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Autumn in the East

At the end of September we flew out to Philadelphia to spend a couple weeks there. At least, that was the plan. The visit was extended to three weeks when I came down with a miserable stomach bug. Fortunately, that was the only catastrophe that occurred during the trip.

We decided to take a daytime flight on our way out, since Adam spent almost the entire overnight flight back in July awake. I think we’ll switch back though, July seems to have been a bit of an anomaly, he slept fine on the evening flight we took home. On Sunday, Adam and I met up with my friend Stephen and went to the Philadelphia Zoo! Adding this to the list, this was Adam’s third zoo, and his first time at the Philadelphia Zoo. It was a hot day, but not intolerably so, and we had a nice time catching up.

More photos from the zoo here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157711808946328

Upon our return from the zoo, we all headed over to MJ’s sister’s house to catch the tail end of a birthday party for her. It was there that Adam was introduced to his first helium-filled balloon. He’s at an age where he enjoys dropping things on the floor, so letting go of a balloon and seeing it rise, rather than fall, was the source of endless giggles. He enjoyed it so much that we ended up taking a balloon home with us, hah!

Later that week I met up with my friend David at the Trolley Car Diner & Deli in Mt Airy. It’s a diner I’ve always wanted to visit due to the PCC they kept our front and was their namesake, but then I heard about their impending closure on October 15th, so it was now or never! Truly a bittersweet occasion, but it was a beautiful day so I was able to get some nice pictures. The food and company were good too.

More photos of the diner here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157711808952633/

One of the reasons I enjoy visiting this time of year is the weather. Autumn in Philadelphia is a beautiful time, so I was able to take Adam out for walks most evenings. We explored the park near our neighborhood for the first time and also took many walks around the neighborhood itself to admire the Halloween decorations that were already going up, and to count the faux turtles and tortoises that various neighbors put out as general yard decorations (we found five of them).

The other reason I like visiting at the end of September specifically is because my birthday is on the 29th! We spent the morning discovering a new waffle place near our house, where I indulged in a Kit Kat waffle (Kit Kat pieces inside and on top!). Danita was doing some baking that week and made me a delicious carrot cake, hand delivered one evening when we got to hang out and have pizza too. Crissi came over to babysit on my actual birthday so MJ and I could go out to dinner. As a special birthday treat, MJ took me to Morimoto in downtown Philadelphia. It has always been on my list, but this was the first time either of us had been. We went with the tasting menu, which was the right decision for our first visit, everything we had was excellent.

Rosh Hashanah also fell during our visit. We have been going to services at our home synagogue for the holiday for the past several years, so we were happy to be able to find a synagogue in Philadelphia that welcomed non-members for a family service. With little Adam in tow, an hour long family service was precisely what we needed. The service was filled with songs and young children, and then we went up to the sanctuary to hear the shofar, which Adam thoroughly enjoyed (it’s my favorite part too). We then headed out to New Jersey to have lunch with some family at our favorite Jewish deli in Cherry Hill.

Other visits including Adam and I heading over to New Jersey again to visit with some of my friends with kids, one of whom is just a few months older than Adam. True to being my child, Adam enjoyed playing with toys and meeting their cats. The other kids? Eh. Maybe when he’s older. We also discovered that one of my favorite places to eat in Bucks county has a semi-enclosed back area that seats you right next to the SEPTA train station, so when MJ and I made it out one evening alone for a dinner with some friends, we spend the evening watching the trains go by, including the Amtrak Acela!

Our au pair came with us on this trip to Philadelphia, but she decided to take her 2 weeks of vacation overlapping with half of our trip, so MJ and I also took some time off from work. The second week in Philadelphia it was just the three of us, and a road trip up to Rochester, NY for the wedding of one of my cousins. I have a lot of cousins, and I hadn’t seen her in years, but we’ve kept up via social media. I was really happy to be invited, and this marked Adam’s first proper road trip, six hours on the road! We got off to a bit of a rough start, but in general he was great. It helped that we drove in the evening, and so it was his natural time to snooze. We also decided to bring his Pack ‘n Play instead of depending on a crib from the hotel (which is often a Pack ‘n Play anyway!), and that worked out really well. We’ll likely continue to do so for trips where we don’t have to fly. I lived in upstate New York for a couple years after I left my childhood home in Maine in 2000, so going back was interesting. The wedding itself was outdoors, a risky gamble in early October in upstate New York, but one that paid off. The bride and groom were stunning and we had a lovely time. Our only mistake on this trip was neglecting to bring warmer clothes. The drive up was a chilly one, and though we keep Adam’s diaper bag fully stocked with blankets and hoodies, MJ and I were a bit chilly during our journey!

Unfortunately, upon our return home I learned I had picked up a stomach bug. We were due to return home to California the next day, but I was in no condition to travel. In some ways I was grateful that MJ and I were both on vacation, since that allowed us to extend our trip by a week without any real impact to our schedules and MJ could take over the bulk of the baby care while I was sick. But it was pretty sad to be so sick while I was on vacation. And as a result of staying, we also ended up spending Yom Kippur in Philadelphia too. Instead of going to services, we opted for televised feed from another Philadelphia-based synagogue that we were familiar with for Kol Nidre, and also streamed services observing the conclusion of Yom Kippur the following evening.

Mostly the week was spent recovering from being sick, and then on the return to work remotely on Thursday and Friday. We had a few more meals out, including checking out a BBQ place nearby that a friend recommended that we’ll definitely be back to. On Saturday, October 12th, we finally returned to California!

A few more random photos from our visit are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157711807191741