Friday morning we headed out from DC towards Gettysburg. In northern Maryland I noticed a brown road sign (of interest to tourists) for the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes adjacent to the campus of Mount St. Mary's College. I had passed this way before and was intrigued with the tall statue rising up from the hills so I decided we should stop. The shrine is dedicated to Elisabeth Seton, a local teacher, who was visited in these hills by the Virgin Mary. We enjoyed a stroll through the peaceful setting, kind of like a Catholic sacred grove.
Next stop, Gettysburg. Joel chose to memorize the Gettysburg Address the year for school project so he was extra excited to see where Lincoln gave his famous, brief speech.
We visited the park museum. We all were impressed the cyclorama painting of the third day of battling.
From Confederate lines looking east towards the Union controlled hills. From here Pickett led his famous charge.
The Union controlled heights.
The Union line where Pickett's charge was held off.
It was only held off with fierce hand to hand combat.
It was slow going along crowded US 30 from Gettysburg to Lancaster. We enjoyed a drive through scenic Amish farmland. We even stopped and bought some freshly picked peas from some Amish kids at a road side stand.
Horse drawn plow.
That night we stayed with Pam and Gary Anderson in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania mission home. They are nearing their one year mark of service. Pam went to Logan High School with me and my brother Bob married her sister Annie. The kids got to sleep in the large bunk room where newly arrived and departing missionaries all stay.
It was the Anderson's p-day so no name tags were being worn. It was a real treat to hear about all the good things that are going on in the Philadelphia mission. One favorite story told by President Anderson was his decision to assign a new elder who was not liking being a missionary and was contemplating going home, to be the companion with a seasoned elder, a farm boy from Idaho. That elder from Idaho put his junior companion to work. It seemed to work. A few months later when asked by the mission president how the junior companion was doing, the elder from Idaho replied: " It's going well. I just about got him broke."
We had a great morning visiting sites in Philadelphia. Elfreth's Alley
Christ Church and cemetery
Ben Franklin Museum at the site of his house. Franklin invented the armonica--a musical instrument that plays like the sound of running a wet fingers around he rim of glasses.
We then headed over to Reading Terminal market for a lunch of Philly Cheese-steaks. There were so many options for great food. We parked a few blocks away on the street. I fed the meter with plenty of quarters and both Marie and I read the parking sign to make sure we were doing everything all right. What we both missed was that we were parking in a place designated for four motorcycles. I think we were confused because another car was already parked in the same configuration of parking lines and signs. After lunch we returned to our car only to find that our car had been towed. I called the number on the sign and was put on hold twice for a total of 40 minutes. We wanted to make sure we were going to the right impound lot and that our van was actually there. Finally a traffic cop walked by and gave us the address of the lot and so we hailed a cab. The driver, a Ukrainian immigrant of 20 years, knew right where the south Philly lot was located. He said he drives people there all the time. He explained that Philly was going broke and so the parking police are extra vigilant in towing any errant cars. He likened it all to the mafia. Cab ride: $20.
Once at the lot we paid a $175 towing fee and then a $51 parking ticket fee. We also had to call and have proof of insurance faxed to the office. It was a hopping place for a Saturday afternoon--the kids even saw them bring in a car from Texas with a war veteran bumper sticker and handicapped plates! Our parking fiasco set us back plenty of dollars and two hours of time. We traveled the Jersey Turnpike and Lincoln Tunnel to Manhattan arriving at the Holiday Inn on 57th at about 7:00. We checked in quickly changed clothes and then hustled down to the TKTS office at Times Square to see if there were any remaining half price theater tickets.
We lucked out and got great front row mezzanine tickets to see Matilda. We snarfed down some juice and bagels and make it to the theater with 10 minutes to spare before the 8:00 curtain time.
It was a delightful show. I had fun watching our kids' reactions to all of the humor and action. The long day and late night wiped us out so we all enjoyed a day-of-rest sleep in.
Instead of the 9:00 sacrament meeting at the Manhattan Temple/ Church building, we opted to attend the more manageable 11:00 meeting with the Young Single Adult ward. Ran into three former students in the ward and then I introduced myself to bishop Frogley. I asked him who his parents were and when he told me Ron Frogley, I told him our mutual ancestry and explained that we were second cousins. I then told him that his grandmother Luela and my grandfather Bill were siblings. I knew a bit more about the Fife family than he did.
We then walked back to our hotel and changed clothes--including better walking shoes.
The kids bought sandwiches, Marie some gazpacho soup and me a felafel salad which we took to Central park for a picnic.
We then headed out across the park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Halfway there we stopped (the boys first) to watch the Afrobats (Acrobats with Afros). They danced, pranced, flipped, and tumbled while cracking jokes.
They cracked jokes and made fun of blacks, whites, Asians, foreign tourists and many others (but they said they do not make fun of Jews) as they interacted with the crowed. They asked for (actually rounded up) volunteers to help out. Then they pointed to front line Joel and Will and asked them to raise their hands. They they said they needed a young volunteer and who ever had their hand raised would be selected. There stood Will with hands raised. So he willingly (so happy when he is willing) went out. It was all too funny. Will was told he had swagger and he was made an honorary afrobat.
Then one of the men Jumped over Will in preparation for this final jump. They paid Will $5 for helping out but then they "extorted" $20 (not really, but there was a lot of good natured pressure for everyone to put money in a collection bag) from all of the other volunteers so they would not be injured in the death defying jump.
Next stop the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We wandered for three hours and only saw a faction of it. This museum is now Sarah's favorite. It does have lots of good stuff.
We then headed south along Fifth Avenue on the east side of central park. Earlier while walking through the park I had noticed lots of Jewish families strolling around, many with Jewish themed shirts and holding Israeli flags. We then noticed signs along the street indicating that earlier in the day there had been a celebrate Israel parade.
Then we happened upon a group of Hassidic Jews who were protesting the Jewish State. There are certain groups of Orthodox Jews in Israel and abroad who do not support the existence of Israel because it is seen as a non-religious state. These Jews feel that the only valid Jewish state is one that is founded by believing, practicing Jews and under the direction of G-d. (The Book of Mormon also teaches that the return of the Jews to their land of inheritance is based one righteousness and belief).
So, while I took photos of this rift in modern day American Judaism, Marie and the kids rested their weary museum walking legs on a nearby bench.
There was name calling, heated debates and some civil conversations. I don't think any opinions were changed.
New York's finest were there to keep the peace.
Cars lined up to take the anti-Israel Jews back home.
We then walked down 5th avenue and across Manhattan to the Bali Nusa Indonesia restaurant on 9th for some great food (enjoyed by all!) . What a fun, diverse day.