Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Class trip to DC! (Day 2)

(These DC posts are my personal travel journal, not meant to be great writing and not necessarily grammatically correct.  I'm trying to get everything onto the computer each day so I don't forget anything.)

It was HARD to get out of bed today, but we managed to get down to breakfast before they closed the omelet line. :)  Then, we were off the the Metro station to purchase our pass cards and teach our kiddo about public transit.  (I'll save my review of the Metro for the end of the week...haha!)

Sunshine has been studying the Holocaust and wanted to spend some time at the Holocaust Memorial Museum today.  We took the blue line to the Smithsonian and started walking toward the museum...and it was hot.  As we were walking, Daddio said, "Want to go into the USDA? They have a visitor center."  Of course!  We learned yesterday that we should stop into gift shops and visitor centers to take advantage of air conditioning.  What a great awesome pit stop!  The director of the visitor center is a very sweet woman, and she gave us some great information and an overview of what the USDA does.  We even got a package of heirloom tomato seeds to plant at home.  We told her we were going to attempt to grow them Texas sized.  She even gave Sunshine her card so they could be email pals.  My only regret is that we didn't take a picture with her. We did get a pic of Sunshine with Somkey Bear, though!

After leaving USDA, we moved on to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.  There really are no words to speak after leaving there, but I would like to share the verse that is written on the wall of Hall of Remembrance:
“Only be careful. Keep watch over your life. Or you might forget the things you have seen. Do not let them leave your heart for the rest of your life. But teach them to your children and to your grandchildren."   Deuteronomy 4:9
After several hours at the USHMM, we trekked back to our hotel (via the Metro) for a very late lunch and a quick regrouping.  I think we all needed a short break to process what we had seen.  Our initial plan was to spend the afternoon at the International Spy Museum, but we stayed at the USHMM longer than expected.  We decided to revamp our plan, and instead headed back to the Metro to grab a train to the Arlington National Cemetery.

We made it to the cemetery (after a couple of mishaps) just in time for the last tour of the day.  The bus took us by the Kennedy grave site, Audie Murphy's grave, the Challenger and Columbia Space Shuttle memorial stones, and to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  We were able to watch the final changing of the guard for the day.  This experience was emotionally intense for all of us, and something we will not forget.

Almost as soon as we left the cemetery and started walking back toward the National Mall, we felt rain drops.  We had two choices: 1) take the train back in, bypassing the memorials we wanted to see, (or 2) walk and endure Mother Nature's shower.  We went with option B, and by the time we crossed the Potomac we were all soaking wet, squishy shoes and all.  We laughed so hard and Daddio and I kept saying what a great example we set (walking through a rain storm) for Sunshine.  At one point we even hid in a small cluster of evergreen trees, seeking shelter from the rain so we could make sure our phones and cameras weren't getting soaked, too.  The rain walk ended up being a good thing because we definitely needed some levity after our emotionally draining day.

By the time we arrived at the Lincoln Memorial it was dark, but we were able to get some nice photos and spend some time reflecting while we waited for another round of rain to pass.  Then, we wandered on to the Vietnam Memorial and the White House.  The area around the Vietnam Memorial was very quiet, which provided a great opportunity to talk with Sunshine about the war and explain the wall to her.

Then...the rain started again!  It wasn't quite as powerful as the earlier batch so we didn't let it slow us down.  We decided it would be fun to see the White House at night, so we found a map and set off in that direction.  We only took one wrong turn into a restricted area, so the Secret Service Police had to shine their flashlight at us and tell us to turn around.  Only one wrong turn!  Seeing the White House in person was pretty surreal.  Even as far as we had to stay away, I was actually surprised that we could get that close.  We enjoyed seeing it aglow and decided the walk in squishy shoes was worth it.

After the White House, Daddio asked Siri for walking directions back to our hotel.  We had two choices again, 1) walk (8 mins) to the Metro station nearest the White House, take the train back to the one near our hotel, then walk (5 mins) from the station to our hotel (or 2) walk 14 minutes to our hotel.  Option 2 made so much sense, but it was a long 14 minutes interrupted by a stop at CVS for dinner items.  Note to self: plan better for dinner so you don't have to eat soggy CVS pre-made deli sammies. ;)  We also ran into some interesting characters on our way back to our room.

We arrived back at the hotel and it was basically a race to see who could get out of wet clothes and into something dry and warm.  Dinner was, as Daddio put it, something to fill the void.  ;)

Tomorrow is another busy day, so off to bed I go!

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