We flew up on Friday morning, in time to enjoy some cheese steaks for lunch (from Steve's -- not Pat's or Gino's -- on the recommendations of some locals). Then we visited some of the cool historical sites: the Liberty Bell, the Museum of the American Revolution, Independence Hall.
We probably walked more than 6 miles that day, finally to the Museum of Art and up its impressive staircase (aka "the Rocky Steps"). What a view!
And we had a pleasant surprise: as we were walking down Benjamin Franklin Parkway, we heard sirens and saw emergency vehicles coming slowly towards us. It turned out to be the Army marathon team, running the game ball to the stadium!
We ended the day with a delicious dinner at Barclay Prime, and visited an Irish pub for a nightcap. There were Army and Navy fans everywhere, and MJ enjoyed making little digs at the Navy fans at every opportunity.
Saturday morning it started snowing. And snowing. And it didn't stop the whole day. Fortunately, we were prepared, so we geared up and headed down to the stadium to meet up with some old friends of MJ's at a tailgate. The big surprise of the day was when this character -- the Crazy Colonel -- showed up at the tailgate. Crazy Colonel is a somewhat famous guy to West Pointers, known for whipping up the Corps of Cadets into frenzies at football games. We saw him in the cadet section towards the end of the game, still wearing just his shirt sleeves. Crazy!
Then there was the game. What can I say? It was phenomenal. At the end, it came down to a Navy field goal attempt with just 3 seconds left on the clock. From our vantage point, it looked like the kick was good ... but then we saw the officials waving it off, and it was just pandemonium. MJ bear-hugged about 50 complete strangers in our section. We were all screaming, jumping up and down, and high-fiving everyone.
This picture sums up our experience in one shot. Our happy faces, the awful weather, the cadets storming the field in the background, the score on the scoreboard.
To make it even better, with this win, Army won the Commander in Chief's trophy. That hasn't happened since MJ was a cadet in 1996.
We made it back to our condo and changed out of our wet, cold clothes. Then we went to another great dinner nearby, and celebrated all night.
The next morning we took a long (and frigid) walk along the river, and then went to the Franklin Institute, where they were hosting an exhibit of the Terra Cotta Warriors from China. It was really impressive.
On the flight back, MJ told me that this was one of the best weekends of his life. We arrived home in time to have dinner with the kids. Countless thanks to my parents, who watched the kids for us while we were gone -- what a gift it was! The kids re-enacted their reactions to the final moments of the game, jumping around the family room, whooping and waving their arms. We assured them that we had been doing the same thing at the stadium.
Last night, before we tucked the kids into bed, we said our prayers. "Dear God," said Little Man. "Thank you for making that Navy kicker miss his kick."