Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Leaving Philly and Crossing the Delaware

    Walking around Philadelphia all day yesterday must have exhausted me because while I was sleeping, half the guys in the dorm came in and went to sleep including the guy above me who hadn’t even checked in when I fell asleep.  I didn’t wake up for any of it even though I should have been a little more on my guard after a Brazilian man checked in the previous evening, shook my hand, explained to me it was very hard for him financially traveling in the United States, and then began picking up loose coins on the dorm floor.
    I ate my cereal and toast while a girl at the table next to me hollared, “ALOOOOO…ALOOOOOO” an inch away from her laptop microphone.  Some type on online telephone call gone wrong I guess.  I checked out of the hostel and decided to drive to the Franklin Institute of Science Museum.  It’s not too far away I suppose, but Google Navigate had me getting on an interstate which I didn’t want to do, so I decided to wing it and get there by my own directions.  My brain was in full alert and I found my way well enough.  I only had to swerve twice to dodge a taxi and a bus which came into my lane.  I wouldn’t recommend driving in downtown Philly.
From Philadelphia Day 3 and Delaware Crossing
     There were lots of hands on, kid friendly exhibits there.  I checked out Sir Isaac’s Loft where I was barely able to pull down a rope to hoist the equivalent of 150lbs and then went to the Sports Challenge area where I threw a kickball 32mph.  I spent most of my time in the museum watching planetarium shows.  There was a Black Hole and an astronomy show which made me think about getting a telescope and doing a little astronomy research on my own (something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid but never did).  At the Black Hole exhibit, there was as Asian family sitting next to me.  One of the kids pointed to some planets on the screen and named them.  Later, at the astronomy show, a white kid about the same age pointed to Jupiter on the screen and said, “I like that balloon.”  When his father corrected him, he asked, “What’s it for?”  Interesting question I guess.  What is Jupiter for?
       I also saw a show on the Mayans and their understanding of the sky.  Their story on how the sun and moon were created was interesting to me.  Basically it all started with these two brothers (don’t ask me where the brothers came from or how they were alive without a sun, they just were okay) and these brothers started playing this game where they kicked a ball back and forth.  Somehow they ended up in the underworld where they kept playing this game.  Well, this underworld species started kicking the ball around too, and the underworlders are much better ball kickers than the brothers.  The brothers, though, somehow find a way to beat the underworlders at the ball kicking game.  Then, the brothers found their dad in the underworld, poured some kind of magic water or something on him and yadda, yadda, yadda, the brothers became the sun and the moon.  Even though I didn’t remember the last part there (probably because it was even more “out there” than the first parts of the story), I probably should have just made something up.  I did a quick online search and I’m thinking the museum may have made that story up, so what’s the difference.  One thing that is real though is the Mayan’s ability to predict solar eclipses very far in advance indicating they had a pretty good understand of astronomy.
    As I toured the rest of the museum and read things about energy, geology and electricity that I’d almost forgotten from various stages of memorization during my formal education, I realized that visitors to museums like this come in cycles.  Parents who (except for the occasional know-it-all dad who makes stuff up every once in a while because he refuses to answer, “I don’t know” to anything he’s asked) have forgotten all this science stuff bring their kids here to learn about it.  The kids will become full of all this knowledge and then, when they enter the real world, where it doesn’t matter how different groups of electrons orbit the protons and neutrons of an atom, will eventually forget everything and bring there kids to learn about it.  I don’t really fit into either of these groups, so I felt a little out of place.  After I paid $8 for a lunch sandwich, I made a pledge to stock my ice chest with groceries (it hadn’t held a single ice cube the whole trip) and make my own meals for a full week.  My grand finale of the museum trip was a visit to the observatory on the roof where I looked at the sun through some kind of filter.  Pretty cool.
    I spent a good while back in my car looking over my atlas, trying to figure out my next stop.  The only thing I had decided was that I wanted to stay in a motel that night to watch the first LSU game of the season on TV (watching it at a bar and then trying to find a campsite at 11pm didn’t quite feel like the right plan).  I ended up choosing a highway that went along the New Jersey side of the Delaware River.  Pretty much by luck, I ended up passing right by where Washington crossed the Delaware for a surprise attack on the British reinforcements at Trenton on Christmas Day, 1776.  I wonder if, right before the first shot, one of them said, “Merry Christmas Mother Fuckers.”  I can’t think of a better time in history for that to have been said.  I walked around location on the river where they landed and walked on the trail where they marched.  There were quite a few people around including one couple necking on the grass.  Would GW approve?  Tough call.
    After the park visit, I drove up a ways to the town of Lambertville.  I called about four or five inns, motels, and hotels in the area and none had prices below $200/night.  Traveling along the river is nice until it comes time to find a cheap motel.  I changed tactics and searched a motel’s website.  I found a place close enough to my price range twenty-five miles away in Raritan.  After I checked in there, I headed to a grocery store where I got milk, butter, bread, ham, cheese, tomato soup, lettuce, jelly, mayonnaise, mustard, and some sugar free cookies (I thought he was trying to GAIN weight).
    I was less passionate about the game than in previous years.  I enjoyed watching it, but it wouldn’t have bothered me if we’d lost and it wouldn’t have made me feel like a king if we’d crushed them.  I have some theories on why this is, some of which I’ll discuss later.  I have basically zero plans for tomorrow which way more often than not has turned into a very good thing.


RR said...

This is a great read ~ particularly your take on the museum crowd and the summation of Mayan lore. One comment from me ~ sounds like you're burning through calories faster than you can take them in, but tomato soup & lettuce are fringe vegetables.

Ryan Fuller said...

Glad you're enjoying the blog. I hope the soup and lettuce are hearty enough to make up for the cookies and chocolate candies I've been eating several times a day!

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