Friday, October 10, 2008

A Philadelphia Journey

Once upon a time there was a family that was sometimes a bit impulsive. One day the parents in this family realized that their children had Thursday and Friday off of school and decided, since the father also had no work on Thursday, to “do something.” A couple days later they realized the father was going to a recruitment dinner in a far away land Wednesday night and so they couldn’t “do something.” A while after that, they realized the far away land was a mere 4 hour drive and if the family travelled down together Wednesday they could in fact still “do something” Thursday. So a mere day before said trip, these brilliant, if not a little slow, parents decided to take their children to Philadelphia.

Notes were sent into the children’s classes with warnings of early check out times, an overnight bag was packed (after many such impulsive trips the mother had perfected the art of packing quickly for any length trip), dishes were cleaned, garbage taken out, alarm clocks turned off and dentist appointments canceled.

As the mother packed everything into the Suburban, while simultaneously emptying it of unneeded items, she noticed the unlock button was not clicking when hit. It only took her 20 minutes to realize she might check to make sure the battery was working. And it wasn’t.

In the SUV’s defense it had not been driven in over a week. This was due to conference weekend and the father’s work schedule leaving the smaller, more stylish Audi A4 available during the day. Who wouldn’t die after such prolonged neglect?

Since the father had meetings in the morning, these parents had agreed upon a 1:00 departure time. When the father showed up on the doorstep promptly at 2:00, the mother yelled kindly informed him that the SUV needed jumped. The father flipped out patiently pulled out the jumper cables and hooked the two cars together.

The mother, by the way, knew the proper places to put the cables on her behemoth Suburban, having to jump it once with the help of a friend and an owner’s manual. After a slight power struggle, the father finally agreed that the cables should be hooked at the spots marked “+ battery” and “ground” and not on the battery itself.

After two minutes the Suburban clicked when started, but since the door unlock and radio now worked, the parents kept hope alive and waited 5 more minutes. Miraculously the car started. On the way to the elementary school the father informed the mother that hotel reservations were still nonexistent. Yeah iPhone! The mother looked up a hotel number and the father called while the mother gathered the children (an hour after the note had indicated).

Then off to the middle school where the oldest daughter was slightly flipping out because school was letting out, she was unpicked up, and she was unsure of getting on the bus or not. Fortunately the mother beat the dismissal bell by 30 whole seconds. (The daughter had attempted calling, but the parents were on hold with the hotel and had to make a choice). Since the magic internet had given directions to the father’s dinner, all that was left was to look up how to find the hotel. Again, yeah iPhone!

Finally off to the great Philadelphia adventure.

After an exciting journey of toll roads, one bathroom break, and a stop for gas, the family arrived. Due to not starting on time traffic, the father was 45 minutes late for dinner and had to be dropped off at the restaurant which left the mother driving her family to the hotel.

Keep in mind this family has lived for many years in rural places such as Eastern North Carolina and Central Pennsylvania. There are more golf carts headed to the beach driving past their current home then actual cars. So the mother was wholly unprepared to navigate down town Philadelphia at night in a Suburban. With a car full of hungry, grouchy kids.

What was William Penn thinking, not planning for humongous SUV’s when planning his city? And the iPhone directions? Wrong. Terrible, mean iPhone instantly fell from grace. After several passes past the iPhone’s ending place (driving all one way streets so there were numerous right turns involved; a couple left ones, too) the poor frazzled mother called the hotel and got real directions.

Praying for valet parking (imagine parallel parking that monster) and braving the unfamiliar traffic of pedestrians, bikers, taxi cabs, and buses, the mother continued the journey. Despite almost hitting a few people and bikes, almost side swiping a few taxis, nearly rear-ending a car stopped to parallel park, and a total miscomprehension of the purpose of the “bus only” lanes (which apparently includes everyone), they arrived safe and mostly sound at the hotel.

Think the mother headed out to find fast food for her hungry children? No, she spent a king’s ransom on room service hamburgers. And eventual the father traversed the city to reunite with his family. After two taxis because a taxi driver insisted he was at the right hotel when he was not.

And so the family made it through their journey and spent the next day enjoying Philadelphia. Which is a whole other (more pleasant) story . . .


  1. I'm laughing - and crying. Not only because I have done things just like this, but also because I've been to Philadelphia.

  2. You guys really are so spontaneous! It is out of control, but fun. Remember trying to find the Philly airport to pick up was just as mad.

  3. You are super woman! I think I would have turned around and come home. :o) I look forward to the day in Philly story.

  4. I think buying room service hamburgers must be some sort of therapeutic breakthrough. I hope you had a marvelous enough time on Thursday to make up for Wednesday. Isn't it wonderful to have a blog so these "look back in 20 years and laugh" experiences get to be laughed at 20 hours later instead?

  5. Isn't it fun to do "fun" family things? Memories, memories...just keep telling yourself that:)

  6. Sounds fun....husband having two whole days with would that be like....anyway, glad you made it there safely, I figured after living in PA you would know philadelphia better.

  7. sounds like you had a really crazy day but I am sure all of the kids loved it:)

  8. It does sound like 'fun'. These are the kind of trips your kids'll remember though.

  9. You know some day you will laugh about this whole experience To bad it may take you long to get there then it did me. I'm looking forward to hearing about how the day in Philly went.

  10. Kim, I had totally blocked that trip to the airport. Those were fun times. Glad BWI was the closer airport and I only had to go to Philly's once!

  11. How adventurous! I love those spontaneous trips, it's been quite a while since I've been able to do that. Those kids will remember it forever, even if you block it from your memory.

    Yeah iPhone!

  12. We used to take spontaneous trips like this all the time, before we had kids. I was all ready to make a spontaneous trip to Alabama a few weeks ago when I remembered that I babysit someone else's kid every day and they might not find my spontaneous trip so nice.
    I totally would have gotten the over price room service as well.