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Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Music Man with Kim and Jane 2022

October 16-22, 2022

Hi Blog!

On February 28, 2020, we began planning to see The Music Man staring Hugh Jackman with our friends Jane and Kim from the UK. This is not the first time we've all traveled to New York to see Mr. Jackman in a play. We also saw A Boy From Oz in 2004 and The River in 2014. When we found out that Hugh would be doing The Music Man, we couldn't resist. As luck would have it, we had planned to RV on the East Coast to be near Matt, Weina and William while they were posted in Arlington, VA. That put us in easy reach of New York City. We purchased tickets, made hotel reservations and then Covid hit. Everything was shut down. For a brief moment, it looked like we could reschedule for 2021, but then another variant hit. It wasn't until February 2022 that the play would re-open. We made plans to see the play in October. With fingers crossed, we booked our theater tickets, train tickets and hotel accommodations.

With a few days to spare before heading to New York, Jane and Kim asked if there was anything to do outside of Philadelphia. Kamp Kounselor Kathy promised to keep them busy while they awaited their train to New York.

The fun started late Sunday, October 16, 2022. After checking into their hotel in Malvern, it was off to a nice Chinese dinner followed by ice cream. Best way to start an adventure!

Their first full day in suburban Philadelphia stated with a visit to the Herr's Snack Factory. After touring the facility and getting to sample potato chips hot off the conveyor belt, they will never be able to go back to cold crisps again!

With our free snacks safely stored until later, we stopped at Longwood Gardens. Located in Kennett Square, Longwood Gardens is a botanical garden that consists of over 1,077 acres of gardens, woodlands, and meadows in the Brandywine Creek Valley. It is one of the premier horticultural display gardens in the United States. 

The development of Longwood as a public garden began in the 1800s with the Peirce family's arboretum. Joshua and Samuel Peirce collected many native and exotic trees, which they planted in straight rows on land east of their farmhouse. Pierce also added a historical marker for Hannah Freeman, purportedly the last surviving member of the Lenape people, who had been born in the area in 1731. This area became known as Peirce's Park toward the end of the 19th century. 

After Pierre S. du Pont purchased the property in 1906, he began developing the outdoor gardens further, adding the 600-foot long Flower Garden Walk in 1907. The Flower Garden Walk features a pool known as the Round Fountain at the intersection of the main paths. Its simple jet of water was Longwood's first fountain. Mr. du Pont didn't stop with just one fountain. Pictured below is the Italian Water Garden.

Longwood's largest conservatory, opened in 1921, is home to 4,600 types of plants and trees. Our favorite part of the gigantic conservatory is the orchid room. Here each of us found our spirit orchid!

After a quick lunch, we only had about an hour to tour the rest of the grounds before we had to leave to make our timed ticket to the Brandywine River Museum of Art. We set our sights on finding the three tree houses that dot the property. After filling up on Kennett Square Mushroom Mac and Cheese, Kathy decided not to climb the three flights of steps to the top of the tree house. Jane and Kim enjoy the view!

The second tree house was more of an open air platform. However, the third tree house was filled with dragons. Here one of the dragons photo bombed the picture of Kathy and Jane.

After a forced march around the grounds of Longwood Gardens, it was off to the Brandywine River Museum of Art. The museum showcases the work of Andrew Wyeth, a major American realist painter, and his family: his father N.C. Wyeth, illustrator of many children's classics, his sister Ann Wyeth McCoy, a composer and painter, and his son Jamie Wyeth, a contemporary American realist painter. The museum is located along the banks of the Brandywine River.

Newell Convers Wyeth, known as N. C. Wyeth, was an American painter and illustrator. He was the pupil of Howard Pyle and became one of America's most well-known illustrators. Wyeth created more than 3,000 paintings and illustrated 112 books, 25 of them for Scribner's, the Scribner Classics, which is the body of work for which he is best known. The first of these, Treasure Island, was one of his masterpieces and the proceeds paid for his studio near the Brandywine River. Wyeth was a realist painter at a time when the camera and photography began to compete with his craft. Sometimes seen as melodramatic, his illustrations were designed to be understood quickly.  N.C. did 17 illustrations for Last of the Mohicans. Pictured below is one of the 17.

