Lots Of Little Things
If you’ve been following along on my journeys, you’ll know I’m notorious in my travels for sneaking in something extra to my planned adventures, like a quick run over to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. to visit the Charters of Freedom, or that time I decided to cruise around Hollywood and stumbled upon a movie premiere at the Chinese Theater with the celebrities entering just as I drove past. Usually, though, I plan a trip and then discover one extra thing along the way I didn’t expect, like it didn’t even exist until it crosses my path unexpectedly and delightfully. These surprises form memories that last longer than many of my organized excursions, giving me an extra moment of enjoyment – that whole “It’s the journey, not the destination,” vibe. It’s the central theme of my blog – what can I unexpectedly encounter here?
Of course, sometimes, it’s like a pile of little adventures that stack up into a shining moment that collect in my brain, waiting to be written. My less-than-a-day trip to Philadelphia supports this case effectively. The purpose of the trip – a business meeting in Maryland just before a long weekend – may have been the primary focus, but as long as I flew to the area, I also spent a night along the Chesapeake Bay (see The Ice Machine in the River from July 2012). The next morning, before my evening departure, I added a drive to Philadelphia for the Braves versus the Phillies as the Vet’s life neared its end (see The Vet from November 2011). As it turns out, I would see the last win the Phillies would earn in their patriotically named, yet outdated, stadium. And still, the game isn’t the whole addition. I tack on more extras to my extra.
It’s not lost on me that if I am going to be in Philadelphia, there’s so much to see if I have the time, which, as it turns out, I do. I park my rental car at the stadium – not the only time I’ll do this either – and hail a taxi once I get to a main thoroughfare. While heading to a particularly cab-ladened corner, I pass a familiar statue. Oh, hey, it’s Rocky Balboa, arms raised in triumph, just waiting to have his picture taken with me. I recall watching Rocky III when this gift was presented to its namesake. I was in high school then, which feels like an eternity ago, but here, this statue is quite possibly the newest piece of history in this town. Again, that’s not the main destination, but another perk along the journey.
A few miles away, flanked by metal detectors and fellow tourists, I wander through the short maze of uninspired queue to make my way to the iconic eye candy of this town – the Liberty Bell. It’s not housed in its original location, as the villains in National Treasure are reminded, in a scene that briefly captures the disappointment of waiting to get into this location and not getting the true essence of independence. It’s almost to remind those of us who were taught this object, and Betsy Ross’ flag, and Plymouth Rock are what make American history. Obviously, they’re not. The juicy bits of the story of our country include characters like Rocky and monuments like baseball stadiums where we gather. We celebrate accomplishments with movie premieres, and those of us who want to be witness to these stories choose to experience all its little triumphs during our own journeys to these less historic, but still impactful portions of our American independence. In fact, it’s not the bell at all that’s worth seeing in person, it’s the crack that makes the artifact original. It’s the narrow gaps, the flaws between the metal itself, that makes the story something extra.