Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Vacation Recap, PA/NY, Part IV

We took a week to visit famous places in Pennsylvania and New York (specifically Philadelphia and Manhattan).

Day 5

Had some breakfast in the hotel room. Cereal and milk, because of the fridge. Plus some other items that didn’t need to be heated.

First stop of the day – the subway station. It was located two blocks away. An uneventful walk there, and then we were down in the station. First order of business was to buy MTA cards for the family. However, subway stations are not setup to be the starting point of a family journey. The MTA agent in her tollbooth-like enclosure said she could help me if I had a problem with my card, but to buy a card I had to use the self-serve kiosk. The self-serve kiosk lets you buy one card at a time, and requires a number of menu selections.

I waited until there was no one in line, then I started. Bought a card, bought another card, then it wouldn’t let me buy a third card. I switched credit cards – my guess was the credit-card fraud department figured more than two swipes of a credit card at a self-serve kiosk means that someone’s card was stolen and the thief is looking to quickly convert it to different currency. So I switched credit cards and slogged through two more transactions.

At this point, I felt sorry for the people who had lined up to use the kiosk, so I stepped aside to let them use the thing. Then I returned with a third credit card for the last two MTA cards. I handed them to Alpha and Beta, who liked the feeling of responsibility and freedom with an MTA card, but I kept Gamma’s and Delta’s cards because I had a feeling they wouldn’t hold on to them very well.

So Some Wife and Alpha and Beta swiped themselves through to the platform. I lined up Delta and Gamma in front of the turnstile. Swipe one card: “Go”, swipe the next card: “Go”, swipe the third card and walk my self through.

It would be a lot easier if they’d let you combine riders on one ticket. On the plus side though, some of our stops were short enough that they were considered legs of one trip and so we weren’t charged for them.

Our hotel was up by the Lincoln Tunnel, and our first stop was the World Trade Center. It was early enough in the morning that there were a bunch of people on the subway trains. The boys enjoyed the whole process, especially getting to stand and hang onto things in a moving vehicle.

photo of people on the NYC subway

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Vacation Recap, PA/NY, Part III

We took a week to visit famous places in Pennsylvania and New York (specifically Philadelphia and Manhattan).

Day 4

Woke up and went down to the main floor for breakfast. The breakfast had a lot of options, including a few microwaves so you could heat things to your own satisfaction.

Then we got ready for the day. The plan was to pack up and head out of Philly, spend the day at Diggerland USA, and end up at our hotel in NYC for dinner.

It took a few trips to the parking garage to get the van loaded. Kids were well-fed from the hotel breakfast, and it was only 30-45 minutes away, so we were in good shape.

Only problem – it was about 100 degrees out.

photo of the entrance to Diggerland USA

When planning the trip, I saw that walk-in prices were $37 per person, but $32 if you buy online. I waited to buy online and was going to do it on the trip, since I could show them my phone or whatever instead of having to print out tickets. But while we were in Philly, we grabbed a brochure for Diggerland and it had a $27 admission coupon. So I grabbed 5 more, in order to get the whole family’s tickets for that price.
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Vacation Recap, PA/NY, Part II

We took a week to visit famous places in Pennsylvania and New York (specifically Philadelphia and Manhattan).

Day 3

Woke up and went down to the main floor for breakfast. The breakfast had a lot of options, including a few microwaves so you could heat things to your own satisfaction.

Then we got ready for the day. The plan was to spend the day taking in the historic district: the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the US Mint, and Ben Franklin’s grave.

The historic district was several blocks from the hotel. There wasn’t a good public transportation option, and I didn’t want to have to deal with traffic and parking, so we walked. It was good for the kids after spending all that time in the van the previous two days.

On the way there, we happened to pass another district:

photo of the Chinatown part of Philadelphia

Being part Asian, the family wanted to make a quick detour down that road and see what we could see.
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Vacation Recap, PA/NY, Part I

We took a week to visit famous places in Pennsylvania and New York (specifically Philadelphia and Manhattan).

Day 1

Get to eastern PA. Nothing fancy here.

Stayed at a local place (not a chain) because I thought it would be interesting – a greater chance of something memorable compared to a national chain.

The place was called the Hershey Farm Inn, and I chose it because they had a buffet-style restaurant that was open for breakfast (and free for hotel guests). Plus it had a pool. And some nice grounds: a pond, some goats, some geese, a flower garden, walking paths, and a giant statue of an Amish man. I didn’t know about that last item until we arrived though. The place is not related to the Hershey Chocolate Company – it’s just near the town of Hershey.

photo of the Hershey Farm Inn grounds near Lancaster, PA

It fulfilled my expectations in that it was unique and therefore memorable. I can’t recall the details/layout/features of the various chain hotel rooms we’ve stayed in, but our accommodations that night were half of the top floor of an old farmhouse. It was setup to sleep 8, I think, so two of the kids didn’t even have to share a bed like usual.

I took the kids on a walking tour of the grounds while Some Wife got dinner ready in the room. She brought it from home so we wouldn’t have to go out that night. We ate dinner, then we all went to the pool. Outdoor only, slightly cold, but it worked. After the pool, the kids played on the boat-like play structure and chased the geese. Then winding down in the room with some home-improvement show on HGTV, then off to bed.

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Nelson Ledges

We met some acquaintances at a state park: Nelson Ledges.

It’s a fun place for kids and a stressful place for parents. If you read my review of Letchworth State Park last year, this may sounds familiar to you.

Nelson Ledges is a scenic place, although on our day there were a number of rambunctious and/or reckless teenagers (or they could have been in their lower 20s, but I don’t have a good term for them that fits like “crazy teenagers” does).

Now for the pictoral tour through Nelson Ledges:

image of a walk through Nelson Ledges State Park

This was the start – just a walk along a forest path.
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Vacation 2016, Part 5

Here’s a recap of our summer vacation. This year, it was driving to Mt. Rushmore.

Day 7
Up in the morning, continental breakfast at the hotel lobby (which doubled as a souvenir shop and fireworks store), then we were off again. Headed to Minnesota this time.

This part of the trip was the most boring, scenery-wise. On the plus side, it had the highest speed limit, so that was fun.

Not much to report. We drove east for about 8 hours, stopping for lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Mitchell. Thought about visiting the corn palace while we were there, but we didn’t. Then more driving, and we got to our destination in time for dinner. Stayed with relatives, not at a hotel, so that was good.

We went from 100+ degrees and dry and windy to this:

image of family vacation to Mt. Rushmore

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Vacation 2016, Part 4

Here’s a recap of our summer vacation. This year, it was driving to Mt. Rushmore.

Day 6
Up in the morning, another round of pancakes for breakfast, and we were off. Packed up the van, checked out of the hotel, and left Custer. Destination: just a couple hours northeast to Wall.

First stop: the Badlands.

Of course, we got in free again. Showed the gate attendant the 4th grade pass, and had the 4th grader wave to her because she had to verify we had him with us.

At first glance, the Badlands looks like a lot of nothing. And it is. But it’s a scenic nothing. In fact, if you look at it the right way, it can resemble the Grand Canyon.

image of family vacation to Mt. Rushmore

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