Monday, November 8, 2010

CHOP Toy Run

OK, so we are way behind on the blog here. Instead of letting our stories continue to pile up in our photo folders just to keep them in order, we're going to have to put up this post while it's relevant, and then go in and sneak the others in between where they belong. Whenever that happens...

The annual ride to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is supposed to be the largest rolling toy run anywhere. We've each wanted to take the cold ride to Philly for years before we met, and in fact, as seen below in Previous Adventures of KevAndDonna, we had taken a PTO day last year a few days in advance to ride down and evaluate the situation. I forget exactly why we didn't end up going, but I suspect weather.
From CHOP Toy Run 2010

Anyway, this weekend worked out well for us. The weather was going to be cold, but sunny. It was also Katrina weekend. Trina has done the Allentown toy run since she was old enough to hang on, and I was thinking she had liked the idea too. But damn, November gets cold. Allentown, you can see from the house. Philly is an hour on the turnpike.

It got almost to freezing by the time we got layered up, and off we went to meet the 'boys.' We were by far the last ones there, as expected, and had just enough time to plow through breakfast before heading for the turnpike. We could still feel all our parts when we put the kickstands back down, and from then on, it was pretty comfortable. After a quick warm up in Dave and Buster's, we wandered around until noon.

The ride to the hospital is on the other side of the city, and they shut down the Vine Street and Schuylkill Expressways
From CHOP Toy Run 2010
to get the thousands of bikes through. You're directed into the parking garage, which is a cacophony of loud pipes, the wailing car alarms they set off, and over-rich exhaust fumes. From there, it's a short walk to the main entrance. Where if, like us, you have never experienced it, you will soon be deeply humbled.

Biker people love the image of being hard core folks with kind hearts. Even though it's kind of a cliche, and there is at least some element of Wild Hogs thrown in, there really are biker clubs showing in numbers, from the serious to the truly nefarious. Ultimately, it is exactly what it looks like: real people from all circumstances, trying to do good for whatever their own reasons are. And when they see kids who are living in circumstances much worse than their own, for reasons undeserved, looking down on them through their windows, it's a lot of emotions. In the bright, airy lobby, dozens of kids are waving, clapping, making music, and making us feel a whole lot more important than we are as we walk through their lives. We realize that, as we climb aboard our toys and head back to our own lives, they go back to their rooms excited for only the little that we've left for them.
From CHOP Toy Run 2010

Back on the bikes, we decided to leave the group and head back across the river to South Street for a cheesesteak at Jim's. It was pretty early yet, and we figured if we stayed away from the stadium, we'd avoid the Eagles crowd before kickoff. The ride over was easy, and we found a place to park, but the line was around the block. We didn't wait in it for long before choosing one of the less famous places to be voted "Best Cheesesteak in Philly" by someone. By the time we got back on the Schuylkill, the sun was getting about ready to close up shop, and it was quickly getting pretty damn cold again.
From CHOP Toy Run 2010

Sometime before our exit, 106 miles from breakfast, the motor went silent , telling me it was time to click the gas tank over to reserve. When that happens in the passing lane at 75 mph, you start getting slow really fast, so that's something you want to be good at doing efficiently. We really had to get home, plus neither of us had clear eyewear, so I crossed my fingers as we sped past the gas station and made a beeline for Coopersburg. The only other gas station is 3 blocks from home. I don't know if there's enough left to get me back there, but there was enough to get me here.
From CHOP Toy Run 2010

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