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Local Treks

Friday, 07 March 2008

How to have a chic urban brunch

Ingredients:
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  1. large round table, centrally located (don't hide in the corner - you're chic!)
  2. circular, padded banquette seat, upholstered in bulletproof yet fashionable fabric, plus one extra chair
  3. enough ambient noise that no one notices a little extra of the high-pitched variety
  4. parent-to-child ratio: 4:3 minimum
  5. enormous, eye-catching modernist chandelier, with multi-colored globes at different heights
  6. pancakes, mac-n-cheese (correction - lobster mac-n-cheese - YUM), and french fries on the menu, next to the pan-asian salad and the soba
  7. quick ordering skills
  8. even faster server skills (you guys rocked Sunday, Continental Mid-town!)
  9. one small coloring book, to tear out pages and hand them around
  10. three crayons
  11. 22 napkins (for me, because I was the one who spilled my water. doh!)
  12. drinks for the table next to us
  13. a park 1 block away.
  14. [...]More

Wednesday, 05 March 2008

Polar Bear Cave, Butterfly Hothouse

Latitude: 39 degrees north. Population: 3 toddlers making like mad penguins.

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It is 10:30 am at Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences and we should probably have brought chairs to the ice slide at the back of the Ends of the Earth: from Penguins to Polar Bears experience.

Our kids are making a track in the carpet, circling back, head-firsting it down the gentle slope, jumping up, and circling back. This is going to take a while. They liked the crawl-in polar bear cave, and the light-up display that shows how deep an iceberg goes, but the penguin slide is where you should send our mail.

We'll come back another day (highly useful, those family memberships) to visit with the dinosaurs.  We had a great time watching the live boa constrictor in the reptile show. And when she's older, or calmer, she'll like the butterfly exhibit more.  Even now, it was pretty impressive - being eye [...]More

Monday, 03 March 2008

Travels Without Child

For the first time in about three years, I breezed through security, got to my gate with no headache or backache, got myself a treat from Starbucks, and read peacefully until I boarded. On the plane, I ate my box snack at a leisurely pace, read, and watched the inflight movie.

And I’m sad.

Since my son was born, I’ve made 3 trips without him – two trips were single nights away, and this is the third trip. I’ll be in San Diego for a week. As much as I’m looking forward to a massage from the hotel spa, wandering the Gaslamp District on an adult’s schedule, and not having to engage in a battle royale in order to stake out my own corner of the hotel bed, I’m sad.

I’ve been on an aircraft carrier, and it did nothing for me, but I’d happily tour the Midway to see it through my son’s eyes, and hear his father (who knows about these things) name the various parts of the ship for

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Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Carlsbad Caverns

I have yet to take my son to Carlsbad Caverns, which are about an hour from my hometown.  I have taken other kids, and gone several times as a kid myself.  In fact, whenever I go I turn into a kid again.  I can't wait until my son is old enough for the trip!

Caves are cool.  In this case, I mean that both literally and figuratively.  The best time to visit Carlsbad Caverns is in the summer, so you can also watch the bat storm leave the cave at dusk, but summer can be upwards of 100 degrees here.  Make sure your hotel has a pool, and plan to spend the main part of the day underground.

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Driving to the area is a miniature geology lesson - from your vantage as you descend into the Carlsbad basin, you can clearly see that this whole area was once ocean floor.  If your kids have read

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Friday, 08 February 2008

Going Public

765px-strafford_pennsylvania_train_station.jpgCities with excellent public transportation have my heart.

For trying to get around cheaply (environmentally, as well as financially), and without a car,  New York, Washington DC, and Philadelphia are fantastic. As  an added benefit, riding the train or subway can be its own form of entertainment. 

Philadelphia's regional rail system, SEPTA, connects all of the first-ring suburbs to downtown with trains that run hourly, and more frequently during rush hours.  The wooden stations (like the one above) that line the tracks on many of the routes are quite beautiful, and many are being well maintained.  Downtown, three major stops - 30th Street Station (the AMTRAK connector), Suburban Station, and Market East - put everyone within walking distance of major attractions like the Please Touch Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Franklin Institute, and more.  Plus, there are zip-cars [...]More
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