We had one main adventure with some pretty awesome people last weekend, but in the lead-up to it, also some smaller amusements, so I figured I’d share a little bit about those first in this week’s post.
Last Saturday being the Saturday closest to Halloween, when people don costumes and go out for escapades, Ben and I naturally… set out in jeans and sweaters to spend the day working on our laptops. However, while we were at our favorite local nerd cafe, The Rabbit and the Dragonfly…
…we noticed posters and decorations for and heard much talk about the Halloween festivities they’d be hosting that evening — specifically, a Harry Potter party.
Since we planned to go to church downtown at 5 p.m. anyway, due to our plans for the next morning, and since the party was due to start at 6, we decided to stop by. First though, we attended what turned out to be an Addiction & Recovery themed service, complete with renditions of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge” and Ed Sheeran’s “The A Team” by the church band.
By the time we got back over to The Rabbit & Dragonfly, the place was hoppin’ and buzzin’ and the trivia portion of the party was about to start.
Six rounds of ten questions each, and let me tell you, they were asking some toughies! Given that some of the teams had as many as six avid Potter fans, I’ll admit I felt rather pleased about getting 4th place (out of at least 8, maybe 12 teams) all on my own steam. A few of my memory lapses still sting, though…
On Sunday, though, we headed out for a long-expected meetup with two of my favorite people, Hayley and Steve Mollmann. They had been in Philadelphia for the weekend celebrating Steve’s sister’s birthday, and before leaving town made plans to meet up with us for lunch — no, not breakfast; the title of this post is just a joke/reference to our general love of breakfast foods — right outside the city. With the help of Yelp, I located a highly-rated Middle Eastern restaurant (the one thing Lancaster is really missing is Mediterranean food!) which, oddly, turned out to be located in a luxury apartment complex… about three minutes from Valley Forge.
Luckily, we had about two hours after our delicious lunch in which to explore the Continental Army’s encampment site (now state park), which is so big they recommend you drive around it if you want to see all the main stuff (we drove to a couple strategic spots and then walked, since it was a gorgeous day).
But first, we checked out the visitor’s center, so Steve could buy a commemorative pin (thanks to our Connecticut Arcane Museum Tours 1-4, I’ve gotten to witness Steve buying a lot of commemorative pins!) and of course, so we could pose for pictures.
We saw some recreated cabins and things, though we wished there were more park rangers around to tell us about Valley Forge — I was scrambling to remember details from the diary of Joseph Plumb Martin and the audiobook of Lafayette in the Somewhat United States that I listened to last year.
We did listen to a few snatches of the cell phone tour, but it’s not quite the same when you’re used to the quality costumed interpreters of Plimoth Plantation, for instance.
It was a very pretty time of year just to be there, in the lovely park. I doubt the soldiers of the time got to appreciate it, but it’s a nice spot!
We did meet one employee, working in “Varnum’s Quarters,” a house where one army leader and seven of his aides lived — in one room — and held court martials and such. While the family still also lived there, in the other upstairs room. (Nice to learn that they received regular rental payments and had a choice about sharing their space — it’s one of the things the war was about, after all!)
Also, they had this really awesome dinnerware.
Steve was pretty stoked to see the Germans representing, with this excellent monument to General Von Steuben, the man who pretty much single-handedly whipped the Continental army into an effective fighting force.
We were touched to notice that a German-American society had raised the statue right around the start of World War I… it’s all too easy to imagine why they wanted to remind other Americans about this history, at that particular moment.
My favorite part of the park, though, was this gorgeous Episcopal chapel with absolutely stunning cloisters on one side, and stained glass windows representing scenes of the founding fathers.
Different sections were dedicated to the fighting forces of each of the original states.
We only got a quick peep into the chapel itself, as there was a dedication service (of a new window) going on, for which the attendees were all in fancy suits. However, the nice men standing at the back allowed us to sneak in briefly for a look.
Then it was time to walk back to the car, passing various and sundry monuments along the way…
Alas, then the sad moment came to say goodbye to Steve & Hayley. It’s a bummer not being able to see them regularly, but it was great to get the chance to compare notes on new jobs, great and terrible students, scholarly interests, nerdy reading and viewing, adventures, and plans for the future. And though it doesn’t qualify as an Arcane Museum, it was great to be visiting a memorable spot with these friends again!