Thursday, August 19, 2010

Theme Vacations: Shamu versus Thomas Jefferson

Apparently as a small child I was borderline obsessed with Shamu and begged to go to SeaWorld for every single family vacation. Some may call that crazy, I prefer "focused on my interests". So it comes as no surprise to me that now, I'm packing in as many history-related trips as possible.

One summer I spent a week in Charlottesville, Va., doing research, and also convincing/coercing my friend into driving all over the state to see Monticello, Ashlawn-Highland, a handful of plantations, and Colonial Williamsburg. I've been known to pull off the road at the sight of a brown marker. So when the opportunity presented itself to visit Philadelphia, it was like the mothership calling me home.

Fortunately my friend was extremely dedicated to showing me every. single. historical thing. We literally raced around from church to grave to Liberty Bell to any historical house still standing. Once we'd exhausted the history of Philadelphia, we drove west, stopping at the Daniel Boone homestead and the Reading Pagoda. We picked up another friend and went to watch the Windham Mountain Ranch Great American Frontier Show, which was entertaining and mildly horrifying. We then proceeded to the Ephrata Cloister before our legs and minds gave out.

This has got me thinking: do other grad students do this, or is this specific to history? Some places preserve more than others, but there is often an abundance of historical sites in a given area. And there are a lot of "history attractions" and Ben Franklin impersonators and places where you can dress up in revolutionary garb and fire a musket or roast a grouse. I like all these things. Architecture students have a lot to work with and some science students must have a never-ending supply of museums. But what are math grad students doing? Do they never take vacations? Or are they the ones who are actually making it to the beach?

Oh, wait. We did do one thing that wasn't historical:

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