Philly Trip – Day 5, Part 2

From June 7…

There was all kinds of fun things going on across the park at all times.  We’d see bands walking by, pop up character shows, little game shows – just all kinds of fun! When we were in-between rides and walking around we saw a band walking through so we decided to follow them because they had all kinds of characters we hadn’t met yet.

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It ended up being a pop up dance party so we had fun enjoying the show and the girls got to dance with a character as part of the show.

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We were down by the water park at this point, but we didn’t bring any swimsuits since we knew our day would be so full of the regular rides.  You really could spend several days at this park and still never get bored.  If we ever went back we’d plan to spend 2-3 days so we could enjoy the fun water rides and we never even made it over to the Zoo America side or to watch any of the shows in the actual theaters.

Brent was grabbing some ice cream for us when a game show stopped and popped up in front of us.

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They were picking kids out of the audience to be in the game show and Lilli got picked! She had to play a fun little game and then won a giant bag of Twizzlers.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon riding ride after ride after ride.  We’d all 4 ride stuff, sometimes we’d pair up and Brent and Lilli would do a coaster or she and I would do something that spins around.  The great thing about this park was that there was always something a pair of us would want to without having to go too far from the other pair.  And lots of times the girls would want to ride some things together.

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When time was starting to run out we let them pick a few of their favorites to repeat.  Of course Abbi wanted to ride the cars and we let Lilli drive us all.

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A big favorite for us all….

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A ride where we worked as teams to shoot at various candy targets was a huge family favorite.

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There was one roller coaster we knew Abbi was tall enough to ride, but we couldn’t see the track because it was an indoor roller coaster with glow in the dark effects.  She’d ridden some coasters that day so we thought she’d enjoy it.  Famous last words.  We did enjoy the funhouse mirrors in the wait line – but the fact that the line was somewhat long should have clued us in to it being a little too intense for her.

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This was about the last smile of the ride.  It was definitely intense – spinning us around and backwards and lots of swift turns.  It was a lot.  She was scared to death but luckily it ended soon.  Even Lilli was pretty scared by this one, but later they both said it was fun.

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We worked our way out towards the front riding anything still open until all the rides were closed for the night.  We were able to find Kit Kat on the way out…

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Of course on our way out we had to stop in the gift shop and for a few last pictures.

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Such a fun day.  We will definitely visit HersheyPark again, it was so much fun and a major vacation highlight.

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When I say we shut the place down I mean it – one of the first ones there and last to leave.  We made the most of our day!

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Poor Abbi was so tired.  When we got back to the hotel she just laid down on our bed with her special blankie and went right to sleep with her new Reese stuffed animal.  She was a trooper and hung in there with us hard all day.  Vacation is exhausting!

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Philly Trip – Day 5, Part 1

From June 7 –

We had one goal on this day – to be one of the first people to arrive at Hershey Park.  Our goal was to get there early and stay until they closed.

I don’t think we were the only people with that goal.  It was a mess to get in right at opening time, there wasn’t any clear line strategy and there were a lot of field trips and other large groups.

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They had all these cute spots to measure the kids and see which candy they were – that way you knew which rides they were tall enough to ride.  Lilli was excited to be a Hershey Bar.

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Abbi was a Reeses.  And I was a Jolly Rancher.  Brent is adult height so he didn’t have a category. Ha!

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At first Abbi was pretty overwhelmed and scared to ride things.  I was hoping it wasn’t going to be a repeat of Dollywood, but once we found a few things she wanted to ride she warmed up.

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Then she got more and more adventurous.

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Of course she wanted to ride the semi trucks.  And Lilli is always a good sport and still small enough to want to ride a lot of these same things, too.

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Most of the time we didn’t wait more than a few minutes to ride anything, but the old timey and race cars were a bit of a wait.  Abbi was determined to drive the cars so we did wait in line for that, and it was absolutely one of her favorites.

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Lilli and I rode the Kisses Tower Drop together – they take you up to the top then drop you over and over again.  It was definitely frightening but we loved it! I could never talk her into working her way up to Reeses height though!

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And the characters – absolutely one of their favorite parts of the park! They’d see a character and just run over to meet them and take a picture.

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The joy in that face! She was having the time of her life.

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This little Frog Hopper was also a huge favorite of Abbi’s.  I’m not sure how many times she rode it.

