Saturday, November 26, 2011

Washington DC

Last week, Shawn and I were fortunate to have a little trip to our Nations Capitol.  A HUGE thanks to our wonderful friends, the Palmer's for watching the girls!  Although we missed them, we had a great time without them. 

Warning:  There are a few pictures with this post - but only about a tenth of what we took.  I will put up a slide show next, for those interested.  You will have to come to the blog though, to watch it.  

FIRST STOP!  Cafe Rio  You read that right, there is a Cafe Rio in Virginia and happened to be right on the path of destination.  It was fun to visit, especially as it was near the end of our 10 hour drive.  Definitely not as good as those back home (I thought the tortillas were as thick as flatbread!) but it sure was great to have a feeling of "home" on our trip. 

DAY 1  Get ready for a whirlwind of DC, packed into 4 days!  We had a great first day, which ended with a visit to the Washington DC Temple.  It really is a gorgeous as the pictures.  It was so peaceful and we really enjoyed being able to go to the temple together.  Usually, we have to switch off, because of the kids.  We were very blessed in this trip!  If we had done nothing else, but go to the temple, it would have been a wonderful experience.  The temple is enormous - we were curious to know which temple was the largest in the world?  I know L.A. is pretty big.  Does anyone know?
Now, let's rewind to the beginning of the day.  I had arranged for us to take a tour of the White House, which we did.  However, you are not allowed to take anything, but a photo id.  So, pictures to come later.  It was interesting but really, it wasn't much.  We are happy that we can say we've been inside the White House - that's cool. 

