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After Thirty Years, The Honeymoon


The thirtieth anniversary of marrying my beautiful bride occurred on March 22 of this year. We had discussed the possibility of a trip to Duluth for a night or two, as that is affordable and only a couple of hours north to Lake Superior. Another option was visiting Stillwater to walk the shops and hike along the St Croix river as we had done on other occasions. But the plans took an unexpected turn as I thought I had found a deal.

Hockey fans that we are, I responded to a message on Face Book from another Minnesota Wild fan who was picking up some group tickets for a Wild game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Being that the game was three days after our anniversary, I thought that it would be an excellent date along with dinner. Without even checking with the wife, I jumped at the opportunity and said, “I’m in.” Later on I mentioned it to my cousin and he asked me if I was going to Philly. He informed me that the Flyers had been here already and that they only come here once. I checked into it and sure enough, the game was in Pennsylvania. I decided that I was still taking the tickets and the adventure began. I asked my gal if she might be interested in going to Philly for our anniversary and finally having a honeymoon. She said yes and I told her, “Good. I already bought the tickets.”

On March 24th we hopped in the car bright and early to begin our journey. We had been to Pennsylvania on a vacation with two of our four daughters when we went to a NASCAR race at Pocono. From that experience we determined that the first leg of the journey would end near Cleveland, Ohio. The first night there and the next two in the city of brotherly love were the only nights that I reserved in advance. With just the two of us on this trip we felt free to wing it from there. Although we had ideas of things that we would like to see and do, we didn’t want to be on the hamster wheel running from place to place. I reserved the rooms through the site of a friend, Take A Peek Travel, and realized a nice savings on each reservation. The first night was a budget considering stay at the Red Roof Inn since it was simply a stay over between travel legs. A nicer hotel was booked for our two nights in Philadelphia.

The following morning we began the second leg with a relaxing drive across Pennsylvania. We were under little time pressure and enjoyed the drive through the mountains. Through the mountains is and accurate description as we passed through four tunnels, each approximately one mile long. It was a beautiful day to spend with my beautiful wife.

The hotel in Philadelphia, Aloft, was a short hop across a bridge from the Arena. It was a clean, comfy, cozy room in a modern decor setting. It was located next to the airport but was relatively quiet considering the freeway that we could see out our window. In fact, in our Philly update video, you can see Sue watching the traffic as I am talking. I love watching that video because she looks so happy and has such a sweet smile in it. Her smile is what hooked me three decades ago.

The hockey arena was a pretty nice place and shared the area with the stadiums for the Eagles and the Phillies. We arrived purposely early since we were unfamiliar with the area and the parking. It gave us a chance to tour the arena a bit and to go down behind the bench and get a close up view of the players as they came out for their pregame practice. We had short chats with Coach Ramsey and Wild announcer Kevin Gorg. We also grabbed our first mitt full of grub as the group tickets were also all you can eat from the select concession stand. Your basic arena/ballpark fare, it fit well in the budget. The Wild stunk it up pretty good for the first two periods but came back to tie it  up in the third to force overtime. The fourth goal by Minnesota won the game and provoked my most unwise moment of the trip. I jumped up from my seat in my new Minnesota jersey, a gift from Sue, and with arms upraised victoriously, I turned and faced the crowd. Three gals were firing darts with there glares at me and I then realized that we may end up with a beer shower before getting out of the arena. We left unscathed, however, to a smattering of boos and some mild comments such as, “Go back where you came from.”

Friday morning we slept in a little late being it was vacation and we refused to let a schedule dictate our every decision. We decided to drive downtown rather than take the train from the airport. It was a decision that would be beneficial later. We hit the touristy spots as expected including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. One of the best moves of the trip was to take the carriage ride through Old City. Our driver was very knowledgeable on the history of the city and showed us sites we would have missed by simply walking around. It added a lot of flavor to our morning of site seeing. We then took the suggestion of one person and dropped in on a little diner for Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches which was a pretty good lunch. Our plans originally were to take a walk up to the other side of the city to see the museum, the Rocky statue and such. This is where having the car with us came in handy. We retrieved it from the parking lot for the next adventure.

Originally we had talked about taking the train to Atlantic City on Saturday morning. This day was gray with a good chance of rain. To this point we had walked quite a bit and our legs were feeling the weariness so the walk to the other side of town was not sounding very appealing. We had stayed dry so far and were thankful. We decided that the relatively short drive would be relaxing and in fact cheaper than the train ride. So off we went for our first view of Atlantic City and the Atlantic Ocean. While some sites and things to do on our trip were not to open until April 1, we did not have the crowds of tourists to contend with.

We spent a few hours walking on the boardwalk and enjoying the colorful views of the buildings as well as the surf coming ashore. We donated five dollars to Trump and another five to the Showboat in the nickel slots. Alas, Our trip was not to be paid for. Once inside, the casinos were not much different than what we have back home. We ducked in and out of shops resisting the myriad of tees and sweats and all kinds of trinkets. Sue did buy some salt water taffy which was tasty. The multilevel shopping area was long, narrow and mostly high end. At the end was a fountain that provided a water and light show. The information stop on the way into town gave us the layout of what was ahead. We both heard the lady say, “Every hour the fountain puts on a show to the Sound of Music.” The music started and there was sound. We laughed as we realized that the water show was set to the sound of music, just not the musical we had expected. Back to Aloft for the night, stopping for fine dining at the Burger King along the way.

