Saturday, August 22, 2009

Washington DC or Bust

    Matthew spent a lot of First grade learning about monuments and what they stand for, so this summer we decided to take a road trip to Washington DC. The idea actually came with the release of "Night at the Museum Battle of the Smithsonian". We spent most of the summer putting off our trip, that is, until Daniel began demanding that we go to "Big City". He was relentless in his pursuit of this road trip. After some reluctance, we loaded up our Suburban and head to our first stop, Lafayette Louisiana.

   Louisiana is the reason I dreaded this trip in the first place. It seems to never end and you go across one swamp only to find another. Since we left at night, I knew that we wouldn't make it through. We stayed in a Hampton Inn only to find out that it was right next to a small airport, which, as the planes fly over you, actually drip jet fuel onto your head. That was not a pleasant experience.

The next day, we drove for 12 hours to our next destination, Stone Mountain, Georgia. Stone Mountain Georgia is a state park with two resorts and one very large campground. Although we brought our tent gear, we decided that it was too late to camp, so we stayed in one of the resorts, after some initial mixup with our reservations, we made it to our room at 10.30. The next day we enjoyed the site of Stone Mountain, as well as the amusement park followed by a fun picnic and laser show.

I annoyed Joe with my insistence of downloading state songs to my iPhone as we drove through each state. Needless to say, we listened to Ray Charles and Charlie Daniels as we left Georgia heading to our next destination, Biltmore, North Carolina. This was the ME part of the trip and I was really looking forward to seeing "America's Castle" the largest residence in the United States. Of course, it was amazing and I am really looking forward to going one Christmas.

Four Days into our Trip we finally made it to "Big City" Washington DC.
We stayed within one mile of The Mall, which I wouldn't recommend. When I say that transportation and parking is a nightmare, I mean it. If I had it to do over again, I would stay at a less expensive hotel twenty miles outside of DC. I would drive to Arlington Cemetery and I would pay whatever they are charging to ride the tour buses to all of Washington DC sites. They drop you off in front of whatever you want to see then you hop back on. We didn't do any of this. We walked the first day, for miles and miles with a four year old, who by this time has decided he has seen enough of "Big City". We managed to see a few museums and decided to head back to our hotel. Another problem with Washington DC, there are no restaurants within the vicinity of the mall (barring bars) that are open after 5:00 pm. There are hotel restaurants, which I have yet to find one that is kid-friendly. We didn't know this so we walked and walked... and three hours later decided, kid-friendly (or budget friendly) or not to eat at our hotel. Daniel promptly passed out as we waited for our food.

The next day, again not wanting to deal with public transportation, we decided to leave our hotel and park close to the mall. (yes, I know, you told me so...) The thing about DC parking is there is street parking, but you cannot park on the street until 9:00 after rush hour, so guess what people do... They drive around the mall playing musical cars for 30 minutes before 9:00. At 9:00 on the dot you either park or you are out of luck. We, by a miracle, managed to get the very best (one of only 40 or so) that actually let you park until 4:00 PM. All the rest are only two hour spots. We managed to see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials as well as the rest of the Smithsonian museums. I did miss the Library of Congress. I have to say Washington DC is awe inspiring and not something I will forget any time soon. I am so glad that we decided to make this trip. We stayed two solid days and could have easily spent a year.

   The next day, as we were leaving, we stopped at Arlington Cemetery and finally, my favorite, Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon was George Washington's private home on the Potomac and it is not to be missed. The museum is fantastic. The boys loved seeing his teeth! Another note on DC, whoever first said "I walked uphill both ways in the snow to school," must have lived there.

We headed back home through Tennessee, which just happens to be where my sister lives. It was the first time we got to use our tent the whole trip, as we got to camp in her yard, right next to the creek. Matthew found a Geode, which when we broke it open was better than any souvenir we bought the whole trip. It sparkled and will make a nice show and tell for school. We really enjoyed getting to visit with my sister, since she's so far from home now. She made sure to show us the town while we were there. We managed to see Nashville and Memphis, as we listened to Mark Cohan and Alanna Miles.

We were gone a total of twelve days and I have to say that my boys were amazing. They were attentive and interested. Nobody missed the TV or video games or toys(much). I know that they are young, but I do hope they always look back on these memories with fondness.

I have to say this about our country as we battle through tough times and turmoil. America truly is amazing, the people, the mountains, the oceans, the food, the music as well as the monuments that define us. I am so proud to be an American.

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