Monday, May 11, 2015

Spring Break Destination: Washington DC

So……apparently I’m a bit behind on blogging.
But I’ve learned late is better than never. (Right?) 

For Spring Break, we packed up the mini-van and headed to Washington DC to visit Adam’s sister, Jaime and her fiancé, Ben.

Washington DC is a pretty popular destination for Spring Breakers. (Note to future trip-planning self: Don't go over Spring Break next time). There is SOOO much to do and SOOOO many cool places to visit.  But we were really heading there to see Aunt Jaime and see where she lives AND get to see some of the touristy spots while there. 

We decided to drive it all in one trip and left at 4am on Monday…….We had the boys sleep in comfy travel clothes and got them up and into the van just as we were ready to go……thinking the boys would fall back asleep for a couple of hours (they usually sleep til 7-8am).

Nope. Not a chance. They were all way too hyped up.  (Except for our exchange student, Kenny. He slept a lot on the drive). J

I’m such an organized nerd that I had made the older 2 boys binders with different activities to do. Word finds, hidden pictures, cool coloring pages, mazes, license plate games, travel bingo, etc.  Plus, we had a new stash of library books. And I even managed to save some fun things for the trip home.  Our van has a DVD player, but we managed to only watch 1 video throughout the whole trip (partially because it wasn’t working on the way home).Took us around a total of 12 hours to get there, including the times we stopped for meals or gas, although we tried to keep those to a minimum.

We arrived and Jaime had planned an easter egg hunt for the boys! They ran around the backyard (yes, they have a backyard! They are outside of DC a bit) using all of their pent-up energy! We enjoyed a nice dinner outdoors and probably the best weather we had the whole week.

Jaime and Ben have a lovely home that they bought and remodeled. But there were 6 of us….and some of us are squirrely with a lot of energy.  The perfect solution came through a matter of other closed doors. We ended up in a rented RV in their driveway! We were close enough to get to see them a lot. But yet, didn’t have our stuff all over their house and we had our own separate quarters. Kenny enjoyed their guestroom though. And the boys thought it was super cool to sleep in an RV, something they had never done before.

Jamie had a flexible schedule for much of that week and guided us around multiple fun spots.
On Tuesday, we went to the National Zoo.  Our favorite things were the large amount of big cats that they had and the ornately decorated carousel. Plus, they had orangutans that walked overhead you on tightrope sort of contraptions. The zoo is known for having giant pandas, but they were not very social or entertaining while we were there.

This is a photo I would like the boys to re-create in 20 years. 
On Wednesday, we checked out the Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Natural History.  The weather was cloudy, cool, and threatening rain. SOOOOOOO many people were in the museums – especially the Air and Space Museum. I think the boys would have enjoyed it more if it wasn’t so crowded.  All of the Smithsonian museums have free admission, so we didn’t feel too bad about not trying to see everything in them. 

On Thursday, we realized how fortunate we had been in finding a parking spot  the day before.  We drove around for nearly a ½ an hour before we found a spot to park. We took in some of the monuments and memorials on this day.  They had a considerable amount of construction projects going on… much of the grassy areas along the mall, the capitol building, the reflecting pool was drained for maintenance.  My favorite spot we were able to see was the WWII memorial.  Its large and just had a lot of different things to take in. Plus, extra meaningful when a few WWII veterans were visiting the memorial the same time we were there.  We also visited the Museum of American History that afternoon.

At the WWII Memorial.
Visiting Lincoln's Memorial.
Wow. Who knew I could make my hand so unnaturally flat?! 
At the Korean War Memorial.
Making sure the Washington Monument was sturdy.

Friday was the day that we traveled around using public transportation. We rode the metro, a city bus, a super big escalator, and even an Uber black SUV. Other highlights of the day were seeing the White House and finding some stinky tofu for Kenny. We also visited the US Postal Museum. Not one of the city’s “big” museums, but the boys probably enjoyed it the most out of the museums that we visited because it wasn’t crowded and they could do the hands-on stuff as much as they wanted and run free.
The Metro was so exciting! 

Super long escalator
Starbucks break courtesy of Jaime. 
I thought we looked nice enough, but they would not let us inside.

Stinky Tofu is a Taiwanese favorite of Kenny's.  We haven't been able to find any restaurants in G.Rapids that have it, but we found one place in DC that claimed to have it. He said it tasted pretty authentic!
Cutest parcel of mail I've ever seen.

We also squeezed in time for movie watching, playing at the fun neighborhood park, and some lounging around.  DC has so many great and meaningful places to visit. We know our boys were too young to understand much of it or take it in…..which means we’ll just have to take additional trips to visit Aunt Jaime and soon-to-be Uncle Ben in the future!

Overall, it was a great trip.  The first big trip we’ve taken the boys on and done “touristy” things with. Jaime and Ben were excellent hosts. We love that the boys now have a reference and a memory of where Aunt Jaime lives.  We’ve played in their backyard. We’ve pet their cats. We’ve watched movies on their ginormous TV. I'd probably have even more to say if I hadn't waited so long to blog about it. :) Thanks Jaime and Ben for a memorable and great Spring Break!