Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Another 3,800 miles logged. Another really long post.

So Pat got sent to D.C. for a work/class thing and we were all sad to have him gone for a week.  And then I realized a couple months back, why don't we just go with him?  We had hoped to visit D.C. for our family vacation this summer but realized after our Christmas trip it would be impossible.  And now we had a chance since work would pay for gas and the hotel in D.C. and a some money for his food.  This would pay for about two-thirds of the trip, so we figured we'd better do it.  When would such an opportunity ever come along again?  Pat was happy to have us with him.  We really like to do everything together as a family and feel happiest when we're together. He ended up in a class with two Saudi's, a guy from France, and a couple others.  It sounded very interesting.

We arrived in Washington D.C. on Sunday afternoon and I knew it would take a month to see everything (I now say a year), so I asked if it would be okay if we saw Arlington right then since we still had some daylight.  I'm so glad we did.  It was a stunningly beautiful day, and it was one of the few times Pat could be with us.

The tomb of the unknown soldier.  It is guarded 24 hours a day.  It was very emotional.

I don't know how much the kids will remember of this trip, but I think one of the things that will stand out is riding the underground metro.  Monday morning we walked through pouring rain to buy our week long cards.  It was a huge ordeal to buy them, it took forever, and we were standing in the rain sopping wet, but we did ride the Metro all over the place all week.  Monday was the only rainy day and it was difficult what with no umbrellas or plastic raincoats and Charles was crying quite a bit, but we kept happy and saw the Museum of Natural History (hated it) and the Air and Space Museum (very neat) and made it home finally.  Warm baths, happy kids.

Realizing they need to hold onto the poles.
Sometimes the escalators seemed to go 3-4 stories up (or down) and were so steep we were afraid to look!  Dallas had Leia in one stroller and I had Charles and there were rarely elevators convenient so we got good at doing the escalators with strollers.
The Angel Picture.  Do you see the angel? 

From our hotel it was about 6 blocks through the city of Arlington to the Ballston metro station.
We rode the orange line most.  The kids laughed everytime the driver announced Foggy Bottom.

It was so busy! 

Train coming.

Everyone on their cell phones.
Playing on the rails.

E's presidential speech.
E and C.  Charles was the best baby ever on this trip. Most everyday he did his diaper business right before we left the hotel so we didn't have to deal with that on the metro.  He was so patient and so silly and so good! 
At least the rain wasn't very cold.
"A small step for man, a giant step for mankind".  This is what the first men on the moon came home in!
The capitol way back there.  The kids loved just playing on the grass.  Stuff you don't see in NM.  Dal and Sam had a week long light saber battle, and to have acres of grass to "fight" on was amazing!!!  Whenever we were resting, they were battling on the grass.
We saw the American Indian Museum too, but were underwhelmed again.  The stuff out here in NM is way better.  There wasn't really anything to see there.
Cool staircase in the Supreme Court bldg.  I don't know why my phone turned it blue.

Miniature picture of the supreme court.  We could have seen in side but only if we sat for the long lecture which I didn't think work work for the younger ones.

Under the cherry blossoms.

The Library of Congress.  One of my favorite places.  If only I could read every book here! They had Thomas Jefferson's collection of books on display which was really, really, neat.
We went to the National Archives and saw the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, but we weren't allowed to take pictures.

Can you stand like a statue?  Outside the Supreme Court.

Can you stand like a statue?  Whenever I ask them this, they come up with the craziest poses.

Since Pat loves baseball, and NM has no major league baseball team, whenever he goes somewhere that has one, he tries to make it to a game.  Here he took the oldest boys D and S.


D loved it and S hated it. But he hates everything.  I think he was so tired.  Pat says he had a good time, so who knows.  They left the game early and missed a grand slam.  But Sam got a t-shirt, Dallas high fived a couple of presidents and was dancing on the big screen.  They ate tons of hotdogs because it was $1 night.  But not Sam.  He hates hot dogs.

From our hotel I could watch the people arrive every morning for work and slowly watch them leave at night. Such a different life from where we live out in NM.  I remember working in a cubicle...

Thursday we went to the Zoo.  All these places are free by the way!  Since we haven't bought tickets to the zoo in years I felt obligated to take them.  But everyone was pretty much bored and tired.  You know how zoos involve tremendous amounts of walking and then sometimes none of the animals are visable?  That seemed to be the theme at this zoo.  We probably should have skipped it.
But we did see the elephants, the pandas and this funky bird called the Abysinian Hornbill.  He was our favorite.  So so ugly. But so friendly struttin' his stuff back and forth in front of us.  We were laughing so hard.


Baby panda.

After the zoo I bought the kids a popsicle.  Charlie kept making faces like this at me.  I figured he was asking for a taste.


He got his taste!

But in the end, he decided he liked it.

There never were so many ledges and walls to walk on as there are in D.C.  My kids walked on them all.

Georgetown homes.

Having small children means having small mishaps.  Like Leia screaming that she's going to poop her pants and then after walking 1/2 mile to find a bathroom, she suddenly won't even sit on the toilet (the loud automatic toilets scared her).  Or the day we were in line to see the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, when Charles did a bad one in his diaper and I had to change it while we stood in line because it was the only choice, or we would lose our place and man those lines are long!

