In the true style of whatever style it is of our family (usually chaotic), Hank and I went on a trip this past weekend. It’s one that we had planned long before we found our new home and moved, back when we were obliviously caught up in our dreamland of a future farm. We had planned out a mini-vacation with our next-door neighbors to Washington DC, with a concert (Avett Bros + Zac Brown Band) as the highlight, and Hank’s mom had agreed to come out to stay with the boys and have some grandma time all to herself.
We realized that we had nowhere to put her. Yikes. There was no way that we could ask her to walk up and down stairs into an unfinished basement, untarp the bed, sleep on the floor (on a cushy mattress, but still!), prepare meals over the firepit, and wash dishes in the tub. Oh my word!
Our friends came to our rescue and offered up their home for the boys and Grandma, since our friends would be traveling with us to DC. On that note, I must brag about the amazingness of our friends! How lucky we are. I don’t think that we can ever repay their generosity.
We landed in DC Thursday afternoon and hit the pavement running. We had Thursday evening, Friday until concert time, and Saturday morning to see everything on our cumulative lists.
I am mesmerized by churches. The churches that I’ve attended have all looked pretty basic – or like a mall – so the history of old churches captivates me. I love especially that they’re often surrounded by more modern buildings in urban areas. I began falling in love with Hank at the site of my favorite old church in my hometown. He peeked into the courtyard with me late at night and helped me hug the walls. Weird? Probably. The way to this girl’s heart? Definitely.
Not far from our hotel, we ran across where President Lincoln was shot and the home in which he died. I’m sure you can find beautiful and moving photos of those places all over the internet; what I loved watching the most was Hank and Matt recording everything themselves. It’s so fun to see people light up over our country’s history.
It didn’t take long before we looked like tourists in the truest sense. We got stuck at intersections wondering which way to go…
Thankfully, DC was prepared for us (and millions of other folks) and placed markers everywhere, in addition to having an app for that.
Not long after we passed the building pictured below, a pizza delivery guy showed up with dinner for the guards in front of this building. It’s the DC that you don’t always see! :)
Ah, magnolia trees. Favorite! My sister had a huge magnolia tree in her yard a few years ago and I always tried to time my visit around a blooming time. I loved floating the flowers in her pool.
Our first stop was the Washington Monument. There was a lot of pointing and looking like tourists. :) Also, there were softball and kickball games going on EVERYWHERE. It was SO fun to see so many people outside playing. We thought it be devastatingly hot and humid, but the city is really quite active and outdoorsy. We happened to catch the city on what Hank calls, “a Chamber of Commerce” weekend. The weather was gorgeous and not at all oppressive. Ahem. YET.
It didn’t take long to find ourselves in the midst of a Tour by Segway. What a crack up. All of the Segways had signs, “Sponsored by Paul Blart, Mall Cop.”
The White House. Hank wanted to jump the fence, but he doesn’t have enough savings in his “Get Me Out Of Jail” fund yet, and I’m not spotting him any dollars.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is incredibly moving.
There are waterproof books in stands at the far end of the Memorial that have all of the names listed with their location panels. We found only one Pantier (no relation).
The Lincoln Memorial. It’s incredibly grand, and beautifully moving. It’s amazing to me that so many people milling about can be reverent and quiet at these memorials.
At this point, we had walked about 872 miles and become so thirsty. I downed a large lemonade and a bottle of water while watching these natives play a game of cards. It took about two minutes (the downing of liquid – I think the game is still going on).
The Korean War Memorial was incredibly eerie. We came to it right at dusk, and it looked like real soldiers climbing out of the bushes. I took a little liberty with the last photo with a double exposure. It seemed to fit the emotion.
We fell into bed after quite possibly the most delicious Mexican food I’ve ever had, and again hit the ground running the following day.
