As I have mentioned before, sometimes the best trips do not involve hours upon hours of driving, but can be found close to home. And sometimes, attractions are so close to home that you always tell yourself that you will get to it “sometime.” Unfortunately, saying you will visit that interesting location “sometime” is a convenient way of procrastinating. This weekend, after driving past an awesome location more times than I can count, I decided to finally pull off the highway and pay a visit to a very cool spot in Philadelphia along the Delaware River: Penn’s Landing, where I stepped aboard the cruiser USS Olympia and the submarine USS Becuna.
First, however, I spent the morning giving DH a thorough wash and wax. For much of the past month, I have been busy during the weekends, and the Accord has accumulated more than its share of dirt. While the paint color hides most of the filth, up close the car looked grimy. Several hours of washing, waxing, and polishing, and DH once again looked in tip-top shape.
Built in the 1960’s, Penn’s Landing is a waterfront attraction in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, along the Delaware River. The area that was chosen was reputedly the site where William Penn, founder of both the city of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania colony, landed upon arrival from England. The site later became the city’s primary port during the 18th and 19th centuries, where ferries, passenger ships, and cargo vessels would routinely stop to load and unload passengers, produce, and textiles. The major docks in Philadelphia are now more to the south, and Penn’s Landing functions as a tourist attraction. In addition to the Independence Seaport Museum and several museum ships, there are also many restaurants, harbor cruises, food stands, and beautiful parks. Penn’s Landing is a great place to visit on a beautiful Autumn day!
My reason for stopping by Penn’s Landing, however, was to finally step aboard the two major museum ships along the river: the Olympia and the Becuna. The USS Becuna (SS-319) is a WWII-era submarine which served in the Pacific Theater, sinking Japanese supply ships. It later continued service in the Pacific during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, at the beginning of the Cold War. The crew of 10 officers and 72 enlisted men lived in very cramped quarters. Privacy is nonexistent on board a submarine, and the submarines would spend months at sea, with little in the way of creature comforts or personal space.
After leaving the Becuna, I headed across the gangway to the USS Olympia. Commissioned in 1895, the Olympia is a protected cruiser that served as the flagship of Admiral Dewey during the Battle of Manila Bay in the Spanish-American war. Equipped with guns ranging from firing 8″ shells to 37 mm bullets, as well as torpedoes, the Olympia was a heavily armed, and armored, war machine. She served through World War I, and was then retired. The only ship of her class, Olympia was outdated before her construction was even completed, as a new type of warship, the battleship, was emerging. Stepping on board the Olympia was like boarding a time machine to life over 100 years ago.
After having driven past the Olympia and Becuna countless times, I am very glad I finally took the opportunity to stop and visit these great ships. For $16, you gain admission to both ships, as well as the Independence Seaport Museum. If you are visiting the Philadelphia area, Penn’s Landing is a must-see destination. Thanks for coming along on yet another Voyage of DH!
‘Til next time.