A few years back, I decided to make a goal of visiting all 50 states before I turn 50. Last fall, my mom and I went on a road trip covering all of New England (and part of Canada). That trip left Delaware as my only state east of the Mississippi. I knew there wasn’t much to Delaware, so while I had previously been to Pennsylvania and Maryland, I decided that I wanted my next “new state” trip to be to Delaware with Philadelphia and Baltimore (new cities) included since they’re all so close together. Little did I know that plan would also end up being a Hanson trip I’ve aptly named Philawaremore.
Back in April, Hanson announced they were going to be playing the Maryland State Fair outside Baltimore. I immediately jumped on it and knew this was the perfect chance to visit these three places. My friend and I started looking into details, and soon booked flights in and out of Philly and hotels outside both Philly and Baltimore. We even started planning the specific order we wanted to see all the things in Philadelphia, because we knew our time would be limited. So of course come June Hanson threw a wrench into our plan; they announced they were also playing a show in Wilmington, Delaware the day we were flying into Philly. I immediately went into high alert mode thinking we would have to change our flights and hotels, but after we looked into the details we realized we could still pull everything off the way we had planned.
Thursday, August 22, 2019 – Wilmington, DE
After meeting my friend at the Philly airport, taking a train into the city, and renting a car (Planes, Trains, & Automobiles, anyone? #MoviesHollyHasNeverSeen), we got to Wilmington about 5 hours before show doors. We had initially planned to walk around and explore the downtown area, but we quickly realized there wasn’t much to see, unless we completely missed something. We ended up killing time in Starbucks and grabbing drinks from a bar with fun outdoor seating overlooking the river, but unfortunately it was too hot to sit outside. Really weird things kept happening, so I started saying “Delaware? More like Dumbaware”. Things such as: the same Taylor lookalike showing up at both Starbucks and the bar, a glass of water sliding off the table and shattering for no apparent reason, and Siri completely giving up on telling us how to get to our destination.
My friends and I bought ticket upgrades to this show so we could be up in the balcony and not have to worry about the general admission line. We found out day of that the upgrade included early entrance to a “pre-show party” where people could buy food and drinks beforehand. GA ticket-holders were also able to purchase access to this pre-party, and it ended up being quite the mess of miscommunication. We were eventually lead to our seats in the balcony and soon after a server came by asking if we wanted to purchase food. Going along with the “Dumbaware” theme of the day, we hadn’t even seen a menu yet. After finally viewing the menu and paying for overpriced small dishes, we later learned that our ticket upgrades also came with free food in a different room that no one told us about.
Weirdness and frustrations aside, the show was everything I had hoped it to be. I expected the typical one-off show/MOE-tour-esque set list, and Hanson delivered, although with a quite unexpected encore of “Man From Milwaukee” and “Roller Coaster Love”. Before the show, there were rumors that Ryan Phillippe, who supposedly summers in Delaware, had commented on Instagram that he’d be at the show. We did see a man matching his profile, surrounded by security, come through the balcony door and stay for a couple songs, so I imagine it was him.
Friday, August 23, 2019 – Timonium, MD
On Friday we spent the bulk of the day driving around Baltimore. We had planned to walk the harbor, but it turned out to be a rainy day. On the plus side, the rain brought with it a delightful temperature of 66° which I haven’t felt since probably around April. We had brunch at Miss Shirey’s Cafe (I ordered a delicious crab omelet with a cocktail comprised of espresso vodka, cold brew coffee, coconut milk, and chocolate syrup), and attempted, but failed, to drive out to a lookout point over the water.
We got to the fairgrounds just as the rain ended and walked around for quite some time trying to figure out how exactly to get to the entrance for the stage area. We were told it was on the west end of the horse track, and we walked over and found other fans in the area waiting. While we were waiting in line there was a horse race going on between us and the stage. This is definitely the first time I’ve had this happen at a Hanson show, but oddly I’ll be seeing them at another horse track later this year in my old college town. And speaking of old and college, a guy I went to school with, who I haven’t seen since college, sent me a message on Facebook asking if I was at the MD state fair. Turns out his wife is a Hanson fan and they live in the area and he recognized me standing in line. I found him and we chatted for a bit and I met his wife and two adorable children.
