Archive for July 2014

Washington DC 2014 — Day Three

The wheels on the bus go round and round!!  Today we took the Big Bus Tour.  I found this option and my mom and dad opted to put forth the funds to cover the tickets for all of us (THANK YOU!!!).  It was worth the money.  After putting in 7.5 miles yesterday (covering the White House, Capitol, and one of the Smithsonian’s), it was nice to just sit back and relax and see the city from the top of the bus.  If we had the desire to get off and look at something we could, if not we just rode along.  One member of our party was not feeling up to much, so we road for awhile.  But we did get to see some neat stuff today…and made a list of things to go back and hit tomorrow if possible.

Our first stop was the Lincoln Memorial.  This was a main request from Simeon, because Lincoln is “the coolest guy ever”.  We went by the Vietnam Memorial next because they are right there together.  They also have a statue honoring nurses in the mix which was neat.  The other war memorials there were for the Korean War and also World War II.  Some we will have to come back to tomorrow.  But seeing the names of all the soldiers that gave their lives, regardless if people think it was for naught…they still gave their all.

We hopped back on our bus and headed further downtown to our next stop, Madame Troussards wax museum.  It was cool!!  With it being in DC, they had a section for all the US Presidents.  Being able to see them, and looking so real, was cool.  Some other people I ran into were George Clooney, Denzel Washington, and Julia Roberts.  The process is neat to watch, but the fact that the face looks like it has veins in it makes it very lifelike.  I almost bumped into one and turned to say “excuse me”…he didn’t care. :)

Speaking of bumping into things…yesterday at the Capitol I tried taking a US Representative out.  He was minding his own business in the hallway and attempted to go to work up the side staircase and I got in the way.  Peyton stepped backwards, almost landing on his wingtips, and I went to get out of her way and stepped to the side.  The guy was flexible and able to do Matrix moves…everyone came out unscathed and he was able to go to work without scuff marks.  Our tour guide just laughed and said “that was a representative, you know because of their badge”.

Back to today though.  We left the wax museum and went to the National Crime and Punishment Museum.  This museum held everything crime.  It started from the beginning of time and torture chambers, to Wild West, to Mobsters.  Then they did  a section on police, FBI, and CSI.  There was a lot of reading and neat tidbits of information.  There was a write up about my mom’s family, The Dalton Gang.  There was a finger print machine that would scan your print and give you a paper where it showed what you were in jail for.  We had a Resisting an Arrest, Driving Under the Influence, Reckless Endangerment, and a Violation of Parole.

We hopped back on the bus (after a 25 minute wait, the one and only long wait and downfall of the bus tour) and headed back to our car that we left at Union Station parking.  We headed out to meet some friends of mine, Theresa and Brian Eastham, for dinner.  We ate at Moby Dicks.  It was great to catch up with them and meet their son.

It was a good day.  I was able to add a Union Station to my list of  – have seen items.  I have been to St Louis Union Station, Chicago, and now DC.  Needless to say, DC takes the cake…it’s HUGE.  All of them are great in their own right, but DC pretty much tops the cake.

Tomorrow holds more things.  Hopefully we get to all the “I want to” items on the list.  It’s been a good week so far!!

Until later…ERM.

Washington D.C. — Day Two

We walked 7.5 miles today (16,432 steps) today and the kids did GREAT.  Peyton, a.k.a. Ms. Long Legs, was always leading the pack.  racing from exhibit to exhibit…but the rest of us eventually caught up.  We had a very full day…and a lot of fun.

We welcomed the sun this morning by waking up BEFORE the break of day so we could make the drive into town for our 7:30 appointment for the White House.  It took us longer to get through security than it did to do the tour.  When I was younger and we went through the on tour, we had a guide and was able to actually walk into the separate rooms.  Today they had it set so you could “look” into each room and just walk in the hallway.  But we can say that we’ve been in the white house.  I got a cool picture of the backside of it. :)

Parking was an amazing experience.  I drove into town and had to drive around looking for a meter to park beside.  At first I parked on the wrong side, apparently at certain times you get to park on different sides of the road.  I picked the wrong side this morning, but a kind gentleman told me that I had to move to the other side of the road.  We left our car and walked to our first appointment.  There are a TON of buildings downtown that have great structure and history.  The people here are sooo friendly, they honk and encourage you to get going within seconds of the light turning green.  I do want to thank God for giving us traveling protection…we have seen some accidents, and been in backed up traffic.  But we have been safe and protected.

After leaving the White House we had an appointment at the Capitol with Rep. Jason Smith’s office.  We had a personal tour of the Capitol, was able to sit in on a session of the House of Representatives (participating in the opening prayer and pledge of allegiance).  Having the opportunity to have basically a one-on-one tour was great.  The staff in Rep. Smith’s office were great to work with.  I highly recommend going through your representatives office for assistance when visiting.  The Capitol has some great artwork and the ceilings were very neat.  So much history…and it is all being used.

