Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Science at the Franklin Institute

We had so much fun yesterday!
We went up to Philadelphia for a day at the Franklin Institute. We had been planning it for Friday, but the weather was ugly, so we rescheduled for yesterday.

OK, getting there could have been easier. We got a later start than I wanted, because we had a few errands to do in town before we could leave. Our tickets were for 11:30 and it takes an hour to get there, allowing for traffic and getting lost, make it an hour and a half!

Now, I have been up there numerous times, and I have driven straight into the parking lot at least twice. Those were the times I used Google maps, or followed a friend. The other times I have gotten totally messed up, and those were the times that I used the directions on the website. Yesterday was one of those.
The boys were so excited about the Star Wars exhibit and we had a certain time that we had to be there. We had very little time built in to the schedule and only just enough gas!

This is really not like me.

The first mistake I made was to get in the wrong lane as we were getting off I95. We ended up downtown. So I asked a couple of nice guys at a hotel where I was and how to get where I needed to be. They gave me some vague idea of the direction I needed to go.
So I got on the right track and then I called the Institute to see what would happen if we were late. The girl I talked to told me we were fine and then she helped me get to the street I needed and just as I got to the right place to turn...I passed it. I stopped but there was a guy behind me and I couldn't back up.
Now, you don't go around the block in most big cities, because most big cities have one way streets running parallel to each other. I know this. So I drove the two blocks to get back to where I needed to be, couldn't get into the turn lane, and was forced to turn back onto the "Ben Franklin" parkway. I could see the building, seven lanes away, and it was impossible to get back to it.
When I got to the street I needed to turn left onto, of course there was a sign that said "No turns". I was tempted, but looking at the geometry of that intersection I could see exactly where I would get plowed into if I attempted it. The guys who plan the streets usually get input from the guys who drive the ambulances.
So we kept going until we could find a street that we could turn left on. There were none.
The next change of direction that I could see was going the wrong way! Wait, is that a traffic circle? Oh, Praise the Lord!
Now, mind you, I did not use any foul language during this extremely stressful event. I am still amazed by that. I did reiterate my exceeding stupidity. Several times. Later Brendan had to revisit my comments and inform me that he doesn't think I'm a stupid mom. In fact he thinks I am pretty smart.
So anyway, we got back into the vicinity of the building and we had eight minutes to get there and park. I was going the right direction, but I missed the little, tiny street that you have to take to be allowed to turn onto the street where the parking garage is. The lane I was in had a little sign stating, you guessed it, "no turns". I turned. And we pulled into the parking garage at exactly 11:25. No gas but we were there.
We found a perfect parking place, just next to the elevator.
The parking for this place is so great. The garage is directly below the building and if you have your ticket validated, it is only 4.00 an hour! It doesn't matter what the weather is like, you can come and go to your car, leave your coats and food there and you don't have to worry about the walk when you are done.
So we went in, got our tickets to the exhibit and went upstairs to see all the Star Wars stuff.
Can you see Paul in this picture? Hint: look at R2D2's head....

Paul got to see some of his favorite characters.
I was really impressed! There was so much there from all the movies. And along with the movie props and models they had current science, showing things that we use that are like the things that were in the movies.
John rode a Hovercraft. Sort of like Luke's Speeder....

Brendan just cracked up at this exhibit where you could make the expressions on the face change.
This is Luke's artificial hand from "Star Wars",
And this is the latest in medical technology as we know it.
After we saw all of that, we went into the rest of the museum so that the boys could enjoy all their favorite exhibits. They love the giant Heart! They just love running through and pretending to be "blood cells"!

Here's Brendan with Ben's Bifocals!

Here's John with a 5.5 billion year old meteorite!

After we had seen everything, some of it twice, I told the boys that I wanted to get on the road because we still needed gas and I was concerned about traffic. It was 4:00.
I asked one of the information people about the nearest gas station. He gave me some cryptic directions, so I asked another guy to be sure that it was really there!
We drove around a bit looking for the right streets, through China town, and then finally discovered the street we needed to be on to get to the street that we needed to get on to get to the street that the gas station was on.
When we got to the gas station I wanted to ask someone about how to get to 95. The guy pumping gas ahead of me looked nice and John pointed out that he had a Rosary hanging over the dash. Yes, an angel. He is in my prayers!
He gave us perfect, simple directions to the interstate. Getting home was considerably simpler.

I really want a phone with GPS when I upgrade. It just got a lot more important. If I had had the laptop I could have found a wireless signal and googled myself out of trouble!
Anyway, we will go back. The place is just to much fun not to. Soon probably!


Mairs said...

Ok, I'm a bit envious that you got to go but it's a bit pricey for our crew!! And there's no way I'm hauling all 10 of them there by myself! Looks like great fun! Thanks for letting me live Vicariously!


Anonymous said...

Don't you just love trying to follow directions that sounded okay the first time...or the map that didn't take in the road construction as a factor (ALWAYS in Seattle). Josh is gong to be sooo jealous of the boys' trip to the Star Wars exhibit. Sounds like it was a blast! Off to grade papers now...better make some more coffee.