We woke up this morning with no real plans other than I knew I wanted to have us at the airport at no later than 2:30 pm to allow us extra time with Hertz. We got up and were out the door of the Hilton Garden Inn one last time around 11am – plenty of time to make it to Philadelphia. As we headed towards the turnpike, I realized I did not have any cash left, and I wanted to make sure I had some for the tolls. At the last minute we veered off the freeway back on one of the smaller freeways that took us a bit out of the way from where I had intended. You never need a bank when you want one, and this proved no different. I realized we were on the same road we took when we came to Harrisburg from Lancaster County a couple of days ago, and I knew that we were heading more south than east. Luckily, Daniel found me a bank that was not too far off the freeway. He then was able to plot a course to get us back to the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the more direct route back to Philadelphia.
It was just about 1pm when we arrived at Valley Forge and we decided we should stop at the National Historic Park and take a brief tour of the area. The visitor center was straight out of 1970’s NPS aesthetic, a stark contrast to the 2008 Gettysburg Visitor Center. Those of you who have forgotten basic American History, Valley Forge is where the Continental Army was holed up for the winter of 1777-1778 in miserable conditions. Read more about it.
We read the timeline of that harsh winter, and then after a little souvenir shopping, we headed out on the Encampment Route to see some of the sights. Pressed for time, we headed to the National Memorial Arch for some photos and then continued our car tour around until we arrived at Washington’s Headquarters. This area of the park had been refurbished in 2009 and looked fantastic. The old train station was now an info center and the colonial house he occupied for his office look great. I also liked how they showed what was around the Headquarters over the years and it is nice that it has been restored to more of what it looked like back in the 1700s.
Time waits for no one, so we now had to head to the airport and catch our flight home. It was only about 30 minutes to the airport area, but unfortunately, there were no gas stations immediately around the airport. This led to a 20-minute detour to try and find a gas station through some interesting parts of South Philly. Finally, we located one and then made a mad dash back to the airport. By the time we were at the Hertz place waiting for the shuttle bus, we had about an hour until our plane departed. This is cutting it close for me! After what seemed like an eternity, we made it to the terminal, and luckily there were not that many people checking bags. Bag dropped, we made it through security and to the gate with 20 minutes to spare before boarding. Whew! Daniel and I grabbed some pizza, which we ate right away, while Leslie opted for a sandwich, part to eat now and part to save for the flight.
Finally, we made it onto the plane. We were almost an hour late leaving due to ramp traffic. Apparently if you are not US Airways at PHL, you get to wait while all their planes leave. On the taxiway, I noticed 9 US Airways planes in front of us for takeoff. Somehow, our pilot made it into Dallas/Ft. Worth airport on time. I’m sure the AA Scheduling folks have factored in ramp delays when doing their schedules. We had another 2 hour wait at DFW before our flight to Orange County, so we spent time eating and recharging our phones before using our Priority AAcess one last time. The flight into Orange County was nice and non eventful. It went by quickly for me as I watched three Doctor Who episodes on my iPhone while Leslie got caught up on the Star and Daniel played some Professor Layton on his DSi.
Our ride was waiting for us at the airport right as we came out and before we knew it, we were back at home. I took Leslie home and then Daniel and I watched some TV before conking out. It was a great trip and I am glad that I was able to see where so much history had been made as well as get to see Susie and Chuck again – and don’t for get Hershey Park and all that chocolaty goodness! Which reminds me, I need to stop typing and go eat my custom chocolate bar..