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They did eventually ride some things without us.  I think after the big Hershey drop Lilli didn’t find this one nearly as interesting.

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They found Hershey! We were really not sure how many characters they had, so it was always really exciting when we saw one walking around.

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Abbi’s face says it all….

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And of course a Kiss.  To be continued…..

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Philly Trip Day 4, Part 2

From June 6 –

After lunch in an Amish restaurant we headed further into Lancaster to take an Amish buggy ride.  Brent and I had done the carriage ride several years earlier and really wanted to take the girls on one.  When we had went we had a buggy all to ourselves and the driver took us all around several neighborhoods.  Now the rides have become incredibly commercialized – our driver had a cell phone.  They squeezed us and another family into a tiny carriage and we followed a line of other carriages up one side of a road and then right back, with one stop where a little Amish boy hopped up and tried to sell us all homemade root beer and cookies.  It will still fun, but the quaintness was lost in the commercialism of the experience.

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A line of buggies going back and forth…..our driver loved to talk and Brent and Lilli were in the front seat.  He told us all about their land, crops, and even got started on Donald Trump.

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This is one of our favorite pictures from the trip.  Brent just happened to catch Lilli looking incredibly bored.  So funny!

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After our very quick and very expensive ride we asked our driver if we could take a picture with the horse.  He said we could so we were posing for Brent.  From our previous travels we knew that Amish don’t like to have their picture made, so we were trying to be careful and not capture him.

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But he kept scooting more and more into our picture while writing down his tips.  At first we thought he was trying to hurry us up, and as we’d try and scoot over he kept scooting with us.  Then we figured out that he really did want to be in our picture, but not look at the camera.  It’s a new day in Amish country….

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In the gift shop the girls wanted some bonnets so of course we had to oblige.

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From there we were headed to the sweetest place on Earth – Hershey! We knew this would be a big hit with the girls.  This was our second time to visit and it doesn’t smell like chocolate but it’s a great town with so much to offer.

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We took this same picture several years ago with just the two of us so of course we had to do it with 4! At this point in the day it was too late to start at the amusement park so we spent the late afternoon at Chocolate World.

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The free ride where you learn about how chocolate was made – as you ride through the stages – was a huge hit.  I’m not sure how many times we went through it but it’s so much fun.  It has singing characters, “heat” when the beans are roasting and of course lots of delicious smells.  And free candy at the end!

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All smiles from the front row of our car.

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It really is so much fun.

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Posing with the characters in the lobby.  We spent a lot of time in the HUGE gift shop looking at more Hershey merchandise than you could ever imagine.

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They have several experiences you can add on – making your own candy bar, candy tasting and more.  We decided to add on the 4D movie.

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It was a lot of fun – they even had audience participation as part of the movie and the whole thing was blast.  A chairs shook us, sprayed us, and of course there was the smell of chocolate.

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We stayed and played at Chocolate World for a long time before heading to our hotel about 20 minutes outside of Hershey (hotels are very expensive in Hershey).  Everything about Hershey is just perfectly done from the streetlights to the road signs and of course the road names.  The amusement park is right next to Hershey World so just seeing the town and seeing the park had us all excited for spending the next day riding rides and sampling chocolate!

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Philly Trip – Day 4, Part 1

From June 6 –

We woke up and stopped for donuts before heading to our first destination – a botanical gardens.  When we got there we realized it was going to be really pricey since they wouldn’t take our local Cheekwood membership as a reciprocal so we decided just to skip it.  We were quickly back in Pennsylvania and headed towards Amish Country and then Hershey.

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Along the way we saw signs for a tour of Herr’s Potato Chip factory.  We LOVE a good factory tour so we decided to swing in and check it out since we had some extra time from skipping the gardens tour.  Herr products were really dominate all around the area – lots of chips, cheese balls and all kinds of snack foods.

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And like everything else – it was packed with field trips! We went ahead and signed up for a tour group (which wouldn’t include the school groups.) We weren’t allowed to do photos on the tour but it was a really fun tour where we could see several types of chips being made in the factory.  At one point they brought us hot chips straight off the line and it was AMAZING.

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Of course afterwards we had to buy some good snacks in the gift shop.

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From there we headed towards Amish country and the girls went nuts seeing all the Amish people on scooters and in buggies traveling around.

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They loved their outfits and seeing their houses and farms as we headed into Lancaster.

