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In West Philadelphia, born and raised…

February 10, 2009

Actually I was born in northeast Portland, but that’s besides the point.

This past weekend, Erik and I drove down to Philadelphia for a little mini-vacation to enjoy the wonderful and unexpected sunny spring-like weather. After we checked into our hotel, we met my friend, Dee, who is my oldest imaginary Internet weirdo friend (and by old I mean I’ve known her the longest… she’s only 24!). We walked through the streets of the Fairmount neighborhood on our way to lunch. After a bite to eat, Erik and I strolled down 22nd Avenue to the Mutter Museum.

The Mutter Museum, if you’ve never been blessed with an opportunity to visit, is a medical oddities museum. The museum includes preserved specimens and wax models of various rare diseases, like an 8 foot long colon, tumors, brains and other body parts, deformed fetuses, a collection of skulls, wax models of dozens of eye diseases, and the tallest skeleton on display in North America. There was also a display of gynecological medical equipment that made me squirm in pain – thank God for modern medicine! And anesthesia!

We wasted about an hour wandering around Reading Terminal, a combination of a farmer’s market and a food court. It’s enormous, with rows of eateries that would take you weeks to eat through.

Afterwards, we drove out to see Hannah and her husband, Matt. We met them at their house and then walked a couple of blocks down to a bar and grill. The food was delicious, although the service was a bit slow but considering how packed the place was it wasn’t too surprising. Hannah looked great considering she just had her appendix removed, but she was as bubbly and cheerful as always. Even Erik remarked how positive she is. Our dinner ran a little late, so by the time we went back to their house, her birthday party was getting started without us! We stayed on for awhile before taking off for the 45 minute drive back to Philadelphia.

We were staying in the Sheraton City Center hotel, which we assumed would be a good hotel and that we’d get a restful nights sleep. Not so much. At about 3 a.m., Erik and I awoke to an pulsating alarm. A recording voice began: “Attention! Attention! An emergency has been detected in the building. Please do not use the elevators or the staircases. Stay tuned for further information.” This repeated about three times before the alarms came back.

This lasted for about twenty minutes. Finally, a staff member came on the intercom and said that the Philadelphia fire department had arrived and that it was safe to return to our rooms. Erik and I, almost in unison, said “But you said for us to stay in our room!”
Our plan was to return to sleep, but noisy neighbors decided otherwise. After about ten minutes of uber-crankiness, I decided to channel my mother (who would never put up with a noisy hotel) and went across the hotel. Bang! Bang! Bang! “Who is it?” a voice inside asked. Bang! Bang! Bang! The door open and through my blurry, contact-less eyes, I could see five people inside.

“It is 3:30 in the morning. We are trying to sleep,” I said.

“Yeah, but it’s really hot,” one of the guys, who appeared to be in his twenties, said.

“I. Don’t. Care,” I said. “We are right here” Pointing to our door across the hall. “We are tired and we want to sleep.”

Another kid, sitting on the bed, piped up and asked, “Hey, what kind of MP3 player is that?” Eye roll.

“It’s an insulin pump,” I said. “I’m a type 1 diabetic.”

In unison, the room sighed, “Ohhhh.” Some more apologies.

Apparently my frail condition didn’t deter them, and it wasn’t until we turned on the fan as white noise that Erik and I were able to fall back asleep.

The next morning, we slept in due to the fire alarm and noisy neighbors. We met up with one of Erik’s college friends back at Reading Terminal for breakfast. We followed that up with a tour of some of the historic sites, like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center.

Erik and I in front of Independence Hall

Erik and I in front of Independence Hall

We also stopped by the famous LOVE statue at the end of Ben Franklin Parkway. If you look close, you can see the Philadelphia Art Museum in the background. This picture was actually slightly terrifying to take, as the surrounding square where the statue is was completely overrun by skateboarders as well as an independent movie crew vying for space.

Erik and I with the LOVE statue

Erik and I with the LOVE statue

On our way out that evening, my gas light went on signaling I was mere moments from running of gas (okay, not quite moments, but I wouldn’t have made it that far). Erik and I got off Route 1 just outside of Philadelphia, to see if we could find a gas station. I assumed there would be one near this shopping complex we spotted. There wasn’t one. So we kept driving. Straight into West Philadelphia (not exactly you’re best neighborhood…). We eventually made it into University City, where Drexel and University of Pennsylvania are. Still no gas stations. Frustrated and anxious, we kept going, with Erik and I craning our necks to see if we could spot a station. Blocks and blocks around West Philadelphia. We didn’t deviate too far from the main road, which we assumed was a good thing. Finally after about fifteen minutes of driving around, we found a BP. After Erik filled up the tank, I joked that as soon as we got started we’d find another gas station.

Which we did. Around the corner. And then we saw another one.

And that’s when Erik and I decided we won’t be moving to Philadelphia anytime soon.

  1. February 10, 2009 2:44 PM

    Glad you had fun in Philly. I’m about 40 minutes outside of the city. And yes your whole trip, including gas and hotel sounded very “Philly”.

  2. February 10, 2009 2:48 PM

    Okay. I am choking cause I was laughing so hard. 🙂 Really. I have to say, I think we’d get along great. For the simple fact that you beat on the neighbor’s door. 🙂 That is so something I would do. I value my sleep.

  3. February 10, 2009 4:06 PM

    Ya, unless you know exactly where to find the gas stations around Center City, you’ll likely be screwed. Better to stop in NJ and get some before heading into PA – it’s cheaper here anyway!

    Sorry, I missed you – I would have loved to meet your new man. Of course, you haven’t met my old man yet, so I reckon we’re even ;P

    Also, how awful is it that I’ve lived here for 24 years and never been to the Mutter Museum? I’m ashamed of myself.

    • February 10, 2009 4:10 PM

      @Lee Ann: You’ve NEVER BEEN? ::gasp:: It’s kinda spendy at $12 (well, I had my student ID so it was only $8 – poor Erik) but DEFINITELY something you should do.

      And yes, we need to get together sometime soon! We are planning on coming back around May, but there’s always hanging out in Jersey. Maybe when the weather gets warm we can also head to the shore. Or would you like to come up here?

  4. February 10, 2009 7:18 PM

    Mutter Museum – amazing and disturbing all at the same time. I was glad I went, though. (Just a couple months ago, actually.)

    I’m really glad I got to see you and meet Eric. It was a blast, and I’m glad you guys enjoyed yourselves. 🙂

    But boo on the hotel. I don’t think I’ll be staying there anytime soon if I decide to do some kind of overnight in Philly.

  5. February 11, 2009 9:58 AM

    The Mutter Museum is a freaky place. All those skulls! And the intestine! When Andy and I visited I actually had to walk out and sit in the hall for a while, I couldn’t take it. I was definitely not cut out to be a doctor.

    I love the Reading Terminal market. Philly makes a great weekend getaway. =)


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