Wednesday, September 28, 2011

the longest post ever- DC edition

Friday afternoon we packed up the car and headed up to D.C. for the weekend. We had plans to go to the Natural History Museum, the Solar Decathlon, Tysons Corner, and the new Air and Space Museum.  We arrived at my aunt and uncles house way after the kids bedtime so we basically went straight to bed after arrival.  The next morning we got up, got ready, and took the metro downtown.
 (waiting for the metro)
The metro was packed due to the National Book Festival, a Nickelodeon Festival, the Solar Decathlon, as well as scheduled maintenance. Supposedly trains were entering the city every 20 minutes. Our metro stop was the third stop from the beginning and was crowded when we got on. At each stop more and more people tried to cram in, we were packed in there like sardines, I don't know how city dwellers handle the crowds on a daily basis.  We got the National Mall and took a shuttle to the Solar Decathlon.
(the first house we toured)
We went through a couple of the solar houses before it started to get crowded and the kids, well Lily got bored with the houses.  It is evident from touring these houses that that students create these because several of the houses were just impractical for real living, especially with a child (or two).  There were some really good ideas and I was impressed with Purdue University's house, it was the only one we toured that actually looked livable.  Several of the houses had beds that would fold down and one even had an office table/workspace that would fold out into a bed, though a great idea, not very practical.  It is hard enough to make the bed every day, I can't imagine making it and folding it up too.   I tried to convince Jeff to continue to tour the houses while we entertained the kids with something else, but he didn't listen so we all walked through the FDR memorial.  

(Lily and the FDR memorial, she was a little hesitant to approach the dog) 
The FDR memorial was beautiful and HUGE! I thought it was only one waterfall and statue area, but then it kept going and going (4 areas, 1 for each term).  Though I don't know that much about history and I have a lot of respect for FDR, he is one of my favorite presidents.
(walking along the Tidal Basin) 
We walked along the Tidal Basin from FDR to the new Martin Luther King memorial.  The MLK memorial is quite impressive.  If I remember correctly he is looking towards the Lincoln Memorial where he made history.  
(Martin Luther King from the side)
I don't know how they carved the statue or memorial, but I was amazed by how detailed the carving was, the veins on his hands were visible, it was quite impressive. 
(in front of the closed Washington Memorial, it has been closed due to damage from the earthquake)
After the MLK memorial we walked back over to the National Mall.  We looked for the supposed large crack in the memorial caused by the earthquake, there was one, I just don't know if it was there from the earthquake or just from time.  We passed the White House and the WWII memorial on the way.  By the time we made it to the Natural History Museum we were starving so we grabbed lunch in the museum, big mistake.  The cafe in the museum was extremely crowded and the food was ridiculously expensive.  For five us to eat it cost $43 and we only got 2 sandwiches, 1 chicken tenders, 3 drinks, and a cup of fries.  I do have to admit the sandwich was good, but I don't know about $10 good.  We toured Natural History Museum while my mother went to the National Book Festival.  When Jeff and I were exhausted we headed out to the Festival and went to the PBS kids tent to get our picture taken with the Cat in the Hat.
(Lance and I with the Cat in the Hat)

We headed back to the house for a rest and then went to Tysons Corner for dinner and a little shopping.  We didn't do much shopping since the kids were worn out, but we did hit up the Lego store (Lance's pick) and the American Girl store (Lily's).  I love the Lego store especially there $8 tub of Legos that you can pick out, brilliant!  Lily loved the American Girl store, but she pitched the biggest temper tantrum of her life when we tried to leave and she realized she had to leave the doll and the stroller she was pushing around behind, it was quite embarrassing.  Within five minutes of being belted in the car, the kids were asleep so we decided to drive back downtown and see all the monuments at night.  Washington at night is so beautiful.  I don't want to think about how much energy is wasted on lighting up the monuments and capital, but it is pretty nonetheless.
(the Capital at night, the side facing the National Mall) 
It is funny to look at the pictures I took especially the ones at night because the sky looks black, back at my aunt and uncle's house the sky doesn't look black, it was kind of orange and grey, you could see the light shining from the city.  I didn't realize until then how bright the city is at night, once again I was appreciate of our little city where it gets dark and you can see stars.
 (A little monument in Arlington with the Big Monument in the distance, near the top of cemetery)
Sunday morning we got up and decided to go to Arlington National Cemetery.  We chose Arlington because we were a little tired of all the crowds and figured that no one would be at a cemetery on a Sunday morning, well we were wrong.  When we arrived there were masses of people headed in and there were many tour buses parked as well.  We headed into the cemetery with all the crowds and learned that there was a Peace Corp rally going on in the cemetery and that is why it was so packed.  Who would have thought. 
 (Arlington National Cemetery, as far as I could see there were thousands of graves)
We walked all the way up to Robert E. Lee's house and stopped at the Kennedy's grave, we then headed over to the Tomb of the Unknown. Arlington is a beautiful place with amazing views of Washington. It was also very peaceful. I was blown away by how the shear number of graves, At one point I looked to my left and for as far as I could see there were just rows and rows of graves of men and women who served in our military, I was blown away.
(Tomb of the Unknown) 
We stopped by the Tomb of the Unknowns.  There are sign posted throughout the cemetery that say please to be quiet and respectful for this is hallowed ground, the Tomb of the Unknowns was definitely hallowed ground.  It seems like now respect is something that our culture has lost and seeing the respect and tradition continue is indescribable.  Having someone guarding the tomb 24 hours a day through all kinds of weather and having to do the same montomous routine constantly shows so much respect.   Even Lance who doesn't understand hallow ground was quiet and seemed to know that this area was special.  After walking all the way and then back down Arlington we headed out to Dulles for the new Air and Space Museum.
 (the new Air and Space Museum at Dulles)

 (Jeff watching a plane coming in for a landing from high up in the observation tower)
I could watch the airplanes take off and land all day, I think I am just amazed that these huge, heavy vehicles can fly in the air.  I loved the observation tower and watching the planes land, being eye level with these huge planes that are coming in from all over the world is just amazing.  I am drawn to airports and airplanes, not sure why, I just am.  After watching planes land we headed down and admired the variety of airplanes on exhibit at the museum.   We saw the Enola Gay (the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb), the space shuttle Endeavor (it was a lot shorter, but taller than I expected, as well as the Concorde (it had the smallest windows).
It was an extremely busy weekend and though I would like to do it again, just not anytime soon, I am still tired.

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