May 9th, 2017
Awhile back in our trip, when we knew we would be near the D.C. area for an extended period, we requested a tour of the U.S. Capital Building and the White House through our representative in Colorado. We were provided a slot for a tour of the Capital Building, but were denied 3 times for the White House tour due to it being unavailable. We were bummed about that, but excited to see the Capital. So off we were to explore our nation’s capital. Besides the Capital Building tour we had no other plans – other than a Hampton Inn for a couple of nights.
Just south of Northeast, Maryland and Elk Neck State Park was the Perryville Station, a historic little depot built in 1905. Imagine the travelers this small station has seen in over a century! It is the end of the line for a commuter train into D.C. It travels south – through Baltimore – and ends at Union Station in downtown D.C.
We caught an early train and the ride was fantastic. It was a fun experience for the kids and us, traveling over many bridges and waterways leading to the Chesapeake as well as an equal number run down parts of town, especially as we got closer to larger metropolitan areas like Baltimore. It was an experience to watch the train get busier and more crowded to the point of being standing room only as we got closer to D.C.
Arriving to Union Station was exciting, but mildly stressful. Being with two young kids in a new environment, carrying all our belongings for a few nights all the while trying to navigate all the underground platforms. We made our way to the automated ticket machine where we purchased passes for the Metro, to ease the amount of walking and expedite taking in as much of the city as we could. I am sure this is an experience none of us will forget!
We had booked a Hampton Inn (LOVE Hampton Inn!) in Camp Springs, on the outskirts of D.C.. We chose the hotel due to it’s price and it’s proximity to the Metro station, our first order of business was to lighten our load and check in to the hotel. We managed to navigate and get onto the right platform, the right train and headed in the right direction, which is hard when you can not see a horizon. We are not City folk! Have I mentioned that before?! We checked in and somehow, I don’t know how, but the kids managed to sneak some new lovies for the trip – bunny rabbits. We dropped our bags and were ready to experience Washington D.C.!
We had decided on the train ride this morning, after reviewing the map, that Arlington Cemetery was to be our first destination. It would provide a nice view of D.C. from across the river, while giving all of us a deeper appreciation for our country and freedoms we have. It was somber looking at the number of men and women over time who have lived and died for our country – and for that we are feeling grateful. We participated in the tram tour – periodically getting off at the stops to view the sights and points of interests, it is an enormous awe-inspiring property.
We were able to pay respects at Kennedy’s gravesite, the Tomb of the Unknown Solider with the changing of the guard, the Arlington House and John Glenn’s headstone.
We (I know for sure I did) enjoyed the history of the sites and I think were surprised how much time we spent there. It was getting near time to find dinner, so we headed back to the hotel, cleaned up and got us all to bed at a decent hour. Tomorrow is going to come early and be a full day of walking around The National Mall and enjoying a tour of the Capital Building.
May 10th, 2017
We began our day by catching a shuttle from the hotel to the metro. Once again we navigated the platforms and direction we wanted to head with success! We took it into a station just off the Washington Mall. So much more convenient than having to drive, navigate traffic and stress about parking.
We walked the grass fields (did a few cartwheels) and made our way toward the Washington Monument.
Along the way we witnessed a motorcade of some foreign dignitary on their way to meet with President Trump. The Washington Monument was closed, as they are replacing the elevators – a fact we actually did know ahead of time. But you can still walk up to it and the kids needed their passbooks to the National Parks stamped.
From there we continued onward toward the Lincoln Memorial. Along the way is the WWII Memorial and the reflection pool. We stopped and viewed the WWII Memorial. It was something that had been built since my last visit to Washington D.C. as a young teenager with my family. I was glad to have seen it and walk amongst it. It was on my list of things I did want to see on this trip into D.C.. It was special to be there at the same time as a group of Honor Flight heroes. It was really emotional watching these men, being pushed in wheelchairs or moving slowly with great caution, take in all that their sacrifices had given this country. Really a beautiful experience if you ever get the chance to witness!
We picnicked along the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool with the WWII Memorial to our right and the Lincoln Memorial to our left. It was a beautiful day, a great day for a picnic and watching mama ducks with their ducklings all in tow as they swam around the Reflecting Pool. Spring is here!
After eating we strolled over to the Lincoln Memorial and took it in. We counted the stairs as we ascended and our legs kept count as well 😉 We read the engravings on the walls: The Gettysburg Address and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. What a neat experience and culmination of what the kids have been studying in school! We took the obligatory photo in front of the Lincoln sculpture. And now understand why it is one of the most popular landmarks visited by tourists. It was an incredible experience, the details are are so rich and well preserved.
Afterwards it was time for us to head over to he US Capital to meet at Ken Buck’s office – our representative in Colorado. The staff there were less than impressive and the individual providing the tour pretty dull.
The building and it’s history were magnificent however and we enjoyed viewing the building.
We viewed the rotunda, the former House and Senate chambers, the crypt and the location of the Supreme Court until it’s own building was completed and they moved.
Following our tour – well – it was time to eat again. One of our favorite comedians Jim Gaffigan has a sketch on eating on vacation. He says that family vacations are really just eating somewhere you have never eaten at before. And that’s what we did tonight, we found a local pizza place that we had never eaten at before and ate.
Then, “since we’re on vacation” we found some ice cream! As the sun was setting, made our way back to the National Mall so the kids run off their sugar and get back to practicing their cartwheels, while Cortney and I took in the incredible history and views before us.
We made our way back to the Metro bound for ‘home’ – our hotel. (Probably ate again when we got to the hotel. Don’t remember) A great day!
May 11th, 2017
We awoke to a rainy day, saturating rain. Thankfully we had packed for the occasion, with rain jackets and umbrellas. It was a rare moment on our trip in which we actually paid attention to the weather, the days leading up to our adventure into the city. Knowing of our wet fortune, just the short walk to the metro our feet were already soaked, big puddles and kids – they simply can not help themselves. We settled on the Natural History Museum – part of the Smithsonian – as it was an indoor activity.
As you can imagine we were not the only brilliant ones who had this rainy day idea. We waded through crowded exhibits on the ocean, Africa, gems, insects and mummies. The exhibits – though busy – were great. We of course found our way to the gift shop – we do have a daughter that loves to shop.
Following the museum we found a local restaurant to refuel before our train ride back to the Perryville Station and eventually back to Elk Neck State Park and our home.
(Well that was D.C. Going through the photos a year later there were many that didn’t make into the above. But they were good, so find more below!)