Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ocean City, MD–still a busy beach town, even in October


Rainy Maryland

As we left Lums Pond State Park and continued south through the Delmarva Peninsula, we picked up some rain as we got closer to Maryland.  It wasn’t coming down too hard, and we only had about 110 miles to travel, so it wasn’t too bad.

Fortunately, we had a break in the rain as we arrived at Castaways RV in Ocean City, so we were able to get set up and take Casey for a walk around the resort before it started up again.

We walked down by the beach and you could really feel the cold front moving in – it was a cold and blustery day!

The beach at Castaway RV Park

Tiki Bar

After our walk we went back inside the warm RV and I put on a batch of spaghetti sauce for dinner.   Mmm!

We woke up to drizzle on Saturday morning, but kept our hopes up that it would clear by noon, as the weathermen promised.  Nicolas called at 7:30 to let us know he was on his way!

He arrived at 10, and after getting caught up on what he’s been up to, I made us some brunch and we headed down to the boardwalk in Ocean City.  The rain had stopped, but it was still cloudy.

Ocean City Boardwalk

We walked along the boardwalk and beach, and we were surprised at the number of people there on this rather dismal October weekend.  There was some type of kite show going on,

Kites on the beach

Kite demonstration

It's a flying pig!


Big bubbles

and some type of ultimate frisbee competition.

We walked along the beach – it was a nice beach, and the hotels along the beach look pretty nice, too.

Hotels on the beach

Glad to have the boy home for a few days!

Ocean Gallery

The boardwalk was very nice, too – lots of your typical tourist shops and restaurants . . . lots of stuff on sale, too . . . if we needed T-shirts, we would have been in luck!

We did buy some salt water taffy, though . . . can’t go to the beach and not get taffy!  Dolle’s – it was REALLY good!  We had to get more later to take with us!

We had heard from some folks in the campground that there was a Corvette show going on at the boardwalk, too . . . as we walked, we kept seeing more and more people in Corvette shirts, and at the end of the boardwalk we finally found them.

Lots of Corvettes

They were all getting lined up for a parade at 4pm.

Rows and rows of Corvettes

The majority of the cars were newer Corvettes, but there were a few really nice older models, too!

Nice Stingray


A couple of nice older Corvetttes

We debated whether we should stick around for the parade or not, but Tom was getting hungry and our parking time was about to run out, so we decided to head over to Berlin, where there was an Oktoberfest going on, and get some lunch there.

There were a couple of bands playing in the streets,

One of the bands at Oktoberfest

The German Band

and breweries offering beer tasting.

Tasting a few beers

I’m not a beer drinker, so I passed on that, but Tom and Nicolas did some sampling and each got a beer with their lunch.


After lunch and looking around through the few shops in town, we debated going back to the boardwalk for the Corvette parade, but Nicolas said he would rather go back to the campground to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters.

Halloween decor

In the dragon;s lair

It was the first of the campground’s three Halloween weekends, and there was a fair amount of kids around for the festivities.

Tom and Nick were ready for them!

Ready for the trick-or-treaters

The rain held off for a couple hours, but then the drizzle started again, driving us inside for the rest of the evening.

Meanwhile back in Michigan, Bryce and several thousand of his fellow MSU students were camping out with the basketball team and Coach Tom Izzo.

Lots of students at the campout!

Lots of tents at the campout

Bryce and friends with Coach Izzo

(That’s my bearded son in the Piggly Wiggly shirt!)

Looks like he had a good time!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Exploring Philadelphia–in history and food!

Philadelphia -- Independence Hall

I’ve wanted to visit Philadelphia for a quite a while, so when our New England tour brought us around this way, I made sure we planned a stop here. 

Our location in Delaware was about 50 miles away, but it actually was quicker & easier drive than our shorter drive to Boston a few weeks ago.  It was an interesting drive into the city – we passed the football, baseball and basketball venues, as well as the airport and a large Navy Shipyard and the Port of Wilmington.

The historical area of Philadelphia is very close the the Delaware River, and we quickly found the parking structure at Independence Square – another $20 day.


I had read online that tickets for the tour of Independence Hall can run out early, so our first stop was the NPS desk at the Visitor Center to get our tour tickets.  Surprisingly, we received tickets for the 11:40am tour – and it was only 11:15 am!  The Ranger directed us to go straight over to the security check across the street to check in for our tour.

Independence Hall

The security check is pretty thorough . . . probably the most we’ve seen at a National Park . . . just like going into a Federal building.

Clock Tower

We were standing there waiting for our tour with the rest of the group when the guy next to us (20-something) was telling his wife that she needed to distract the tour guide long enough for him to get away from the group and climb to the top of the clock tower so he could find the glasses to decipher the code . . . oh wait, they were supposed to steal the Declaration of Independence first!

We laughed, because that is exactly something that Nicolas would be saying if he were there! (From the first “National Treasure” movie, in case you were wondering.)

We continued to talk to them while we waited for the tour, and they passed on a tip they received from locals for the best Philly Cheesesteak in town.

OK . . . lunch plans solidified!