Saturday morning was a sunny site as we checked out of the hotel. We drove up to the west side of the city to see the museum and statues. We decided against paying to see the Picasso exhibit as we preferred to be outside and we planned on heading toward Pittsburgh around lunch time. It was a gorgeous day and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. There was a festival somewhere in town, but we opted to pass on it.

The Rocky statue had been moved from the top of the museum steps to a pad down to the right of the main approach. As we were walking up I said to Sue, “A guy could make an okay income taking pictures for people here and collecting tips.” We saw two girls by the statue digging in a paper bag and I got curious. They dug out some boxing gloves and a man took their picture. I thought the whole scene was fairly humorous. We had our pictures taken by the same man who said, “I accept tips.” We talked a little and like everyone else we met along the way he was very friendly.

On our way out of town we followed a river road for a little ways. We were forced to make a turn at the end of the road that took us into a neighborhood that sparkled a little less than the city we had seen so far. I am sure the life in this neighborhood was not as glittery as the polished areas we had visited. We found our way to the tollway and proceeded westward.

We arrived at our motel just NW of Pittsburgh on Saturday, late dinner time. It was located right behind a popular Italian restaurant at which we dined that evening. The lasagna was among the best that I had ever tasted. I was told that the flavor was due to the fresh mozzarella in the middle layer. Being our honeymoon, every detail of our activities cannot be shared in this story.

Sunday morning we arose and headed off to church and lunch with some friends who lived in the area, the Hoflers. We are grateful to Drew and Tina for their hospitality and friendship. It was a very pleasant change in our trip to see warm, friendly faces and to have such a pleasant visit in the warmth of their home.

After lunch and visiting, Sue and I decided to drive down into Pittsburgh before it got dark. We endured some traffic that was due to the Penguins hockey game that evening. We opted for site seeing over another hockey game since we were leaving town the next morning.  As in Philadelphia, the number of bridges in Pittsburgh made an impression on me. I may live in the land of lakes, but out there it was rivers and bridges.

Sue and I just wandered around and saw what we could see. We were able to walk up to the gate of Heinz field and peer in to see where the Steelers and the Pitt Panthers play. Across the way was the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. We drove around crossing the bridges and finally found our way to the spot suggested by Drew, the Incline.

The Duquesne Incline had a station down on the river road and another in a neighborhood far above. Two cars on two tracks were connected by cables and one went up while the other went down. I am told that tourists ride it for the view from the observation deck and the residents in the neighborhood ride it down to catch a bus into downtown for work. The view was very good even on this rainy day. The city skyline, the stadiums, bridges and rivers were all in view. It was still a relaxing afternoon as we were free from any agendas that day. We headed back to the motel, stopping only for a couple of sandwiches from Subway for dinner on the return trip.

Monday held a new excitement as we traveled to Canton, Ohio, to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We spent close to four hours there seeing and listening to exhibits and attending a couple of classroom presentations. It was a very interesting place that would easily take a full day or more to experience if one tried to read and listen to everything available. We took a lot of pictures, or I guess I did, of everything Vikings related. The busts were impressive and it was interesting to learn how they were made. The displays were well done with the video and audio being everything one would expect from NFL Films.

One exhibit was all of the Super Bowl rings from the championship teams and concluded with a computer graphics station that allowed people to design the rings.

We decided to design the championship ring for next year’s Super Bowl.

After our visit there, we drove until later in the night to Rockford, Illinois. We found a motel and ordered a pizza. We laid on the bed eating pizza and watching Iron Eagle on Netflix on my laptop.

Tuesday was the final ride as we headed home and not looking forward to working on Wednesday. The trip was long enough though and we agreed that it would be good to be home. We made a pit stop in Middleton, Wisconsin, to check out the National Mustard Museum. Our previous visit to the museum was when it used to be in Mount Horeb, WI. We purchased seven flavors of mustard to bring home including the Key Lime and Pineapple mustard which was excellent on grilled pork chops just as Sue had suggested it would be. We then found a Sonic at which we ate lunch. Neither of us had ever eaten at a Sonic Drive-In before. We enjoyed a short time over lunch and then the long final drive that was ahead of us had to be tackled. But one last surprise lay in wait for Suzy.

The day of our return was actually Sue’s birthday and the girls had planned a dinner for her if I could get her there at a reasonable time. My ploy, and actually reality, was that I had to drive truck for work in the morning so I wanted to be home around dinner time and rest a bit before bed after unloading the car.

Those who weren’t working were there to greet us and Rodrigue was working the grill which was loaded with chicken drummies. The table inside was covered in salads and other goodies. It was a very nice dinner to arrive home to.

The trip was a true honeymoon for us as we were free to be ourselves with each other, deeply in love and sharing time together. We were always on the same page as we decided what to do and never saw a hint of trouble. We praise God and thank Him for allowing us this time together.

All of the photos can be viewed on my Flickr page. They are labeled and described so you can enjoy the photo journal of the trip.

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