Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Chesleys go to Washington...

A few months ago, Mike and I decided to take some much needed time off and take our little family to our nation's capital. I had been in high school but none of the others had ever been. We figured now would be the absolute best time, not too hot, not too cold, leaves changing, everything dandy. Well, we were absolutely right! Here's a little travelogue (with pictures) about our trip....
Tuesday...pick up kids from school, hit the road. All goes well, thank heavens for a portable DVD player. We stop a few times for bathroom breaks, eat dinner and stuff. The best thing about this day is that we don't get to DC area until late at night so hardly any traffic. Mike makes the observation that the highway system in DC looks like a plate of spaghetti. We only get lost twice.
Wednesday...The first adventure with the metorail system (we all survived and loved it although Mike found out he can't ride backwards). We ended up heading to the National Zoo. If you've never been and you're in the area, go, it's so cool and free!
You've got to see the pandas! They really are a beautiful animal. I read somewhere once that they are nature's most evolutionary inefficient animal. There were a ton of school kids there on a field trip and all we heard was "Panda! Panda! Come back Panda!". Jared remarked to me "Mom, I'm sure that panda's got a name besides hey panda!" We felt like the pioneer children in the Primary song at church because we walked and walked and walked but it was a good time.

This isn't the best picture of this little guy, but he was the coolest frog! He was about as big as two keyboard keys, maybe three. Very tiny but very colorful. By this time we were just about too pooped to do anything else but say, oh look! An animal!
At this point in our story, let me digress. I had read that food in the zoo and museums was atrociously expensive and I shared this fact with my family. We took our own water (I refuse to pay $4 for a bottle of water) and snacked on trail mix (the homemade kind). But we were HUNGRY! We ended up buying a couple of cheeseburgers and splitting them (hey, we're on a budget here!).

Really, what can I say? He's Mike's son. He was super excited and all we heard the whole day was, "I want to take a picture" repeated over and over and over and over again. We decided that day to go and find him a camera as part of an early Christmas present. He actually did really well with it. He took a lot of pictures of pigeons.

The two monkeys outside of the zoo. I just want to say that although it doesn't look like it, Kiersten does actually have lips. She just hates to have her picture taken. After we got back to our hotel, we went to find a place to eat (thank heavens for Texas Roadhouse). Even one bite left Kiersten ate her ENTIRE dinner (plus a salad).

Thursday was the air and space museum... home of the Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo moon landing stuff, rockets galore and the most expensive McDonald's in Washington D.C. There is no dollar menu there folks! Mike was in charge of the camera during our trip so we got bunches of pictures of planes and rockets. This, however, is my favorite picture....

Can't you just hear the teenager in her saying, "Daddy! I can't believe you're making me do this, how embarassing!"? I was asked numerous times where the big field that they kept all the airplanes was located. Apparently some people in my family believe everything they see in Transformers 2.

We also went across the mall to the National Gallery, which was really beautiful, but we were again very tired so we just meandered for a few minutes and then back to the metro. Have I mentioned we all LOVED the metro?

Friday was tour day. We booked tours on the trolley tour (the orange and green ones, I can't remember what they're called) and had a great time. We were able to hop on and off (really that's the only way to do a decent tour) and take our time. We went by most of the monuments, even if we didn't stop. They really are quite beautiful.

The Jefferson Memorial---it really is one of the prettiest places I've ever seen built by man. We didn't go in but it's still an awesome sight just to ride by. I wanted to go to the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial and the newish World War II Memorial, which is what we did.

The Lincoln Memorial is just huge, and again, beautiful. While we were there, the National Park ranger played Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, and it was all the more powerful because you can stand where Dr. King stood and look down the reflecting pool and think about all of the people that have marched for a cause in that place. It really is a vast place. On to my favorite memorial....

The Vietnam War Memorial. It's really hard to believe that the Wall is in the middle of a busy city. It's so quiet. There were people there doing rubbings of names, a few veterans looking for lost friends or family members seeking to reconnect with a lost loved one. It really is my favorite. This is where I wonder about the stories, behind the names on the Wall as well as the stories of people that come there to pay their respects or just to see it.
We did get to the WWII memorial and it really is another beautiful place. Walking from The Wall to the WWII memorial, Kiersten and I were stopped by a squirrel. Apparently it was a tourist as well because he looked a little lost and seemed to be asking for directions.
Saturday was our coming home day, but we had one more stop to make. A few weeks before our trip, Jared told me at dinner one night that he thought we should go to the Holocaust Museum and Memorial. I wasn't too sure, but they outvoted me so we went. Let me tell you, that brought even me to tears. You're given the identification of someone who actually was in a concentration camp or lived during that time when you go in so it personalizes the story for you. Pictures aren't encouraged there, but what we saw there was seared into my brain. We saw the cattle cars, the bunks from Auschwitz, and in one hallway, thousands of pairs of shoes from prisoners that were never heard from again. Jared gave out pretty early, so I went with him into the Hall of Remembrance, where we lit candles for those that were lost and talked about why people do awful things and how we can stand up for others.
Then, we were on our way back home. It was a wonderful trip. We have to go back so catch those things that we didn't get the first time. It was a great experience to take the children---they of course think we're the coolest parents on the planet for getting them out of school for a couple of days for an educational trip.
I have plenty of other pictures, but just don't have room to share them with you. The pictures that are the best ones are really in my mind and heart of spending time with my family.
By the way, sorry if this doesn't format quite right, I'm tired and needed to get it done.
Peace and love y'all!