Andrew Wyeth was an American visual artist, primarily a realist painter, working predominantly in a regional style. He was one of the best-known U.S. artists of the middle 20th century. In his art, Andrew Wyeth's favorite subjects were the land and people around him, both in his hometown of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and at his summer home in Cushing, Maine. 

After having visited their friend Peter Jurasik and his wife in North Carolina, Jane and Kim were on the hunt for a particular Andrew Wyeth painting recommended by Jurasik's wife, known as "Roasted Chestnuts." Unfortunately, the painting was not currently on display. We did manage to find a greeting card with the image and posted it to Mr. and Mrs. Jurasik!

After closing down the Museum, it was time to head back to Malvern and a yummy dinner of Thai food. After a day full of timed tickets, we were looking forward to a more relaxed outing in Lancaster County.

After the prior day's downpour, it was lovely to wake up to bright blue skies. The drive to Lancaster was filled with rolling hills, fall foliage and endless farm fields. Our first stop was the Amish Farm House Museum. While not actually manned by Amish, since they try to limit their exposure to the outside world, the Lancaster County Tourist Bureau does a good job explaining the life style. In addition to the traditional plain farmhouse, the grounds contain a number of barns and buildings once used by the Amish.

After our museum tour, we drove over to Shady Maple, the world's largest smorgasbord. The all-you-can-eat feast features 200 feet of deliciously authentic Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. Despite having dozens of pies, cakes and ice cream for dessert, they did not have any Whoopie Pies. So, after lunch, we walked over to Shady Maple Amish Supermarket and picked up Whoopie Pies and scratch biscuits.

You can't drive around Lancaster County without having to pass a buggy or two or ten.

With our bellies still full from lunch, we turned in early. 
After touring Chester County and Lancaster County, on Wednesday it was time for Jane and Kim to head into Philadelphia. Their first stop was Hatfield, to meet our cats Flip and Ruby. 
Lunch was hoagies and quesadillas at Wawa! It is hard to explain why folks around Philadelphia are obsessed with Wawa. They have the best gas station food for when you want a treat, but also have lots healthy alternatives - fresh salads, fruit, wraps and healthy options for sandwiches. It's great for people who want to eat well fast and don't want to eat fast food.

You may have noticed that Dave was not with us during the first two days of adventure. He was puppy sitting our daughter's two dogs. She was over in Lithuania to help Matt and William celebrate their October birthdays. While Jane and Kim checked into their Philly hotel, I went and picked up Dave from Katie's house. We met Jane and Kim at their hotel and helped them return their rental car. Dave volunteered to go into 30th Street Station to find out where exactly to return the car. On his way back, he tried to jump into someone else's car. Shades of Erin McGee!

With the rental car safely returned, we walked over to Monk's Cafe, where we enjoyed the best burgers in Philadelphia, along with some of the best beer in the world!

Jane and Kim had one day in Philadelphia to see it all. We sent them down to Old City so they could see the Liberty Bell.

They enjoyed their tour of Independence Hall.

We agreed to meet them for lunch at Reading Terminal Market for their Philadelphia cheesesteak experience. We also suggested they try another Philadelphia favorite -- DiNic's Italian pulled pork with sharp provolone cheese and spinach. While the pulled pork was tasty, they both preferred the cheesesteak.

After lunch, we made our way to the Parkway. Pictured below is Philadelphia's City Hall which was designed to look like the Hôtel de Ville (the City Hall) in Paris, France. The Parkway is also designed to mimic the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, which is also in Paris. However, unlike in Paris, standing atop City Hall is the City's founding father, William Penn.

