Thursday, July 10, 2014

DC continued...

So, to continue on with our day in D.C...

Not only did we walk all the way from the White house to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, but we continued onward and forward to the Air and Space Museum too.  It was awesome!  I'm kind of a sucker for airplanes and nerdy enough to enjoy the subject of space exploration, so this was my kind of place.  Truth be told, after some exploring through the museum, I did develop a slight headache which resulted in a long, fast-paced walk to the gift shop to purchase a bottle of water.  That then resulted in our freeze-dried ice cream sandwich purchase.  And then we found a nice, little empty exhibit area and planted our butts on a dark, quiet ledge and pondered never ever leaving that nice spot.  

We did leave, however.  After perusing every museum room and wandering amongst the planes, we walked back out into the hot, swampy air.  We tasted our freeze-dry ice cream goods, which we decided we could survive on as astronauts, but as sweaty, hot normal citizens looking for refreshment, not so much.  We tossed that crap into the trash can and walked around the corner for real ice cream and popsicles.  You know, COLD stuff, like how it's supposed to be.

The next part of our walk felt like an eternal journey through Hell.  We laughed about it, but it was Hell.  All we wanted to do was see the Washington Monument and then the Lincoln Memorial.  We knew it was going to be a long walk.  I've done it before.  I knew.  But it sort of felt like we were walking on a treadmill... just walking and walking and never getting any closer.  We stopped and rested at any shady bench we could find.  
We prayed for clouds.  
By the time we did reach the Washington Monument, we decided we liked the view from our distance and that we did not have any strong urge to walk the trail leading directly up to the monument.  Nobody needed to go up and touch that tall, concrete structure and so we marched forward toward the Lincoln Memorial.  

The thing is, the Lincoln Memorial was still so far.  Thank goodness for the Veteran's Memorial, where we happily took off our shoes and soaked our feet in the fountain.  It was wonderful.  We were still out baking under the hot sun, but the fountain created a small, welcome breeze and our feet felt wonderful.  We allowed ourselves a good fifteen minutes to chill and then we continued along the reflecting pool and onward toward Mr. Lincoln.  We stayed in the shady trees and noticed the breeze was picking up.  There were questionable clouds moving in.  Except for my camera, we gladly welcomed the idea of rain.  We finally reached the Lincoln Memorial, which is a bunch of stairs, after such a long walk.  There's a picture of Jackson above, where he's facing Lincoln at the bottom of the stairs.  You can't see his face, but I like to think he's saying, "We walked all that way for this???"  He never said those words aloud though.  He actually thought it was cool.  We climbed, we saw, we hung out.  We contemplated a taxi cab.  
We probably really should have grabbed a taxi, but then we wouldn't have had our next, little adventure.

So, we leave Abe at 5:00pm.  It's rush hour.  It looks and sounds like rush hour.  It also starts sprinkling.  Thunder growls in the distance.  We make our way, walking back toward the city buildings.  I know we'll find no shelter in the park, so we run for the buildings.  We have no umbrella.  I'm worried about my camera.  It starts pouring just as I find us a building with an awesome overhang.  Our view is amazing and I feel like a mother caring for her cubs.  Rawr.  Five minutes later, we are being escorted off the property by a gentlemanly security guard.  
No sheltering allowed. 
Sheltering?  Is that even a thing?  We can't even escape the passing rain for a few minutes?  I'm not pitching a tent.  Crazy.  
Just as he's delivering this bad piece of news, a crackle of lightening shoots across the sky above us.  He's basically sending us out to our deaths and he seems okay with that.  So, he points us in the direction of a Subway restaurant and we run - in the elements!- and hunker down in a Dunkin Donuts instead (my directions are so bad).  We eat a donut, buy an umbrella at the CVS next door and then continue our walk toward the Metro Center station.  It's such a long, wet walk and it only gets longer when an entire road is closed at the White House.  I'm pretty sure that road closure added three extra blocks to our walk, but I can't be too sure because the gps is acting goofy.  At this point, there are three of us, looking at three different phone directions, none of them very similar.  My phone is on the verge of death and so I just decide to trust Jackson's navigational skills.  We just keep moving, in the rain, in a sea of umbrellas.  My kids have gotten so tall that they cannot even walk beside me while I am carrying an open umbrella.  I'm a safety hazard.  I can see the aggravation in their eyes, each time my umbrella taps them on the head or snags their hair.  Our sanity is hanging by a thread.  We just try to laugh, shake our heads and make the most, but shits about to go down.  I can feel it.  Once things go on a downward spiral, there's not much you can do, and our luck is spiraling.

Our original plan was to shop and eat dinner and wait for rush hour traffic to slow down, before hopping on the commuter train.  But at that point all three of us were just ready to deal with the crowds and get out.  Our feet were done.  Our brains were done.  When we finally saw that magical M sign (for Metro), we rounded the corner and hopped on the subway escalator, which was inoperative, don't you know.  After all the darn walking, and then even more walking, we were forced to walk down that broken escalator too.  Our brains were scrambled.  We just couldn't take anymore.  Fortunately, a train pulled up right when we did.  It was crowded, yes.  But it was awesome.  We stood for a few stops, sat for most.  The kids eye witnessed their first awkward argument between two cranky riders, so that was pretty entertaining too.  

It was such a full day.  It's the next day and I'm still exhausted.  I should be napping, but I'm writing this monstrous post.  it probably makes no sense.  But that's what you get...

I'm never praying for clouds ever agin.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

one full day in DC: smithsonian national museum of natural science.

What a day!  What a long, full, fun day!

I have to tell you, we had such success with the DC Metro commuter train.  There really is no reason to drive into DC and deal with all of that traffic and parking.  I mean, no matter what, you're going to end up walking, so why worry about parking?  The train was so easy-peasy.  We drove to the station, parked our car for 5 bucks, paid for fare at the machines, and boarded the train right away.  A half-hour later we hopped off at the Metro Center and walked three blocks to the White House.  It was so easy.

From that point on, however, we walked the length of a full marathon.  Ouch.

I had initially planned on spending two days in DC, but the kids were troopers and we pushed ourselves to the limit, which is not easy to do when it's a very muggy 90 degrees out.  We did it all in one day and I don't think I could convince these guys to return again tomorrow.  Our feet would fall right off.  Popsicles, ice cream, water, and Diet Coke saved our lives.  Oh, and cold museums!  Cold museums rejuvenated our poor desperate, melting souls.  That feeling when you open a door to an air conditioned building and the cool breeze hits your face...miracles, miracles, miracles.

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural Science is amazing.  I'm not usually a fan of taxidermy (Cabela's does a great job of making it extra creepy) but DANG, the animals in this museum are awesome!  There was so much to see and learn about.  We saw skeletons of every kind of animal imaginable.  We saw the heavily guarded Hope diamond necklace.  We touched meteors and rocks from Mars.  Jackson also ate the second best hotdog he's ever had, which I'd expect after paying over $40 bucks to eat in the museum cafe.  :)  But I'd pay that all over again, just to get a reprieve from the heat.

I've got so much more of our adventure to share!!!  I can't wait to show off more photos!


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