April 2019

State #36 Pennsylvania will join Alaska and Hawaii on the list of places the RV did not spend the night. It finally drove through the state, in June, when we traveled from Niagara Falls, NY to Cleveland, OH. We stopped at a truck stop in Erie, PA just so MF could park in the state for an hour while we ate lunch.  It’s the only state that we did not spend the night in.

I’m combining all three of our PA visits into one post, like I did for MD and DE. There was a lot of border crossing from these three states.


We visited Gettysburg, the Hershey Museum, and Lancaster from our spot at my Dad’s in Maryland.

Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg was the Civil War’s bloodiest battle and was also the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”.

The visitor’s center has a museum, film and cyclorama inside to explore before driving around the park. My step brother’s family met us at the park after we were done exploring the inside because they live near here and have done all that. I wasn’t sure I wanted to pay to see the film and the Cyclorama because it’s hard to justify paying for tickets when we have been able to all these things for free at other parks, but Carrie said it was worth it. She was totally right.

Paul Philippoteaux painted this masterpiece in the late 1880’s after spending months on the battlefield researching the battle with veterans. The oil on canvas painting is longer than a football field and is four story’s tall. We bought the ticket to see the Cyclorama and were only expecting to see a huge painting but instead were teleported back to the 3rd day of the Battle of Gettysburg during Pickett’s charge. We stood in the center of the surrounding painting with a diorama in the foreground and listened to story teller recall the events of that day complete with sound and lighting effects.



We headed to Devil’s Den for our picnic lunch. The kids had an amazing time running around on all the rocks and in the caves. We met a Confederate soldier volunteer interpreter that spent some time answering our kids questions. We could have spent all day here running around. It was odd to be in a National Park and not see “please do not climb signs”.

Next we drove around the loop that weaves through battlefields and explored some of the many memorials.

Gettysburg National Cemetery

The Gettysburg National Cemetery is the site of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, delivered four and a half months after the battle, on November 19, 1863.

We ate pizza for dinner across from the cemetery.

Hershey Museum

We signed up for homeschool day at the Hershey Museum in Lancaster. It’s located next to Hershey Park. The girls were given work packets about entering. We were the second group to get into the chocolate bar making lab. We learned that not a lot has changed as far as the importance of chocolate. The history of chocolate began in Mesoamerica. Beverages made from chocolate date back to 450 BC. The Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom, and the seeds once had so much value that they were used as a form of currency.


Lancaster is considered the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. We visited The Amish Village to learn more about The Amish lifestyle. We visited an Amish Farmhouse and Village and tour a guided bus tour around town and to a real Amish working farm.

House tour. They have a room in their home for church, which they rotate who hosts it each week. There are no mirrors or things hanging on the wall that do not serve a purpose.

Tour. We saw farmers plowing with horse drawn plows and school children at their one room school house. They only go to school until the 8th grade. Whoppie Pies are thought to originated here so we tried them but weren’t a big fan.

We visited Hershey Park and the capitol in Harrisburg from our spot in NJ near Philly.


Hershey Park


Chris and I went to Hershey Park as children and we remember the Soper Dooper Looper was a new ride when we experienced it. We were excited to show the girls the park but especially this ride.

They have the children measured at the beginning of the park as you walk in and then they wear a wristband throughout the rest of the day so they don’t have to get measured again. Mackenzie was happy she reached Twizzler level and Abby was excited to be able to ride everything!

They have the cutest chocolate characters walking around the park taking pictures with guests.  Kit Kat even danced for us.

The Rides

Abby’s favorite is the Hershey Tower and Mackenzie’s favorite is the Great Bear.

The fun house mirrors

The free factory tour inside the gift shop reminded me of the Imagination ride at Epcot.

Hershey shenanigans.

You also get admission to the zoo that is attached to the park. It’s small enough that we didn’t spend much time walking through it.


Hershey closed at 6pm so we headed over to Harrisburg for dinner and to see the capitol building. We had fun taking some silly pictures with my new bluetooth remote tripod I got for my birthday.  The building was closed but we enjoyed walking around the outside.



We visited Philadelphia from our spot in NJIMG_0044. It was only 20 minute drive over the river. This was the closest best rated RV park to Philly. It was a KOA so the girls had fun with the jumping pillow overnight.

