From Philly With Love

So sorry for missing last week, please accept my apologies. I’ve laid out my long and distinguished list of excuses before, so I’ll spare you this time. The Rushing’s have been crazy with the travel these days – now the kids are even getting into it. The oldest and a few of his teammates are off to “The Most Advanced, Challenging & Competitive Soccer Training in The Southeast.” He left about 15 minutes ago and I miss him already. His Mom is headed for “The Most Recognized and Attended Trade Show in the Commercial Interiors Industry.” She leaves in an hour and I already miss her. That means that the youngest and I are all set for a blockbuster boy’s week. I foresee a great deal of pizza, soccer (with the Euros and Copa America in full swing), and Harry Potter in our future. Living the dream, what can I say?

Let Freedom Ring!
(Seriously... looking at you Big Government/special interest types ;)

We’re running a bit behind on the blog, so I need to catch you up on a trip I took a couple of weekends ago. I had a marvelous time with my oldest in the grand city of Philadelphia. Believe it or not, this was my first visit to Philly. My initial impressions: a) they need to pick up some trash every now and then, b) they win the award for highest volume of panhandlers and aggressive panhandlers of any city I’ve ever visited (although Albuquerque and Chattanooga aren’t far off the pace), and c) they appear to have the highest number of well scaled and proportioned urban streets of any American city I’ve visited. Garbage and beggars aside, the boy and I loved the city and had a great trip.

A great steak and a marvelous experience. That intersection
 is fantastic- home to Pat's, Geno's, and an active city park.
It's a fantastic, bustling, urban neighborhood node.

We landed in Philly around 9am on that Thursday and undertook one of my patented urban death marches. We dropped the bags off at our hotel near Rittenhouse Square, and set off into the city. First stop Washington Park, one of the five major open spaces that William Penn established in the planning of the city. From there, it was a short walk to Independence Hall and on to see the Liberty Bell. On a whim we stopped in to the see the mint (dropping dimes). We then continued North to Franklin Square and turned west into Chinatown. We stopped for one of the most outstanding, porky ramens I’ve ever had at some hole in the wall. We then forged on to City Hall and turned northwest to take in Logan Square. From there we made the long trek to the library, and Rocky’s iconic steps. Despite being a shadow of my former athletic self, and possessing a body that’s endured sixteen months of chemo, I managed a spirited run up the steps and had a little celebration at the top. Having checked Rocky off the list, we started back to the hotel, ducked in for a quick IMAX movie on the way (The National Park one), and limped the rest of the way back to the hotel. We were smart enough to take an Uber to South Philly for our dinner at Victor Café. The food was not very good, but the boy was only concerned that the restaurant was featured in a couple of the Rocky movies. We made it home by 9ish, and thus ended one of the longest days in the history of long days.

Flying High Now...

Ambiance, check. Food...hmm...uh...how about that ambiance!

Friday we had a bit of a sleep in, and then hit the fitness center for a little weight training (seriously). We took brunch at an outstanding little bistro fronting Rittenhouse Square (this was not our last meal there). We went on to meet the wonderful John Coddington at the URBN Center at Drexel for an architectural tour of Drexel and Penn. We then had lunch at an awesome little farm-to-table joint on the equally awesome Sansom Row. We bid John farewell, had a walk along the Schuylkill then went back to the hotel to freshen up. From there it was serious business- deciding where to have our first official cheesesteak. After reading numerous article and opinions, and weighing reputation against objective review, we decided to have our first steak at Pat’s. It was very good. However, after several other tastings over the course of the trip, we found that it wasn’t the best. (That honor goes to Steve’s Prince of Steaks on 16th.) After our steak we headed off for a movie- TMNT was great for the boy, but a snoozer for me. We got home and settled in to watch some basketball, but lost interest quickly as the Cavaliers seemed to wind down more quickly than we did.  

One of the Louis Kahn stations of the cross:
Richards Medical Research Laboratories on the Penn campus.

We were up and at ‘em pretty early on Saturday. We spent some time in the weight room at the hotel- little guy wanted to test his max on the bench press. Sadly, I’m such a shadow of my former self that I could barely spot the weight. Ego bruised, we headed for the train station and took a leisurely ride out to Bryn Mawr. It’s a charming little village that’s dominated by the all girl’s college. Our reason for visiting was Louis Kahn’s Erdman dormitory on the campus. It’s a great piece, I think I liked better than Richards. You can definitely see the seeds of his Dhaka project that he would design just couple of years later. After paying homage to Kahn, we returned to the city. Next stop, the Phillies. It was Aaron Nola day at the stadium, and none other than Mr. Nola himself was handing out t-shirts when the boy walked through the turnstiles. The game was good, we ate a bunch of junk food- pretzels, Italian ice, pizza, and another cheesesteak. We stayed until the bitter end, exited the stadium (which was very nice by the way), bought a couple of cheap Rocky t-shirts from enterprising young entrepreneurs on the sub-way, and headed back downtown. As we took an early-evening stroll through Rittenhouse, we passed a group of overly relaxed, smoking teenagers. This led to a explanation of "what's that smell", and a conversation on "well, why don't they get arrested?" A teachable moment, and a conversation that lasted into the night. 

A lesser known work but a stunning piece of architecture.
Why didn't my dorm look like this? (actually, I know why.)

Sunday morning we got up and headed to…you guessed it…the Rocky steps. We both ran up, took a ton of pictures, and headed back to the hotel. After freshening up and packing, we set out for our last few hours in the city. First stop was an outstanding brunch at…you guessed it…the Parc Bistro. Full as a couple of ticks, we cruised up to the IMAX and watched the Journey to Space (this was as much about resting my legs and letting the food settle as it was about the movie). We then continued our gastronomic binge by heading to Steve’s Prince of Steaks, to grab a couple of wiz wits, and ate them at the wonderful Dillworth Park. From there, it was on to Suburban Station where we ran a most impressive gauntlet of panhandlers- both aggressive and not. In a way it was good thing, as that created yet another teachable moment, and another conversation that lasted most of the afternoon. When the train finally arrived, we took the PHL>ATL>CHA route home. Lights out at 1am brought the wonderful trip to an end. 

There's really isn't much more to say, is there?

I offer a brief health update. A scan on Friday revealed that the tumor has continued to shrink, and there is no new cancer. The percentage of shrinkage is somewhat less than the past few scans, but the tumor is smaller, so I’ll take it. My liver levels are elevated, however this might be the result of a drain exchange from earlier in the week. In any event, the levels aren't yet high enough to stop this course of chemo (which has, in the doctor's estimation, greatly exceeded expectations). He also mentioned that there are a couple of potential clinical trials floating around out there, but while this chemo is working, we're going to stick with it. All in all another good report- long may they last. 

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