June 2018

All 3 boys had breakfast in the hotel. As rinky-dink as it was they had bacon on the menu for breakfast! And those are pre-made eggs. Egg circles. They don’t look natural but Jack had one and he’s fine. Mostly.

Here he is with his beloved ironing board. He should be in heaven with all the ironing boards we’ve seen this week!

Because it’s so near Skyline drive we saw many hikers, and there was a hiker box in the lobby with blankets and yoga mats and other stuff for hikers to take. We checked out around 9ish and drove Skyline Drive with several stops for overlooks and pictures. Ted told us about how his mom would take them on this drive when he was a kid. At one point during our drive Ted asked Jack if he could hold his hand for a lite bit and Jack said Umm, maybe…….drive. Punk!

We went to Luray Caverns next. I said I wouldn’t take many photos but I lied. This is a body of water only an inch or so deep which perfectly reflects the ceiling.

I just thought these photos were neat.

Don’t these look like forests stacked on top of each other?

Here’s the stalacpipe organ that has mallets that strike the stalactites to make music.

And a wishing well.

And a rock formation that looks like a sunny side up egg.

After we finished at Luray Ted found us Triple Crown BBQ. It was a tiny little place but the pulled pork was wonderful. Max didn’t want anything but Cole slaw. You know he’s not feeling good when that’s all he gets! There was a BK across the street with a playground, so I dropped Ted and Jack off there while I ran into the nearby WM for M&M’s. When we got back into the truck we headed another hour away to see the natural chimneys. The office was closed for the tractor parade! It was over by the time we got there but we saw them driving around. The boys played on the playground there a bit, and then we drove half an hour to our last hotel where we checked in around 5pm.

We went to Mill Street Grill for supper. Jack and I shared prime rib, Ted got ribs and Max had a cheeseburger. On the way home I saw the giant watering can and flower pots from the Weird Virginia book we looked at at the Campground. I made a couple of u-turns so I could snap some photos.

Jack got in bed with me around 7:30 this morning. No matter how tired he is at night the boy gets up early! I walked to Pluma again, but this time they didn’t have any chocolate pistachio croissants! That’s all I knew I was getting, so that was a bummer. Instead I got some ham and gruyere croissants, monkey breads and a gruyere and shallot tart and then stopped in at Trader Joe’s on my way back to get some milk for the boys. I also bought some veggie chips that taste like Styrofoam cardboard and truffle potato chips that are kind of bitter. That stinks. I’m planning on getting some French onion dip to disguise those flavors.

I’d made a note that there was an Avon rep in the house on the corner selling mosquito repellant, so I texted her and went to her house before going to get breakfast. Come to find out this stuff isn’t marketed as repellant, it just works well for so many people. She told me it was $12, I told her I was thinking more along the lines of $5, and we agreed on $6. I hope this stuff works great!

We checked out at 11. As we were loading up the truck some maintenance guys started blocking off the street; but when they saw that we were leaving they waited for us to finish up. The woman who owns the Airbnb came out to thank us for our stay so we chatted a bit. It was a great place; the king size bed wasn’t the most comfortable but it was wonderful that it was a king! I loved the fact that we got our truck off the street, too; and since it was so close to downtown we could walk to some places and Uber wasn’t too expensive. We probably broke even with not having to pay for parking. I did tell her that we needed hooks in the bathroom; there was only 1 hook for our towels, and even the ring for the hand towel was so wobbly I was worried about it falling out of the wall if Jack wasn’t careful. The first night we were just a little warm (I think the comforter is polyester so that traps the heat), but as soon as Ted emailed them upstairs and asked them to lower the temp they did. Overall we were super pleased with our stay.

We drove an hour to the Udvar-Hazy Washington Dulles Airport museum. Ted really wanted to see the shuttle there.

Ted and Max went off while I followed Jack around. Jack has behaved himself this trip, but it’s obvious that he’s tired of going and seeing the things we had planned. Not enough fast food playgrounds to suit him! After a while I found a sim for Jack to fly.

This sign on the main floor cracked me up.

It was so exciting to see Eddie Rickenbacker’s uniform there…his book is a favorite of mine.

When Ted and Max had seen a lot (because really, you can never see it all!) we stopped at the McDonald’s right there in the building for fries and shakes. Then we watched the iMax Aircraft Carrier 3D movie. It was so awesome; they computer generated some parts to show how the engines and other cool parts work. There was a life-size cardboard display for Solo as we walked into the theater so I asked if the boys could get their pictures taken there.