Our next stop was the Capitol.  Again, I had arranged for us to take a tour - but we had picked up the backpack with our wallets/phones/camera/food, etc.  Of course, when we get there, no food or water was allowed inside - so we didn't take our tour.  Oh well.  The capitol building is so big - the picture doesn't even do it justice. It was definitely a very quiet morning as far as tourist - so it was fun to be on the grounds with nearly no one around.
 We then stopped into the National Botanical Gardens.  It was very pretty and warm!  It was definitely cold this first day in DC.  It was a quick little look around - but fun to see and "check off the list."
 Next down the street was the National Museum of the American Indian.  This also didn't take us too long to tour, mainly because we wanted to spend time in other Smithsonians that were of more interest to us.  We did take a few pictures though.  It was amazing to see all of the bead work they do, and how to make rugs, etc.  It's definitely interested to think of how this culture lives.  I was reflecting back on the knowledge of the Book of Mormon, of the Lamanites and Nephites and appreciated this museum because of that.  Wondering how did they ever survive on this continent?  I am definitely grateful for the day and age I live in.  I don't know if I could have lived as a Native American.  It is interesting their experience though, and I appreciate them for it.
 Next stop was the Air and Space Museum.  This was the one that Shawn was most excited for.  I think he liked it, but wished there was more "space" than "air" inside the Smithsonian.  It was really cool to see all of the aircraft, rockets, and equipment that has traveled into space, landed on the moon or mars, or collected star dust.  There are many more pictures we took, but I'll save them for the slide show!  Amazing for those who learned how to fly, who landed on the moon and do so much to explore and discover.  This was definitely a fun place to visit and we spent a few good hours touring all around.
 Last stop of Day 1 in DC was the National Archives.  This was SO very cool, and of course, you couldn't take pictures.  Does this building look familiar?  If you have seen the movie, National Treasure, then it does.  This is where they house the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, etc.  It was very cool to see it all hand written, and the signatures of so many from history.  It definitely gave me a sense of gratitude for our founding fathers, for this wonderful country that we live in and for the freedoms that we have.  I was reminded of the story and mural in the St. George temple, when President Woodruff had vision of completing temple work for the founding fathers of our nation.  It's neat to combine gospel knowledge with "state" knolwedge - to know those men are good men.  It was really fun to visit the Archives.  Thanks for Jenn (Ricky's wife) for mentioning it to us, because it was not on my list of places to see - I had looked over it.
 The architecture in DC is really fun to look at - this is just a random picture of some of the old buildings.  Shawn incidentally caught the "I love DC" truck - we thought it was appropriate!  :)
 This are my cousins, whom I haven't seen in 10 years or more.  Ricky and Jonathon.  It was fun to talk with them and catch-up with them.  Ricky was kind enough to let us stay with him the first night, as we had a slight change in plans when we received our White House Tour.  John was awesome and drove down with his cute little family from Delaware.  He does work close to Ricky's house, but it was nice of him to bring the family.  He's holding the newest addition, little Jordan (who is 10 weeks old.)  Thanks again guys, for the fun time!
As was mentioned previous, we ended the day visiting the DC temple and visitor's center.  Then we headed down to Alexandria, VA where we stayed the rest of our trip.  It was fun to be at the temple visitors' center and brought back so many wonderful memories from serving my mission at the LA Temple visitors' center.  We kept an eye out for Elder Young, but we never saw him. 
DAY 2 - We were geared up and ready for another exciting day in DC.  We got to sleep in a bit, which was wonderful.  No kids to wake us up and demand breakfast!  Again, the pictures loaded a little out of order, but that's ok.  Here is a picture of the Washington Monument at night.  It was closed because of the earthquake from back in the summer/fall.  As our trip progressed it became the point of laughter, because we could take a picture of anything and have the Washington Monument in the background.  So, we have ALL angles of this beauty!  I did like it lite up at night though. 
 Here we are on the metro.  There was track work on Saturday and Sunday, so we had to take a bus for part of the ride - on Monday, we were SO grateful the metro was up and running again.  It was a quick way to get into town, and fun to learn to navigate.
 Today we made only 2 stops.  The National Museum of American History and the National Museum of Natural History.  Those two Smithonians took all day for us to tour, and by the end, we were very tired and had brain overload, but it was great nonetheless.
 This American History had what you would expect, American History.  We saw more information and artifacts on most of the wars that have happened in the United States.  We saw part of the Berlin Wall, part of one of the buildings steal beams left over from 9/11.  Artifacts and information about all of the US presidents as well as ball gowns (mostly inaugural ball dresses) from all of the first ladies.  Pictured below is the hat that President Lincoln was wearing the night of his assassination.  Along with an American flag that was displayed during the funeral procession. 
 Then, we found all sorts of fun artifacts.  The ruby slippers from the original movie, "The Wizard of Oz", a dumbo car from Disney, records (you know, the big round black things that used to play music), Michael Jackson's hat, a mask of Simba from the Broadway play, Lion King. The original puppets from the Muppet's.  A baseball signed by Lou Gehrig and a gymnastic leotard from Nastia Liukin who was in the Beijing Olympics.  The Olympic Torch from the Olympic games in Los Angeles.  These are the skates worn by Apollo Ohno in his victory race from the past Olympics (which I remember watching - very cool)
 We saw historical musical instruments, carriages, pianos, and even a home from the slavery period.  Below is a picture of "The Jefferson Bible."  Thomas Jefferson created a bible titled, "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth" where he took and cut passages of two bibles and made his own.  I thought that was really neat, seeing as he was an historical figure of our time, yet - saw and tried to understand the life and ministry of Christ.  
 Then we saw things such as coins, including a $100,000 dollar bill.  We saw how electricity was discovered and the first light bulbs and the progression of science in that matter.  We saw the Julia Child's kitchen (watch the movie Julie and Julia and you'll see it too) and then inventions of all sorts of things.  Shawn even tried the interactive wind sailing experience.  We saw a life preserver from the Titanic, and other artifacts.  Then the history of transportation in the United States.  From hand crafted raw-hide boats to trucks, trains, trolly's etc.  This car is an automatic car and drives all by itself through video surveillance.  It was fun to watch the movie of it and the races it's been in.  Amazing what technology can do.
 Then, we headed next door to the Museum of Natural History.  This is where all the dinosaurs, fossils, lots of animals from sea to land.  Here is Shawn with a triceratops. 
 We saw all sorts of taxidermy on just about any animal you could think of.  I had to take a picture of this snake skeletons for my mom.  She loves snakes.  (hehe).  We got to see cocoons and even a butterfly trying to make it's way out of one. 
Then we saw mummies and bones.  They displayed many bones broken in various places.  Like a skull with a bullet shot, or cracked.  They showed a knee replacement and hip replacement.  I thought it was kind of fascinating, but Shawn was grossed out by it all. 

