My Route Through America

Anyone who knows me knows that although I don’t stray away from conventional trips, I usually only go when someone else is planning the details. Left to my own devices, I end up coming up with trips that are a little out there. Or at the very least, I plan trips people don’t seem to expect out of me. When I went to Bonnaroo in 2012, it was definitely a trip that some folks I know were surprised I’d take.

So that’s why I can announce that I’ll be going on a cross-country, three-city trip at the end of August and beginning of September. Not just any trip, though. A trip by train.

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For the last full day of the trip, I visited Colonial Williamsburg. The historical city aspect of it certainly isn’t new, but CW certainly has their own spin on it. There were interpreters aplenty, active smithing shops, and reenactments of key events of the Revolutionary War-era city.

I took a tour of the Governor’s Mansion and the Capitol, saw the gaol, the silver smith, and how the colonials made bricks for their buildings, sat down to hear some Q & A with Thomas Jefferson, and (partially) viewed a troop inspection and victory march. Perhaps most interestingly, I witnessed active archaeology at the hypothesized site of a market building.

I liked the site, but again expected all the interpreters/staff to be purely in-character. This wasn’t the case, though, as some people were, such as most tour guides, while others were not, and there seemed to be no particular rhyme or reason as to whom was or was not.

Still, it was very interesting to learn about the royal governor who was almost hanged after he removed the powder from the muskets, and that copper-based green over wallpaper was an ideal color for colonial-era dining rooms.

Well, everyone, this is the last post in this series, unless something of mention should happen on the train home tomorrow. It’s definitely been an interesting and challenging task to update this blog everyday on a vacation, but it was fun.


Today we all (two aunts, an uncle, three cousins, and me) went to Busch Gardens. The thing I found interesting is that is was reasonably not crowded, such that most of the rides did not have long lines, except the popular Verbolten.

Busch Gardens is a very roller coaster-heavy park, and I’m not much of a roller coaster person, but I did go on two of the water rides, the Pompeii and the Roman Rapids. Both were quite fun, though the Rapids ride gave quite a soaking. It was refreshing, though.

At first, anyway. Several hours later, when my socks were only a little less soaked than they were when we got off the ride, and my pants still felt like I peed myself, and it was less warm, then it wasn’t as fun. Lesson learned here: it probably would have been worth the five dollars to use the dryer afterward.

I also saw the predator show in the animal reserve area, but maybe it was because I was so soaked, but it just didn’t seem as appealing as such a show may once have been.

What I think this means, as I observe, is that Busch Gardens is a good park if you like coasters, are a kid, or are a parent of a younger kid, but does not have quite as much to do if you’re a young adult who doesn’t like coasters.

Even still, I did have fun on the water rides, even if by the end I was very much ready to get back to the resort and change into dry clothes.


Before I start on today, I’d like to make an addition to yesterday’s post, because I feel like I made the wedding ceremony and the reception sound really routine, when they were anything but that. Both were fantastic anyway, but what made them reallly stand out was the wedding party’s ability to boogie, starting as soon as the ceremony ended and they left the chapel.

When we got back to the hotel for the reception, it got even better. After my cousin and her husband were introduced, the wedding party immediately went into a rendition of the dance from Psy’s “Gentlemen.” And that there helped set the mood and cement the night into my mind.

So that was the wedding part of this trip in a nutshell.

Today officially began the vacation part of this trip, and it was also the busiest so far. The first thing was breakfast for the wedding party and the guests. Originally set for a nearby IHOP, it ended being in the hotel buffet. It was pretty good, all said.

Afterward, I bid adieu to my parents and grandfather, who

were heading back home, and went off to see the liberty bell and potentially Independence Hall. The first lesson of the day was that the SEPTA subway isn’t built to be obvious to visitors. It takes a minute to get used to. After finally figuring it out – not without some consternation – we made it to the Independence Hall mall, but did not make it to the Hall itself as tickets were sold out (I got a picture in, anyway). So we saw the liberty bell, which is much smaller than it seems and, though I get the symbolism of it, just isn’t as great as I thought it might be.

Next we decided to take a historical tour on a double-decker bus with an open top. We learned a lot about Philadelphia in 90 minutes than we ever could have by walking around ourselves. For example, did you know that Philadelphians have their own version of the “curse of the Bambino” supposedly brought on by building a structure taller than the height of William Penn’s statue? Or that the statue’s hair strands are four feet tall? Me either. The tour was highly informative and entertaining, but it did start to rain. We stuck it out up top until just before it started to pour.

After the tour we were hungry, so we subwayed it to the Terminal Station Market on Market St. It’s a packed collection of shops, vendors, and food-court style restaurants. I’ve seen one before in another city, but this one was cool nonetheless. I wanted pulled pork, but that food vendor was closed, so I got BBQ chicken instead. It was very good, and the homemade macaroni and cheese was excellent; a good meal for $10.


After dinner, we had to get back to the hotel to go see Wicked at the Kimmel Center across from our hotel, and it was still pouring, so we considered our options. We weren’t going to hoof it in the deluge, would have to take two likely expensive cabs, and I don’t think anyway else but me was up for another subway ride. Luckily my uncle found out that a guy from the tour desk was heading home (the Market was closing soon) and so we ended up with a tour in central Philadelphia’s underground pedestrian concourse that’s adjacent and providing access to the Center City subway lines. Originally built in the ’60s, it was intended as a pedestrian alternative in inclement weather. It went through its rough patch, but is apparently mostly safe now, if a bit creepy and leak-ridden in areas (and stinky every now and then). However, it’s definitely not one of those places most tourists are going to go through during their time in the city, so I was happy to experience it, even once. I like some local flavor, even if it necessitates constant vigilance. We were in a big group, though, so there was plenty of that among us.

After a brief respite at the hotel, we headed across the street for then show. One word for it: WOW! It was excellent. I’d always wanted to seen it, but it never happened, despite being visiting NYC four years in a row. The actress who played Elphaba for tonight’s show was the understudy, but she could just as well be the main actress for then role. She was that good. I’ll have a larger review for the show on the TicketNetwork Blog once I return home.

Finally, my aunt, one of my cousins, and I went for ice cream at nearby place, and it was pretty good. A little overwhelming on the options, though.

Today’s continuation to Williamsburg, VA, will be a long train day, so my report will most likely involve something outstanding (anything), and/or some commentary on the place we’re staying at. The real meat will pick up back up on Tuesday.

I close by bidding farewell to Philadelphia. I will be back as there is so much more to see.


No, I didn’t make a mistake in choosing this photo – I just really like it.

I’ll keep this one short, because what is there to say? Other than a lot of traffic making the second shuttle late, the ceremony went off without a hitch, as did the reception (which was over too fast). Everything was really well done, and nobody stumbled over words. Afterwards, we hung out at the hotel bar.

That’s pretty much it. Tomorrow marks the end of official wedding festivities and the beginning of the vacation proper, with plenty of history.


So for the next nine days I’m on a two-city vacation. The first leg is to attend my cousin’s wedding in Philadelphia, PA, and the second is five days in historic Williamsburg, VA.

So far, things have been rather uneventful for me, mostly because I’m on a train. So the following story is not about me, but about my aunt, who is traveling along with me, my parents, and my grandfather.

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