I parked in a hole in the ground after leaving my spot by the White House.  Thankful for Google Maps.  It has led me around and given  great guidance on finding things that were needed…like all day parking for $13.00.  I found it on the map, and then kinda by accident.  But the attendant was friendly enough.  We ended up leaving our lunch I packed and sunblock in the car, driving down into a dungeon had me a little flustered.  So we had food truck meal in an outside Food Tent set up on the sidewalk.  It had about six vendors other than the truck and some farmers market type booths with fruit and veggies.

After having lunch, we headed to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  Simeon was ecstatic.  We got to see the Wright Brother’s, Amelia’s plane, and all things NASA.  It was pretty interesting.  I’m not a museum type person, I’m a “let’s walk through here and look really quick”…not so much a “let’s sit and ponder and dissect these things” .  I think it’s because when I was little my Dad spent three hours, AFTER the rest of us were through with the tour, reading plaques and looking at exhibits in the wax museum in Dallas.  But I was excited that the kids were excited!! :)

To top the day off we caught the metro back to where our car was parked — we found the hole in the ground two blocks from a metro station.  This was an experience for the kids.  We went two levels under ground to catch our north bound train.  It cost just as much for four people to ride the metro during “peak” hour as it did for me to park my car all day.  But they can say they rode the DC Metro, and it saved us several steps.  We could possibly have made it 8.5 miles if we had walked back to the car.  I’m personally glad that we rode the metro…money well spent.

We have pretty much CRASHED at this point.  Tomorrow we have bus tickets for the Big Bus tours, so we can just ride around all day and not have to walk unless we just WANT to get off and look at something.   I do know the Lincoln Memorial is a must see, we drove around the Jefferson Memorial (due to a wrong turn the other night in the round-about on the way to Arlington).  There is still so much to see and do…hopefully the kids (and me) hold up.

Catch phrase for this week:  “…you uncultured swine”.   — This is enacted by niece #2 when anyone ask a question concerning anything that has to do with food, art, or culture of any kind.

Mandate:  Drink water.  Before they are allowed to drink a soda when we get back to the motel they must drink a bottle of water.  I try to keep them hydrated.  Though we have had MARVELOUS weather and it has not been extremely hot, it is still important to keep hydrated.

This wraps up day two…busy, full, and we’re all tired and ready for some R&R in the motel room.

Until tomorrow….ERM.

 

Vacation 2014 – Washington, D.C. Day One

This is a first for me.  Last summer I took off for nine days and ran away to Washington State for some R&R after graduation from nursing school.  I did not think twice of flying across the US, jumping into a car and driving around the state to go see and do what I wanted to do.  Plug in the cell phone and let Google Maps guide me around.  This summer I asked my nieces and nephew if they would be interested in going on vacation, without a complete plan in place.  The response of screech and jumping (from Peyton), the other two are a little more laid back…it went from there.  The plans were laid, tickets purchased, and I left on vacation with them in tow without other supervision.  I have been on vacation with them, we were just normally with their parents or the grandparents.

Today is day one in DC, we drove to STL last night and ate some GOOD Greek food at Ya Hala.  Had some grape leaves and gyros and topped the meal off with baklava.  Then kicked back at the motel to relax and get ready to fly out to DC.  We rode a small plan, four seats total…more of a commuter plane.  The theory that all stewardess are a perfect ten and blond is a fallacy; we had a steward that was potbellied and bearded.   With it being a small plane, cloudy, and the past haunting me from a trip I took in China were the plan wheels burned off while trying to land…let’s just say that I got a little “car/plane sick” on the decent into DC.  Didn’t help that the plane was a little stuffy…I used the barf bag to fan and just took slow steady breaths and kept my head leaned back.  I survived without incident and herded my “kids” off the plane.

Having “kids” worked out well at the car rental place.  I had rented an “economy” car, thinking I would have the option of a small yaris or something close that would allow us room to sit and place our bags.  Their economy out here is more along the lines of a two door hybrid that would be economical, small, and well…not big enough for a family of four that has an average height of 5’8.  When the guy that was showing us the options, which I towered over by a good 5 inches, kept looking up at me and saying this one (which did at least have four doors).  He gave us a FREE upgrade with a Nissan, four door, standard size car.  I thanked him and climbed in.

We made it to the hotel, with a few mis-turns and turn arounds and checked in.  We were early, so we headed out to explore.  Our first stop on this journey of ours was the Arlington Cemetery.  With a few more turn arounds, a trip around the Jefferson Memorial (unplanned) and finding a parking place we set out on viewing the cemetery that holds the HERO’s of our nation.  It was awe inspiring.  We ended up walking about four miles, and the kids did GREAT!!  We found some stones with our family names on them.  They have March there, but we were unable to locate them…couldn’t figure out the whole system completely.  Seeing the changing of the guard and the Kennedy resting place; along with the history was very cool.

The first day was a success.  We all survived.  Each arrival at our destination was celebrated as an accomplishment (I’m driving in a foreign city).  The three kids got us a free upgrade at the car rental, and if I keep them busy enough maybe they won’t realize that mom and dad aren’t here.  We have several more adventures planned and I’m looking forward to it.

Until later…ERM.