Here is a continuation of my highlights:
12. Best house tour: The Orchard House, childhood home of Louisa May Alcott. It was the best preserved house, followed closely by Paul Revere's house. You could tell the woman giving the tour was a really big fan of the Alcott family.
13. Biggest suprise: Elizabeth demonstrating a hammer she had made using a forked stick, a stone and long stems of grasses twined together. Thanks goes to "Sneaky Uses for Everyday Objects" for supplying her with that information. I think I am going to have to read that book as well as it's two follow-ups so that I can be more like "MacGuyver."
14. Best non-family interaction: Meeting up with old friends from Trinity Community Church.
15. Most informative NPS employee: This is a toss up between the woman who was hanging around the Old North Bridge in Concord, the man portraying Mr. Hartwell at Hartwell's tavern along the Paul Revere route and the gentleman at Valley Forge describing some of the issues surrounding the army and Von Stuben's work in making them a United States's Army rather than a collection of state militias. Very few NPS guides lacked knowledge or enthusiasm for their subject matter.
16. Worst tour: I am sorry to say that it is Constitution hall in Philadelphia. There is a tour every 15 minutes that takes you to three different rooms in Constitution hall. It is too rushed and with crowds, it is almost impossible to really look at the rooms.
17. Loudest moment: This is a toss up between the times the kids became embroiled in arguements and the time at Valley Forge when they shot off the cannon. Kyle, in particular has three volume levels--off, loud and screaming. I think this will change as he gets older, at least I hope so.
18. Most annoying situation: This is another toss up. On the one hand, the teenage couple trying to go up the extremely narrow staircase in the Bunker Hill memorial arm in arm as if they were attached at the hip was very annoying since there is only one staircase for both directions that barely allows two people to pass. They were obviously passing people who were going down as they were trying to reach the top. I asked them to please go single file and they obeyed immediately. I must have been using my "mother's voice" on them. On the other hand, there was the CNN extensive advertisement-disguised-as-a-news-program discussing the upcoming "Woman's Viagra" pill during breakfast at the Residence Inn while my family and I were trying to eat. I am hoping that the subject matter was so foreign to them that the program might as well have been spoken in a different language.
19. Best place to stay for a family of six: Hands down, Residence Inn is wonderful. Eric and I had a room with a door which allowed us to watch a movie or talk after putting the kids to bed (though they rarely fell asleep right away.) They have free breakfasts and offer dinner meals which are free, though they are not always the best tasting food. The Marlborough, MA Residence Inn is much better than the Cherry Hills, NJ Residence Inn.
20. Most beautiful sight: All of the green trees, green grass, and budding flowers that I don't see in Arizona. I love the mountains of Arizona and ruddy rock I see in different places, the saguaro cactus standing tall and the smoke ash trees which bloom purple in the spring. However, it was so wonderful to see tall trees full of big, green leaves and so many flowers that would wilt within hours of being transported to the desert. I also loved seeing the fireflies twinkling around fields at the wedding reception, which was held outdoors. I miss them.
21. The one thing I don't miss from the east: humidity. Our last day in New England was the hottest and muggiest of our vacation. I loved the cool 70's of Boston and having to deal with rain. However, take that same humidity level and up the temperature by twenty degrees and I consider it as uncomfortable as Arizona in the 100s. I like to have my sweat evaporate rather than cling to my arm like two teenagers going steady.
22. Best way to end a vacation: a wedding party celebrating a commitment two different people are making to love and honor each other above all others, allowing distant family members to gather together and catch up on their lives.