About five minutes before door time, they told us that was just where the radio meet and greet winners were to go in, and that the main entrance was on the north end of the track. By this point, there were at least 100 people in line who all had to go to the other side of the track. Imagine the chaos had this not been a seated show. There were a lot of disgruntled fans as half the seats were actually beyond the edges of the stage, so even most front row seats were not a good view.
The setlist for this show was unsurprisingly pretty similar to the Delaware show. I was hoping we would get “Compromise” instead of “On and On” again to mix it up, but I do love “On and On” so I can’t complain too much. Maybe it’s because I was in the front instead of the balcony, but it seemed like the guys had a lot more energy for this show than they had in DE, and I felt every bit my age by the end of it. Afterwards we stuck around the fair long enough to eat our share of fried foods and then went back to the hotel for some more substantial late night snacks… because sometimes you just need to eat hot crab dip while lying in bed in your pajamas.
Saturday, August 24, 2019 – Philadelphia, PA
On Saturday, we packed up the rental car and drove back up to Philly. We had a full day planned of all the sights we wanted to see. Our first stop was Liberty Bell, and what looked to be a line the length of the city block. It turns out it was just a short line to get through security, and then a long hallway where people were casually mingling around a small museum before getting to the bell. Apparently I have some Hanson Line PTSD to work through because the whole ordeal was way more stressful than it should have been. (“Why aren’t people moving faster?!”, “Why aren’t we in a single file line?!)”
We had planned to go see Independence Hall next, but tickets for the day were already sold out, so we reserved them for the next day instead. We stumbled upon The National Museum of of American Jewish History. It was free, a nice break from the sun in some air conditioning, and had a lot to look at. My favorite part was the temporary exhibit telling the story of a woman who left her abusive husband and moved to America from Belarus in the ’60s.
We finally made it over to Elfreths Aly, which is supposedly the oldest continuous residential street in the country. They were cute row houses, but I can’t imagine choosing to live somewhere with tourists walking up and down my street all day. (As I type this, I suddenly remember where I live; but at least the tourists stick to my work street and not my home street.) On our way to Elfreths Aly, we took a pit stop to try some famous water ice while hanging out in the courtyard of Betsy Ross’s house. Apparently water ice is neither water nor ice, but something resembling a melted popsicle: thicker than a slush, but not quite sherbet or ice cream.
Next, we went to Love park for some obligatory photos with the cities famous LOVE sculpture, and then went to the top of the One Liberty Observation Deck. Had we stuck around another hour, we would have seen what I’m sure was a gorgeous sunset over the city, but my feet were killing me (#NewShoesProblems), and we were getting hangry for some cheesesteak. We had it on good authority that the non-touristy place to go was Dalessandro’s, and it did not disappoint.
Sunday, August 25, 2019 – Philadelphia, PA
Sunday morning we headed straight to Independence Hall, where this time we had reserved tickets for a guided tour. We had lots of “Front Row Freedom” jokes, but failed in making any “Scream and Be Free” jokes. Here’s a Fun Fact About Holly™: George Washington is my second cousin, eleven (I think) generations removed. I was never big into history, but it’s always more interesting to see where everything actually happened.
Next on our list was Reading Terminal Market, which was a really fun stop to make. There were so many foods and drinks that I wish I could have brought home with me, from fresh shrimp and crab to delicious limoncello. We split the obligatory roast pork sandwich from DiNic’s, then Ubered over to The Franklin Fountain for some ice cream.
We then drove by the Philadelphia Museum of Art to take touristy pictures on the Rocky steps (#MoviesHollyHasNeverSeen). But when we couldn’t find parking and saw that they were setting up a stage for some sort of event, we realized we were too worn out from all our travels to care. It was at this point we decided to go ahead and call it a day. We weren’t sure how long the rental car return process would take, and we needed to catch a train back to the airport. We ended up with several hours to kill at PHL, which led to planning the details of our next trip in Hawaii. (Coming soon to a blog near you!)
All in all, Philadelphia was a lot of fun, while Baltimore and Delaware were a bit underwhelming. There will always be crazy stories to tell no matter where you go, and sometimes the guy you match with on a dating app will be literally checking you out of the front desk at your hotel. The nice thing about traveling for a band is that even if you end up in a very “meh” location, you at least get a great concert out of it. So here’s to the next one (and two, and three…)!