I figure if I'm going to change diapers in public places I might as well sight-see at the same time.  So when Charlie did a big mess and Leia simultaneously wet her pants we decided to change them here at the International Trade Building/Ronald Reagan Building/Federal Triangle plaza.  Just kidding, this is where we were, and none of the buildings was open to the public so we couldn't use their bathrooms.  So we formed a circle.  Charlie ended up in a new outfit, and Leia wore some Charlie pants.

And all are happy!  See Leia dancing in her "capris"?  Now where am I going to put this diaper?

There were about 20 black cars in this entourage.  I was afraid to take a picture.  The drivers all looked mean like you see in the movies.

I miss beautiful gardens!!!  The weather could not have been more perfect during this week!
I love the color of these flowers.
It just so happens that we ended up being here during the blooming of the cherry trees.  No one knows for sure when they'll bloom, but it happened while we were here and so we even got to be a part of the Cherry Tree Festival! 

There were so many Asian tourists visiting (I wonder where they were from?) and they were so kind and always wanted to take our picture.  Here's Leia with her cherry tree blossoms and another flower that she called grapes.  She was upset that I wouldn't let her eat the "grapes".

The Washington Monument was closed so we never got to go inside. 

We walked around this whole lake under the cherry trees to get to the Jefferson Memorial.
Inside the Jefferson Memorial.

Jefferson Memorial.
Korean War Memorial.






Lincoln Memorial.



The Washington Monument.
The Vietnam Memorial. 
 
The Vietnam memorial is too sad for words.  How could so many of our sons be gone? 
We walked by the WWII Memorial, but it was so far away and by then it was dark, so we went home.

Friday we got up and got everything prepared to drive our car to George Washington's house, Mount Vernon.  Then our car wouldn't start.  Our feet hurt so much and we were dead tired, so it was probably for the best.  We stayed in the hotel this day and watched tv all day.   As much as I hate that, it was fun for everyone since at the hotel we could watch cartoons all day, and I could watch the FoodNetwork and HGTV.  We don't have those at home, and I couldn't get enough.  I had to run to the pharmacy once to get Sam allergy medicine and eye drops since all the blossoms were making him miserable.  It hurt so much to walk just to the pharmacy!  It's weird that whenever we have a big trip like this where I am way more active than normal (Dallas had his step counter which showed we walked more than 12 miles one day), I still don't lose weight!  Weird.

After work, Pat came home and then went and bought a battery and the car was fixed!  Now Friday was gone and I was sad because I didn't want to miss George Washington's house.  He's one of my greatest heroes, but we had planned to visit Gettysburg on Saturday on our way home.  So in the end we decided to visit Mount Vernon instead of Gettysburg on our way home.  And I loved it!  Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures inside the house, but we could sit on the back porch at the edge of the Potomac River and see the opposite shoreline full of trees, just as Washington saw it, since it has been preserved.  All the buildings on his estate were intact as they were long ago, the necessary, the stables, the gardener's home, the kitchen, the slaves quarters, the cellars, the smokehouses, the storehouses, etc.  The gardens had been kept as he had them, including his rare plants and trees from around the world.  And they even have a large museum adjacent to the property and shops and such which were really neat! 

The kids and the Washingtons.
 Most stirring of all was the tomb where he and many family members are buried.  Above him and his wife, this scripture is inscribed on the wall, "I am the resurrection and the life.  He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and never die".  I cried and cried.


We drove for 6 days total.  On the way there we went through New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina a bit, Virginia and then D.C.  On the way home, we went up Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and NM home.  We saw a lot, but it didn't mean much because we didn't hardly stop.  Going over the Mississippi was neat though since we were listening to Tom Sawyer on tape while we drove.  It was very fitting. 
My regrets about this trip, besides missing Gettysburg are missing the Holocaust Museum.  That one I just couldn't go to with all the kids and there was never time.  I was so sad to miss that.  Also, we had written our Congressman a month or two before the trip asking to see the Capitol.  He got us all set up for an inside tour (not just the rotunda) and to see the sessions of congress and it was going to be so neat!  Then Pat realized it was on Monday, and he had been thinking Wednesday, so we totally missed it!!!!  That was so sad for us and rude of us to mess up like that.  Plus the White house wasn't open for tours at all.  Lame.  Also we lost our car video player, probably left it in a hotel somewhere, and several cables that were expensive to reorder.  But we were safe and that is what we're so thankful for.  The driving really wasn't terrible.  Not that I want to do it again!  But honestly, I felt like this whole trip went so well.  We prayed much and learned how to do everything mostly alone, me and 5 kids!!!  We packed a lunch every morning, and made the best of everything.  It all went so well and we were so happy.  I wouldn't actually recommend doing this trip unless you have at least two weeks and older kids to appreciate everything.  But it went remarkably well for us.  We're glad we got to do it since the kids have all been studying American history.


If anyone is feeling sad that you can't afford a trip like this, I would say, just go to a hotel with a pool near your home.  That's what the kids loved the most anyway!  You just can't beat swimming with kids.