**I started telling ya'll about our trip to Philadelphia (you can click here to see the first part) and I got a little distracted by the ocean and all ;). I'll try to pick up where I left off...
As I told you earlier, we spent the day walking around Independence NHP. When we were done with that, we were all tired and super hungry. When in Philly, you simply have to eat a Philly cheesesteak...it's a rule. So, like apparently everyone else in the city that day, I looked up where to get the best sammich. If you've ever been to Philadelphia, then you can probably guess the first two places that came up. Geno's and Pat's, longtime rivals that sit right down the street from each other.
Traffic was horrible...the streets were packed with not only cars trying to drive, but cars parked all along the sides squeezing in and making the lanes even tighter. Throw in a healthy dose of pedestrians weaving their way through it all and it was a bit crazy. We finally made it to the restaurants and holy cow...we just thought the streets were packed before. Both places were entirely wrapped up in mobs of people...very long lines, no available tables, and absolutely nowhere to park. Not happening with five kiddos in tow.
Time for plan B.
When we booked our hotel rooms, we had some rewards points to use. We didn't reserve any rooms until that afternoon...so that, combined with finding a place to redeem the points, meant we were spending the night just across the river in New Jersey (even though it was in NJ, the hotel was called Crowne Plaza Philadelphia...so it really wasn't very far at all). Plan B = punching in the address of our hotel and finding the first place along the way to get a cheesesteak (that we could actually park and get to with the kids).
We ended up at a hole in the wall place called Yellow Submarine, somewhere in the suburbs of New Jersey. We found this place through Yelp (link is here), for any of you that may be interested. It was a tiny little shop with maybe four tables and best of all (at that point), there was parking!!! After ordering our cheesesteaks and sitting to wait, we realized that the place was booming busy, just the majority of people had phoned in orders to pick up. Good idea since they only have four tables ;).
I didn't really pay much attention to what I was ordering (super hungry, remember?) and when we got our cheesesteaks, I realized that they came with provolone instead of cheese whiz. I had wanted to try them with the whiz since we never had and that's kinda the thing in Philly. Maybe the thing in Jersey is provolone? I dunno. Anyway, the sandwiches were good but not excellent (in my opinion, but I don't usually eat that kind of thing so I'm no expert).
With full bellies, it was time to go to our hotel. It was really nice and comfy and I was SO GLAD. I had pulled my back somehow the day before and after walking all day, I was in quite a bit of pain. I just wanted to take some ibuprofen and go to sleep. We got up to our rooms (we had two adjoining) and after everyone got ready for bed, my husband came into the girls room with something in his hand. Uh oh...he can be a prankster at times and I didn't know what he was up to. Turns out the hotel had left samples of some Temple Spa products in the rooms and he had found them. He thought it was funny that there was this spray called QUIETUDE that you "mist into the air to create a space of peace". It was funny. He was telling all of the kids goodnight and giving them their "mist of peace" aka making them giggle :). When he sprayed it, it smelled really good so I asked him what other products there were. There was one called AAAHHH that is made for achy, tired muscles. He rubbed some of that into my back for me and ya'll, it was awesome. For real. My back felt better right away and I slept great. Note to self: get some of the Temple Spa products that have silly names but work great :).
The next morning, we woke up hungry again (funny how that works) and decided to give Geno's and Pat's one more try. Cheesesteaks for breakfast? Only in Philly :). We got downtown with much more ease than the night before and snagged one of the last parking spots along the street about two blocks away. There were even some empty tables this time, yay! We chose Pat's simply because it was the first place we came to. It is cash only and they are quick. The second I had finished ordering, the sammies were lined up on the ledge and the guy was looking over my shoulder calling out "next!". Don't even think about dawdling or they will give you the stink eye. Trust me.
We all got pretty much the same thing...wiz wit, some with extra wiz. Ya'll, these cheesesteaks were EXCELLENT! So good. And just so ya'll don't think we are the only crazies eating cheesesteaks for breakfast...by the time we were done eating, the place had started to resemble the chaos from the night before. Cars parking in the street, people everywhere, line forming, and we even had a family squeeze in at the other end of our table with us. Crazy, but oh so good :).
After our breakfast, it was time to see more of the city. The first place we went was the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial. This memorial is the smallest unit in the National Park system, that alone intrigued me enough to pay a visit.
Kosciuszko was a Polish freedom fighter and military engineer who helped design American forts during the American Revolution. After being injured, he came to the house that is now a National Memorial to recover during the years 1797-1798. He had many friends, such as Thomas Jefferson, who came to visit him while he stayed in this home that is open to the public today.
The surrounding area was pretty, cobblestone streets and old row houses with marble steps...
Our next destination was across the city and in a not so pretty area of town. The Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site. To give you an idea of the area...the NHS keeps its doors locked and you have to knock and wait for them to come unlock the door and let you in. Uh huh.
This place is also a house, one that was lived in from 1838-1844 by Poe, his wife, and his mother in law. You can opt for a free guided tour by one of the Rangers or just go through on your own. We went on our own.
It was very interesting, we learned a lot about the famous author and why he was the way he was...one reason being his young wife's illness and death. So sad.
The house hasn't been renovated or updated much...
...including the cellar! EEK!!!
When our visit there was done, it was time to head home. I snapped a quick picture of the city from my window as we were leaving...
...then it was back to the smaller town where we are currently camping. Not too far from home, we spotted a field of what looked like tomatoes. We pulled over to check it out and sure enough, there was a field full of Roma tomatoes! Never seen that before :)...
How's that for an odd ending to the day? Haha :)