Monday, June 11, 2018

Washington, D.C.: Days 1 & 2

It's time to update ye olde blog so that I can remember our trip that we took to kick summer off!

The kiddos got out of school fairly early this summer - May 17th - and we hit the ground running and left for Washington, D.C. the very next day. In hindsight, it wasn't my BEST idea ever, but we wanted to squeeze it in before Memorial Day and summer rush so that we had fewer crowds. We had a pretty great time! It's always interesting traveling with kids. Ours do GREAT in a few areas - walking and not begging for STUFF every where we turn - and they really, really need some work in other areas - fighting with each other and whining.  You win some, you lose some!

We decided on Washington, D.C. several months ago because it's a pretty walkable city (we took public transportation a handful of times and walked everywhere else) and because the majority of things are FREE! We didn't get it all done (not even CLOSE!), but we hit some of the highlights and had a fun time!

Bright and early on Friday, May 18th, we picked my mom up at her house (and squeezed James in the back of the car with a boatload of luggage!) and headed north to Atlanta Hartsfield Airport for the boys' FIRST flight! We got there in plenty of time to grab a burger at Killer Burgers before heading to our gate. I packed plenty of new books and games to try to keep the boys occupied.

Despite Will's nervousness ahead of time (he's my anxious kid - he asked for sleeping medicine for the plane!), the boys did great on their first flight. It's a quick one so they didn't have time to be bored. They loved the snacks and they made a trip to the bathroom (together but alone!) where they realized they had no idea to flush and didn't tell us until later. Whoops!

We arrived at Dulles airport (don't be like us...we took the advice of a friend and will NEVER fly into Dulles again...Kennedy all the way from now on! - It was fine, just TOO FAR AWAY!) mid-afternoon and it was cool and rainy. The remnants of Alberto were still heading north. We grabbed a shuttle and headed to our hotel - Hyatt Place National Mall. 

After we arrived and got settled, we grabbed supper in the hotel's restaurant. It wasn't the best we've ever had and we didn't eat there again (except for the pretty-decent continental breakfast every morning!), but it was convenient. I think we were asleep before 9pm that night! HA!

Saturday morning was a little rainy, but we put on shoes that could get wet and headed out anyway! Our first scheduled activity was at the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence. ("We're gonna steal the Declaration of Independence..." might have been quoted once or twice - name that movie!) We had to pass through the Mall to get to the National Archives, so we got our first view of the Washington Monument and the Capitol. It was beautiful!

We came across some kind of bike race and this kid thought it was fun to watch.

Pictures aren't allowed inside the National Archives, but it was a BEAUTIFUL building that we could've spent hours in. We were shocked at how faded all of the documents are! They are very well preserved and guarded. Will leaned on the glass of one document and a guard quickly asked him to stand up. (He thought he was in trouble and got upset, but the guard was SO nice and wound up talking to us for a long time in another area of the museum.) There are two options for getting into the Archives - you can schedule a time online (for free) or stand in line. We opted to schedule our visit ahead of time. The line for walk-ups wasn't long at all while we were there, but I have no idea if that's because it was raining and the "off" season. 

After our time at the Archives, we headed a few blocks up to a pizza place called Pi Pizzeria. It was SO GOOD. I highly, highly, highly recommend it. It was clean, the servers were incredibly nice, and the food was great! We were very, very impressed by how friendly everyone in Washington was and it really started right in this restaurant. I wish I could remember our waitress' name because she was so kind!

After lunch, we had a little time to kill so we stopped into Anthropologie and J. Crew which were situated almost right next to Ford's Theatre. Times are weird! 

After we'd bored the boys shopping, we went into the museum across the street from Ford's Theatre, which is really the place you're supposed to end your tour there. Thankfully, the park ranger allowed us to visit it first. The boys REALLY enjoyed this. It's pretty interactive and traces John Wilkes Booth's time after he shoots Lincoln. I wish we'd gone back after going through the theatre. Don't miss this if you go! When it was our scheduled time (I did this ahead of time as well, but you can walk right up and get tickets - whatever is left - the day of), we walked across the street. Underneath the theatre is a museum about Lincoln. The boys didn't enjoy this NEARLY as much, but it was still pretty interesting. On the day we went to the theatre there was a ranger talk IN the theatre about the night that Lincoln was assassinated. It's still a working theatre and you can see shows there. You can also go into the house across the street where Lincoln died, but it was closed for renovations while we were there. We really enjoyed Ford's Theatre a lot. We recommend it! The whole day was good!

The home where Lincoln died.

A huge tower of books - all about Abraham Lincoln. Will was intrigued so he stood talking to the ranger for a long time about this. He was really more interested in how the tower was built - it's made of aluminum with the dust jackets of the books on the outside so it's light. (He's my engineer - how was it made? How did they build that?)

The museum was incredibly kid-friendly and interactive. This was an image of Booth being found with audio played with it. They loved it!

(In 1995-ish when we went, you could walk past the balcony where Lincoln was assassinated!)

Since we were close, we rounded out the day by stopping by to see if the Trumps were home. I was SHOCKED at how crowded this was and how far back you have to stand from the gates now. And also how SMALL it is and how close to everything else it is! The White House was the most surprising thing for me from the whole trip! (And, yes, I've been to it and in it before...I just didn't remember!) We chatted with a  Secret Service Agent for a while standing outside. He was very interesting!

We walked around to the front of it and Will said, "I thought the White House would be bigger!" We looked up and realized our little comedian was pointing to this guard gate. Hardy har har! 

After this, we HIKED (and it was a LONG one) back toward our hotel and stopped at Shake Shack for supper. We earned those burgers, fries, and milkshakes that day! Whew! It was lots of fun!!! We were BEAT.

This little nugget wouldn't let us turn his bed down. He slept with his sheets tucked in like this every night!

(We had two hotel rooms - BEST THING EVER - and Will slept with my mom in one room and James stayed with us in the other. They were supposed to swap back and forth but they never did. I will say, Hyatt Place is pretty awesome because they have two queen beds AND a pull out sofa bed. The room was very spacious and the boys could've both stayed with us and not had to sleep together. Score!)

Day 1 (travel day):

Day 2:

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