New Year's was far more exciting as my girlfriend and other friends came to visit. My girlfriend and other visitors are from Western PA, so we spent the week doing touristy things. Our first stop was Philadelphia to see the historic district. Unfortunately we couldn't get into Independence Hall or the Liberty Bell Pavilion (line wrapped around the building), but we still got to see some neat stuff. That night I took them to the Bhakail fencing practice so they could get a proper butt-kicking. =P After the practice we went to the diner with everyone and had a good time. Thursday we had planned on going to NYC, but we were too beat. Instead we went to Strasburg. Strasburg is located out in Lancaster and operates steam-driven passenger trains on a short branch-line. While we missed the last train of the day (see a trend here?) we did spend a healthy chunk of time in the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum. Me, my girl, our friend, and my dad and half-sister are all pretty big train fans, so it was a good time.
The next day I took the girls to Valley Forge National Historic Park, and our first stop there was General Washington's Headquarters. Both girls are history majors and loved every second of it. We drove around to the park's other major sites, as it was too chilly and time-consuming to walk. When we had made our loop of the park we had some time to kill before going to Longwood Gardens with my dad, stepmom, and half-sister, so we went to the King of Prussia Mall. It's the largest mall on the east coast and it was packed! The only store we really got to go into was the LEGO store, which took its toll on all our wallets.
We then met up with my dad and went to Longwood. So. Many. Lights. I can't imagine putting up the Christmas lights at that place, it was nuts. Gorgeous, but nuts. They also had a pretty awesome garden railroad display that was pretty cool.
Saturday we hung around waiting for the rest of our friends to arrive and when they did we spent New Year's Eve drinking and playing Magic. New Year's day we took our enlarged group to KoP for a more extensive shopping experience, though the LEGO store was still a hotspot.