Wednesday, July 15, 2009

D.C. in Two Days

We had a great time in D.C. It was so nice to explore a new city as a couple and not have to worry about our kids. Geary was an excellent tour guide and I deeply appreciated his planning and budgeting. Warning: this post is loooong. But I want to document our memories here so I'm not skimping on the details. If you just want the short version you can scroll down to see the pictures and simply read the captions in italics.

On Wednesday we drove up to my mom's house to drop off Noah and Tobin. We stayed for a delicious dinner prepared by my brother and then my dad drove us to the airport so we could catch our red-eye flight to D.C. Earlier in the day we had purchased two disposable cameras. We gave one to Noah and kept one for ourselves--that way we could see what the boys did and they could see what we did.

At the Sea-tac airport
Before every flight I had to fight off this fear of a plane crash. I've never been afraid of flying before but I think being pregnant and away from my kids really affected my thoughts and emotions on this trip. Geary was patient and comforting though. And obviously we made it there and back in one piece.

Crazy Castle at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport
We had a two hour layover in Dallas so we got some breakfast and explored the airport a bit. We found this crazy castle tunnel in there and the only reason I can think to why I took a picture of it is that it was 5 am. Around this time I started craving hot popcorn. Popcorn in a bag wouldn't do--it had to be fresh. We searched the airport but eventually left empty handed.

The White House
Day 1: We landed in D.C. about 11am, ate lunch (still didn't find any hot popcorn) and took a taxi to our hotel where they graciously allowed us an early check in. After showers and a quick nap we walked down Pennsylvania Ave to the White House. The President was in Russia or I'm sure he would have invited us in for tea.

After the White House we split up. Geary headed for our congressman's office to get gallery passes to a session of Congress. He also visited the Library of Congress. I opted to explore the area around our hotel and we decided to meet at the National Archives later.

I was very excited to see a Filene's Basement. For some reason I had in my head that it was the thrift store to end all thrift stores. Imagine my disappointment when I saw that it's nothing more than a Ross Dress for Less. So I used their bathroom and then hightailed it over to the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

From Disney's Dumbo the Flying Elephant Ride

Here's one of the original elephants from Disney's Dumbo ride. Yeah...I had the camera. And no plan on how to use it to make sure we didn't run out of film.

The Ruby Slippers
And Dorothy's Ruby Slippers! There's no place like home! Useless trivia: In the book her slippers are silver but when they made the movie the slippers became red to provide greater contrast against the yellow brick road.

I also saw Julia Child's Kitchen and a cool display on Book Illustrations that really appealed to the graphic designer in me.

After this I strolled through the Sculpture garden (where I recognized two sculptures from when they were on display at Seattle's sculpture garden) to meet Geary at the National Archives. The line to see our nation's precious documents was out the door and around the block! So we decided to walk back to the Museum of Natural History and eat dinner first.

While we were there we took the opportunity to quickly hop upstairs and see the Hope Diamond.

The Hope Diamond
I think the movie, The Great Muppet Caper had me expecting something similar in size to "The Baseball Diamond." I was surprised to see that the Hope Diamond wasn't as big as a baseball. But it sure drew a big crowd. We clicked some fast pictures and then headed down to the museum's cafeteria for some really expensive macaroni and cheese. And no hot popcorn.

Cool griffins on top of the National Archives
After dinner the line at the National Archives only had about 25 people in it so we joined the line and admired all the amazing architecture from the buildings around us. We both really liked these griffins. It was so crazy to see these ornate old brick and stone buildings surrounded by, and sometimes connected to, massive modern structures of steel and glass. And somehow, it worked! Nothing seemed out of place.

Geary pointed out all the buildings that are pictured on our money. It was so cool to see them in real life and to know that "In God we Trust" is emblazoned over those buildings in reality, too. We noticed all kinds of lions and eagles and scepters in the architecture and agreed that God has made his mark over our country. And we also noticed serpents...

Inside the National Archives we headed directly to the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. And then I hit my wall. All my energy was just gone. I didn't have it in me to fight the crowds of people or to wait my turn to see those national papers so I left Geary in the gallery and found a bench to sit on in the hallway. And I'm glad I did.

