The Square Circuit

Academia, parenthood, living in a bankrupt city, and what I read in the process.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

philadelphia with a toddler

We're in Philly this weekend. Actually, we're in Cherry Hill, an important distinction for reasons detailed below.

This is our second driving trip to Philadelphia; the first was last February in a driving snowstorm. So the beautiful weather in Pennsylvania over the past few days was very promising. But that's over: a chilly wind blew in last night and we woke up to heavy rains (the forecast called for four inches in Reading!). So our plans to spend the day gallivanting around center city in a stroller are out.

Getting here was an adventure. For the second time, we got burned by Mapquest, whose directions for getting to central Philly were terrible. There's a split where the PA Turnpike (I-76 most of the way) becomes 276 and heads north of the city; Mapquest tells you to stay on 76 and exit at "exit 344." This is the second time I've done this drive, and there's just no Exit 344. So we ended up near Burlington, NJ, trying to find out way back to Philly. Then, once we got over the Ben Franklin Bridge and were on our way to Cherry Hill, the Mapquest fairy failed us again: the combination of confusing, poorly-signed NJ highways and inaccurate Mapquest directions caused us more lost time. Total: 90 minutes!

It was beautiful when we got here, though, so the wife went to her conference and the boy and I walked over to Cooper River Park and its stellar playground. There was also a crew meet going on and we actually ran into the crew team from my school and a former student of mine. Odd coincidence. In the evening we all went into the city to see the Franklin Institute's Bodyworlds exhibition, held over for a weekend and so popular that the museum is going to be open 24 hours all weekend so everyone can get in to see it. When we got there at 6pm, though, the line was for 9:30pm tickets: no way. So we're going today.

Trying to find a place to eat, we stumbled across Pico de Gallo on South Street. It's a BYOB place with excellent Mexican food (like a combination of a typical San Francisco burrito joint and a more ambitious Mexican restaurant), tiny little tables, and weak service. On a toddler-friendly scale I'd give it a 3 out of 10, but we're so desperate for good Mexican food that it was worth it.


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