Saturday, April 16, 2016

New Hope, Pennsylvania

The Trip: A day trip to New Hope, Pennsylvania

The Mode: My Volvo XC 90, also known as The Mom Mobile

The Adventures: Shopping, ice cream consumption, experiencing the kid-friendly exhibits at the Bucks County Children's Museum, pining over a bear (don't worry; I'll explain)

This time, much like George Washington, we crossed the Delaware. Unlike Washington, we soaked up the sun and checked out the funky shops of New Hope.

Our version of crossing the Delaware

Today, the weather finally shifted into perfect Spring mode. When we came home from Orlando, it was 32 degrees in New York. It was cloudy, cool, and, dreary for more than a week. Then the temperatures magically jumped into the mid-60s, the sunshine made its glorious return, and we hit the open road for some fun.

Zoë is ready for the sunshine

Nostalgia Alert! Nostalgia Alert! New Hope was one of my favorite haunts back in the day, say late 90s, early noughties. The Backstreet Boys and Britney were in regular rotation on the radio, I was in all my child-free hippie-girl glory, and New Hope was a funky town dominated by LGBT-owned stores selling handmade clothing and jewelry, antiques, and genuinely unique stuff.

Now, if you'll forgive an old lady a trip down Nostalgia Lane, my then-husband and I would occasionally drive over the bridge spanning the Delaware River and spend hours poring over antiques, paintings, statuary, oddities, and miscellanea we couldn't find in Manhattan. The shops were cool, the store owners were friendly, and we almost always came away with something we never knew we wanted.

Over the years, gentrification took hold, and then the gentrified shops went bust. Some of the old standards from my heyday are still there, and some are thriving. After a time of appalling normalcy, it seems New Hope is starting to become weird again, and I hope it can return to its former glory. Some things, however, are gone forever, like the Aaron Burr pistol graffiti in the sidewalk outside of the Aaron Burr House, a B&B on the site the notorious American vice president hid out after shooting and killing Alexander Hamilton in an illegal duel.

Taxidermy Bear says, "Get on with the story, already"

Okay, Taxidermy Bear has a point. On with today's adventure!

Speaking of the bear, I fell in love with this guy the minute we arrived! He was chillin' on a chair at a funky little shop we passed. I clicked a quick photo because he was so dapper and handsome. I figured we'd enjoy a day of fun, and I'd come back in the afternoon and ask about him. Alas, I should've asked right away because he was gone by the time we made our way back. [Insert sad face here.] Who knew there would be a sudden run on taxidermied bears?

Everyone was plenty hungry by the time we arrived, so we chose the Logan Inn, New Hope's first inn, established in 1727. Now it's a low-key dining establishment with outdoor seating and standard pub fare. Gabe went for pasta, and both Sebastian and Zoë chose grilled cheese sandwiches. Mmmm, mmmm. The menu includes sandwiches, burgers, salads, and the like. 

After lunch, we took off in search of a Victorian death memorabilia shop my ex-husband told me about at Christmastime. It seems the shop has fallen victim to the town's shaky economy, because we couldn't find it at the address advertised on its website.

We were disappointed but undeterred. We did discover one of my old favorites -- Mystickal Tymes! Gabe, my oldest, has been obsessed with the Harry Potter books recently, and he was determined to find something magickal. The shop has something for just about every religious belief system, including crystals, stones, wafting incense, statuettes, and even psychic readings. Gabe settled on a few stones that promise protection and stress relief. I don't know if or how they work, but Gabe seemed appeased.

The kids, who outnumber me three-to-one, started shouting for ice cream, so we walked off in search of frozen treats. 

We explored an indoor mall that previously boasted art galleries, toy and souvenir shops, and an ice cream parlor. An art gallery is still there, and the ice cream place sells candy and a few toys, but the rest of the place, including the public bathrooms, has been boarded up. Sad, really.

Strawberry for Seb and green mint chocolate chip for Gabe

After the ice cream was devoured, we hoofed it over to the Bucks County Children's Museum, where the kids ran amok, checking out exhibits using air to propel balls into the air and excavating treasures from sandy work sites. The kids spent about two hours playing and working off lunch and ice cream. 

 We headed off into the sunset, quite literally, after a day of seeing quirky things, eating yummy food, and having a good time. Not a bad way to spend a sunshiny day. 

New Hope Notes

If you go to New Hope, here are some helpful pointers. If you take New Jersey/Pennsylvania Route 179 over the small bridge spanning the Delaware, there's no toll. It's a savings of about $1, but if you really want to pinch pennies, this is an easy way to do it. Also, parking is cheap or sometimes free at New Hope-Solebury High School, which is about half a mile from the downtown area. The entire city is a mere one square mile, so if you don't mind walking a little bit, you can save yourself from feeding meters or paying for your parking. Occasionally, one of the school's organizations will charge about $5 for parking in the lot, but we weren't charged for our visit today.

Happy travels!

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