Ok, so this is going to be a really long post! We spent the last week in DC with my in-laws. We had a wonderful time, and here's the play-by-play!
Day 1- Saturday- We left C-bus around 7 am. The original intention was to leave at 5:30, but that was thwarted when we didn't wake up until almost 6! It was quite an ordeal making sure we had everything, and everyone, in the car. We had packed most of our things the night before, so we just needed to grab toiletries, diaper bag and kids. Still it took a good 45 min. Finally we were on the road.... oops! I just remembered that I had 3 library movies that needed returned. Good thing we're not out of C-bus yet. So... we drive around for 25-30 min looking for a library branch. Dad brought his Magellan, so we looked up the closest branch. OF COURSE... it's not a C-bus branch... next? Dropped off the movies, and of course by this time the kids are getting hungry. So we stopped in Zainesville for breakfast. For those of you who don't live around here, that's about 45-60 min away. We eat, potty and get back in the car. By this time it feels like we've been traveling for days, and yet we're not even out of Ohio yet. Boy this is going to be a long day. We get to Wheeling, WV and decide that we need a break. Here's a good place to stop... Cabelas! Understandably we were there for over an hour. But the kids really enjoyed seeing all the animals. Plus there was a trailer parked right next to us, and they had a mule and a dog that they let the kids see. Ok, so we pile back into the car and drive.... the kids fall asleep, so we keep driving. Finally we arrive at our hotel right around 6 pm. What is supposed to be a 7 hour trip has turned into an 11 hour trip. *sigh* what a day.. thankfully my kids travel well!
Day 2- Sunday- This was a more relaxing day. The kind of day you really look forward to when you're on vacation. My Uncle B and Aunt D live in the DC area, so we went to church with them Sunday morning. Their son Bb came up with his gf to visit with us too. My cousin J and her family also live in the area, so after the church service, we headed over to their church to be there for the dedication of their daughter. It was really nice to be there for that. My family is huge, so being a part of another cousins stuff is always a big deal to me. Then we went to B&D for lunch... stayed and visited all the way through dinner. We got back to the hotel just in time for the kiddos to go to bed. What a great day!
Day 3- Monday- The question was raised as to when we were going to do all this sight seeing. I had contacted my state rep to see if we could get some tours scheduled, so I didn't want to see the downtown area right away. I hadn't heard back from Kilroys office, and I wanted to wait. I'm glad I did! We decided to do the Smithsonian Zoo instead. We packed a lunch (Hubby and I had gone to the grocery store after we put kids down Sunday night) and headed out. When we got there we looked and looked for handicap parking (my FIL has a bad back). Finally we found a lot that was open... no HC parking though. Oh well, this is fine! Little did we know that we would have to climb a set of rampish stairs all the way to the zoo... with two strollers, three kids and their stuff! It was worth it though. We got to see things that aren't at our zoo. Sea Lions, an Anteater and her new baby, Lemurs, and of course the star attraction... PANDA BEARS!!! We didn't see the mom and dad, but we did get to see the baby. The girls haven't stopped talking about that day. We also went into the elephant house and got to see them giving the elephants physicals. They made them roll onto their sides and then get up. They had to squirt stuff up their trunks and then the elephants blew it out. Kind of gross, but cool at the same time. We were all hot and tired, so we decided to call it a day around 3 in the afternoon. We were headed to B&D for dinner, so we wanted to make sure we had time to clean up and rest before then. Got a call from Kilroy's office before we left that we were scheduled for a 2 pm tour of the capitol building. So glad we waited! SURPRISE my cousin and his gf stayed another night so we had more time to visit! Then it was off to bed for some much needed rest.
Day 3- Tuesday- We headed downtown for our capitol tour. We took our time in the morning and stopped at Kohls and Olive Garden. Got downtown and found a place to park then walked... UPHILL... to our appointment. Then we got searched. I knew that security was tight downtown, but I didn't think it would be like the airport! My FIL lost his pocket knife. Sorry dad :( So we went upstairs to Kilroys office and met our guide. He took us down to the tunnel. Did you know that a lot of the buildings in DC are connected underground? I didn't know that. So we walked underground to the capitol building. It was kind of weird because we came out on the second level of the building. Go figure. Anyhow... after an amasing 3 hour tour (no joke, it really was 3 hours!) we got to go into the galley and witness congress in action. Of course there was hardly any representatives in there, but they were called for a vote while we were there and we got to see how that all worked. Oh, and we had to go through airportish security AGAIN... this was the 4th time. Glad everything is secure there! The kiddos slept through he majority of the tour. I was very thankful to not have to deal with whiny kids. So finally we're done. We get out of the galley and go back to get our camera and phones (you can't take any of that stuff with you in the galley) and the place was dead. It was a little creapy. Where there were hundreds, maybe even thousands of people before our tour, there are now none, and it is silent. Guess they close at 5! So we start the walk back to our car. What we didn't realize was that we exited the front of the capitol building, while we entered the rear. So we were totally turned around. By this time all three kids are up and ready to eat, plus the sky is looking rather ominous and the wind is really picking up. After much ta-do and asking for directions several times, we finally get turned in the right direction and head back to our car.... then it starts raining. Not nice spring type rain... hurricane type. We took cover under the Department of Health and Human Services car portico. A little ironic if you ask me. Hubby ran for the car which was another 2 or 3 blocks away. As he's pulling out he goes to pay the tenant of the parking garage and realizes that he doesn't have enough cash on him. Of course, they don't accept cards. The tenant was really nice and told him to just go... I'm expecting a bill in the mail any day now... we'll see I guess! Tally-ho, homeward we go. First we drove around to see the monuments and everything though as it was rush hour. We got back to the hotel and hubby and I went out to pick up BBQ for dinner. A long day, but a wonderful experience!
