Sunday, July 12, 2015

Family Vacation 2015 - DC Day 1

About 16 hours after closing on our new house, Brent drove me to the airport.  Yes, that was as crazy a feeling as it sounds. I flew to DC to participate in a conference. The rest of the crew joined me on Tuesday evening.  My husband is a rock star who unpacked our entire storage pod with our kids and his parents, unpacked a lot, hung blinds, etc, and then, on Tuesday, packed up our three kids and flew to meet me in DC.  I definitely had the easier draw this time, but was SO excited that they were able to join me.  
Traveling from OK to DC typically takes about 8 hours all in by car, plane (x2), and then a taxi so when they arrived we went to sleep for the day.  Four people in a king sized bed and one in a chair + ottoman due to some room availability issues at the hotel I had been staying in for the conference.  We'll call the next morning day 1 as it is when the fun really began.

Day 1:

Wake up around 7 to get everyone ready, and attempt to grab breakfast together before I need to be at the conference.  I headed to "school" for a few hours while Brent and the kids began exploring DC.

 First, they explored the grounds of our very historic (and in M's words, very fancy) Omni Shoreham Hotel.  There had been talk of a morning swim, but they settled for some exploring before heading to the zoo. 
 National Zoo is a short walk from the hotel and the first priority is, of course, the pandas.  They saw the whole family, all busily eating. 
E, M, and a meerkat
 They spent some time in the small mamal house and saw a variety of cute little animals up close. 
B, M, and an ant eater statue --- I'm told the ant eaters inside were not this fabulous. 

 They also visited the herpetarium.  It is well known that I do not visit the herpetarium in any given zoo.  They took many, many snake pictures to gross me out, but this is the only sample I'm sharing here.  There were also quite a few cute pictures of elephants, chincillas, turtles, and owls.  Then, in great vacation fashion, Brent let them each pick out a stuffed animal at the gift shop.  This was the first thing I noticed as they walked toward me on Connecticut Avenue when we met up later.  M had a penguin, B a bald eagle, and E a new lion friend.  They even bought me a stuffed panda!  Some combination of these new friends joined us on all our ensuing adventures during the week. 
 Next up - a subway ride across town, lunch at Union Station, and a quick walk to the Senate Office buildings.  I hadn't planned on taking them to the capitol, but in reading a "what to do with kids in DC" guide the day before it was highly recommended. I once worked for one of Oklahoma's craziest Senators and knew his office almost always has space on their afternoon tour.  Luckily they fit us right in and we got to see all sorts of cool things and I relieved my time giving tours at the capitol. 

The red coated expert suggest a picture of B's eagle with the eagle in the old senate chambers. (His eagle is now named falco-- although he went through a few names the first day) 
 Since the House was not in session, we got to visit the speaker's balcony.  It is fabulous and an amazing view. 
 Variations on this photo are the only ones of all of us on this trip.  Ooops?  Nice view though. 
 The rotunda is under construction inside and out following the earthquake a few years ago, but still very impressive. 
 A key taken from my travels, especially those in Europe is to always look up.  The Capitol is a great example as it has amazing ceilings, lights, and paintings all over. There are so many cool details. 
 E, his lion, and Brent in the old house chambers trying out the whispering spot trick -- I'm sure you've heard of it. 
Pictured here - our tour guide, the other two tour members, and our crew learning about Will Rodgers lucky shoes. (B looks thrilled?)

One last peak looking west.  The kids did amazingly well. I was pleasantly surprised.  I had been a little nervous and think the tour guide was too, but they did so well.  The red coat "experts" around the Capitol were especially good at talking with them and suggesting fun facts about obscure rooms like the old Supreme Court Chambers that might not otherwise have been exciting.  We did have a little bit of a civics lesson too to explain what the building was all about (this was reinforced in the 15 minute intro video.  They kept telling people they saw a movie at the Capitol, which was a little confusing to other people).  We did go in and see the House chambers, but no photos were allowed.
DC requires a lot of walking, but luckily it has some very scenic resting spots. (Note the penguin and Eagle resting too). 
Union Station- complete with lots of bunting, which was a very popular word on this trip. 

After the tour, we went out the back doors to see the Library of Congress and Supreme Court buildings on a more leisurely walk back to Union Station to catch the Subway back to the hotel.  After that, we grabbed our luggage and took a taxi to our friends' home in Alexandria where the next phase of the journey begins.  

PS - We took notes daily of the most memorable thing for each of us.  For day one they were:

M- pandas, getting penguin and helping E get his lion
B taking pics with falco (the eagle), having daddy take a picture of a creepy snake
E-lion statues, elephants and pandas and lions -- (A bridge near the hotel and the front of the Corcoran Museum had lion statutes. )
Brent - statues at the Capitol building
Abbey - whisper spot, gardens, and evening with our friends

1 comment:

Debra Dotter Blakley said...

Your children are so blessed to have these opportunities, fitted to their ages, to visit such amazing places with you guys. Travel builds familiarity with the world, in its varied parts. That is vital to a healthy world view in their adult lives.


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