We went up to the observation tower and watched a few planes come in. That will always be fascinating to me!

When we got in the truck to leave we saw some people stopped on the side of the road and realized they were plane watching, too. I took so many photos; it was so hard to narrow them down to put here!

We finally headed out to a Fulltime Families recommended restaurant for burgers, The Burger Shack. I saw loaded tots on the menu and got those, and while they were good I’m sorely disappointed I didn’t get a burger. Max gave me a bite and it was great! Jack ate his sliders on the way while we drove to a nearby park so he could play. It was hot as blue blazes outside and there was a summer camp group there, so as soon as the rest of us finished eating and he’d played about 5 minutes more we headed out to the hotel an hour away in Front Royal.

We checked into the hotel. Our burgers had been so late that we weren’t super hungry for supper, so we went to Fantasyland Park and stayed there for more than an hour. Then Ted found us a fun ice cream shop where they didn’t have usual flavors. I got a scoop based off of Watergate salad with pineapple, pecans and pistachio ice cream. It was pretty good. Then we hit up Wendy’s so Ted could get a burger and we both got chocolate frostys there. Max started feeling yucky today so he didn’t have much to eat.

Jack got out of bed at 7am and woke me up. I’ve started telling him to go to the bathroom as soon as he gets out of bed, but that means he doesn’t fall back asleep when he gets in bed with me, so I’m not sure that’s the route I want to go. I walked to Pluma Bakery and picked out some random goodness for our breakfast: Smoked Ham & Gruyere Croissant x2, Chocolate Croissant, Chocolate Pistachio Croissant (which Ted and I both thought was the best of the bunch), Monkey Bread (nowhere as sugary as mine, but still wonderful), Pistachio Bread Pudding and Pineapple Olive Oil cake. We took an Uber to the Capitol arriving early for our tour at 10:50am.

We met with our congressman Brian Babin, and his staff were super kind to us and the other 2 families on our tour. I was so sorry for one of the other families, they’d gotten the White House tour tickets several weeks ago, but yesterday they were told the tour had been canceled! We think it had to do with a vote not going the way the President wanted, so he canceled all tours and gathered his people to work on new plans. We were bummed not to get tickets to the White House tour, but I think it would have been worse to have the tickets and then have them rescinded.

There were so many rooms and so much to see in our Capitol tour, we walked so fast and I took so many pictures! Despite having a wonderful tour guide, Gabo, it’s hard to keep track of everything we saw there! Here are some highlights:

We thought we’d get to go to the House and watch the congressmen before their vote, but weren’t able to use the tunnel passage as Gabo expected, and by the time we got there at the end of our tour the vote had happened and the congressmen had left.

As we walked through the underground passageway (which was really huge) I caught this awesome view of the capitol.

The first telegram was sent from the old Supreme Court room as this plaque commemorates:

There were 2 little girls with us on the tour and Jack wanted to play with them. The older one was super jealous and didn’t want her little sister to have anything to do with Jack. You should’ve seen the cutting looks she sent Jack!

The Rotunda

There was an accident where the guy painting the frieze below was left hanging for a long time when his scaffolding malfunctioned! He refused to paint any more, but designed the rest of the frieze. Of course when the next guy finished painting there was a gap of over 31′ with nothing to go there! Then Congress messed around for many years before finally approving a design for the remaining portion.

The Old Hall of the House was the meeting place of the House of Representatives for nearly 50 years, and now it’s the main exhibition space for statues sent from each State. There are brass markers all over the floor, but I only photographed this one.

Jack met a Representative there.

The Old Senate Chamber, occupied by the Senate between 1810 and 1859.

This statue of Ronald Reagan has a line of stone from the Berlin Wall.

The whole tour took much longer than we expected, but that’s not a gripe. We were hungry when it was over, though! We went to the Visitor’s center and had lunch there: buffalo chicken wings and new potato fries for Max, chicken fingers and fries for Jack, and Ted and I split a roast beef sandwich with horseradish mayo and a huge salad. Then the boys each got a chocolate cupcake, and Ted and I split key lime pie and cheesecake with blueberries. We were planning on having supper with Ally and her fam tonight, but we were exhausted and eating a late lunch, and then she thought Kodi might have pinkeye. Ugh.

Next up was the Library of Congress.