Day 4- Wednesday- This day we had talked about going to the monuments, but decided instead to do Arlington Cemetery and then a museum. Arlington is absolutely overwhelming. I couldn't believe how expansive it is. It is humbiling to think that all those, and many more, have given their lives for my freedom. We heard a guide say that they do an average of 27 funerals EVERY DAY. We heard volleys from two funerals while we were there and saw a casket being drawn by 6 black horses when we left. Incredible is the only word to describe it. If you've never been... GO! We got to see the change of guard at the tomb of the unknown soldigers as well as Kennedy's grave. I would have spent another few hours there, but it was very hot, and with the kids we didn't want to do too much "boring" stuff. So, we left there and headed to the Iwo Jima memorial. I never realized how large this memorial is. Beautiful. We got back in the car and started discussing what museum we wanted to go to. It was between the Holocust Museum and the Air and Space Museum. We decided on the Air and Space since there would be things for the kids to do, and Hubby and I have already been to a Holocust museum. This is right around 2 pm. Just out of curiosity I checked my phone to see if anyone has called me... sure enough Uncle B has left me a message, so I check it. "Lydia, this is B. When you get this message CALL ME. Here is my office number. Call me." hmmmmmmm, ok, I think I need to call him. If he's left me his office number something must be up. Now my uncle is a who's who kind of guy. He pretty much know's everything. If he's calling and saying CALL ME, you call... right now. So we're getting onto 345 to head into the downtown area and there is a complete block of traffic. No one is moving. As I'm dialing my uncle I see an unmarked car fly (well as fast as he could drive in stopped traffic) by. Uncle B picks up the phone... "Good, I'm glad you called. I've been trying desperately to reach you. Where are you?" ... "We just got onto 345"... "Are you on the bridge yet?"...."no, I don't think so... I see a sign that says Regan Airport next left".... "GET OFF NOW!!! Do whatever you have to do and get off at that exit." .... "Ok, what's going on?".... "There's been a shooting". So he goes on to tell me what had happened at the holocust museum just about an hour before. Isn't the Lord good with his timing? Had we been earlier leaving Arlington, or had we decided to see the Holocust museum first...phew..! So, we went to Mt. Vernon instead. Absolutely gorgeous plantation. 8000 acres. We got there about 3 and stayed until they closed. It was amazing. I think the kids even liked it! At least they liked running around in the open :) Then we headed home and had KFC for dinner. After we got the kiddos in bed hubby and I headed to B&D to visit some more.
Day 5- Thursday- This was our last day. If we were going to see the monuments we'd better do it! I cannot think of another word to describe all that we saw but incredible. It was humbling, awe inspiring and breath-taking all while making my heart swell with patriotic pride. What an amazing country we live in, and what incredible leaders we have had. I think DC is something that every person should see at least once in their lifetime. The Vietnam wall and the WWII memorial made me cry even though I didn't know anyone that was lost in either war. To see the mementos that others had left for loved ones just broke my heart. There was a young girl who was lying by the wall of stars in the WWII memorial and crying. She must have been about 10 or 12. There were things left at the Vietnam memorial for "Dad" and "Our Beloved Brother". So sad, and yet incredibly encouraging. Thank you to those that willingly place their lives on the line for me every day! Well, we left the memorials and decided that we had to see the White House. You can't visit DC and not see the White House. We finally found parking... well, I didn't think it was a good place to park, but whatever. 3 hours it said.. surely we won't be here that long. What we didn't see was that it was 9-4... and at the time we parked it was probably 2:30. Well, we got out of the car and walked up to the White House. Incredible. The lawn was gorgeous. Did you know that the Obamas have bee hives? Yup... we saw them! Then we decided to walk around and see the front... this is not a short walk mind you! So we got to the front and watched some kids doing pull-ups on the fence... idiots. They got yelled at... DUH! Their mom got all defensive "You don't have to kill him... he's only 12!" I thought that guard was going to take her head off! We saw protestors camped outside... weird. Do they really think it does any good? We saw the media station and all the cameras set up. No one was outside at the time, that would have been cool! So we finished walking around the block taking in all the sights. We got back around to the back side of the house and decided to sit down for a minute. There is a grassy area with benches behind the house, so we rested there. After a few minutes we got up and started walking back to the car when we heard a helicopter. "That sounds really low" I said. So I look up and flying over head is an Army chopper... then another. At this point I'm getting out my camera to take a picture because I could practicly see if in the windows! Now we hear a third chopper and I'm assuming at this point in time it's the President. So I'm zooming as far as I can with my camera to the white house lawn. Sure enough... it's the big guy! Got some amazing pictures. What an incredible sight! Well, while I'm doing this my FIL runs back to the car b/c he's noticed that there are no longer any cars on that side of the street. Sure enough there is a $100 fine and a tow notice on our window. We pack up as fast as we possibly can and head back to the hotel. We got cleaned up, went to Longhorns for dinner, stopped at Starbucks for coffee and to see my cousin J, and then went to B&D to say our farewells. What a wonderful event filled week we have had!
Thankfully the trip home was totally UN-eventful! We arrived home safe and sound on Friday evening and spent Saturday doing fun things like reading (and in my FIL and hubby's case, building shelves in the garage!). It went by too quickly, and I can't wait to do it again!