We went to Philly to eat Philly cheesesteaks of course! It was the first time in the girl’s lives they’ve eaten a Philly cheese steak… and they loved them! We ate at Sonny’s on the way to the Betsy Ross house.

The Betsy Ross house

She was a Quaker (she didn’t own slaves).

She married a man her family disapproved of. So they disowned her.

She learned a trade. Upholstery.

She and her husband opened a store.

Then war broke out and her husband left to fight for the colonies. He died in battle.

She kept the store running by making regimental flags for the war effort. She married again. This time to a man who was fighting the British by sea. He also died.

She kept sewing and running the store. Her home was taken over by the British when they occupied Philadelphia.

She was a patriot.

She lost two husbands to the war and at that time in history she learned a trade and was able to take care of herself and her children.

So that flag represents the birth of our country and in the case of Ross, early feminism!!

**Stole this from a friends Facebook page.

July update- Nike printed the Betsy Ross flag on shoes for July 4th but Colin Kaepernick complained to Nike that it flew during slavery so they pulled them from shelves. The cross hung during slavery, are we to remove all of those? History is just that, history. Let us learn for our past but not destroy it.

Ben Franklin house and museum

Ben Franklin’s burial site. We were given penny’s to toss on his grave for good luck.

Liberty Bell


The security line to get in the building to see the Liberty bell was long, but it moved relatively quick. We have seen so many copies of the liberty bell across the country.  We look for them at the state capitol buildings we visit. We have all grown to really love this symbol. We were all very excited to see the original so we put that on the top of our list to see first.

The bell has been moved from the steeple at the top of the old Philadelphia State House, aka Independence Hall and is protected inside a building, run by the NPS, that overlooks her original home. That bell came from London and cracked on the first test ring. Local metalworkers John Pass and John Stow melted down that bell and cast a new one right here in Philadelphia. This one cracked and they tried to repair it but that failed.

The bell did not ring on July 4th as most think. The Declaration of Independence was presented to congress on this day, it was not read to the public until July 8th. Bells tolled throughout the city on that day. Tradition holds that the Liberty Bell rang out this day. However, the steeple was in bad condition and historians today doubt the likelihood of the story. It did ring out upon ratification of the Constitution, in 1787. It rang on many other occasions until 1846, on George Washington’s Birthday.

A second crack, running from the abbreviation for “Philadelphia” up through the word “Liberty”, silenced the bell forever. No one living today has heard the bell ring freely with its clapper.


Independence Hall

Front side


Back side


Here is a painting of the famous room and the signers of the Declaration of Independence. I was filled with anticipation upon seeing the painting, knowing I was about to stand in the actual room where our country was formed.

This is the room where we started our guided park ranger tour. We had to reserve timed tickets online weeks in advance and pick up the actual paper tickets in the visitors center before they closed at 5pm.


This is where the Declaration of Independence was signed. I literally had chill bumps when I walked into this room. It is looks almost like it did that day. The original Speakers chair, that George Washington sat in during the Constitutional Convention,  sits at the front of the room. On the back of the chair there is a carving of the sun on the horizon. Benjamin Franklin, the oldest delegate, stated that all summer he had wondered if the decorative sun carved on Washington’s chair was rising or setting. Once the document was signed, he declared that the sun was rising; a symbol of the  nation ascending at the dawn of its new government.


Did you know that it was actually on July 2, 1776, that the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution for independence from Britain? On that same day, John Adams wrote Abigail and told her that he thought that July 2nd would be celebrated for years to come. The Pennsylvania Evening Post published this: “This day the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies a Free and Independent States.” It was on the 4th that Jefferson presented the penned Declaration of Independence to the Congress. The public reading wasn’t until the 8th. Britain didn’t know that the United States had declared independence until August 30th and the Declaration of Independence didn’t receive it’s last signature until 1777.

These are the stairs Thomas Jefferson came down from after penning the famous document .


Here is the ink well used to sign this famous document.


In front of the liberty bell are the remains of the President’s House, it was the third Presidential Mansion. It housed George Washington from 1790 to 1797 and John Adams for three years after that.


The small but nice visitors center is in this same area. They have a replica of the Speaker’s chair you can sit in. As we were taking our pictures a couple came up in running clothes and the girl was telling her boyfriend that this is the chair her dad made. We struck up a conversation with her and learned about replica’s. Very cool. The girls earned their Junior Ranger badges. It was after 5pm so the rangers had already gone home but another employee from the regular information center (open later) came over and swore them in.