After lunch, we walked over to the Barnes Museum. The Barnes was founded in 1922 by Albert C. Barnes, a wealthy industrialist and was originally located in his Main Line mansion. The foundation owns more than 4,000 objects, including over 900 paintings, estimated to be worth about $25 billion. These are primarily works by Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Modernist masters, but the collection also includes many other paintings by leading European and American artists, as well as African art, antiquities from China, Egypt, and Greece, and Native American art. 

We had a few minutes before our timed tickets to the Barnes Museum, so we rested and absorbed the ambience of Fall in Philadelphia:

As we entered the museum, we realized they were in the middle of setting up for their annual fundraising. This made it difficult to see the exhibit rooms in an orderly way, since the main atrium was roped off. 
We started our tour with a visiting exhibit Modigliani Up Close which explores Amedeo Modigliani’s working methods and materials. The first thing you notice right away about Modigliani is the long faces.

Before Covid, you could walk into one of the rooms, pick up a guide and it would describe each painting and how it relates to the other paintings in the room, as well as the furniture and metal work. After Covid, you need an app for that. If you are traveling from UK and don't have cell service, it makes it difficult to understand why certain rooms were designed the way they were. We just walked around and picked the ones we liked best.

We still managed to enjoy ourselves!

After the Barnes Museum, it was off to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to visit one of the most controversial pieces of art ever designed - the Rocky Balboa Statue! It was placed at the top of the Art Museum steps as part of filming the Rocky movies. After the film series, the museum wanted it moved to the Sports Complex in South Philadelphia. However, fans insisted it be brought back. As a compromise, the Art Museum set aside a small courtyard where fans can line up and have their picture taken with Rocky!

A visit to Philadelphia would not be complete without a climb to the top of the Art Museum steps. Here Kathy raises Jane and Kim's arms in triumph.

Below, Jane stands in the footsteps of Rock Balboa!

The city spread out before us! There is a tiny Kim and Dave all the way down at the bottom of the steps.

After the Art Museum, it was time to grab our bags and head to the Philadelphia's 30th Street Railroad Station. Our trip to New York was uneventful. We found our hotel and fell into bed. 
The next morning Dave and Kathy were up early for a walk along the High Line. To see more of the High Line Trail click this link.

Because we had all been to New York a number of times, we were looking for something new. As we googled about, we learned there was a new exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. The Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals tell the fascinating story of how the vast diversity of mineral species arose on our planet, how scientists classify and study them, and how we use them for personal adornment, tools, and technology. The galleries feature more than 5,000 specimens from 98 countries. 

We could have filled this blog with thousands of pictures of pretty rocks, minerals and jewels. It was difficult to decided what to include. However, here are some samples.
This specimen reminded us of the Game of Thrones.

This glow-in-the-dark was one of the largest on display. As the light changed, so did the colors. Here is what it looked like under ultraviolet light.

Of course, it wouldn't be a natural history museum without dinosaurs and elephants!

After the museum, Jane and Kim took the subway back to the hotel. Dave and Kathy took a walk through Central Park and ended up walking through someone's wedding. You would think they would have roped off the area. Nope! As soon as we passed, we heard the preacher say, "Dearly Beloved. We are gathered here today..." I don't think we were included in the dearly beloved part!

In 2014, we visited the World Trade Center Memorial and Museum. At the time, One World Trade Center Observation Tower was not open yet. This time, we were going all the way to the top!

We booked tickets for 5:30, so that we could see the city in daylight, twilight, sunset and night. 
This photo looks down on the Brooklyn Bridge:

Just hanging out while the sun sets:

Jane and Kim getting their sunset shots:

Red sky at night, sailor's delight! Because of the cold, crisp fall air, the glow continued long after the sun set.

Dave taking in the evening glow:

We watched as they turned on the lights for Ms. Liberty.

We finished our evening with some noodles at Wonton Garden in Chinatown. While Kathy, Jane and Kim had pan fried noodles, Dave couldn't resist trying their Mapo Tofu.

