MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Stopping to the Smell the Roses in a Convention Center Filled With National Parks

The Philadelphia Flower Show is an institution in the City of Brotherly Love.  Unfortunately, I never made the time to go when I lived in that area and have missed it for various reasons over the years (as it has grown in popularity).  This year, when I learned that the theme would be based on the national parks, I knew I had to go.  And the fact that I had yet to do a Philly weekend with my boyfriend... well that was a perfect excuse.

The best way I could describe the scene in the convention center is master gardener/landscape architects interpreted some of the parks greatest hits and unknown gems through botany.  Half the convention hall floor was filled with large scale exhibits of scenes in the national parks.  Here you would gaze upon the famous of Yellowstone and Yosemite, walk along the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and NJ Coastal Heritage trails, Look upon the mountains in interpretations of the Rocky Mountain and Smokey Mountain, see some lesser known gems like Lincolns home, enjoy the water views of Acadia, the views in trees like at Redwood, and we got into the urban parks - Independence, Gateway, Golden Gate, the National Mall.  And if these installations were not enough, the rest of the flower show had more.

There were pressed flower designs done by students to represent park badges and postcards.  There was a miniatures exhibit to showcase tiny flowers and skills with scale, you had arrangements with colonial dishes and others to interpret national monuments.   The National Park Service was out in full force with scenes showcasing the nation's best idea in short film format in what was like a cabin in the woods (surrounded by a babbling brook, a Bison (the Department of Interior's official seal) and a bear).  Rangers gave lectures on park features and were all around to answer question about the parks displayed and depicted.  I was in park lover's heaven!  An added plus - all the parks of my youth got plenty of love - I was so excited to see Delaware Water Gap get some love.  And Sandy Hook made a special showing and didn't get overshadowed by the Statue of Liberty (the share a park designation)!

The flowers were overwhelming in their beauty even after a week of showcasing it was hard to know where to turn.  It was a rainbow of color.  There were so many cascades of color that my camera quickly ran out of battery.  And the crowds?  Wow, the place was packed.  But beyond waiting in lines to walk through some of the parks, traffic moved... no one exhibit hogged (though a few did skip the line to snap a picture here and there).  And if you needed to rest your feet - you had choices beyond park lectures... the Philly Zoo was there for animal demonstrations for the kid in all of us. An artist was on hand painting detailed flower watercolors. Food was everywhere (yummy Philly pretzels and Little Italy's cannoli)  You could go upstairs to the specialty booths - where we headed to visit the butterflies!  And then there was the market place... lots of venders.  You could rest you feet in any number of places selling patio gear.  You could buy plants and flowers galore.  You could buy art for your garden.  Gardening gear?  Check!  Tools?  Check!  Need a sauna?  Check!  Walking stone?  Yep, that too.  It was all there.

By the time we left at 8, our feet were dead... but we had dinner at the chocolate restaurant, Max Brenner's... and chocolate we did have!  Cocoa chili dipping sauce for fries and onion rings.  A killer Philly Cheesesteak on waffle bread.  And an amazing chocolate strawberry hazelnut crepe for dessert.  Oh wow!  After all that yumminess, it was time to collapse at the hotel!

The following day it was all about the St Patrick's Day Parade.  Philly might not dye its rivers green but it hosts a 3 hour parade through center city straight to the Art Museum.  A little rain doesn't stop a parade (nor does it stop me since it always does on my trips)... and I knew I needed to take my date to the Rocky steps before we left (since he would not stop reminding me every 15 minutes).  After 2 hours of endless Irish stepping troupes, some Irish bands, bagpipes and heritage organizations we headed to Rittenhouse Square for some food and crowd space - someone wanted another cheesesteak and this time, we got a short rib cheesesteak.  Good stuff in a causal atmosphere at the Foodery!  You don't need to take someone to Pat's or Geneo's for them to enjoy the tradition - I swear.  Plenty of tables, a decent lunch menu and a gigantic selection of drinks (the date was happy to get off his feet)  But, I wasn't done. To walk it off, we headed to Wanamaker's (Macy's & other offices now) for a behind the scenes tour of the historic building and learned a little about a businessman who truly cared about his city and its people.  He offered paid leave, sick leave, medical care an on-site gym  and continuing education and many other benefits long before anyone else in that city and around the country. The Macy's tour guide was amazing, he knew history of the man, the building and his legacy.  In all my years visiting that store, I never knew what was behind the scenes.  I can't recommend stopping by customer service for your own tour enough.

Of course I got us to the Art Museum before we left... pose with Rocky, and up the stairs in the pouring rain... but he was doing it! 

And that was one special Philly trip in 2 days!

Philly Flower Show Interprets the National Parks

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