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Our 2010 Road Trip, Part 14: Philly Prison Blues

Cellblocks Above + Below!

The photos you’re about to see come from a place where several reality shows have filmed their stars pretending to chase ghosts and failing to catch any.

We had time for one last stop before we exited the Philadelphia area. Anne loves American history. I love places with exotic feels and/or unique architecture. So we compromised and went to jail for it.

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Our 2010 Road Trip, Part 13: Streets of Philadelphia

Art Museum + Horseman!

The Philadelphia Museum of Art looked fabulous from a distance on a trolley that wasn’t stopping.

Some of our road trips simply needed more days that what we allotted. We thought we’d learned that lesson on our 2005 drive to San Antonio, when we spent more time in the car than we did on foot in Texas, because their state is like a separate continent compared to home. Our trip to Philadelphia encountered similar issues but for a different reason. We’d found so many interesting sights to see near Philly that we barely left any time for the city itself. We’re considering making up some of that lost time in this summer’s vacation. At the time, though, we did what we could with the moments we had.

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Our 2010 Road Trip, Part 12: Mandatory Zoo Visit

Panamanian golden frogs!

Panamanian golden frogs — critically endangered, rather poisonous, and adorable hanging together from their little leaf shelter.

Before writing this chapter, Anne and I watched the first episode of the BBC’s inspiring, horrifying, utterly gorgeous Planet Earth II on Netflix, and now I’m ashamed of every inadequate animal photo we’ve ever taken. But let’s proceed with another batch of zoo memories anyway.

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Our 2010 Road Trip, Part 11: Liberty and Death

Liberty Bell!

Our next attraction needs no introduction…

More Philadelphia! More American history! More icons of Americana! More really old things! Finally we were getting to the part of our road trip that Anne had been dying to see.

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Our 2010 Road Trip, Part 10: Our Independence Day

Independence Hall!

Getting a wide shot of Independence Hall proved challenging, but the center section gives you the gist of it.

At last, the day my wife was waiting for on this Philadelphia trip: some American history! And some Philadelphia!

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Road Trip Clip Show: a Salute to Vacation Days, Part 1 of 2

Once all the necessary errands are run and all defensive countermeasures are in place, we’ll be taking off this weekend for our annual road trip. Each year we drive hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles to other states to view their museums, witness amazing works of God and man, check out roadside attractions of varying degrees of imagination and quality, and generally see firsthand what lies beyond Indiana.

Our 2012 road trip will take us through Kansas to Colorado, including a circuitous route through Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. With the Waldo Canyon fire now 70% contained as of today and the other extant fires being beyond the scope of our plans, we’re feeling less intrepid and more emboldened to sally forth toward the Rockies and whatever they might surround. We’re challenging ourselves to find good points about Kansas as well.

In honor of Independence Day, one of America’s busiest traveling holidays of the year, and in honor of the fact that I have less free time this week because of vacation preparations and mandatory family-holiday quality time, I present a cursory look back at our road trips from previous years, select snippets of a few of my favorite faraway things.

2011: Manhattan

Our first time in New York City became my favorite vacation to date. The sights, the sounds, the subways, the cleanliness, the overwhelming density of activity options — it was like three vacations packed into one and then marinated in adrenalin.

Naturally we photographed Times Square too many times. We attended The Lion King, found ourselves blown away and wishing the other shows had been inexpensive enough to attend four or five more.

Times Square ad frenzy

Most people view the city from atop the Empire State Building. For a few dollars less, and with no haranguing from enthusiastic street guides, you can ride to the upper floors of 30 Rockefeller Center and see most of the same rooftops. At that height, the view plus or minus a few stories isn’t appreciably different, unless we missed something really cool on 30 Rock’s roof.

the view from 30 Rock

A couple of New Yorkers we know thought it odd that we included Grant’s Tomb on our itinerary. My wife the history buff insisted after reading his autobiography. This seemed like an awful lot of building just to provide a tomb for two, but I was happy to oblige.

Grant's Tomb: Conveniently on the Way to Harlem

2010: Pennsylvania via Ohio

Our primary destination was Philadelphia — again, because of history — but our attention wandered to numerous other sights along the way.

My personal favorite: Eastern State Penitentiary, a former famous prison that’s now a “stabilized ruin” you can visit and view from within. Most notable features include a cell once occupied by Al Capone and a self-guided audio tour narrated by Steve Buscemi.

Eastern State Penitentiary, second floor

Diverging from the Pennsylvania Turnpike for several miles allowed us opportunities for small-town roadside wonders such as this giant quarter in Everett, created as part of a local contest.

Everett's giant quarter

On the way to Pennsylvania, we stopped for lunch at the Thurman Cafe in Columbus, a certified As Seen on Man v. Food pit stop. Below is the Thurman Burger, which is larger than some house pets. Not even in my overeating college days could I leave a clean plate after this meal.

Thurman Burger, Thurman Cafe

More to come tomorrow!

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