We live in the 'burbs of Philly. Since we moved here in August of 2007, we haven't done too much sight-seeing downtown. We saw the Liberty Bell and the outside of Independence Hall. But that's about it. We do want and need to see more before we leave this area. But yesterday is a good example of why we have neglected these important sites.
The kids and I set off for a museum in the south part of town. I had my google map all set and knew where I was going. On the highway, we hit stopped traffic two or three times - just from people slowing down to watch cops write tickets. Ho hum, that happens everywhere. a 15-minute drive took 30. Then we got into downtown and approached the exit. Now this is Google's fault, not the city's, but the directions showed 1 exit to take whereas in real life there was a choice of 2 (one of those A/B exits). Since there were 5 streets on the signs, it was a little confusing and by the time I parsed it all out I realized I was committed to the wrong one. Detailed sign reading is hard at 65 mph. No, that's not the limit in downtown Philly, but that's the rate the traffic moves and woe to you if you hold anyone back.
Well, I knew I needed to get on a numbered street so figured I could double back easily enough. Well, no, because the freeway supports bisect the area and I was forced to turn just before the place the street I needed should have been. So I turned onto some side street in the scary part of town.
We managed to find a large shopping center parking lot to pull into and look at the Thomas Guide. Found our location and a way to get to the museum. It looked very easy. So we got on the road but the street suddenly became the highway we'd just gotten off. I don't know if I missed a sign to turn to remain on that road or what - I don't think so. But there we were on the highway again, going back the way we came.
Now this should have been a sign to us to just go home! GO BACK! "Surrender, Dorothy!" But no. This was the last week of a particular exhibit that my boy really wanted to see. We had to persevere. We got off at the next exit and once again I figured I could get to 26th Street pretty easily, But how did I get to 50th so quickly?
Once again we pulled over and got out the map. OK, we can do this. Just make this left, go down here... we started off and then came to a roadblock. There was a large intersection closed off and traffic was being diverted down another small side road. Two lanes into one. Oh yippee. That detour of 2 blocks took us about 30 harrowing minutes as people around us jockeyed for position - got to get ahead of as many people as possible, right?
By now we had been in the car for over 2 hours. I was trying so hard to control my temper - I have a bad problem of yelling when I'm frustrated in the car. (I knew this was a problem when my first child, at age 4 or 5, said "these people are all morons" as we drove around a crowded parking lot looking for a spot. Ooops.)
We got through the detour and once again I figured I'd hit the numbered street I was looking for. But no! Again I was forced to turn, back onto the same highway, but this time headed for a bridge to New Jersey!
There was one last PA exit so I took it. We were now down by the sport complex - hey, we got to see the Phillies stadium. By this time we had given up and decided to go home, if we could. We were all tired, hungry, and mad. And stiff from being in the car so long.
I found the highway back home and jumped on. Traffic flew. Then I made a tactical error. I missed a left exit and had to finish off our journey on a big city arterial that is easy to drive on, but slow and ugly. The kids hate that road: "Oh no! Not Broad Street! Aaaiiieeeee!"
Three hours after leaving, we came back home, defeated. The boy cried a little. We won't have a chance to try to get there again before the exhibit (some Lego thing) is gone.
Fortunately Dad cooked dinner and afterwards we had leftover pumpkin pie while I read aloud from a much-anticipated new book, about which I may write another time. I had been saving this ebay purchase for Christmas but decided to bring it out today. It was much appreciated.