The District. For you Hunger Games fans out there like me, maybe I should clarify: The District of Columbia. Our 2012 Spring Break trip got off a few hours earlier than expected. A call from our U.S. Senator was taken on Monday morning with solemn news: Our White House Tour tickets that his office helped secure for us had been moved due to an unplanned event. Our original date with the White House on Wednesday at 7am was being moved up to Tuesday at 7am. No problem, right? Except we were in Fort Mill, SC on Monday at noon when we decided to pack up the car and leave 4 hours earlier than planned. We drove straight through to Fairfax, VA where we grabbed a Hampton Inn and were ready for an early departure into the city (a 5am departure to be specific). During the pain of eating dinner at a 35 year old Wendy’s in who knows where, arriving at the Hampton Inn at 8:45pm, lights out at 9:15pm, Charlie being afraid of the hotel room and thereby not falling asleep until 10:30, the 4:30am wake-up call and the earlier than normal “I don’t want to wear that shirt” game (Charlie) it might not have seemed worth the trouble. But we were wrong. It was TOTALLY worth the trouble. It was the White House! A great 45 minute tour around the common areas, a special siting of Bo the dog (we later found out that the 7:30am tour got to meet Barack Obama on his way to the West Wing – doh!) and some really cool history that our kids will never forget – totally worth it. Upon exiting and taking a few pictures, we moved on to a Starbucks to get the needed caffeine to carry us through the day.
The White House tour is a tour where you get to bring yourself into the building only. Wallets and sunglasses are ok. Phones turned off are ok. Everything else, not so much. Only Charlie took the brunt of this. His backpack ride was left in the car leaving him to my shoulders or his own two feet. The kid was a trooper – his own two feet had to have been worn out after we dragged him the length of the mall and took in the the Natural History Museum Butterfly Garden, the Smithsonian Castle, the Washington Monument, the WWII Memorial (super cool memorial especially as I was reading “The Unbroken” a true story about a WWII Pilot/POW) and the “back of the Penny” as Stewart referred to it. Aka The Lincoln Memorial. All of this before lunch on the first day! Stewart was amazed at how big Lincoln was – no sitting on that lap. Charlie loved that the National Mall/Reflecting Pool was torn to pieces. Non-stop diggers, tipper trucks, backhoes, forklift loaders, and mobile cranes – a 3 year old mecca. Will loved everything – especially reading everything he could put his eyes on.
If you ask Will what his favorite part of Washington DC was he’d answer either “All of the Smithsonians”, “The Metro” or “the Coconut Macaroon at the Firehook Bakery near DuPont Circle” of which only the latter is the correct answer. Seriously – the best macaroon I’ve ever tasted! Stewart would answer “The Jungle Hotel” (AKA Embassy Suites) or “the Metro” and Charlie would likely not answer the question you asked but instead interrupt and point out construction vehicles or tell you something you didn’t know about Lightning McQueen or Curious George. He really loved standing up on the Metro. Next vacation we head to Rock Hill, stay in an Embassy Suites ride the city bus a few times and come home.
Some other highlights:
- Stewart piloting me on the F-18 Simulator at the Air and Space Museum – I think we did 10 barrel rolls!
- The kids running from the elevator to our room at the hotel – there’s something about the Embassy Suites that makes kids think it is an indoor track.
- Wandering around the neighborhoods of DC – most of which a family of 5 got some interesting looks in young, urban, white-collar metro areas.
- The Smithsonians – seriously, when someone wants to complain about big government, remember the jewels that we have at our disposal (first world issues).
- Seeing the kids delight when we decided to eat at a hot dog vendor on Pennsylvania Avenue.
- Stewart swimming in a pool 7.5 hours from home and having a girl from her school swim up and say hello as if there was no coincidence here at all.
- The National Zoo – pretty awesome place.
For our next trip we have to make it to “the National Archives (line was too long), the Dulles Air and Space Museum (the idea of hangars worth of museum stuff was just too much after 4 days) and a deeper tour of Capitol (more than the cafeteria and restrooms). We clearly only saw 1/100th of the stuff to see there – makes me wonder if we need another trip or whether we should just be satisfied with giving the kids a taste and leaving them wanting more. So many wonderful places to see – so little time to see it all – another first world problem.