I got to observe the coolest security guard lady ever. She was guarding the door and also trying to keep her eye on a rowdy bunch of teenagers. After I had been sitting there for a moment she corralled all the kids onto one bench and told the loudest kid to help her guard the door. He shut right up and took his new guard duty very seriously. I was impressed. Then she started quizzing the kids on the Bill of Rights. They got so into it and I could tell she would be one of their favorite memories from visiting the Archives.

Geary finished seeing all that he wanted to see and we paid a crazy taxi driver to take us back to the hotel. Our hotel (The Washington Marriott on 22nd) had Bath and Body Works Ginger Orange shampoo, conditioner, and lotion, and a waterfall shower head. It all felt like pure luxury. We snuggled down under the plush down comforter and watched three episodes of What Not to Wear. It was bliss.

Day 2: The next morning Geary got up early to visit Congress. I slept in and then walked to Trader Joes to pick up some things for lunch and breakfast the next day. Plus some snacks. We didn't want to pay for anymore $20 mac 'n' cheese meals. When Geary got back we ate lunch and headed out to see more D.C.

We took a taxi to the Air and Space Museum to see a hunk of moon rock. We looked everywhere but couldn't find it. Finally we asked a docent and he directed us to the main hall where we saw a pillar that said, "Moon rock". There was a small plexiglass window with a little black arrow pointing to our right. We looked right and saw nothing. We looked at the little arrow again and observed a tiny sign which read, "Touch a piece of moon rock." And then we realized the tiny black arrow was the moon rock! It had been touched by millions of people and was worn down smooth with a greasy surface from all the finger oils. It was pretty disappointing but later we went upstairs and actually saw bigger chunks of moon rock.

Hot popcorn!

Look what we found once we left the Air and Space Museum! Hot Popcorn! Though I'm sure you're much more interested in looking at my 21+ weeks pregnant belly.

The Star Spangled Banner

And then Geary wanted to go back to the Museum of American History to see The Star Spangled Banner. It was a very moving display. We got to see the actual flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our National Anthem. And the flag is huge! And the words to the song are even huger--especially the last verse:

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand

Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!

Blest with victry and peace may the heav’n rescued land

Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto - “In God is our trust,”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

After seeing that grand old flag we split up again. I noticed the line to the First Ladies exhibit was quite a bit shorter and Geary wanted to see the America on the Move exhibit.

George Washington Sculpture
While I waited in line for the First Ladies I snapped this picture of the George Washington Sculpture. A teenage girl behind me said, "I doubt George was that buff." Her mother retorted, "Of course he was! How else would he be strong enough to chop down a cherry tree?"
The First Ladies gallery was beautiful. I saw some of their inaugural ball gowns, china patterns and other personal belongings. One of my favorites was Nancy Reagan's chicken footed silver service. Along the walls were pictures of all the first ladies from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama. Another favorite was the collection of campaign pins proclaiming So and So for First Lady!
We also walked through the Within These Walls exhibit where we read the story of five different families who lived in this one house over the years. Part of house had been reconstructed in the gallery and it was neat to see how it changed throughout time. I think we were especially interested because our own house was built in 1890.

The Capitol Building

After the Museums we continued our explorations. It was crazy to see a famous landmark in every direction we turned. Here's the Capitol Building. You can't tell in the picture but the bottom half of the building is actually yellow!

I believe we were trying to get a shot of us in front of the Capitol Building but we kind of missed the building. I'm thankful that this picture doesn't show the sweat dripping off my face and hair--it was so hot! Although I do think God provided a special blessing for us because it was only 88 degrees instead of D.C.'s usual 96!

Turn the other direction and there is the Washington Monument. We could see this obelisk from nearly any point in the city. And guess what? It's bottom half is yellow, too! This is because it was being constructed before the Civil War and during the war construction had to stop (for almost 25 years!). After the war the new bricks weren't the same color as the old ones because they came from a different quarry. The color difference isn't that noticeable but I do appreciate that we have a little mark drawing a line between two periods of our nation's history.

Geary with the Washington Monument in the palm of his hand.

