So I arrived in Philadelphia at around 6:30 am, found a payphone (boo! not used to using those anymore) and called Debbie. Poor girl. Quite an early wake-up call after a Friday night out with friends. She was a total champ, and showed up in about 20 minutes to pick me up.
We were too early for breakfast anywhere, so we went back to her place, had a little breakfast, took showers, and got ready to go touristing.
There are lot's of MAP murals, as well as many independent (non-MAP) murals. "Theatre of Life" on S BROAD ST & LOMBARD ST was my favorite, hands down, but it's difficult to see how magnificent it really is from the photos. Anyway, after a little touristing for murals we got a little bored with the process, and decided to head on down to Reading Terminal Market. Huge, and very cool. Of course I have a love affair with food, so I thought all the fresh ingredients and homemade Amish goods were really wonderful. Before getting back to the car we'd also managed to walk some of the area near my hotel and have an excellent cup of coffee at nearby La Colombe Torrefaction, and do a little shopping at Anthropologie. Usually way overpriced, but I managed to get a gorgeous skirt on sale for 75% off. Awesome. Anyway, after a couple of errands and a driving tour of more of Philadelphia, we went back to debase place in Germantown for some down time.
Later in the evening we walked down to one of her neighbor's homes for a night in with friends. Since my memory is so completely awful, I'm not even going to attempt to remember everybody's names, but they were all really great. Very interesting, funny, and friendly. I begged off playing games on my own, but since we were odd-numbered anyway Debbie and I paired up as a team in a game of Catch Phrase. Loved it! Want it. Next time we show up at your house we may just be bringing the game with us.
And, after sleeping like a rock for the night, and taking our time getting around in the morning, we decided to hit the mall. And hit it I did. You've never seen me have this much fun shopping. And I spent way too much money. But as Debbie continued to point out, I didn't buy anything that wasn't at a great deal. Everything either on sale or at H&M (my favorite simple t-shirts, and everything always at reasonable prices, but not many of them in the U). Still, you've never seen me with so many shopping bags!
Debbie and I also got together with another friend of her's on Monday night for dinner. I have to say I've never had so much fun with her. Astoria was really a difficult time for both of us, and I think neither of us was on our game back then. These days we're both happier, and it really shows. She looks really great, and it felt like after 8 years apart we were more similar than we'd been after spending 2 years together. I was honestly pretty surprised at how easy and fun it was to be with her. And all of her friends were fantastic too. She's planning on coming back to Oregon for a visit in July, and I'm hoping I'll have a chance to visit with her some more then.
Working with the crew in Philadelphia was great. It's nice to be in the same office with co-workers, even for just a few days. It really is easier to have your co-worker located just over a cubicle wall or behind a door. It's all psychological I think, because it's not that hard to pick up a phone or NetMeeting with that same person to get help or to collaborate. But it's really nice to be able to go out to lunch with them, or take advantage of a free moment just to chat. Does it go without saying that everybody in the office was super friendly and helpful? I love my job.
Well, there were some rough spots in this trip (including an eventful and unpleasant cab ride back to the Philadelphia airport), and I seem to have returned with the flu. I'm feeling a little better tonight, and hopefully will continue to improve, as this is a critical week for work. I don't even remember when I had the flu last, but I've gotta say it's entirely unpleasant. By Friday night I had a fever, and was alternately shivering and sweating, had a horrible headache, and my lungs were completely congested. I guess it should have occurred to me that with all of the traveling I was doing this season, a flu shot might have been a good idea. I've never had one before, but next season I'll have to think about it a little more carefully.
All things considered though, it was a really great trip. I did find my cell phone! Yeah, Gregg knew all along I'd find it in the back of the car. Smarty pants. I'd apparently put it down when I went back to the car to grab my gloves and hat. And it was fantastic hooking up with Debbie again. I had a great time with her. And working in the office with Jon and Dmitri, and chatting with Rob and Ross, was productive and fun. Not sure when I'll have another chance to go back to Philadelphia, but I'd jump at the chance. Even considering all the pitfalls, and the flu, it was a great trip!