Washington DC: Travel ADHD and Dirty Tricks

I do have to say that I have a pretty good propensity for adventure…..or stupidity, whichever it is. One could call it either based on your own perspective. I got home from working my last night shift in Florida, having just worked the last two consecutively. When I walked in the door I greeted my husband with the words, “Do you want to go to Washington D.C. now?” He was pretty floored, I think, but I had hatched a plan. The kids weren’t so game because Kristoff wanted to stay home and fish on the beach. Sanni was game, but likely unaware of the stress she was going to endure as a result.

So…..the plan…..pack. Sanni had to pack all her stuff and put it in our car. She had to say goodbye to our beach forever. She will be going back to Finland as soon as we get back from DC. I think she cried…..that’s a fake smile….

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Yeah…..the plan….I kind of have a problem because my car has been giving me grief and I don’t want to take it on an 11 hour road trip to Washington. So we drive to the airport, which is 40 miles north of us, park our car with Sanni’s luggage in it, and head on over to the car rental agency. What a deal! For $20 per day we get an awesome set of wheels! A bit small, I might add, but hey – we are armed to the teeth with all kinds of electronic gadgets and the kids promise to be good! And besides, it’s not me sitting in the back seat!

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I tried to sleep for the first couple hours to no avail and then I took over the wheel. My husband is very mild mannered, and I was in a hurry…on a tight schedule, you know! I hadn’t slept at all, but there’s such a thing called Rockstar! That stuff turns you into a maniac! And again if the kids tell you I was driving 90 mph the whole way….they lie…everyday….in their beds…..I would never endanger them like that!

We grabbed a hotel for the night just south of Washington and excitedly anticipated the morrow….

And the morrow dawned! Cold. And we don’t have winter coats.

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I had expected it to be cold and we had plenty of layers. The only trick is getting Arizona/Florida kids to agree to multiple layers….it kind of crimps their foot loose and fancy free lifestyle when you pile layers on them.

Our first stop was……guess what…..

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….Arlington National Cemetery. We watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The kids wondered why they were guarding a tomb with no one there…..guess that’s how kids minds work.

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Then we took over the amphitheater.

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We noticed that there are a lot of Kennedy family members here….

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Perhaps one of the more interesting things I learned was about Robert E Lee. He had a large plantation in what is now Arlington Cemetery.
Lee was the leading Confederate general in the American Civil War, and his decision was very unpopular in his family given that his wife was the great granddaughter of George Washington. Apparently eminent domain was alive and well in those days, as the government seized the property because Lee’s wife did not pay the property taxes in person. The tour guide said it was seized as punishment to Lee for fighting for the South. There! Are you impressed? I learned something!

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Our next order of business was the capital, where we stayed until past sundown.

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That’s because we first had a nice little tour, like all other good U.S. citizens…..

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….and then we had to resort to some dirty tricks! Our tour guide told us after the tour that the Senate was getting ready to vote on some big legislation, and that if you are not American, I repeat NOT American, you can go to this counter and get a pass to watch the senate in action from the balcony. He said that since it was slow they might let Americans in to watch the big senate vote! What?????????? What is that?

At the pass counter we overhear them tell this guy he can’t get in because he is American. Well, very quickly we were all Canadian, and sure as shootin’ we got passes to watch the Senate in action!! It was superbly awesome! It was really amazing to be there to witness the senate in action and to think about how much power they wield! Of course all our digital stuff including phones and cameras were confiscated prior to entry so we can’t take any photos……..that’s when I have to resort to more dirty tricks……

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It was cool! Really, really cool, except that they voted to take away veterans’ benefits, which is pretty uncool if you’re a veteran. We did see John McCain, and I waved wildly at him, but he chose to ignore me. And to think all this time I thought he really meant it when he says, “my friend”. If he were a true friend he would have waved back! Hmmmmph!

We made a pit stop at the White House and the National Christmas Tree, after which we sort of lost our car temporarily….

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And then we rushed off to the Mormon Temple for a quartet Christmas concert. The singers were not that great, but who am I to judge? The temple is pretty cool and there are lots of lights. Yes, there was some propheletizing going on….is that a word?

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Have you ever used “Hotel Tonight”? I have their app on my phone, and what a great app it is! I love this thing! We got to stay in downtown DC for $50 in a double queen suite with full breakfast at the Residence Inn! It was amazing!

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The next day dawned a bit warmer. We felt great after getting such a good deal on our hotel! Full bellies to start the day, good night of sleep, and didn’t even have to pay the $40 parking fee. Wow! Our plan of action for this day was simply to hit as many of the museums as possible.

The first was the National Archives Museum.

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We got to see the Declaration of Independence and many other very interesting documents, such as the Bill of Rights, and the original Magna Carta from the 1300’s. We did get a little too close to the door here and were told by security personnel to leave this area. Can’t seem to do anything right…..

The second stop was at the National History Museum. This was by far Kristoff’s favorite place because they had all kinds of displays from the Civil War, which he is fascinated with. Kristoff and dad could have spent the entire day here. We did get to see Lincoln’s top hat, which was pretty neat.

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And Michelle Obama’s inauguration gown….

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We did get to see this cool old wooden boat on exhibit.

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And we were reminded again about how the US was instrumental in taking down the Berlin Wall!

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Then we cruised on over to the Living
History Museum, which could have been a day long venture in and of itself. Most interesting exhibit? Mum’s the word…..A mummy.

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From thence we ran off to the Air and Space Smithsonian. We have been to the Boeing museum in Seattle, which is waaay more amazing….and by now we are exhausted! But something did drone on and on and catch our attention…..I’m gonna start a pizza parlor and deliver my pizzas with one of these…..and if I ever get a plane it is going to have beautiful wooden propellers like this!

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We then commenced to make a couple pit stops at monuments. Kristoff stood on the steps of the Lincoln memorial and marveled how Martin Luther King Jr had given his famous speech from this very perch! I guess he has been listening in school.

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After all this we start heading back to Florida. Drove until 2 am, grabbed a hotel for 4 hours, hit the road again….let’s not talk about speed. We did a wee pit stop in Savannah GA.

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By now Sanni is really nervous. Her flight back to Finland is only 4 hrs to takeoff.

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Sanni is happy to be back in Florida! She was pretty stressed out wondering if we will make it back on time. We had to stop for our free Florida orange juice at the first rest area when you enter the state. By the way, all Florida rest areas have armed guards at night patrolling….
We got Sanni to the airport with 2 hrs to spare. She grabbed her stuff out of our car and off she went to Finland, and the next day to Spain. Goodbye Sanni, we will all miss you!

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And there you have it! A marathon trip to Washington DC. Ideally we should have had two more days, but it was OK this way, too. I can’t imagine I would ever get the kids up there from Arizona – it’s just so far away!

How do you top off a marathon trip to Washington? Why with a grand homecoming to a beautiful full moon over the ocean! I love this place!

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