Monday, March 22, 2010

Washington DC Day One

We went to Washington DC this past weekend. It was pretty neat-O! Once I find the camera, I will post some pictures that we took.

It's only about 4 hours away. Did you know the Mason Dixon line is only 2 hours away? We passed right over it on the way home. At least, that's what John said. I wasn't paying attention to the signs. I hope he didn't make that up and now I'm pawning it off as fact. It's happened before.

Saturday, we spent the day looking at memorials and white houses. We walked over to the Washington Monument, and then we looked at it. We couldn't go in yet, because we needed to pick up some free tickets.

The boys and I walked around the monument while John waited in line for those tickets. As I walked around, I saw a bunch of little pieces of white pickets stuck in the ground. It was our first protest of the day! From where we stood, it looked like a little Arlington National Cemetery. I walked down to read the sign describing the project, but I can't remember now what it said. Something about remembering soldiers who died in Iraq. There were a lot of little grave markers. It was striking, and I tried to talk to the boys about soldiers dying in war and how we need to remember those soldiers with reverence. But, I'm not sure I did a good enough job.

After we met up with John, we headed over to the Lincoln Memorial. First, we walked through the World War II Memorial. Trevor wanted to know if we will ever have a World War III, and John asked me if they called it World War II at the time. I refused to answer Trevor's question by answering John's instead. Mostly, I made stuff up. I think I told them they called it the Great War, but that was World War I. My degree in history doesn't serve me well in that I still don't really understand how war solves problems and that I get World War I confused with World War II. (I think I could probably still pass a multiple choice test on those wars, though!)

It was on this walk that I saw my first protest sign specifically targeting Barack Obama. It was a war protester, and she just wants him to earn his Nobel Prize and end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It hurt my heart that anyone would not love our president. Then, I felt bad for hating W. as much as I had.

We kept moving and walked alongside that big reflecting pool. You know the one? The same one that Forrest Gump jumped into when he saw Jenny at a war protest? It's really big and long. There were bales of hay in the pond. Everyone wanted to know why they were there. I speculated they were some sort of filter. But, John speculated that the secret service were hiding there ready to come after us, guns blazing, if we fed the ducks or threw money into the pond.

The Lincoln Memorial was OK. Big old Lincoln. Expressive Face. Someone did a fine job with that memorial. We didn't get to climb up on the Lincoln statue, though. A velvet rope kept us back.

From there, we headed to the bathroom! Long walk and all the coffee I could drink had taken it's toll. There was a bathroom in the Lincoln Memorial, so that's where we headed! Why? I know you want to know why I'm mentioning it. Well, there was a little display with some Lincoln quotes right outside the bathroom. And, I want to talk about the one that stuck with me. Because I'm not looking hard enough, I can't find the quote. But, I think what he said was he was tired of people saying he was an fighting the war to end slavery. He wasn't fighting this war to end slavery. He was fighting this war to preserve the union. And, I think he was an abolitionist at heart. But, he would have let Slavery linger had it been for the good of the union. At a different time, he would have been a different president, and not nearly so great. You know who I think was great, James K. Polk. He doesn't get nearly enough credit. He's my favorite unsung president. I bet you thought I was going to say Jimmy Carter, didn't you?

After the bathroom at the Lincoln Memorial, the boys remembered a food stand on the side of the road they had seen earlier in the day and the way it sold ice cream. It wasn't quite noon yet. Heck, it wasn't even 11. But, that was when they began talking about ice cream and when they could have it.

I made some vague promises about after noon. Not, afternoon, but sometime after noon. It worked, but by then, Devin could hardly walk and needed to rest. So, did Trevor.

So, we did.

Then, on we moved to the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

I wish I could say that the emotion rose up in me. But, all I could think of was 58,000. All of these Americans died, and I really wish I knew why. So, we just walked by and didn't try to find any names, and I silently laughed at the signs that requested I show respect for our soldiers by not walking on the grass. The two ideas didn't really seem related to me, and I wanted to walk on the grass for the incongruity of it all.

After the Vietnam Memorial Wall, we headed over to the White House, stopping at a hot dog cart along the way. We only saw the back of the White house. We could have walked around to the front, but that would have been a longer walk and the children were wilting in the 70+ degree temperatures.