We ate at City Tavern for dinner after a long day of exploring. This was the site of the original building that burned down (this is a replica) where the founding father’s hung out and where they celebrated the anniversary of the Independence. Their 18th century meals were so good and the portions are huge! Chris and I really enjoyed the flight of beers they offered. It wasn’t just any ole beers- it was the beer recipes of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and Hamilton. Chris’s favorite was Jefferson’s, mine was Franklin’s.

The next day, I took the girls to the The Franklin Institute, aka Ben Franklin’s science museum. It is part of ASTC, which means free!




Cardio room

Sports area

Van da Graaff generator, virtual reality, telescope and demonstration tables.

Avation room

The girls met new friends in the brain neuron play area. They hit it off so well that we made plans to meet up again the next day.



We met up our new friends at Franklin Square Park 


Inside the park is a miniature golf course, a playground and a carousel. We had fun playing putt putt on this Philadelphia themed course.

The carousel

Lunch in Chinatown. We saw the funniest restroom sign. IMG_9799









Museum of the American Revolution


This museum is fairly new, it was opened to the public on April 19, 2017, the 242nd anniversary of the first battle of the war (Lexington and Concord). It is part of our NARM membership so we got in free. They have a piece of the liberty tree from Boston, another replica of Washington’s chair from Independence Hall, fabulous paintings, exhibits and artifacts. The best display of an artifact I have seen is presented here. At the end of the museum, there is a theater where we watched a film about George Washington and the history of his war tent. At the end of the movie, a screen is raised and the most iconic surviving artifact from the 18th century is revealed; his war headquarters tent.  This tent is considered the first ‘Oval Office’.

The story of how this tent was passed down is incredible. The tent was inherited by Martha Washington’s grandson, George Washington Parke Custis. He passed them on to his daughter, Mary Anna Custis Lee, and her husband, Robert E. Lee (yes, the commander of the Confederate States). Their enslaved housekeeper, Selina Norris Gray, kept the tent safe when Union Army soldiers ransacked Arlington House during the American Civil War. The tent was among the Washington artifacts seized by the federal government in January 1862, when the grounds of Arlington House were converted into Arlington National Cemetery. 40 years after their seizure, the tent was returned to Lee’s son, George Washington Custis Lee. The Valley forge museum owned it until now.


I heard they built this museum just to display his tent! You must go see it. We weren’t allowed to take pictures so I borrowed this one from

We loved spending the day with our new friends. We wish we lived closer to one another. They are a home school family from California. We miss you Knobel family!


The National Constitution Center

This museum has a unique circular theater with a multi media production about the history of the Constitution. We had a lot of fun taking selfies with Ben Franklin.



Here’s your sneak peek of two future presidents.

The Philadelphia US mint

We only had 30 minutes to run through the US mint. Did you know there are two US mints, the other one is in Denver. If you look at your quarters you will see either a D or a P on them indicating which mint there we created. The girls have been collected the state quarters as well as the National Park quarters on this trip. We really enjoyed seeing how the coins are made. We were able to design our own digital versions.

Philadelphia Museum of Art


We made the girls watch the first Rocky movie last night… I didn’t remember how slow that first one was. We headed over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to run up the stairs like Rocky did when he was training.

The statue of him has been moved to the bottom of the stairs on the right side of the museum. Luckily there wasn’t a line when we walked over there but there was a man offering to take pictures of us for tips:)

We spent one week in the Philadelphia area and took full advantage of it!

Our updated map


3 thoughts on “Pennsylvania

  1. Lindsay

    Wow! For having not spent the night in Pennsylvania you did a TON in the state! I went to Pennsylvania a few years ago to visit a friend and we stopped at Hershey Park and I wish we would have / could have spent more time there. I feel like Hershey, PA is a bit of a hidden gem. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Lankfords

    We LOVED spending the day with you in Gettysburg:)

    Wish you could have seen inside the building that Teddy Roosevelt called “the handsomest state capitol I have ever seen” but glad you had so many great field trip experiences in PA!!

    Now take back what you said about Rocky 1 and make sure the girls watch Rocky 2!!

    Liked by 1 person

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