Here is one of those strange but true stories. After dinner, we took the subway back to the hotel. We met two women trying to get from Chinatown to Time Square. We assured them they were on the correct subway line. As we entered the subway car, Dave pointed out the electronic station map so they could follow along to their stop. The next morning we were leaving the Tick Tock Dinner, and who should we run into, but the same two ladies from last night! There are 8 million stories in the Naked City and this one is ours!

After breakfast, we returned to the hotel to prepare for our Music Man adventure. Since the weather cooperated, we decided to walk to the theater at 50th and 7th Avenue. We decided to walk up 8th Avenue and take in the Saturday market. There were all kinds of vendors. We stopped at a rock vendor and Kathy picked up a nice shiny piece of cooper.

We were hoping to get to the stage door before Hugh Jackman entered the building. However, when we arrived, we found out we missed him by 15 minutes. Timing in life is everything! We made do with a giant likeness.  He and Kathy obviously are enchanted by the same thing -- whatever it is.

With an hour to go before curtain, we decided to drown our sorrow at Applebee's next door! A couple of drinks and some loaded nachos later, and we were ready to take our seats. Jane was able to secure sixth row, right orchestra seats. We had an unobstructed view of Hugh.

The Winter Garden Theatre opened in 1911. The Winter Garden's current design dates to 1922, when it was completely remodeled. The building once housed the American Horse Exchange. Due to the size of its auditorium, stage, and backstage facilities, it is favored for large musical productions. It has 1,600 seats. The auditorium interior is a New York City landmark. As we looked around, we're pretty sure all 1,600 seats were filled.

In "Music Man," Hugh Jackman plays Professor Harold Hill, that famed con artist who doesn't know the territory and gets more than he bargained for in River City, Iowa, when he meets Sutton Foster's Marian Paroo, the emotionally withdrawn librarian who's instantly onto his antics. When Marian's shy little brother Winthrop (Benjamin Pajek) bursts out of his shell with the promise of a gold cornet and a uniform with a stripe on the side, Marian can't help but fall, just like the rest of the town, for this silver-tongued con artist. And he falls right back.

While Hugh doesn't have the strongest singing voice, he makes up for it with his charisma, dancing and stage presence. Sutton, a two time Tony Award winner, can really belt it out. She more than stands up to Hugh. The big surprise for us was seeing Remy Auberjonois (the son of Rene, of Star Trek "Deep Space Nine" fame) as Charlie Cowell, the salesman that exposes Professor Hill. Remy plays the heavy, but without his character there would be no drama. As with most classical musicals, it had a very happy, upbeat finish. A good time was had by all.

After the show, we filed out to the stage door. It was a madhouse! Hugh came out and signed a few programs and posed for selfies, but we were too far back to get an autograph. Here's our best shot.

We did get a chance to say a quick "Hi!" to Remy. He thanked us for coming.

We slowly made our way back to the hotel to pick up our bags. We stopped at the Beer Authority for a bite to eat. After dinner, Jane and Kim took off for the airport, and Dave and Kathy settled into their train seats with visions of marching bands dancing in their heads.

Seventy-six trombones led the big parade

With a hundred and ten coronets close at hand

They were followed by rows and rows of the finest virtuosos

The cream of every famous band

Seventy-six trombones caught the morning sun

With a hundred and ten coronets right behind

There were more than a thousand reeds springing up like weeds

There were horns of every shape and kind

There were copper-bottom timpanies and horse platoons

Thundering, thundering all along the way

Double-bell euphoniums and big bassoons

Each bassoon having his big fat say

There were fifty mounted cannon in the battery

Thundering, thundering louder than before

Clarinets of every size and trumpeters who'd improvise a whole octave higher than the score

Seventy-six trombones hit the counterpoint

While a hundred and ten coronets blazed away

To the rhythm of harch, harch, harch all the kids began to march

And they're marching still right today

They're marching still right today

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