So despite having just moved into our new wonderful apartment, we spent a good deal of Septmeber in other cities. Both trips were served many purposes at once. We went to Doylestown for Jessie Nixon Tracy's wedding reception, but it was also Bert's first time seeing my hometown and since he hadn't spent much time in Philly we took a couple extra days to see it. Similarly, the driving force behind our trip to the Northwest was attending a LEGO fan convention in Seattle, but we also spent a couple days in Portland since I'd never seen the city but always wanted to. To avoid a gigantic post that forever to write I am splitting these up.
The night before we left for Philly, Erin Carter was just getting to Chicago for the weekend. Ironically Erin lives in Philly, so it was very nearly a comedy of errors where the one weekend we visit each other's cities we can't see each other, but her flight got in the night before we left so we were able to have dinner in Chicago. We went to the Publican and the food was incredible and we all had a good time. Here's a funny photo of them to prove it.
We spent much of the next day traveling, but I was able to introduce Bert to a couple Philly specific things like Philly Pretzels. That evening we took Erin's recommendation and had dinner at Parc, a french restaurant on Rittenhouse Square. Afterward we got ice cream at Scoop Deville which has an overwhelming menu of delicious options. Both were excellent. (Since this was so long ago I can't regale you with detailed descriptions of our food -- weep or rejoice as you see fit.)
The next day we had a full day to see the city. We started with the Mütter Museum, where we saw shrunken heads, books bound in human skin, a lady who was mummified by turning into soap, a cabinet full of drawers filled with objects people had swallowed and a bunch of other medical oddities. It was also very interesting, but also nauseating, after about 45 minutes we both decided we had taken in about all we could stomach. We walked through an outdoor art show Rittenhouse Square, down Locust Street looking for the "gayborhood" (we apparently walked through it with out realizing it, it doesn't have convenient giant rainbow pylons like Boystown), down to the Italian Market for lunch (cheesesteak for Bert and italian hoagie for me), along South Street to Penn's landing and then we caught a cab back to the hotel and took a nice nap. That evening we met JP and my parents at Dmitri's (my family's favorite Philly restaurant) for dinner. My parents were caught in traffic, so we got drinks and appetizers at the bar and JP and Bert got to know each other. They bonded over their shared loved of playing jokes on gullible people (like me) after mom called to say they were going to be another 30 minutes and my brother deadpanned "That's okay. We're just finishing dinner now." When they showed up we had a great meal and it was a wonderful end to a a wonderful day.
The next morning we had a nice brunch at The Continental, and then took R5 to Doylestown. Dad picked us up from the train station and we spent the afternoon at the house. We went for a walk in the forest, looked at old family photos, took a nap and then got dressed for the reception. It was at the Michner Museum. It started with drinks and hors d'oeurves (French is ridiculous) in the sculpture courtyard. We had a nice time doing a little mingling/catching-up and then sat down with my parents at one of the tables and let the food come to us. Then we had dinner inside. Bert and I were at a table with several girls from my elementary/middle school days and their boyfriends/fiancees/husbands. We spent most of our time talking with Kira Minaroff - I had forgotten how awesome she is - we laughed a lot. The risotto was amazing. We danced a little and then took our cupcakes to go.
The next day we had a full day to show Bert where I grew up. We went to Kid's Castle and took the mandatory trip down the big twirly slide and then took a little hike around the woods. We drove into town with my parents and walked around a little before getting lunch outside at Pennsylvania Tap and Grill. It was a nice meal and the memory of the four of us sitting around laughing on the patio is a great one. That afternoon Bert and I went to New Hope.
(How to describe New Hope to those of you who don't know it? When I was growing up, kids made jokes about New Hope the same way they made jokes about Pee Wee Herman or Michael Jackson, jokes that hinted at deviant sexual practices without comprehending them. At the same time, my crazy reading teacher would talk about her artist friends and how New Hope was an artist's community. My actual memories of New Hope involve bikers, occult book shops, and the Bucks County Playhouse. New Hope is a borderland, it sits just across the river from New Jersey, and like all borderlands it attracts minorities, the marginalized, and social outcasts. What a powerful name, New Hope. However, rather than being a refuge, New Hope feels more like a carnival side show [or the Renaissance Faire], it is a popular shopping destination and consequently mobbed with tourists. It's impossible to find parking, and once you do, you can't stay long because the machine only accept quarters and none of the stores will make change for you. This parenthetical tangent brought to you by Dave's subconscious.)
Once we found parking, we walked along the main stretch of stores, doing a wine tasting and picking up a couple bottles at the New Hope Winery, and getting some gelatis at Rita’s water ice (not gelato, check the 3rd definiton here for the uninitiated). Then we had to move the car since we had no quarters and so we went up the street to The Raven for a drink. Bert was amazed to find a gay bar and resort only about 20 minutes away from my hometown. He asked "Did you know this was here? I would have been here all the time if this was 20 minutes away from where I grew up!" Did I know it was there? Subconsciously, yes (see above parenthetical paragraph), but it was nice to see the reality of it. We went back to the house, took a nice nap and then went to Pocos for dinner. (How to describe Pocos to those of you who don't know it? Actually, their website does a pretty good job, it even has a photo with the cheap, neon, star-shaped sunglasses that were so integral to my childhood costume box.) That evening we played Rock Band, feasted on Ice Cream pie and pumpkin bread, and I spent some time sorting through stuff in my old room.
The next day was our last, Bert and I went to THE Starbucks in downtown Doylestown, where all the teenagers hang out (but not in groups of more than 5 least, they be broken up by the police [ right across the street is where someone was arrested for picking his nose]). Then I helped mom figure out some computer stuff. Before we left for the airport I decided to go back to my high school to pay a visit to some of my old teachers. The only one I ended up seeing was my AP English teacher, Mrs. Semisch, but that was wonderful. Her class was so important to me for many reasons. It was for her class that I made the LEGO animation that started my current journey (I had made some videos years before that, but had basically stopped playing with LEGO for a few years and it was Hamlet that brought me back). That class is also why I have the Pandavid panda hood. So it's not surprising that I took all the literature we read in that class, put it in a (metaphorical) blender and made a ridiculous LEGO movie about it that has a cameo from Mrs. Semsich and all my classmates. So it was great to see her and give her a copy of the NNN Chapter 1 DVD and tell her about my life and how everything is wonderful. She was pleased to hear a success story and said "That's wonderful, you're absolutely beaming." And I'm just gonna end this post there, because the rest of the day we just spent getting home, and that's not very exciting.