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We found an Amish restaurant to have lunch.  The food was really good and the dessert was amazing.

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From there we promised the girls a ride in a real Amish buggy so we headed towards more of the touristy area.  It was really neat seeing the farmers work with their mules getting their fields ready to plant.

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It was definitely a different way of life to observe and one that we all enjoyed watching as we traveled through the area.

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Philly Trip – Day 3 Part 2

From June 5 –

After we got our luggage and car from the valet we hopped in and headed to the Philadelphia Zoo. A zoo is always a hit with our group and Philly boasts being the first zoo in the USA.  Brent and I went there on our first trip to Philadelphia many years ago and we knew the kids would enjoy it.

It’s a pretty good size zoo and it’s not too far from downtown.  There were several field trips there but many of them were starting to leave since it was the afternoon when we got there.  They’ve made a lot of improvements since we were last there, including these really cool mesh walkways where animals can walk overhead throughout the zoo.  While we were there we didn’t see many animals taking advantage of it, but it was really fun to see when we did.

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These little otters were some of our favorites.  They had all kinds of slides and things they could run, play and tumble around on and they were very active and fun to watch.

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We were starved for lunch and one of the first things we did was grab some gross zoo food.  It was such a beautiful day so we decided to eat outside.  But wow.  The Canadian geese were the most aggressive I’ve ever seen.  They had us all cornered in, were very aggressive, and so annoying/frightening.

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The peacocks walking freely around the zoo were much more welcoming and so regal to watch.  It’s always fun when some of the animals are allowed to be “wild”.

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The big cat area was so nicely done and they had so many pretty animals.

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The gorillas are always some of our favorites, too.  They had a couple of Momma Gorillas with little ones who were just wild and having the best time playing.

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As much as the moms would try and hide from the babies they could never get away from them.  She’d hide in a corner or move and just a few minutes later the babies would be right back on her.  Real life right there!

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It’s a really large zoo and I don’t think we got to see every single part of it since closing time was approaching.  Nothing seemed to really ever be open past five pm – while it was already a few weeks into summer break for us it seemed like everything there was still operating on winter/spring schedules and not taking advantage of the nice days and extra daylight.

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Once again we were last out and the final people in the gift shop as they were closing up for the day.  The girls loved the Zoo and our overall time in Philly.  Of course a couple of new stuffed animals made their way home with us.

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From Philly we were in rush hour traffic due to the time of day, but it gave Abbi time for a quick little snooze as we headed towards our hotel in Delaware for the evening.

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We made it ! Delaware! Another state for both girls.  (Lilli may have been through Delaware quickly on a previous trip to Maryland, but she hadn’t done anything in Delaware before.)

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There’s not a lot in Delaware.  Literally.  There really weren’t a lot of restaurants and nothing to do that evening.  So we went to a tiny little mall near our hotel, ate in the food court Chic Fil A and walked around the mall.  It did have a Claire’s so that made the glittery part of our group pretty happy!

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Philly Trip – Day 3, Part 1

From June 5 –

A gorgeous Philly sunrise.  If we ever go back to Philly again we’ll definitely stay at the Logan.  The location was a perfect bouncing off spot for all our activities.

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The two were worn out and sound asleep.  I’d wanted to head out for a run through Philly so I took advantage of the gorgeous morning and headed out while they slept.

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I ran up the street to visit the Rocky Statue and enjoy some of the sites of downtown Philly.

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Gotta get a selfie with Rocky!

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The outside of the Art Museum and the famous Rocky steps.  The Rocky Statue is tucked away in the bottom right hand side.

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All kinds of runners were stopping to pose with Rocky and then running up the steps, a few of them running up and down for exercise.  I ran to the top and the view of downtown was really lovely.

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From there I headed down to the nearby greenway that runs next to the river for many miles.

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It had lots of natural views as you ran away from the city and then great city views as you ran back in.  It’s so nice to have something like that in the city where you can feel removed and enjoy nature.

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The sun really started getting warm and so I headed back to our hotel so we could get our day going and also get ready to check out of our hotel for the next legs of our trip.

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Another nice view of our hotel, on the bottom right hand side.

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After everyone woke up we ate some breakfast and headed out on foot to walk back to the Art Museum.  We walked past the Rodin Sculpture museum and followed the same path I’d taken running that morning.