Then we got on to see diamonds, gems, pearls, crystals and every type of rock or jewel you could think of.  Here is the Hope Diamond, displayed in a Harry Winston wreath for the Holidays.  
After all of that, we then saw more historical artifacts.  My favorite was the capsule that they used just last year, to rescue the trapped miners in Chile.  It was very humbling to see all that, as I still remember vividly being stuck on the computer watching and waiting like so many others as they lowed the capsule and brought each miner to the surface.  I'm still amazed that they all survived.  Who would have ever thought I would see that capsule up close and personal? 
An interesting thing to note, that maybe helped me become a little more sensitive to all of the history of our nation.  On the displays and artifacts of events that have happened in my life time, things that I remember vividly like 9/11 and the Chilean mine rescue.  There was definitely a mood/emotional change when I saw those things, a silence and reverence so to speak around them.  It had me thinking, I didn't experience the many wars this country was in, but I am sure those who did have that same sort of reverence in regards to this history.  I am full of gratitude for all that has happened and hope that I can always so genuine concern for tragedy that has hit, even if I didn't personally experience it.  It was very cool to see all that we were able to see that day!
DAY 3 - We started the day off at 8am church.  It was nice to take a break from everything and go to church.  We came home and took a nap and then headed out that afternoon to meet up with our dear close friends Blake, Saleela and Sufyana!  Blake is/was Shawn's best friend growing up.  I meet Saleela in person last year when they came to Atlanta for a quick trip.  Since, they have had a beautiful little girls, Sufyana (6mo.) and it was so great to spend the afternoon with them.  
 Blake, Shawn and Sufyana.  She was the cutest little thing.  At one point I had her laughing so much - it was so fun.  We didn't take many pictures, as we get lost in conversation when we are with Blake and Saleela.  It was funny, as if we had to remind ourselves we were at the zoo.  "Oh yeah, look at the Elephant guys!"  haha - we had a good time together.

Thanks again, Blake, Saleela and Sufyana, for spending the day with us.  We can't wait to see you guys again! After the zoo, we headed back to the hotel and just relaxed that night.  We had to gear up for our last day in DC, which we knew was going to be a long one.  The hotel we stayed at was awesome.  They provided a wonderful breakfast each morning.  We would grab a muffin and banana for lunch, then on M-TH they provide dinner.  So, we took them up on all the free food we could,  Monday night they had lasagna.  It was so delicious after our long day - and nice that we didn't have to buy food.  In fact, besides Cafe Rio, we only had to eat out one other time.  It was great.  (one of the reasons we were able to go to DC was because everything was free to visit.  I was able to get our hotel for $50/night on Priceline.  So, we basically paid for the hotel, gas and a few souvenirs!  Very affordable, even for students like us!)
DAY 4 - OUR FINAL DAY  I will start out by saying, we walking just under 8 miles total today.  That is just from site to site.  It does not include walking around the sites and museums.  Needless to say - we were exhausted by the end of the day, but it was all well worth it.

We started the day out at Arlington Cemetery.  We stopped by the JFK memorial with the eternal flame and the tomb of the unknown solider.
 We missed the changing of the guard by about 7 minutes, but were able to witness the changing of the wreath.  A school was there, and presented this Christmas wreath.  It was neat to see, there were 4 students, who got to "march with the soldiers" which I am sure will be memorable for the rest of their lives.  This brought me back to my high school trip, when I visited DC with the A'capella choir.  I was mentioning to Shawn, I remember bits and pieces of DC, remember seeing most of what we saw, but I don't really remember this history behind it all.  This time in DC it was fun to see it all again and have a little more understanding to it all.  (hence the lengthy detail about the trip.)
 We also saw a 6 horse carriage carrying the casket of someone who was being buried  that day in the cemetery.  It was sad to see.  An American flag covered the casket, someone had lost their life, perhaps overseas.  We don't really know. 

