❰❰Freedom Tour

by Jesse Herrick

July 11, 2014

About two weeks ago, my family and I went on a vacation of the USA. Enough said. Okay fine, I’ll elaborate.

Note: This post took several days to write, so please appreciate the work I put in to tell you all about my life here.

Day 1 – Niagara Falls

On the first day of the trip, we spent most of the day driving. It was about a 6 and 1/2 hour drive up to Niagara Falls (American side, of course!). When we finally arrived, the view was breathtaking. It’s hard to describe the Falls with just words, so maybe this picture will help.

View Over the Falls

We took the Maid of the Mist tour; which basically takes you on a boat to the bottom of the falls.

View Under the Falls


Jesse Herrick and Jack Herrick on the Maid of the Mist Tour

My brother, Jack (shown left) and me (shown right).

After the tour/boat ride, we climbed up the side of the falls (to the reluctance of my family), and got soaked. I really enjoyed the view. After climbing up and down the side of the falls, we went around to the very edge of the falls; another beautiful view. Seems so peaceful, doesn’t it?

Top of the Falls

The top of the Falls.

After taking in all of the sights that one could possibly see, we went to a restaurant, and planned for the day ahead.

Day 2 – Boston/MIT

This section of the trip was mainly to visit my sister at MIT. She’s a Junior now (I think) and is studying computer science. I only have one photo from the whole time, because everyone in my family did not want a photo or video taken of them for some reason.

Tip: Thai food is disgusting. Seriously, who willingly eats that stuff?

Family in Boston

The family getting froyo in Cambridge.

We also visited the USS Constitution (aka “Old Ironsides”). It’s an old Navy battleship with just a little less security than an airport. I forgot to take off my belt when I walked through the metal detector… Anyway, here’s some photos!

The USS Constitution

“Old Ironsides”

Me "steering" the USS Constitution

Me "steering" the USS Constitution.

Parents GIF

Google auto-awesomed this for me. (my parents)

Day 3 – Cape Cod & MIT (again)

That morning I woke up and made the hour-longish trip to Cape Cod (Nauset Beach, specifically). It was about 85 degrees Fahrenheit out (30C for you metric people), and the view was beautiful, but the water was freezing. It was like taking a bath in ice. Eventually I got through the pain (once my legs went numb) and went deeper, but it was not a great beach experience. That being said, it was June in Massachusetts…

Luckily I had brought a frisbee, and my brother had brought a soccer ball, so we did that for a while.

Me near warning

It looks nice, but it was super cold.

The Horizon

The horizon.

After the icy cold waters of the Atlantic ocean, we went back to visit my sister at MIT. This time it was just my brother and I, so she was much less calm. My father managed to capture the drop-off.

Drop-off with Corinn

A family moment.

Then we went to a café called Flour. I had a delicious sandwich of turkey, bacon, and cheese. The bread tasted so fresh, and the bread is what makes a sandwich great. After that we went to a place called Toscanini’s for dessert. My sister (and the good people of Foursquare and Yelp) highly recommended the B³ flavor. B³ stands for brown butter, brownies, and brown sugar. As you might expect, it tasted like caramel-y goodness.

Next, Corinn (my sister) took us through a the funky looking building on campus (can’t remember the name). They have some cool stuff in there. She also took us crufting. Crufting is the time-honored tradition (probably?) of finding, and re-purposing old hardware. Apparently, the MIT labs and students get rid of old hardware when they get new hardware. So it’s just put in a pile, waiting to be picked-through and then recycled. I found a nice Brother brand printer and a few computer accessories. Most of the stuff had already been picked through by people hunting for RAM and other parts, but apparently “new” stuff gets dumped there all the time. Overall, it was a pretty good day.

Day 4 – Road to Philadelphia

That morning we woke up and started the 5 hour drive to Philadelphia. However, due to road work, traffic, and other annoyances (my mom seriously believes that the GPS lies freely), the time doubled to about 10 hours. So by the time we got to Philadelphia, all of the historical stuff was closed and we called it a night — but not before cheesesteaks!

We went to a place called Sonny’s Famous Steaks. I know there’s much more famous places like Jim’s and Geno’s, but I didn’t want to wait in an hour long line to eat, and Yelp had very good ratings on this place, so we tried it. I’ve only been to one other cheesesteak place in Philly, so I don’t have that much to base these opinions on, but everyone seemed to be enjoying their sandwiches and I did too.

Jesse in front of Sonny's

Me in front of Sonny's Famous Steaks.

After the delicious cheesesteaks, we checked into a hotel, swam, hot tubbed, then slept.

