DC: Land of the Free, Home of the Busy

We are home! Actually, we’ve been home for a week now, but somehow time has gotten away from me with the blog. Possibly, due to the work on the backyard, working my regular job, my Pure Romance parties and spending 3 hours driving around to pharmacies to find the meds for Zachary. (Grrr…another post entirely.)

We had an absolutely fabulous time in DC. And except for the first full day in DC, the kids were very well-behaved. I, however, believe that the brood *may* have scared our host away from ever having kids. Because after 39 years of being a bachelor, having a 2, 5 and 7 year old invade your home and run you ragged really shows what life with children can be like. At a couple of different points, our friend said to Chuck “You guys don’t ever get a vacation do you?” to which Chuck replied “This IS our vacation.” We are definitely NOT the sit on the beach, sipping cocktails kind of people. We see and do everything we can possibly cram into the days without overstressing us or the kids.

Now, that’s not to say we don’t have downtime! We went to Chesapeke Bay on Sunday after a VERY busy 4th of July but even at the Bay we didn’t just sit around. Chuck and I were in the water with the kids, picking up shells with them, playing on the playground. Well, okay, we were actually sitting on the benches next to the playground, but you get my drift. To us, that was a really relaxing, fun time!

So let me back up…what did we do? We started our trek on Thursday, July 2 at 4:00 in the morning. Got about 20 minutes from home when, being the list maker that I am, was rambling through the list in my head and checking things off when I asked Chuck if he’d packed the little camera. The look on his face said it all…so since we were still close to home, we turned around and got it. Back on the road at 4:45. Stopped at Brandywine Falls in Ohio for breakfast and to take a hike and stretch our legs a bit. The falls were beautiful and well worth the little trek off the road to see them. The kids were in awe of them. Elizabeth made me nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rockers as whenever I turned my back for 2 seconds, she was climbing the railing.

After that, we drove…and drove…and drove. The highlight of the trip was going through the mountain tunnels for the kids. About an hour from DC we stopped at Fort Frederick and were one of only 2 families there. So we got to see everything up close and personal. The kids were mostly concerned with running around in the huge grassy area of the fort which I encouraged and whole-heartedly agreed with as they’d been cooped up in the car for 12 hours by that point. However, when the guide brought out the musket and asked if they wanted him to fire it, the answer was an emphatic “Yes!” It was neat to see how enraptured they were with something so simple. The gentleman was nice enough to do it again…at the encouragement of 2 of my little people.

Day 2 started out in a fantastic way...everyone was awake, showered, and ready to go. I had turkey sandwiches made and along with other lunch items and snacks packed neatly in a backpack along with Elizabeth's diapers. We got to Gallaudet University to park (where Dave works) and Chuck asked "Where's the backpack?" He does this to me all the time...trying to freak me out, I guess. I told him I SAW him carry it downstairs, afterall, I was right behind him on the stairs, I saw it on his back. Well, apparently, after the stairs he put it down on the sidewalk of the apartment building in order to throw away garbage and put Elizabeth in her carseat...and promptly left it sitting there. At this point our options were to go back and hope that it was still there (unlikely) and waste a good hour of our day or go on, try to find a little convenience store to buy diapers and buy lunch in DC. I voted for the second option. We headed out to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and I kept my eyes open for someplace to buy dipes. Did you know that in a major metropolitan area it's just not that easy??? So Elizabeth was soaking wet, the boys were more interested in running around than looking at the exhibits in an overly-crowded museum and we spent $36 for 2 pieces of the crappiest pizza I've had in my life, a turkey sandwich, and a cup of soup. So, um, yea. Day 2 wasn't that great. I believe this was the day that Chuck suggested we buy lemonade and tanqueray for "Mommy". ;)

July 4 rolled around and it was suggested that after the day we had before, maybe we shouldn't do all the stuff we'd planned. But seriously? Go all that way to do nothing? NO WAY! So we went to the parade and had seats right on the street, ate a huge piece of watermelon and awesome chicago style coney dogs, played in the field a bit and then spent 5 hours or so at the Air and Space museum which was AWESOME. Only mishap was that we lost Zachary for about 10 minutes...one of the longest 10 minutes of my life...but we found him again, no worries. Zachary also scraped up his face pretty good after the museum by trying to do some skater-style jump/turns off a brick wall and instead skidded across the pavement on his face. A trip to the first aid station and 20 minutes later and we're all good. It was nearing time to go see the fireworks (it gets dark early in DC...who knew?!) and we located my oldest brother and his kids and had the most fantastic spot just about 150 yards from the Washington Monument. It was amazing! I'm so glad that we were able to experience that....the kids were enthralled from the first bang. And really so was I!

The next day, we went to the "ocean" and then spent the evening going to all the monuments. It was a great time to see them...the crowds had died down, the weather had chilled off and we were able to find close parking! Perfect!

Monday saw us going to probably the favorite of all of us: The National Zoo! It was awesome. Easy to get to, compact but not crowded, and the kids got to stuff their own stuffed animals...so cute! Each of them carried their own stuffy out of the zoo in their box/carrying case and I don't think a herd of wild buffalo could have gotten Elizabeth's lion cub away from her. I offered to help her (the box is almost as tall as she is!) but she yanked away from me and glared like I had tried to rip off her arm. Little Miss Independent. We stayed up late kabbitzing with Dave and enjoying our last night together...

Except maybe a little too late considering that we wanted to leave at 6 am on Tuesday. We made our deadline though..or close to it. And didn't even forget any of the children behind. We were on the road for just a little while when Chuck saw a sign for Gettysburg, so off we went there for 2 1/2 hours or so. We drove the auto tour and gave the kids just a taste of history...Zachary seemed to be interested, Lucas just like climbing the rocks, and Elizabeth wanted to give me a heart attack by running over and around everything. Back on the road for just a little while before we stopped at a state park in PA for lunch and kite flying. Another hour and we're back on the road in the backwoods of PA, up through the mountains, down through the little burgs. We were on a small 2 lane road in a small town that consisted of a bar and some houses when I saw a sign that said "Flight 93 Temporary Memorial". After telling Chuck what I'd seen he said "We have to go" so off we went and ended up in a field in the middle of rural PA to arrive at a site that Chuck described as creepy and I couldn't help but cry at. On the way out to the field, we tried to relay to the boys exactly what had happened there...how men and women lost their lives trying to beat the bad guys so that more people weren't killed. How these men and women were heroes. I don't think they understood. But after seeing the site, leaving 5 strings of red, white and blue "memory" beads and a note, and Zachary reading all the memorial stones....he walked away saying "this place makes me kinda sad momma." I shook my head, through the many tears, and told him I couldn't agree more.

So, what should have been a 12 hour trip home ended up in an 18 hour trip home...but lots of memories made along the way.

I couldn't pick just a few pictures to post...we took over 700 afterall....so I put together a video of some of my faves. Thanks Dave for having us and allowing us the opportunity to experience so much!


Hannah said...

What a fun vacation! The pictures are great. Now I'm not American but I imagine that DC was a GREAT place to be to celebrate the 4th of July!! :-)
Your vacations sound a lot like ours, we also cram lots in and get right in there and play alongside the kids. Like you guys, we find that relaxing and fun! Only on our rare "kid-free" holidays do we sit on the beach sipping cocktails. But then doing that actually felt really odd, LOL!! Hey, we can holiday like that when we're old, right?!

Grandma B said...

I agree with Hanna; You can sip cocktails when you get old & gray! How lucky the kids are to have parents like you guys. I am so proud of you!!!!! What a lovely vacation & what beautiful memories! I can't wait to see the rest of the pics!


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