One of my wife's college friends got married on July 5 in Wilmington, Delaware. We were invited and made a nice little trip of it.
Wednesday, 2019 July 3
We left for SEA bright and early - 4 AM. Once again I wasn't able to get a taxi company to commit to picking us up on time, so we reserved a towncar. This was a vastly superior experience, but significantly more expensive. Still, I think in the future I may go this route more often.
The baggage lines were almost nonexistent at that time of the morning, and the precheck lines only slightly longer. We were slowed down considerably when I was randomly selected for an explosives check. I couldn't stop myself from chuckling when the TSA agent asked if I had any electronics in my backpack - being a nerd, I had four electronic devices, plus assorted cables, etc. Still, we were at the gate quickly. Unfortunately it was one of the central gates right behind one of the main security checkpoints - A3, maybe - so it was loud and crowded.
We went through MSP. To the best of my recollection I've never passed through MSP before, despite my long history of travel and my general reliance upon Delta. We had plenty of time to get to the next gate and were soon on our way to PHL.
Philadelphia was hot and muggy; it was like getting hit in the face with a warm wet blanket when we walked outside. We picked up our rental car at Alamo and were soon on our way to Wilmington. I think the drive took about an hour.
We checked into the Sheraton Suites. Neither of us felt like doing anything, so we went down to the hotel bar/restaurant. Despite the tepid reviews on Yelp we actually had a very nice experience there - the food was good and the bartender was awesome.
What wasn't ideal, though, was that my request for extra pillows and towels was ignored. There were some extra pillows in the room as part of a bedding pack so we just used those.
Thursday, 2019 July 4
Given that today was a holiday, we weren't sure how many things would be open. It seemed like a good opportunity to do some sightseeing, so after a forgettable-but-reasonable-for-the-price breakfast at the hotel restaurant we headed north-by-northwest towards Reading Pennsylvania. This is the area my Mom's family is from. Krista had never been there, so I was eager to show her around.
It was a pleasant drive to Leesport. After that I drove somewhat at random, although I did eventually locate everything I wanted to show Krista. She was especially impressed by Belleman's Church, Mom's childhood church as well as the church where my parents were married.
It was well past noon by this point and we were getting peckish. Krista had been thrilled by all of the diners we passed, so we went back to the Leesport Diner and had a couple appetizers. Or so they claimed - the portions were huge and it ended up being far more food than we expected or wanted. The potato skins were awesome; the quesadilla not so much. It was too thick with too many ingredients and had no structural integrity, making it a mess to eat.
I had discovered prior to the trip that my one pair of black dress shoes were disintegrating. Which is probably not surprising, given that they were probably twenty years old (but had probably been worn less than twenty times total). My plan all along was to buy a new pair while on the trip, so we did that. And, of course, bought more stuff as well - it's amazing how that inevitably happens.
We headed back to the hotel, driving through some really heavy rain (so heavy, in fact, that I actually pulled over for a while - this almost never happens) and thunder and lightning (which we both really miss).
Krista's friend Erica and her family were getting in that night and staying at the same hotel, so we wanted to be back in time to meet them. We beat them by maybe an hour, time which we spent (once again) in the bar with the awesome bartender. Once they arrived they joined us and we had another nice meal there.
Friday, 2019 July 5
We met Erica and her family in the lobby and convoyed to Camden New Jersey to see the Adventure Aquarium. The drive was uneventful and went pretty quickly.
The aquarium itself was pretty nice, although small-ish, very crowded, and full of children. It was also quite warm inside (although not nearly as hot as outside). Krista bought some hippo art (made by painting the noses of the hippos and then pressing them to stock) that was pretty cool.
Leaving there, we decided on cheesesteaks for lunch. Krista suggested Donkey's Place, which was relatively close, so we headed there. I was not impressed - the neighborhood was run down, the place was crowded, and the food wasn't even that good. I certainly never need to go back there.
From there we headed back to the hotel so we could get ready for the wedding. It was only a couple blocks to the venues, but we drove because of the heat. The ceremony was held at First & Central Presbyterian Church. It was my kind of ceremony - short and to the point. The church was air conditioned but not well, although it was just cool enough that I didn't really sweat through my dress shirt.
From there we walked across the street to the Hotel Du Pont. The reception was held in the Gold Ballroom, which was absolutely gorgeous. Again the air conditioning was not really up to par, so I was overly warm the entire night. I ended up leaving a little bit ahead of Krista and just walking back to our hotel.
Saturday, 2019 July 6
Another hot day. We didn't really have anything else in Wilmington that was calling our names, so we drove up to Hershey Pennsylvania. This is a massive tourist trap and I certainly never need to go back. Luckily we figured out that the "world of chocolate" tour is free before we splurged on tickets. The "tour" was about 12 minutes long and almost content free.
We ate lunch at Houlihan's; I think this was the first time I've ever eaten at that chain. The food was solid.
From there we drove towards Philly. We ran into some rain (and heard on the radio that there was a tornado warning). The weather we encountered wasn't too bad, but we hit some heavily-flooded roads that had clearly seen heavy rain right before we got there.
For maximum convenience we stayed at the Airport Mariott. This was a very underwhelming experience - the room itself was fine, but it took them over five hours to deliver extra pillows after my wife called. Which should not have been necessary, as I had requested extra pillows and towels when I set up the reservation.
I returned the rental car to Alamo. This proved to be very convenient - leave the Mariott, drive a few tenths of a mile, and you're right at the car return. I took the shuttle back to the airport and got off at terminal B so I could scout out the connection between the airport and the hotel.
We were both exhausted and we knew we had to be up early for our flight, so we went to bed early.
Sunday, 2019 July 7
Once again we were up around 2 AM. By 0300 we were downstairs and checked out. The hotel runs a shuttle starting at 0400 and, given the heat, we decided to take it rather than the direct connection. We were there first, but quite a few other people showed and barged ahead; by about 0350 it was clear that we weren't actually going to fit on the shuttle. This was infuriating but there was nothing we could do about it, so we turned around and used the walkway. This got us into the B and C terminal building, but we had to go outside to get to the D terminal. As always, it was hot and sticky.
Once in the terminal, things went smoothly. We went through DTW, which is my former home and current number-two airport. We had a tight 40-minute connection, so of course our plane was delayed pushing back in PHL, first because of a lack of paperwork on the fueling process, then due to congestion around the terminal. We made up most of the time in the air, however, and lucked out in that the gates were relatively close in Detroit. We got on our flight to Seattle with plenty of time to spare.
We landed ahead of schedule in Seattle and, much to our surprise, our bags actually came out relatively quickly. We caught a taxi home and, thanks to the time change, were back in our house before 1000.Sunday, 2019 April 07 Tuesday, 2019 July 09