This was one of the worst days of my life. We got up and went to Philadelphia. The night before I had gotten online and found parking places near Independence Hall that were okay for tall vehicles. It was raining pretty hard but I dropped everyone but Tashara off at Independence Hall so they could stand in line to get tickets to get inside. Then Tashara and I went to find parking places. We could not fit in any of the places that I looked up. The roads were all so crowded and narrow I had a horrible time getting around. It was raining harder and harder. We finally found a parking lot that it looked like we could get in and out and fit in a spot. But we couldn’t fit in any of the spots, and the turns were so tight they were terrible. Eventually I did brush up against a car and damaged its bumper. I was so, so stressed. There was a part of me that really just wanted to leave. A guy who looked like he may be homeless was walking past and he just looked at me and shrugged, as if to say “who will know”. But I couldn’t do it. I wrote on a piece of paper that I hit them and gave them my phone number. I couldn’t find anyplace to put it but on the windshield. It rained so much that day I wonder if the paper disintegrated or the ink ran too much to read it. I have never heard from them.
As I tried to swing out of the parking lot I looked and thought we could make it and had Tashara look and she thought we could make it. As I went out past the huge cement pillar, I heard a scraping. I felt sick, but figured we were just brushing the side of our motorhome and that it might scratch and dent a little, but it was too late now, so I went forward. Only later did I figure out that what had actually happened is that our bumper sticks out a bit further than the motorhome, and it had caught on the pillar. I actually ripped the bumper off, causing it to dent and rip into the side of the motorhome and pull the pole that holds the awning on off also. I couldn’t tell at the time, I had to just keep driving looking for anyplace I could pull over in those crazy, narrow streets. Julianne found someone who helped her learn about a parking place. I never found it, but on the way I found a shopping complex that had a parking lot I pulled into. Then Tashara and I surveyed the damage. I felt so absolutely horribly sick about the motorhome. I had no idea where that parking lot was in which I would find my bumper (with the sewer connection hose in it). I feared that they would contact me about damaging something there. I also dreaded the call from the person whose car I hit. And Tashara and I were a long ways from joining the others and we didn’t want to miss Independence Hall. Tashara has studied it and really wanted to see it. In the pounding downpour we caught a taxi.
We joined the family who by then were all soaked through their jackets and kind of miserable. We waited for about 45 minutes before it was our turn to go into Independence Hall. That was a great tour, though the kids were cold and wet. Sabrina was falling apart a lot today. But the place is so meaningful, and I enjoyed it so much. So many significant things happened there. It almost had me lose my feeling of horror and stress from the earlier events.
Then we went into the building where congress met for many years. That was great. We also went to see the liberty bell. Sabrina taught us there, which went pretty well, but she fell apart a lot of times and I really had to work with her. Jacob fell asleep and I carried him for a while. They are all so tired, and cold and wet. I feel stressed out of my mind. It was not a great time. But when we actually got in and saw the bell it was good. Jacob had woken up, and when we came to it he kept asking, “is this it, is this really the real bell?” He was so amazed, in awe, and excited. It was fun to see that. I enjoyed that.
From there I spent a long time trying to figure out how to get our family back to the motorhome. I didn’t figure out a good way. The kids enjoyed some period actors while I worked on that.
We decided to go see an old printing press instead, one near Benjamin Franklin’s home and similar to his press (though it was actually made in Beaver, Utah). On the way we bought a Philly Cheestake because BJ really wanted to (it was not that good, we chose the wrong place). We finally got to the press, and it was actually a great experience. I really enjoyed it.
Then we tried again to figure out how to get to where we were going. No taxis in the whole city can hold more than 5, and we are 9. Most hold 4 maximum. So we had to catch 3 taxis. Since I didn’t know the exact address that made me nervous. But I wrote down for everyone the cross streets as best I knew them, and a description of the parking lot. It took half an hour to get everyone there. Everyone went inside while I worked on getting the car fixed enough to be able to go. We discovered we had a small leak (we actually have a bigger one than that, but I didn’t know it at the time. We still haven’t gotten that one fixed as I write this). In the biggest downpour I have been in since Hawaii I worked on screwing some things in, patching some things up, etc. We were blessed that we were parked near a Pep Boys, so I kept going in and finding some things that would work well enough for what I was doing. It took me over an hour, maybe almost two, and the repair was pretty hodge podge, but it was good enough.
I was so glad that the kids could just hang out in the motorhome and be okay. They ate, and did various things while I worked. By the time I was done I was as soaked as if I had jumped in a pool. I was fully and completely drenched. We sat and counseled as to what to do now. I did not think we could continue on to New Jersey in our current condition. I was not even sure we would be able to continue on our trip. I really wanted to get away from crowded places and cities. I wanted to be in place we could move in and turn around in. I wanted to be done with cities. I was pretty ready to just head to Palmyra and start working our way home. Maybe even try to get home in time for me to fly back out for my Friday speech in DC. I was almost positive we would no longer be able to do New York. If we did, I didn’t see how we could do Boston.
But BJ and Tashara really wanted to do New York. They really, realy wanted to. So we began to take stock as to what we could do. We decided to find a place out of the crowded cities but moving towards the Gurneys in New Jersey (where we had planned to stay the night), and spend a night there and see what I could do to fix the motorhome the next day. So we found a nice enough hotel in Plymouth Meeting, PA (who knew there was such a town), and off we went. The roads were horrible, the rain was torrential, my lights seemed dim and I had a bad drive. But we made it. We got inside and got set up, had a dinner, and went to sleep. We were all exhausted.
On the drive the kids watched National Treasure. It was very fun for them to see (and me to hear) about them going to all the places we had been a few hours before). That night I dreamt about people using the tracking techniques they used to find me and give me a huge fine for leaving my bumper in a parking lot, and also to find me because of the car I had hit. It was not the most restful night.