Instead, we just snapped a few pics. John was pretty sure he saw our President. But, I'm pretty sure it was just a security guard. The White House has a really nice back yard.

Well, we kept walking. The boys played on a statue they found as a group of people went by shouting "WHAT DO WE WANT?" (mumble, mumble, mumble) "WHEN DO WE WANT IT?" (nownownowownow)

I think they wanted Healthcare. Or, maybe they wanted the wars to end. I don't remember for sure now. They may have wanted both at the same time.

So, after we let them pass, we kept walking. Just as we crossed a street, a large, noisy motorcade passed by. John was pretty sure the president was in it. He was in Washington this week, fighting for the Healthcare bill, but I don't think he was in that motorcade.

We were in search of the National Aquarium. But, we got sidetracked by the White House Information Center. And, while in the White House Information Center, we got sidetracked by a fire alarm. I was just about to use that bathroom, too, and I almost did anyway because why? Because alarms don't scare me! What an idiot! Finally, a security guard was like, "TOURISTS, GET THE HELL OUT! FOR REALS!" But, that's not what he really said. We left, anyway. I played hero and opened the double door no one was using and increased the throughput out of the building 100%. John noticed my heroism.

We kept walking to the aquarium, but once we got there, we realized that it was in the same block as the White House Visitor Center. Which means the same building. And, it was being evacuated, too. Then, the firetrucks came. Then, a security guard came along and said, "TOURISTS, MOVE YOURSELVES TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET FOR OUR FIRE DRILL. FOR REALS THIS TIME!" Except all he really did was flap his arms. Still, we followed his orders because it was our civic duty.

We hemmed and hawed and finally decided to hit the Museum. Which museum, you say? Why, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The Smithsonian Museum of American History was closer, but even I didn't want to go there! (To whom should I return my diploma, I wonder.) We enjoyed the museum as much as one can enjoy a museum. It was free. So, that made it fun.

Finally, we headed over to the Washington Monument with our free tickets. We waited a bit, then we rode an elevator to the 500 Foot Level. And, we looked out all 4 sides. Over by Capitol Hill, we saw a mass of people. We asked a park ranger what it was about, and I believe she said they were anti war demonstrators. Or, maybe she said they were anti-healthcare demonstrators. Or, maybe people from both groups were there protesting both the war and healthcare at the same time.

Our friendly park ranger at the top of the Monument also explained that the motorcades carrying our president always contain an ambulance. So, the earlier motorcade must have just carried Barney Frank or someone like him. Maybe Joe Biden. We'll never really know.

After looking out all four sides, we headed down to level 490 where we waited for the elevator. It was a long wait, and it was stinky at level 490. I have to tell you, if you're in Washington, do go up the Washington Monument. It's well worth the wait and the free ticket. But, if it's a monument you want to go up, choose the St. Louis arch. Yeah, so to put it another way, if you're planning your vacation around a tall monument, make it St. Louis. But, to expand on that idea, let me just add this. Please don't ever plan your vacation around going up in tall monuments. There are better ways to plan vacations.

After the Washington Monument we started walking back to our hotel. We stopped along the way for ice cream because by now, it was afternoon. Devin got a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Ice Cream Novelty and Trevor got an Ice Cream Sandwich with Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry Ice Cream. Devin's melted all over him, and Trevor thought his was the best ice cream sandwich in the world. Ever.

We finally made it to the hotel and spent a couple of hours at the pool. The pool was in the spa, so we were escorted to the pool by a nice young lady who offered noodles to the children. John declined on their behalf, but I piped up and said I wanted noodles. I didn't know why she was offering noodles to any of us, but I was pretty hungry by then! Unfortunately, she meant those floaty noodles. Fortunately, we did actually need those noodles, and I'm hoping she left not knowing just how hungry I was.

After showering and watching a little Disney Channel, we headed over to Fogo de Chao for dinner. Lovely Gluttony.

I would love to say we ended the night with tummies full of yummies, but alas, our night ended a different way. And, I got to see a side of the city I didn't expect to see around midnight on a Saturday night. I was pleasantly surprised as well as annoyed with my stupid self.

But, I'm saving that story for another day. The boys are feeling neglected.

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