Letting Freedom Ring

Every time we take a short trip, a little jaunt to someplace familiar and close by, Mike and I always remark “we should do this more often,” and then we never do, which is strange, because it’s a relatively inexpensive and easy thing to do. It took third-party advice to get us out the door and on the road–a quest to relax and simply hang out as a family. So we went to Philadelphia for about 30 hours and had a blast.

I don’t know why I underestimate these little trips. I’m always looking at travel packages and thinking afar, whether it’s Jamaica, the Galapagos Islands, or Belgium, and in the process, I am missing the charm that’s right under my nose. My last visit to downtown Philly and the Liberty Bell was in 1988. Colonial Philadelphia hadn’t changed, but I had. It’s remarkable how different a city can feel after time has both softened and hardened you. What felt like a living history lesson at age 15 now felt warm and embracing almost two decades later.

We enjoyed a carriage ride through town and got to see where Ben Franklin’s son opened his insurance company; we learned about how paranoid Philadelphians were about fire (rightly so!) and how building with brick was a municipal requirement; we also learned that Kevin Bacon’s dad basically hand-built modern Philadelphia; we saw a Renoir exhibit and learned how the Industrial Revolution influenced painters’ fear that they had to capture Nature on canvas before it was eviscerated by machines. And last, but certainly not least, I got to drink out of a pewter cup.

So it doesn’t take much money, time, or gas to escape. Why that lesson continues to escape me, I’ll never know.

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