Day 5 – Philadelphia… Finally

That morning I woke up to the smell of freshly sizzling bacon. Just kidding, it was just like any other morning. You know what? I’ll just go through my morning routine:

I wake up to the sound of Neil Patrick Harris singing “My Freeze Ray” and have to do 5 challenging math problems to turn it off. Then I flip on Songza’s Indie Morning playlist and wash up (shower, teeth, face, etc.). Then I put on some clothes and start the day.

I don’t know about other days, but here’s how my family wakes up:

Hearing my music at 6:45am, they slowly wake up in a haze. The next logical choice of course for them is to get back to sleep. How do they do that? By trying to shut off my music of course! That’s where my genius comes into play. As they try to get the music off, they are actually becoming more alert. While I like the music because I like music, they don’t like the music just because it makes a sound. By the time they get out of bed to attempt to turn it off, they are moderately lucid. Mwahahahahaha!!!

Once everyone got up, we enjoyed a hearty breakfast and headed out to the Liberty Bell. There was a reasonably long line, but it only took about 30 minutes to get through. I had seen the bell before, and so had some others in my family, but I was the last to see it in its current state (in a heavily guarded museum). Here’s a photo of the bell:

The Liberty Bell

The iconic symbol of American freedom.

After visiting the Liberty Bell, we walked across the street to Independence Hall. We didn’t go on the tour (for various reasons) but we did get to see the outside of it.

Panarama of Independence Hall

Panarama of Independence Hall.

More Independence Hall

Another Independence Hall picture.

At some point we also visited Ben Franklin’s grave. I think it’s really cool to look back at the history of how America became America and Ben Franklin is a big part of that. We threw some coins onto his grave too.

Ben Franklin's Grave

I think it's good luck... or maybe some homeless guy made that up for free change.

Ben Franklin's History

What a great man.

To finish up our day, we visited Eastern State Penetentiary. I had been there before, but it’s amazing how much I still learned despite that fact. For those of you who don’t know, Eastern State Penetentiary was the first prison to focus on reform rather than punishment. This changed the penal system throughout the world. And who was involved with it? You guessed it (or not, wait, how am I reading your thoughts?!?), Ben Franklin.

Eastern State Penetentiary

One of the halls in Eastern State Penetentiary.

Day 6 – Washington D.C.

On day 6 of Freedom Tour, we drove from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. (2h 20m). First though, we stopped at Arlington National Cemetery. I shouldn’t need to explain what it is. You get a sense patriotism and respect for those that have died for their country. I didn’t get too many pictures, but I did get this one of JFK’s grave.

JFK's Grave

John F. Kennedy's grave.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Tomb Guard at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Jesse at the Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Amphitheater

Honestly, I have no idea who that girl is. She kind of just got in the photo.

After visiting the cemetery for a good two hours, we drove to the main city. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but America is awesome!

Will Ferrel Patriotic GIF

By the way, I keep my GIFs here. Here’s that GIF’s source.

Anyway, let’s talk more about our nation’s capital. We didn’t do much else that day, but we did get to the see the Lincoln Memorial. At night.

Spongebob - At Night

Sorry, I’m getting a little GIF happy here. :wink: The point is, the Lincoln Memorial looks awesome. Especially at night.

Jesse Herrick in front of the Lincoln Memorial

Me in front of the Lincoln Memorial at night.

Day 7 – Washington D.C. (Museums, Archives, and Buildings)

Day 7 was the final day of our trip. We started it out by visiting the US Archives. I don’t have many photos because they don’t allow anyone to use their cameras, but it was cool to see the historical documents that made our country what it is today. We saw the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution. Unfortunately the Declaration of Independence was very faded, but it was still cool to see the document that we read about in history classes.

After the Archives, we went on to visit two museums, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. I found both of them very interesting. Here in Ohio we have the National US Air Force Museum, but it was still very awesome.


Family in front of an airplane.

Now it’s time for what we’ve all been waiting for… Jesse in front of the US Capitol Building!

But first, some creative shots of the US Capitol.

Far away.

Who knew that the US Capitol has a reflecting pool too?

Let’s see what social media has to say…

So I’ve been writing all day (not just for this), and I’m really kind of sick of it, so I’m going to try to finish this post up.

Anyway, after that we saw the White House. It’s actually not worth posting a picture of because there isn’t much a facade to it, but yeah, I went there too. Now if I got to meet Obama, that would be another story, but unfortunately, no. So after that, we jumped in a car and headed for home! Then I went to a murder mystery dinner, but that’s another blog post (that I may never talk about, we’ll see). Anyway, bye!


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