Tuesday, May 16, 2023

10 Things I Learned from A Reunion, Fam Time and 18 Hours of Driving

This past weekend, we hit up Shira's college reunion at the University of Pennsylvania. As we were leaving town, we got word that Shira's Mom had a health emergency, and so we decided to detour to Rochester on our way home to spend some time with her. All told, we completed an 825 mile driving circuit. Shira, to her credit, drove the entire way.

The reunion was great, and it was fun catching up with Shira's college buddies. We saw my Brother, Sister-in-Law and Niece on Saturday night, which was delightful. Shira's Mom is stable after going through a serious procedure. And last night, Shira and I both thoroughly enjoyed sleeping in our own bed.

Here's 10 things I learned from this whirlwind weekend:

  1. Do not mess with Taylor Swift. The drive from DC to Philly is usually a sub-3 hour affair. As I type this Google tells me that I can be to Philadelphia in 2 hours and 40 minutes. It took us *6 hours* to get to the City of Brotherly Love last Friday. Six. Hours. Why? Was it a national holiday? A national emergency? Nope, as far as we can tell the traffic was the result of Taylor Swift playing 3 shows in Philadelphia. Amazing.
  2. The Massaman & Roti at Chatayee Thai is heavenly. We've already deciced that we'll hit up Chatayee Thai on our next visit to Philly; their vegan menu is just too tasty to resist.
  3. Mochi Donuts live up to the hype. Apparently, Mochi Donuts are on trend right now, and the one we picked up from a local Paris Baguette explains why. Yum!
  4. Pennsylvaia has a 'Use it or lose it' law. OK, that may be an exaggeration, but it's sort of true. For the first time in all our visits to Pennsylavnia, we noticed the oddly worded and placed plaques on the ground that read 'space within these lines not dedicated.' They are there to ensure the property owner doesn't accidentally give up their rights to a section of their property.
  5. The Penn Fine Arts Library was at one point considered an architectural embarrasment. While on campus for Shira's reunion we stepped into the Fisher Fine Arts Library and I was blown away. It's a unique space that makes you feel like you're stepping into a different age. It would have been a fun space to study in. And yet, shortly after it was completed in 1891, new University leadership considered the library's appearance to be an embarrasment and considered 'cloaking it' with another design. Thankfully that didn't happen. It's now a beloved building on campus.
  6. My niece's name is carved in stone. I knew that my niece had earned an 'Examplar of Excellence' award while attending Drexel. But this weekend, while kibitzing with her, I learned that along with the award, she also got a brick etched with her name on it on campus. Next reunion, we'll have to detour from the Penn campus over to Drexel so I can see her brick in person. I'm proud of you, M!
  7. If you have a craving for a Hebrew National Hot Dog at 9:00am on a Sunday, Reading Terminal Market has you covered. Shira enjoyed her breakfast hot dog. The pupusas and hot chocolate I ordered from El Merkury were outstanding.
  8. The Pennsylvania Railroad Suburban Station has 'suburban' in its name because trains arrived there from the suburbs. As explained:
    Broad Street Suburban Station opened at 16th Street and Pennsylvania Boulevard on Sept. 28, 1930.

    It was the city’s terminus for suburban electric trains operated by Pennsylvania Railroad. Instead of being named for where the trains ended up, it was named for where the trains arrived from.
  9. Checking 'the available for pick up' option at target.com is a great way to optimize emergency gear pick up on the road. While I had my laptop with me this trip, I found myself heading to Rochester with both a low battery and no car-friendly inverter to charge my laptop while driving. An easy solution was to duck off the highway and pick up such an inverter. But, should we stop at Walmart, Target or Best Buy? And which location would have just the item I was looking for? We guessed that a random Target would have what I needed, and they did (whoo!). I realized as we drove up to the store that I could have used the 'available for pickup' option to take the guess work out of the entire process.
  10. Our car is suprisingly chill about running out of gas. Leaving Rochester, after a long day of driving and emotional stop in Rochester, our minds were apparently not on our gas guage. At one point, I looked over and asked Shira: why is the car nudging us to put fuel in our tank? Fortunately, at the moment we noticed we were on E, there was an exit which took us to a gas station in short order. Our Mazda CX-5 starts chiming if you don't immediately get your seatbelt on while turning the vehicle on. And yet, it's chill about running out of gas.

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