This weekend was the last of the season for the Maryland Renaissance Festival, and we haven’t missed a year yet since our children were born. Skipping it was not an option, so we packed everything and everyone into the car, and we began the long drive south. We have found, however, that the drive is much more pleasant when we break it up. And so instead of driving straight through, we stayed overnight in a hotel, and spent Friday exploring the city of Philadelphia.
My wife and I visited the city of brotherly love once before together, on a Sunday, when everything was closed. The Liberty Bell was closed. Betsy Ross’ house was closed. The mint was closed. It was all closed. But this time we were there on a Friday. Everything was bound to be open.
Of course the problem with everything being open, is that there are people that go to these places. Lots of people. We went by the Liberty Bell, and saw the huge line that wrapped through the whole park, around the corner, across the street, and then continued on further than the eye could see. So we showed the children a picture of the Liberty Bell on our phones, and they were very excited to see it.
We also stopped over at Betsy Ross’s house, and the kids liked looking at the big flag, but not as much as they liked the fountain with the cats. They didn’t really have any interest in going inside. But we told them the story anyway, and they liked that well enough.
We tried to show them the grave of Benjamin Franklin, but apparently graves are icky, and they did not want to see any final resting places of famous dead people. So we walked by outside the fence and glanced over.
We even tried to give them some delicious Philly cheesesteaks. I think Ruby liked hers. Edward ordered a hotdog. So they got a taste of the city, but I don’t know how enthralled they were with it. That is, until we took them to the US mint.
I don’t have any pictures inside the mint, because photography is not allowed, but let me tell you, it was super cool. Exhibits take you through the whole process of minting coins, with a lot of things to touch, feel, and play with. The whole factory floor is open to be viewed from above, and we got to see actual money being made. Everyone agreed that it was fascinating.
We got to try to lift a 2 ton bag of coins, the kind that they actually ship out to banks. We were not worthy, and could not lift it. We got to feel the rolls of metal before they became money. We got to design our own virtual coins. There’s nothing like a trip to a money factory to make children appreciate the coins in their piggy banks.
Edward spend the rest of the weekend marveling at every coin he came across, knowing that it was made in the building that we had just visited. The Renaissance Festival was as fun as ever, and maybe even more fun now that the children are a little older. We saw some great shows, we ate some great food, we laughed, we played, and we spent time with friends. And on our way out, Edward found a quarter on the ground.
“I know where they made this!” he shouted gleefully as he scooped it up. I think the only disappointing thing about the adventure at the US Mint, was that we didn’t stop there again on our way home. Sounds like we need to check out the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington DC sometime soon!