We found a pretty great coffee shop first thing that just happened to be by a cupcake shop. This gentleman guided us through the cupcake menu to help us settle on three red velvets, a carrot cake, a lemon, and a chocolate chip cupcake to share between the four of us. Um…I didn’t get photographic evidence of the cupcakes. Or the crumbs. There were NONE LEFT. Who can resist red velvet cupcakes immediately after breakfast?!?!?! (I will cut you if you raise your hand.)
The cupcakes gave us incredible navigation powers, and we found bikes to get to our next spots throughout the city faster. (And again, Hank’s social skills were incredible in getting more inside information about the city.)
We ducked inside the Smithsonian first, with a quick break for Matt to have a conference call (Hank had his conference call that morning at the coffee shop – yay for being able to work “on the road”).
And then lots of discoveries, like totem poles, moai, the Star Spangled Banner, and a Lego flag.
The wing on our nation’s wars was incredible. There was too much to see, too much to process for much photo taking.
I had to get this photo, even though I had to throw elbows like I was at a sale at Nordstrom’s to get it. The boys have been fascinated with The Hope Diamond since watching Titanic (we fast forwarded through the naughty bits).
We’ve had to do a little research on The Heart of the Sea v. The Hope Diamond. They’re preferring to believe that this is, in fact, one and the same. :) Love their imaginations.
Lastly, this sculpture of George Washington baffles me. It feels a little too Caesar for a buttoned up George Washington, but maybe someone out there might explain it better than the museum. I’d like a little more information about “why”.
Dude was ripped, though.
(Yuck. Just called a President, “Dude.” Bah.)
We called it a day afterwards, grabbing a bite to eat and going to the concert.
Saturday morning, we spent a little more time at the Smithsonian, then caught the Metro to Arlington National Cemetery, towing all of our luggage with us since we had to leave from there and go directly to the airport.
It was powerful. I don’t really know how to describe a lot of this area in words…I still think I’m processing a lot of it. I wish there was more time to meander and reflect, instead of what I did, which was walking around with my jaw dropped.
One interesting tidbit: Instead of visitors leaving flowers at grave sites, they leave rocks on the headstones. It was quite touching.
I was also surprised that there were headstones that weren’t the uniform ones that are usually seen in photos. Hank explained that it was allowed for a time, and then ceased. Has anyone else been there and know more?
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was so powerful and emotional. The soldiers were beautiful and commanding, and you didn’t dare breath too loudly or make a sound. I switched my camera shutter to “silent,” which still sounded painfully loud when I took photos. I was a nervous wreck.
When the Changing of the Guard was complete, we were “greeted” by a policeman at our bags and sorely reprimanded. All four of us had been so caught up in the scene that we walked away from our bags to get a closer look at the guard, and he sternly explained that when you leave a bag, he has to call the Bomb Squad and they blow up your bags. I was so embarrassed that I didn’t think of taking them with me. I’ve never done well with getting in trouble, and in DC no less! Ugh. I said, “Yes Sir!” too loudly and scampered away in a pile of sweat. I think that my ears rang for about four hours afterward. That was so hard for this rule follower.
And then…total chaos.
When we were en route to the airport, Matt received an email that our flight had been cancelled. Not only ours, but every flight in DC, New York, Raleigh-Durham, and throughout the eastern seaboard. Air traffic control was completely down. He scampered, trying to find flights out any time Saturday, any time on Sunday, and finally found tickets on Monday at 6 am.
We made lemonade out of lemons, y’all. Our driver took us to see Iwo Jima:
We saw more of the museums and architecture and sidewalk artists:
And I ditched my camera for the rest of the trip to simply enjoy it with Hank and Matt and Mei Ling. We spent the next day in Baltimore at Camden Yards and watched the Orioles slaughter the Athletics, had an amazing Cuban dinner back in DC that evening, and caught a very early flight after three hours of not-very-good sleep to get back home to this.
By the way, Holden is smiling because he just tooted, and Ewan is trying to get away.
So good to be home.