For a vacation that was supposed to be all about Philadelphia, we found ourselves awfully easily distracted by other major attractions within a short driving distance. Such is the curse of visiting any of your major New England states — they’re overflowing with history and significance.
One lovely lady in the area combined the best of both. Two, if you counted my wife while she was in town.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, marvels, history, and institutions we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Beginning with 2003’s excursion to Washington DC, we added my son to the roster and tried to accommodate his preferences and childhood accordingly.
After the record-breaking nine-day epic that was our 2009 trek to the farthest reaches of South Dakota, we decided to scale back in 2010 with a shorter drive in a different direction. We previously drove through the corners of Pennsylvania in 2003 and 2004 — through Washington in the southwest corner on our way to Washington, DC; and through Erie in the northwest corner on our way to Niagara Falls. This year, that extra-large wooded state would be the center of our attention.
As one of America’s original 13 colonies, Pennsylvania contains multitudes of U.S. history and authentic places and things from centuries past. For the three of us, we figured it would do well. Anne is a big history buff. I’m willing to drive just about anywhere within reason. My son would be dragged along for whatever ride until such time as he developed a separate life and identity.
We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.
After the mandatory introduction and immigration museum on Ellis Island, the New Jersey ferry took us to Liberty Island for our feature presentation.
By the time we docked at Liberty Island, my son and I were starving. To prevent us from whining through the visit, Anne allowed us to eat lunch first at their café, which resides right about here in relation to the Statue:
The café boasts dishes that use locally grown, organic, or otherwise extra-healthy meal options. Anne had fried fish, my son had fried chicken fingers, and I had an Angus cheeseburger. We didn’t travel to an island celebrating freedom and liberty only to have our diets dictated to us by Richard Simmons.
Signs on a few tables warned us, “Do Not Feed the Birds”. You can guess where most diners’ leftovers went anyway. Not just small birds pestered us — a table several yards away suffered a smash-‘n’-grab from a seagull, one of many swarming around the island.
After eating came the mandatory touring of Lady Liberty and photo ops, one for each of us, trying our best to capture all 305 feet of her from ground level to torch tip.
Then we had to call time-out to go search for the bag containing $30 worth of souvenirs that Anne realized she’d forgotten somewhere. One exhausting search and a few laps later, we continued on our way empty-handed, not killed and made stronger. Eventually the bitterness passed.
Unfortunately due to ongoing renovations, tourists weren’t allowed inside Liberty’s fabled crown in the year of our visit. The pedestal was as high as we could ascend. We took what we could get. It may be just as well — there’s no elevator to the crown, only a 377-step staircase that might have murdered me.
Inside said pedestal was an array of Liberty artifacts and exhibits.
Visitors could also walk up 156 excruciating steps to the top floor of the pedestal for the highest vantage point allowable for us as of 2010. We did what we could under the existing restrictions.
…and speaking of “upskirt”: if you and your family ever get the chance to visit the Statue of Liberty, please be aware that much stair-climbing is required and that anyone in your party wearing a skirt should also strongly consider accessorizing with underwear. This handy tip is inspired by the lady who was ahead of me in the pedestal line. There’s no experience quite like being in the presence of a great American monument and all you can think to yourself is, “MY EYES.”
To be continued!
1. I’ve just learned tonight that construction on a new, larger Statue of Liberty museum is presently underway on the island, slated to open in 2019 thanks to tens of millions of dollars received from donors including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, NBC Universal, The Coca-Cola Company, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and retired filmmaker George Lucas.
2. When it came time to assemble her annual vacation scrapbook, Anne ordered a few Liberty-themed pages, including one that contains the entirety of Emma Lazarus’ famous poem “The New Colossus” as featured on an inside plaque. Anne couldn’t bear to cover up the page with pics and saved it in her scrapbook as-is.]
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