Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Getting Home

Yesterday, we had our last day of our ILC trip. We got back a little late, which is why the blogs are today. There is a part of me that is glad to have been able to sleep in my own bed last night, but of course, being a part of the ILC was an unforgettable experience.

In the morning of our last day, we woke up a little earlier than we had the day before so we could make sure we were on time for our tour of Independence Hall. It didn’t particularly feel like our last day, and the weather was nicer than Saturday had been, so it was a great morning to go over to Spread Bagelry again.

Over at Spread, I decided to try a cinnamon-raisin bagel with some cream cheese (what I usually get back home) and I wasn’t disappointed.

After we had eaten, we walked back across the street to the hotel so we could pack up our bags and check out of our hotel rooms. It didn’t take too long, and we had left our luggage with the hotel and were heading towards Philadelphia’s historic district before 9 AM.

I have to say that the historic district is by far my favorite place in Philadelphia. The houses are nice, there’s lots of red brick, a massive amount of history, and even good food, as evidenced by Jim’s steaks the night before. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but they were really good.

Independence Hall!
Parking at the Independence Hall was pretty easy. We just parked in the garage, and took the steps up to the visitor center, where we were able to pick up our tickets. It was a really easy process, and I was expecting a lot more hassle when visiting a major tourist attraction. Both the Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell were right there, but it didn’t seem overly crowded and there weren’t that bad of lines for everything. It was quite nice after experiencing some major lines during our time in Nashville and in Philadelphia.

We went to our 10 AM tour before visiting the Liberty Bell. Independence hall was pretty small compared to all of the buildings around it, but for the 1700s it was a pretty big building. Inside, we were only allowed on the first floor, where the assembly chamber and courtroom were. The courtroom was pretty interesting, but the assembly chamber was the main attraction. It was in that room that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution was signed. They even had the same chair George Washington used when he presided over the drafting of these documents. It was really cool to see such a major part of U.S. history in person – I hadn’t been to the East Coast before (besides a layover in New Jersey on the way to Spain) and I enjoyed seeing some of the history I had read so much about.
The Liberty Bell.

After the relatively short tour of Independence Hall (it took all of about half an hour, at the most) we walked over to see the Liberty Bell, yet another piece of history that I had read so much about. I was happy to get the chance to see these icons of American independence for myself, and I look forward to be able to visit other sites and objects in the future.

When we had finished up with the Liberty Bell, it wasn’t quite time for lunch, but I was getting hungry so I was able to grab a hot dog from the nearest vender. That took me all of about two or three bites, but it helped out for the time being.

We went around back of Independence Hall to rest of feet in the small park there. We sat on a bench facing a statue of Commodore Barry (who was in the U.S. Navy quite a while back) and brainstormed our next move.

Our next move, as it turned out, was walking down to Reading Terminal Market to get some lunch. We were going to stop by the Declaration House, where Thomas Jefferson had written the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, but because it opened up at noon, and it was about 11:30 by that time, we went on to the market first.

The market was awesome.

Lots of people here.
It was in a format so that there were shops and restaurants all crowded together into a small space, with loads of people crowding the alleys between them. The entire thing was basically a building, maybe a little bigger than a regular super market (although it was really hard to tell, everything was so close together it was hard to get a feel of how big it actually was). It was a lot of fun to explore the market and find some food. Maddie and I went in a pair, and we stopped by an Italian place first. I got a basil and tomato baguette melt, which was amazing, and Maddie got a Panini. I wasn’t completely full by that time (am I ever?) and so we found another place, this time serving Greek food, and I couldn’t pass up a chance to see how their Spanakopita stacked up to the homemade Spanakopita I had had before. It wasn’t too bad, but I think homemade is still the way to go.

After another half an hour to 40 minutes of walking around the market later, we met up to walk back towards the car. We did take a quick stop over at the Declaration House on the way back, and then continued on towards the car.

Before leaving, however, Ms. Hansen thought it would be a good idea to go and see the grave of Benjamin Franklin a block away. Although it was interesting, I felt just a little weird about paying to enter a cemetery, and going in as a tourist. We didn’t spend too long there though, and soon enough we had finished up our last bit of sightseeing in Philadelphia.
Ben and I on UPenn's campus.
Back at the hotel, we quickly loaded our bags up and took off to the airport, where it was a mostly uneventful trip past security and on to the plane to Chicago. 

Getting to Chicago was a little under two hours - we then had a 45 minute layover that left us feeling a little rushed to get food. There were a lot of lines in the food court (the same one we had stopped at before) but none of them took too long, and we were able to get to our flight with a little bit of time to spare. We then boarded the flight home.

The last leg of our journey was smooth until we picked up our bags, we had some trouble with the shuttle driver where we went on a scavenger hunt to get the right phone number. We were so close, yet so far! Thankfully we were able to fix it within 20 minutes or so, leaving us just the ride back to El Cerrito High School, where the whole adventure had started.

I was happy to be able to get out of the shuttle and see my dad again. Don was taking pictures all the while, and our cohort took one final picture together. It was nice to be home, but of course my time with the ILC will be missed. I had a great time with great people, and I'm thankful I was able to spend my summer in Nashville and Philadelphia.
Home at last.


  1. Sorry you felt weird about that last visit. I knew something felt a little off with you, but I thought it was just that you were tired and maybe a little anxious to get to the airport. Reading your blog posting, I can see how paying to see a famous person's grave may have felt akin to making a burial ground into a carny sideshow, but it didn't occur to me at the time. Growing up, my parents were really into history and they taught me that cemeteries tell us a lot about times and places, as well as events of the past. So, visiting them has always been no big deal for me; and because there seemed to be some enthusiasm the night before about visiting Franklin's grave, I neglected to have a special talk with all of you about it right when we were there. I should have. As for paying the $3 entry, I didn't mind it, because there were several signers of the Declaration, as well as other Makers of the country and keeping up a place like that costs money, so I saw it as helping out. If it makes you feel better, the map was supposed to cost too, but the woman gave it to me for free. Anyway, I felt you had a right to know my thought process, I apologize for not communicating better at the time.

  2. P.S. I'm glad you had a really good time that day otherwise.