Our tour started, and we entered Independence Hall.  Seated in front of the painting of the “Signing of the Declaration of Independence”,

Signing of the Declaration of Independence

we learned about the history of the building that started out as the Pennsylvania State House and was the location of the 1st and 2nd Meetings of the Continental Congress, as well as where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed.

Birthplace of America

Following our history lesson, we entered Independence Hall.


The first room we entered was the Supreme Court Room,

Supreme Court Room

and then we moved to the Assembly Room, otherwise known as the Signing Room.

In the Signing Room


That was the end of our ticketed tour, but we somehow ended up on a tour of Congress Hall with a group of 5th Graders.

Congress Hall

Following the end of the Revolutionary War, Philadelphia was our Nation’s capital and the location of our federal government.  On the first floor of Congress Hall was the House Chamber,

Congress Hall

and the Senate Chamber was on the 2nd floor.

Senate Chamber

This is the room where John Adams was inaugurated as the 2nd President of the United States, with George Washington in attendance as a spectator – the first peaceful transfer of power from one leader to another in the history of the world.

With only 13 states at the time of the revolution, and increasing to just 16 by the year 1800, our government quickly outgrew this space and was moved to Washington DC.

Dual Clocks

With our tour of Independence Hall complete, we had one more thing to see – the Liberty Bell.


Liberty Bell Center

Liberty Bell

By then, we were ready for lunch, so we looked up Jim’s Steaks and Ishkabibble Cheesesteaks – both recommended as top cheesesteaks by locals.  Both locations were in South Philly, about a 1 mile walk from Independence Hall.

Horse-drawn Carriage

Not too far, so we passed on the horse & carriage ride . . . and walked down 6th St. to South St., with plenty of interesting sites along the way.

Streetview in Philly

We passed Trinity Church (also from National Treasure),

Trinity Church

and Mother Bethel A.M.E, the first African Methodist Evangelical Church in the United States.

Church steeple


We reached South St., and it was definitely an interesting neighborhood.  Lots of businesses that I didn’t dare take a picture of! 

Jim's Steaks

We found Jim’s Steaks, and it looked like a respectable location – there were plenty of people eating there – so we went in.  We had no idea how or what to order, so one of the regulars recommended the classic authentic – “Whiz wit”.  Translation:  Philly Cheesesteak with cheeze whiz and onions.  Tom with with that, but I played it safe and ordered provolone and light onions on mine.

Both were delicious!


We could definitely see why this place is famous!

Lots of famous customers at Jim's Steaks

Not sure who these guys were, but they were leaving Jim’s as we got there!

Big bus!

Fully stuffed, we continued walking down South St. . . . more interesting businesses, but most of these I could photograph.



The view out the window

The couples we met on our Independence Hall tour showed up at Jim’s right behind us, and afterwards we spotted one of the couples at Iskabibble’s getting another sandwich – they wanted to see how they compared!  I don’t know how they ate another one!


The others were down the block, getting a slice of Lorenzo’s pizza . . . so as if the cheesesteak wasn’t enough, Tom decided he needed a slice of pizza, too!

That's a slice of pizza!

That was one HUGE slice of pizza – cheese only, no toppings!  I took one bite to see how it tasted (it was good), but that’s all the help I could give him – he was on his own!

Another interesting sign


After all that food, we were glad we walked . . .

Our new friends also told us about the “Oldest residential street in the US”, so we made our way towards that – photo ops!!


On the way, we passed more cute residential areas,


Cute house

and more old churches and cemeteries.

Old CemeteryDSC_0238

St. Mary Church

St. Mary Cemetery

We made our way back to the area of Independence Square, where we saw the Museum of the American Revolution,

Museum of the American Revolution

the meeting location of the Continental Congress,

Location of 1st Continental Congress

the first Bank of the United States,

First US Bank

and a Quaker Community.

Original streetDSC_0242


With more history to see, we kept moving . . .

and completely by accident, we found the home of Betsy Ross,


DSC_0256Betsy Ross House

and her grave.

Betsy Ross' Grave

Her home was just around the corner from Elfreth’s Alley – the oldest residential street in the Us, dating back to the 1720s.


Oldest Residential Street

It’s a cute little alley . . . with perfectly preserved buildings.






With several miles behind us, we started making our way back to the parking structure.  Our path took us past the burial site of Benjamin Franklin, but we didn’t see his actual grave because we didn’t want to pay $6 each to walk through the cemetery.

Oh well!

I took a picture through the fence, but I have no idea if I got Franklin’s grave! Smile


We were just across the street from the parking garage when we spotted the US Mint,


and Tom said, “Hey, let’s go see if we can take a tour.”

There were self-guided tours, but no photography allowed, so I can’s show you what we saw!  It was a very interesting tour which demonstrated how our coins are designed and manufactured, and included observation windows of the entire mint . . . and added another mile or two to our total for the day!


With that, we were done!  We made our way back to the Jeep and then home.  It was a tiring day, but very fun and interesting!  I think I enjoyed Philly more than I did Boston . . . not a bad “big city” to tour!