'no photography' policy; otherwise, I would have shown you pictures of the column and the $100,000 bill.

Realizing that the exhibit was about to close, I got my knife back and headed back toward my hotel.  On the way, I noticed that the multitude of US flags in Philadelphia were all being flown at half mast.  My first instinct was to ask my dad why that was, but he didn't know.  I ended up looking it up when I got back to the hotel and found out that today was apparently Peace Officers Memorial Day, which commemorates and honors police officers and other peacemakers.  As a tribute, all US and state flags are flown at half-mast.

All in all, the day was a good one, and Historic Philadelphia does have a certain charm that the other parts of the city I saw were lacking.  I still don't think I would want to live there, but I can see why some people like it.  At the very least, they have good food, even as leftovers, and those of you who know me, know my feelings on leftovers. 

Also, for those of you who aren't in the know, I am leaving tomorrow morning (5/16) for Boston and then after that New York City.  My mother is going to be joining me in NYC so that we can spend a few nights doing mother-daughter things and watching Broadway plays (Mamma Mia, of course).  She will be leaving on the 17th, so everybody wish her a good journey.  Love you, Mom!

'Til next time!

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mom on

Glad you had a great tour and positive day. I'm flying tomorrow, Saturday to NYC. First time there and I hope I can be as outgoing as you've been.
Love you so much my dear beautiful Sam I Am.

Dawn on

Love following you around via your blog. FYI: the USS New Jersey is the ship your brother lived on for four years. :)

Dad on

You write a very interesting blog.

Geri Gilles on

Awesome blog, Sami. Glad you r having such a good time. Glad Mom is joining u. Enjoy one of my favorite cities. NYC. LOv Gram

sister sue on

I dont kno what ' negitivity ' u were talkg about , I never noticed any. It sounds like u havg great time. Im glad your doing all those things. Have fun in NYC with your mom n tell us all about it every day :)

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