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By then there was a long line to pose with Rocky.  And a hustler wanting to take your picture for money.  And when you said No he basically heckled you the entire time.  Super frustrating.  The homeless situation is Philadelphia is pretty serious.  We never felt unsafe, but there were many areas we didn’t exactly feel comfortable in and Lilli had a lot of questions about the number of people we saw sleeping in pop up tents.

But we got a pretty good picture with Rocky.

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And of course we had to compare our feet to Rocky’s feet.

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Of course we had to take turns posing on top of the Rocky steps!

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With all our Rocky bucketlists checked off we headed into the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which is the 3rd largest art museum in the US (after New York and Chicago).  With our Frist Art Museum membership we were able to get in for free.  The museum is huge and covers every type of art you might be interested in – tons of Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, and every other type of historical world art you might want to enjoy.

We always love seeing famous works of art that you’ve only seen in textbooks or other media in real life.

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And the painting I was most excited to see – Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, one of the most famous paintings in the museum.

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Of course Abbi doesn’t really have an eye for art yet.  While we were in the museum she watched movies on the Ipad the entire time – which is fine because we were there to enjoy art and not keep her from touching things or throwing fits!

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Everything about the building is gorgeous and ornate – the elevators were particularly amazing.

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The museum went on and on with wings for Japanese culture, old English furniture and all kinds of special exhibits.  You could spend days there.

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From there we headed back to our hotel to get our car for our final stop in Philadelphia before hitting the road.  We knew the morning was a little boring for Abbi but we knew the afternoon would be more exciting!

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Philly Trip – Day 2, Part 2

From June 4 –

From the Liberty Bell Center we walked a few blocks over to the US Mint where many of the coins in circulation today are made.  Several school field trips were there (schools in the area didn’t get out until late June!) so there was a pretty lengthy line to get in.  Once we went through security we were able to see coins being made and also learn a lot about how money is made.  However, the Mint doesn’t allow photography so we weren’t able to take any pictures inside.

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Nearby was Benjamin Franklin’s grave so we walked by that as we headed back to our side of the city.

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Lilli is learning a lot about Benjamin Franklin this year in Social Studies so she was excited to share these pictures with her class.

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And his grave area.

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We walked back a slightly different way than we’d came and looked for places to have lunch.  Chinatown was so bright and vibrant and looked really authentic.  We didn’t figure the girls would enjoy an authentic Chinese lunch so we kept walking.

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We stopped at a really neat Market that was bustling with all kinds of tourist and local office workers enjoying lunch.  It had dozens and dozens of restaurants and shops so we were all able to pick what we each wanted to eat.

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And before we left we all got some delicious Whoopie Pies from a dessert stand for the walk back.

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When we got back to our hotel we headed straight to the Franklin Institute right beside our hotel.  With our local Adventure Science membership we got in for free to the main museum.  It was huge and we only had a couple of hours left to visit so we didn’t pay for the extra exhibits.  It was really a very fabulous museum with so much to do, definitely one of the best we visited on this trip.

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Lilli with Ben.

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There were so many areas for the kids to explore and enjoy all sort of science, math, body learning, and really anything you wanted to learn about.  It was all very hands on and even though there were several field trips there we had plenty of space and could easily explore everything.

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The girls could run and play and explore and really could have spent the entire day there easily.

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Of course Abbi loved the airplane you could “fly”.

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And plenty of things to climb and explore.

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We stayed until the museum closed (our standard mode of operation….) and the girls had been dying to swim so I took them down to the indoor pool.  They had it all to themselves and they loved splashing around.

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For dinner we walked across the bridge to a different side of Philly and enjoyed a really delicious taco shop.  It was in a cute up and coming area full of people walking home for the night, walking their dogs and eating outside.

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Afterwards we got the girls some ice cream and we got some coffee.  We wanted to walk back up the main road and Lilli was so excited to see the Ethiopia flag for the girl we sponsor through World Vision.

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On our walk we wanted to stop by and see “The Thinker”, one of the most famous statues made by Rodin outside the Rodin Museum.  The girls were happy to pose and maybe one day they’ll be excited to remember they saw one of the most famous sculptures made.

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The Thinker, enjoying a sunset.

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The fountain at night, so pretty.

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At the end of the day – we’d walked some steps! I had gotten a little over two miles that morning on the treadmill, but we were really impressed that Abbi had walked nearly nine miles for the day!

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