We saw Thomas Jefferson’s library; I’d forgotten how many languages he spoke and read, but there were so many non English books there. I loved how they had them displayed, in a spiral glass case. This poor photo doesn’t show how beautiful it was.

We saw the Gutenberg Bible. There were 180 of them printed, but only 49 of them are still in existence. 10 are in the US, and we got to see 1 of them! When we were done looking at various exhibitions here we headed downstairs to see the Bob Hope and Gershwin exhibit, and we saw the piano the Gershwins used.

This made me laugh…I wonder if CC coined this term:

And is the purging they talk about the kind I’m thinking of? Yuck!

When we finished there we stopped at the steps of the Supreme Court for a bit. By this time everyone was off work and the place was fairly cleared out.

Then we walked to the Mall and got some ice cream and let Jack chase more birds. That never gets old! There were some guys with a Frisbee and they encouraged Jack to throw it back to them, until he threw it across the road! Whoops!

We took an Uber home and relaxed a bit. We read our Bible and Jack took a playing bath while Ted and Max headed off to get hamburgers for their supper at 8:10. Jack had fig newtons and whatever else I scrounged up. After the boys went to bed I counted up how many pictures I took today…200! So many are doubles, I’ll have to record how many I actually keep after I thin them down. I turned the lights off at 11.20.

Oh yeah, after all the rain yesterday we forgot to go back to the Mall for the hide and seek! Doh!

Here are a few more shots from today:

That’s Jack taking a circle picture above.

A jogger stopped and offered to take our picture.

The boys had breakfast in the room; we brought granola bars and fig newtons for just this reason. Then we got an Uber to the Kennedy Center arriving around 9:30. Our guide was Vic; he was interesting to listen to, and told us and the other family touring at the same time so many interesting things about the KC. The Concert Hall has a pipe organ with 5000 pipes with the smallest being the size of a pencil and the longest 32′ tall!! There’s a movable acoustical canopy that goes up and down over the stage.

22 countries gave gifts to the Kennedy Center, Italy gave 3700 tons of Carrera marble; it was enough to cover the lobby and the entire outside of the building!! We got to peek at the Presidential Box…I didn’t get a good picture of how thick the door was, though. At one point the door to the stage was opened but we were asked not to take photos since the stage was decorated for Hamilton.

There are several stages in the KC, this is the Grand Foyer with the Millennium Stages at either end. Look how tall it looks with that cherry picker almost fully extended; it’s more than 60′. That bust of President John F. Kennedy on the right weighs 3000 pounds!

Hall of Nations: the flags of every country with which the U.S. has diplomatic relations.

Towards the end of our tour we stepped outside on the River Terrace and it was raining! I guess we’re just gonna have to be pretty flexible with our itinerary. Vic pointed out Rosslyn, Georgetown, the Air Force Monument and a few other things. He pointed out how tall the buildings in Rosslyn were and said that in DC no buildings could be higher than the Capital. He also talked about Theodore Roosevelt Island and said there were no vehicles allowed there, not even bicycles.

When our tour was finished it was still raining so we got an Uber to the Natural History Museum. There was a sign there saying the museum wasn’t going to open until noon! I don’t understand the constant changing of opening and closing times once they’re already posted! The rain slacked off so Max and I walked to the nearby sculpture garden while Ted went with Jack to chase more birds in the Mall.

Jack found a balloon while we were there! It came with a card saying there would be a hide-and-seek with GPS coordinates given out at 5pm today and hundred-dollar-bills being hidden! Woot!

While we waited for the museum to open the boys chased each other on the Mall,

and then the rain began to get heavier and heavier until we were stuck under a tree where it was buffered a little! It made me laugh a bit because 2 other families were stuck under neighboring trees.

Through all of that the line to the museum was still crazy long. Finally the downpour stopped (Ted had been watching the satellite and felt sure the rain wouldn’t last forever), and we decided to head over to the Native American Museum where Ally suggested we try lunch. There was a multicultural cafeteria where I shared with Jack the wild seared boar, potato fingers and tomato salad; Ted got chorizo tlayudas and green beans, and Max got poutine. With 4 drinks our total came to $67! I knew prices would be more expensive here, but I didn’t expect it to be this much for 3 meals and 4 drinks!

