Thursday, April 15, 2010

Philly, Day 2: Museums We Loved (but didn't photograph)!

On Monday, we got up bright and early to enjoy the hotel's complimentary breakfast, where we found that all the other guests were foreign (well, one couple was from Montana, does that count?). Thankfully, all the items they served were foods that both Rosie and Dash would eat. After we filled up on cereal, bagels, muffins, fruit and coffee, we bundled up in extra layers, raincoats, hats, scarves, and gloves. With umbrellas at the ready, we headed out for the one-and-a-half-mile walk to the Franklin Institute.

At the Frankin Institute, I waited in the long lines to get tickets for everyone. The basic tickets included just enough of the exhibits to engage the kids—the "Body Worlds and the Brain," IMAX theatre and all the extras would be too much. As we walked in, we were just in time to line up for the Planetarium, where they were showing a special presentation, "Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity," narrated by a particularly classy voice-over actor, Liam Neeson! Rrowr. The animation for the visualizations were spectacular. They were showing planetary phenomena that no-one has actually seen, all speculation, but it was so well-executed (and well-narrated!) that heck, I believed it! When Red Giant stars go super-nova, they implode, and the energy plus the gigantic force caused by that implosion feeds on itself, sucking everything around the star inside, causing the black hole. Then, there was a bit about Einstein's theory of relativity and some really cool grid-line simulations that I though I understood at the time, but, um, *shrug*.

Then there was a bit about big locomotives, then some fancy aerodynamics hand-on exhibits where Dash sat in the cockpit of some stinky old shabby aircraft DASH GOT TO RIDE A PLANE! Now, Monkeyrotica had been playing up the "climbing through the giant heart" that he recalled from his grade-school field trip. The kids loved it—we went through twice, when many other claustrophobic souls dropped out shrieking early on. Sure, it was some painted fiberglass that has seen better days, but it's a great teaching tool. Squeezing through the tight "ventricles" while a throbbing "lub-dub" surrounds you and simulated red and white blood cells speed past overhead was pretty exciting.

From there, we hit the gift shop and headed just a 1/2-mile away for lunch at Oh! Shea's, which served acceptably decent pub food with a nice house-brand root beer. Just three blocks away was our next destination, the Mutter Museum Of College Of Physicians Of Philadelphia. This oddity actively prohibited photographs, with burly security attentive docents ready to give you the smackdown if you attempted a cameraphone pic. If you can hunt down the Discovery Channel's special on the Mutter Museum, you'll pretty much see everything we did, jugged guts, dessicated foetal mutations, eye and skin diseases, genetic disorders. Needless to say, our kids were the only ones in there under 14.

We schlepped it back the 1.5 miles in the rain to the hotel, with one stop for me to replace my hobo-umbrella, which was turning inside-out with every other gust of wind. We stayed in for a breather, let the kids splash in a hot bath, then headed out to the Brauhaus Schmitz, an authentic German restaurant about 5 blocks away. The kids were getting kind of loopy at this point, crawling under the table, playing with our phones (photo of Dash doing exactly that!) and such. We ended our day with cookies and tea back at the hotel.

Next up, Day 3: Damn, it's cold!

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