We told Noah that Geary was able to pick up the Washington Monument. I think he believed us for about two seconds before sputtering, "You're tricking me! It's an octopus illusion!"

From Newberg to D.C.

After the museums we were getting hot and tired and grumpy. We decided to visit the memorials closer to evening time. In the meantime we would cool off at the National Aquarium. On the way there we noticed this sign for the Herbert Hoover building. Hoover lived in Newberg when he was a boy so of course we had to document this merging of hometown and national history.

The Flag Fish

The National Aquarium was so national that it actually had a fish which looked like an American Flag! We also saw alligators, turtles, tiny poison dart frogs, electric eels, sharks, and other less national looking fish. It was a nice break in a nicely air-conditioned place.

After the aquarium we bought some hot dogs from a street vendor and ate them on the lawns surrounding the Washington Monument. From there we made our way through the World War II Memorial. It was beautiful! And then we saw the Vietnam Memorial which I really wanted to see because of an episode of Reading Rainbow that I had seen as a kid. Later, when I became an adult I watched a documentary about the artist who designed the Vietnam Memorial and that really cemented my desire to see and touch it. It did not disappoint.

The Lincoln Memorial

Finally, we made it to the Lincoln Memorial. We saw the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his "I Have a Dream" speech. We stepped over people sitting on the steps and overheard a little boy ask, "Who's grandpa is at the top of these stairs?" The ceiling inside the Lincoln Memorial is gorgeous. I read Lincoln's second inagural speech which moved me much more than the Gettysburg Address. And then I wished that I had taken the time to walk through the Lincoln exhibit at the American History Museum.

We took a taxi back to the hotel and once again snuggled under the plush down comforter. Our legs and backs were tired but our minds and hearts were full. We had good taste of D.C. and we decided that when each of our boys turns 12 they will be given the opportunity to visit D.C. with Geary. And someday I'll go back, too. But not in July!

Saturday morning we hung out in the hotel taking our time with breakfast and packing. We checked out and took our final taxi to the airport. We had another stop in Dallas which was supposed to be just 15 minutes to make our connection. We ended up being ground delayed in the plane on a 120 degree tarmac with brake problems. The pilot said the brakes were too hot. And then one of the air conditioners broke!

I prayed and prayed that we would make it home safely. Two hours later we were on our way and once in the air I started crying--partly from relief, partly from exhaustion, partly as a release of anxiety, and mostly because I knew I hadn't been thankful for this trip when Geary planned it but now I am so, so grateful that he invited me and that I went. We are so incredibly blessed to live in this country and I don't want to take my freedoms for granted anymore.

We landed in Seattle around 10pm and it was cold and rainy. Home! We ate hot pizza for dinner and took a shuttle to a hotel that my mom generously paid for so that we could have some recovery time before picking up the boys. We slept soundly but on Sunday morning I wanted nothing else but to see my little boys. It was a joyous reunion indeed and maybe tomorrow we'll share the pictures that Noah took.

Thanks for reading all of this! I hope you're inspired to visit Washington D.C. yourself someday!


  1. Great post Jeana! Looks like you guys had such a fun time and really packed a lot into just a few days. You look GREAT by the way :-) (Oh, and I'm glad you finally got your hot popcorn!)

  2. Welcome Home! Sounds like you had a WONDERFUL time! I want to hear more about it. We are just home from Black Butte and leave friday for Muncie. Whew! Will catch up when we are home (for a while).

  3. Isn't DC great. We only had 18 hrs to see what we could, but we're excited to go back. We were there in July too and it was horribly hot.

  4. So glad you enjoyed your visit! Looks like you had lots of fun.

    I have to disagree with your assessment of Filene's -- it carries some more upscale brands than Ross -- and occasionally it sells wedding dresses. I think it's more like a Nordstrom Rack or Off 5th (the Saks outlet.) But I can understand your disappointment if you were expecting a thrift store.

    Did you try out the subway during your trip?

  5. April, you're right, it's closer to Nordstrom Rack. The store I visited was pretty empty--racks with only 1 dress hanging on it and entire walls full of empty shelves. I think that added to the disappointment. We didn't try the Subway but we'd like to next time.


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