Up in the museum we saw an interesting little video about Indians and George Washington. I didn’t realize that when the Revolution began the Oneidas fought with the Americans. This is a statue of George Washington, Polly Cooper and Chief Skenandoah. Oneida Chief Skenandoah sent 40 warriors and Polly Cooper hundreds of miles with 600 baskets of corn for the army. The soldiers were starving, and didn’t realize that the variety of corn they’d been brought had to be prepared a different way than the corn they were used to. Instead of returning home with her people Polly stayed with the Americans to show them how to prepare the corn and taught them about medicinal plants and foods.

After that video we looked around the museum a bit and then watched the video that’s suggested to start the tour of the museum. That was a waste of time; there was no main point or thought to this video, it was just a random collection of Native Americans and how they live today.

We walked to the Air and Space museum and saw the IMax video Journey to the Stars at 3pm. Another waste of time. I’m disappointed that scientists these days present every thought they have as fact. They have no way of actually knowing what exactly happened when, so they should present their info as ‘to the best of our knowledge’ or ‘as far as we can calculate’. Instead they give specific times…and all these figures keep changing as they make new discoveries. It makes them come off as either insecure in the face of creationists or incompetent when they keep changing how long ago something specific happened. End of rant.

We looked around the rest of the museum a bit; Max really wanted to see the model of the Enterprise. From there we walked down the Mall towards the memorials and 2 marine choppers and a black hawk flew overhead. Ted looked up the President’s published schedule and saw that Potus was on the move.

World War 2 Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Korean Memorial

After we were finished with all the memorials we walked a bit to get to a place where Uber could pick us up.

When we first got to the Airbnb our host recommended Indigo Indian restaurant right around the corner, so that’s what we ate for supper. We ordered chicken tikka, chicken biryani, goat curry, garlic roti, paneer paratha (cheese stuffed pita) and a mango lassi which was awesome. They sent a small tub of yogurt sauce that was great…I’m normally not impressed with tzatziki sauce, and this was similar, but more to my liking. We ate the cinnamon cookies from the Airbnb for dessert. The boys turned off the lights at 9:30 and I turned off mine at 11:05.

We loaded the truck and left about 9:15 am; not too bad! We drove 1.5 hours to Mt Vernon and were a bit early for our 11:10 tour. We saw the 4-D movie about fighting the Hessians and then we did the mansion tour. We weren’t allowed to take photos in the mansion, but we heard that George thought farming was so important that he decorated the parlor with farm tools throughout by incorporating them in plaster on the ceiling and fireplace. We also got to see the bed he died in, and his wife’s 2 closets connected to the bedroom. His bedroom was only accessible by his downstairs sitting room, though the configuration has been changed now. Once we walked outside the view of the Potomac from the back porch that stretches along the house was amazing!

The clouds behind this walkway seemed painted on!

We had a lunch reservation for 12:30 at the Mt Vernon Inn Restaurant. Ted had the meatloaf roulade over mashed potatoes (the roulade was a little dry), I had the ahi tuna salad which was fine but a little small, and the boys split a cheeseburger with bacon. We all shared the hoe cake with crab and hollandaise for an appetizer.

We walked around the grounds a bit then and saw George and Martha’s grave.

We also heard some about the 16-sided barn George used to thresh his grain. It was a unique way to thresh, but the barn was so expensive to build that I think there were only 2 ever built. The horses ran around the outside ring on top of the grain and the grain would fall to the ground while the chaff stayed on the upper story. An interesting fact the guide told us is that horses can’t pee while they run, so that’s good! Here are the guys standing on that outer ring.

When we were through wandering the grounds we drove another hour and checked in to our Airbnb. It was a nice little place and the truck was off the street, but there wasn’t enough room to turn it around, so Ted backed the truck in and we unloaded our bags. We rested just a few minutes and then took an Uber to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Jack was pretty tired of all the sitting around and he had tons of fun chasing all the birds he saw in front of the Smithsonian and all along the Mall.

Online the Smithsonian said they were open all week until 7:30pm and I really wanted the boys to go to the planetarium, but when we went to buy tickets to a show they said they were closing the museum at 5:30! Ted showed them that the sign right above his head said they were open late this week and the person at the counter was surprised, but they were really closing. We all touched a moon rock on our way out.

So we walked the whole mall and down to the White House and even saw the christmas tree, though it looked like someone lopped off the top.

For supper we walked to the Uncommon Diner. For our appetizer we had the pulled pork tacos that were as good as mine. I had chicken parm, Ted had steak and eggs with chimichurri and the boys split another cheeseburger.

We took another Uber home where Max took a shower and Jack had a short playing bath. Lights off for the boys was at 9:30.