After what I am sure was a mile or two walk around the cemetery, we start off on our 8 mile adventure.  Here we are, crossing the Potomac river to head over to the Lincoln Memorial.
 This was our first stop, the Lincoln Memorial.  It is very big.  The Gettysburg address is carved into the stone of either side of him (not shown).  That was cool.  It was very fun to see this. 
 Then we headed over to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial (via the Korean War Memorial).  The MLK Jr. memorial just opened a month or two ago.  So, we were some of the first to see it.  It's amazing the detail that someone can chisel out of stone. 
 Then we walked around title basin, to the FDR Memorial.  Here Shawn is standing with him. 
 We continued our walk over to the Jefferson Memorial.  The weather couldn't have been more perfect for this walk.  It was overcast, low 60's.  It would have been miserable any warmer and/or wetter.  It was forecast to rain, but didn't really start drizzling until 4pm or so.
 Then we headed over to the Holocaust museum.  We just went through a small section "for kids", but it was enough to give us the heavy feeling of tragedy that happened during that event.  Next, we headed over the the Bureau of Engraving and Printing - where they make money.  This was so fun to tour.  They had a stack, in $10 notes of one million dollars!  Crazy!  They print money 24 hours a day, every single day of the year, except Christmas (I believe.)  It is crazy how much money is printed.  This was definitely a highlight of the trip.  (remember, more pictures will be in the slide show to come.)  One of my favorite signs on the tour was "Tomorrow Only - Free Samples!"  haha, tomorrow will never come!
 After that, we wanted to head over to the White house and get a picture in front of it, since we couldn't take our camera with us on the first day.  Oh wait....FINALLY, we are directly in front of the Washington Monument - rather than taking a picture of all angles and lengths away. 
 And, here is the white house.  We stopped in between the two and picked up our souvenirs.  We got the older girls a t-shirt, Shawn got a cool________ I don't even know how to describe it.  Maybe best said as a paper weight, showing many of the sights.  And, I of course got a spoon. 
 After the White House, we headed over to Ford's Theater where Lincoln was shot.  That was a neat presentation with the history of the story.  Then, over to the house where he died. 
 We ended the day with the National Gallery of Art - where we saw so much.  We only had about an hour to tour around and get completely lost!  This place was huge!  We saw a few Rembrandts along with many, many more.  I really like this picture, of course, the camera does do it any justice. 
 And Shawn got a picture with George Washington. 
It was a perfect day to end such a wonderful trip.  We actually went back to the hotel and went to a movie (the newest of the Twilight saga).  It was nice to sit and relax after so much walking. 

We're so grateful for this trip and again for our friends for watching the girls.  We had a wonderful time and it was fun to see everything.  Who knows if we'll be this close to DC again, or how long it will take for us to come back.  Hopefully, it was a great trip for Shawn to completely forget about school, and come back and have the energy to finish and push through this last year of school. 

We were able to stop on the way back and have lunch with another cousin, Ryan Pratt, and his cute little family.  Thanks Ryan and Jessica, for taking the time to have lunch with us.  They took us to this yummy little BBQ place!  If you go visit Ryan, definitely go there to eat.

It was great to see the girls again.  Adalyn was SO excited and had the biggest smile on her face when we walked through the doors.  It has been nice to just be able to relax, have a wonderful Thanksgiving and time to spend with the family, before we're back into the normal schedule again on Monday.  They girls have been having so much fun playing with each other.  I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family! Life is great!!


Elise said...

What a fun trip! My sister moved to DC at the beginning of this year, she said it's a very cool place.

Emily S. said...

Wow! What a fantastic trip! I'll definitely have to remember this post when Morgan and I eventually make our way up there. I agree, the money printing is so neat to see, I toured the one in Fort Worth - crazy to think of the millions of dollars sitting around you. SO glad you had a great time!

Southern Belle said...

You make me want to go back there....minus Jocelyn. That looked like so much fun. Yay for a trip!

lillie said...

Wow, what a cool trip. I really want to go there on my next trip. Best part though had have been Cafe Rio-right haha. It would be so great to have one here!!
Can't wait to see all the rest of the pics

Whittney Clark said...

Gotta love DC! That city is one of my favorites for sure. Looks like you guys had a wonderful time! Hope your Thanksgiving was great too!

sdbroder said...

Thanks, Molly, for the fun adventure and this post about it. It was fantastic and I enjoyed it! Love ya.

Natalie said...

How awesome to have a get away! Remember when WE went to DC!>! Oh, the memories! Oh you are such a fun friend. Makes me smile just thinking of it. love ya to pieces still :)