Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Summer of National Treasure

Every summer when May rolls around, our family makes a long, elaborate list of things we want to do, places we want to go during the summer. We hang it on the fridge and check off the items as we accomplish them, and when a weekend comes with a day or two of free time, we look to the list.

This May, our kids watched National Treasure, the movie staring Nicholas Cage where he races all over places of early American historic significance in search of clues to a treasure beyond all treasures.

My kids were totally enthralled. Especially since we live near D.C. and they have seen every place in the movie in D.C. The first half of the movie is hard to hear beneath all the cries of, "We've been there!" And especially since Nicholas Cage could be the identical twin of our very good friend Bob (who gets asked for autographs all the time!).

So this summer, when we made our list, the kids wanted to make it the "summer of National Treasure," and hit all the places in the movie. We're not dumb. This is American history. Completely masquerading as a movie. We were totally in.

So here are my kids in D.C., in front of the Capital, which isn't exactly a focal point of the movie, but cameras are frowned on in the archives.

Over Memorial Day we set out to see Philadelphia. We spent an inordinate amount of time staring up at Independence Hall trying to figure out how Cage climbed out of the clock tower and skittered along the roof. We also determined it is impossible to get the "timely shadow" on the arches by the clock tower at 2:20, or any other time. The sun rises and sets in a way that shadows here are impossible.

We had to visit the real liberty bell, of course, which is where Ian, the bad guy, realizes he is in the wrong place. There is great history here, but my hubby and son spent the time trying to figure out the entire of the engravings on the bell, and , of course, looking for hidden clues!

In Independence Hall, we found the stairway Cage and his cohorts snuck up.

Ever the pranksters, my son and hubby tried to sneak up as well, with the permission of our tour guide, who was a fan of the movie as well!

My five year old loves the movie more than anyone, but here she was happy to dance while the rest of us are sneaking up the stairs. We call it the I've-been-to-Independence-Hall dance. It was entirely cool to be in the actual room where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

A few weeks later we headed out to New York to finish our tour. First stop: Trinity church. The movie doesn't capture the outside very well, but here it is.
The funny thing is that we have determined the movie couldn't actually be filmed in Trinity church. The lighting isn't the same. The pews aren't the same. The front, where Cage and the FBI guy sat, wasn't the same. Despite that, the kids hunted furiously for the crypts where Parkington Lane was buried!

Of course, we had to take the photo of the intersection. The kids kept saying, "Heere at the wall... De Heere Street and Wall Street!"

And here is my son in front of the original wall that formed the battery made by the Dutch that formed what is now called Wall Street. Who said movies can't be educational?

So now it's July and two more months stretch in front of us, half our summer list already accomplished. Life is good!


  1. hwhu??

    That is so cool you guys did that! I just watched that movie for the first time this weekend, lol...it was great, I must say. He is not normally my favorite actor.

    I don't even think the movie was based off a book, was it?

  2. That is a great idea - the list and this whole National Treasure thing. I loved that movie. Beautiful family too.
    Living in Texas, it would be a major trip to go see all that stuff, but being the historical nut I am, I cannot wait until we go see all the sites you posted on. Great idea!

  3. It is such a cool movie. As far as I know it isn't based on any book, but the majority of the history facts are true.

    Brittany, we are at such an advantage being so close to everything. We finally broke down and bought the second movie and now the kids want to do those places too. That would be London, Paris and South Dakota. Ummmm... I think that's going to have to wait another summer or two! :)