Last weekend (May 8-9) we traveled with the rest of the students here and went to Valley Forge and Philadelphia. The drive was beautiful. It's amazing how everything is green and growing when you're not in the desert. We passed multiple big cities but wouldn't have known it because a thick border of lush green and trees stood between the highway and the suburbs. We first went to Valley Forge where we stayed at the Freedoms Foundation, an non-profit organization with a mission to produce good citizens. The facilities were very pretty set on a few hundred acres of trees with statues of the founding fathers near the various buildings. Here are just a few - one of Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin praying and one of Washington praying nearby.
The only caveat to our stay was the room...I'm very grateful that it was clean and we only saw a couple bugs/spiders but the two twin beds were pretty funny. We made some new friends who handled the situation quite a bit differently than we did - the wife of the newly wed couple (2 weeks fresh) demanded that her husband share her twin bed. I originally tried this approach, but Ryan made it clear that he'd rather get some sleep (at least I can still convince him to share our sweet Murphy bed back in DC with me).
While at Valley Forge we took a bus tour throughout the 3,000 acre park. Our tour guide was feisty little old lady donning traditional 1700s dress who bossed around our bus driver and gave us the business if we got too rowdy. While touring around we saw statues of Washington and Prussian Baron von Steuben, as well as a beautiful church with amazing stained glass which housed the Justice Bell - a bell for women's suffrage.
Also while touring we saw the dogwoods in bloom. I had heard all about traveling around while the dogwoods are in bloom and it lived up to the hype (I've included a picture of a tree with pink blossoms). I'm sure my mom would've loved it (I wish she was here to tell me what all these new flowers and plants I keep seeing are, and of course for other reasons too).
After our tour and dinner, we were visited by a special guest. You might have mistakenly thought that Thomas Jefferson was no longer with us, but I can verify that I did meet this founding father. The Foundation puts together live visits from men like Jefferson, Franklin, and other important figures. Ours was incredible. He answered tricky questions that we came up with in an effort to stump the impersonator but he was on the ball citing dates, events, important letters and anything else you could think of. I think we were all pleasantly surprised with how it was done. (Jefferson is the fella in the middle of the big group wearing the blueish green jacket).
After our visit we hung out with some of our new married friends. It's funny, but apparently married people and single people aren't allowed to talk to each other in Washington DC - if it isn't that way you could've fooled me by the way we've been ostracized by the single crowd. It's actually kind of funny. We all ate together in a cafeteria on the trip and one lunch Ryan and I arrived early and sat down at a table. People started filtering in and filling up tables all around us but no one sat down by us. This continued until at one point some singles actually took a few chairs from our table and crammed them into a nearby already over packed singles filled table. Luckily later some married people arrived and joined us. This scene repeated itself, varying slightly, throughout the trip. Pretty funny, but at least we met some fun married people that will talk to us (probably because they don't really have any other options since the singles don't acknowledge them either).
After hanging out with our new friends we retired to our cozy twin beds to get some rest before our 8am departure to Philadelphia the next day. Valley Forge is a great place to visit. It’s beautiful but kinda hard to imagine that the men camped there were facing biting winds, freezing temperatures, and near starvation, when while we were there the weather was delightful, the scenery was breathtaking, and we were fed very well (and there were no red coats).