we went somewhere
31 March 2014
spring break happened last week. and today, marc's back on an airplane and the kids are back at school, and tonight we have piano and swimming.
life's back to normal.
BUT. last week was superfun.
we headed to the dc. you've all seen the pictures of stuff there, so i'll just share our stories instead.
we flew out friday afternoon, and got there just in time for a walk and dinner. since our hotel was four blocks from the white house, we decided that should be our first stop, and then find dinner somewhere after.
full disclosure? the white house? that was only four blocks from our hotel? this is the only photo i took of it. and it was with my phone. we were so busy with other things the rest of the week that we just never made it back over to 1600 pennsylvania ave with the real camera. oh well ... we all know what the white house looks like.
so then we kept walking around to the south lawn, saw the back of the white house (farther away than the front side, so the phone photo isn't as impressive), the washington monument in the distance, then got some food.
at a really old, really fancy schmancy place: occidental grill. on night one. so much for pacing ourselves.
(this is what the place looks like in the daytime ...
the boys had steak, harper had tilapia, i had a seared lentil patty thing. all was excellent.)
day one, saturday, was the nicest day of the week, weather-wise ... near 70, sunny and spring-like ... so it seemed like the right day to go to the zoo. our only expectation for the zoo? see the pandas. that was it. pretty risky.
we took the metro to the zoo (the kids thought that was pretty fun), and walked ... and walked ... and walked the rest of the afternoon. the national zoo is a really big, spread out place. but by golly we saw that panda.
and we saw a lion. and it roared at us. like, a lot. so much that harper even got a video of the roaring. (that was the highlight of her week. on day one. it was all downhill for harper from there.)
hours - and sore feet - later, we took the train back to the hotel, went swimming, and headed to dinner. oh - but first: henry found a tardis:
i forget how our plans changed at the last minute, but somehow we ended up wandering into a garden-level teeny-tiny hole-in-the-wall peruvian place to eat. and it was fantastic. authentic food, authentic guitar-playing singer. always try the hole-in-the-wall places.
day two: we opted to get 48-hour big bus tickets and made our game plan. the big bus offered four different tour loops, and we decided to do the blue tour on sunday. it would take us to the majority of the monuments and memorials.
we caught the bus right outside ford theater, where about a dozen school tour buses were also parked and waiting. the sunny-and-70 from the day before was gone, and we were bundled in the warmest clothes we had. even so, harper was shivering and unhappy. an unhappy harper means a day of unhappy all of us, so we ran into a gift shop and found her a hat. as we waited for the bus, we gave henry the tags and bag and asked him to please throw them away. he walked about 15 feet away to the trash, and the next thing we knew, he was surrounded by about half a dozen girls. when he came back, i asked what that was all about. he smiled a bit sheepishly and replied, "they wanted to get their picture taken with me."
yeah. i have THAT son.
we had a good giggle at henry's expense until the bus came. and then we were off ...
(henry's favorite street in dc.)
after walking around the reflection pool, from the wwii memorial to the lincoln memorial, up the other side of the reflection pool to the vietnam memorial and a few other statues, we headed to the bus stop to ride toward arlington cemetery and the pentagon. we'd already done quite a bit of walking ... and it was not warm ... and harper was not in the greatest mood. but she hung in there. and we tested her to her very last ounce of patience. with more walking.
we walked from the welcome center to the tomb of the unknown soldier, stood there for 20 minutes to watch the changing of the guard (a very solemn, moving thing to witness), over to the eternal flame and kennedy's grave, and back to the bus.
so. much. walking.
the bus took us past the pentagon (don't blink or you'll miss it ... the bus doesn't even slow down.), then dropped us at the pentagon mall. where we chose to (finally) eat lunch. at about 3 p.m.
we noticed there was a legal seafood on the corner (one of marc's favorite places), across the street from a sign for a drug store.
this was a good thing because washington is just enough ahead of minnesota in the seasons changing category that marc was a seasonal allergy mess. sneezing, runny nose, and his right eye was so swollen and bloodshot it was nearly purple.
(i didn't take a picture of that. you're welcome.)
so he washed his face at legal, which helped, we ate, then we crossed the street to find the drug store. only to discover that only the sign was at the corner. the actual drug store was down the street and to the left. except it was "down the street and to the left." and underground. and another mile away. for real. (so, more walking. harper was so pleased.)
three bags of allergy meds and bottles of water later, we grabbed a cab back to the hotel, and marc and i fell asleep for two hours while the kids played on their gameboys.
at around 8 p.m., marc and the kids ate subway from next door to the hotel, and i had doritos and oreos from the hotel lobby. we were too tired for anything more interesting.
day three, back on the bus. the plan for monday was to hit enough of the red loop to fill in the gaps in the monument-and-memorial tour from the day before, and ride the yellow line around georgetown and back to the ford theater area. it was, again, really cold. so back into the gift shop we went while waiting for the bus. this time: a hoodie. more layers. and then we were off.
we rode that bus all through georgetown (the architecture! oh my. i want to go wander georgetown for an entire day and take it all in. and peek in windows.), then headed back to the spy museum and madame tussaud's wax museum.
... with a quick stop, first, for lunch. burgers (for the boys), mahi (for me), and chicken noodle soup (for guess who) at gordon biersch. such food. very yum.
then the museums.
marc loved the spy museum. henry really liked it. harper was not impressed. i thought it was interesting. so there you go.
the wax museum? we all loved that one!
we saw every president (many of them were much taller than i expected ... especially the early ones!), many historical figures ... we all found favorites ...
and pop culture icons ...
marc was especially pleased to find angelina.
which did not please brad.
but i could not have cared less. i had george.
and harper didn't care about any of it; she just wanted to be a badass world leader.
(the thought of her finger on the button? yikes. she'd nuke us all at the drop of a hat.)
anyway, that was fun.
then it was back on the bus. we planned to ride it to union station, then transfer to the red line to finish off a couple of monuments we'd missed the day before, but when we got to union station, it was 4 p.m. ... which apparently means "tour over. go home." so, we did.
day four, tuesday morning we awoke to ... snow. so glad we bought that hoodie for harp the day before. because she wore it again.
we'd planned to wake up at 8, eat, and head to the smithsonian for the day. but everyone was so exhausted that when the alarm went off, i was the only person who moved. so i turned it back off, and we all slept another two hours.
then we got up.
there was a restaurant - founding farmers - four blocks from the hotel that i'd been eyeballing since we arrived, and i suggested going there for brunch/lunch. (at 11:00, is it brunch? lunch?) holy cow ... the food? phen.om.en.al. seriously. it was so good, i bought the cookbook. and now want to start a letter-writing campaign to get them to open one in the north loop here in minneapolis. or they could open one a block from my house. either way is good.
marc had chicken waffles (which, ?? still don't get chicken and waffles together. but he said it was amazing.), henry had chicken pot pie, harper had yankee pot roast, and i was on kid clean-up crew. because no way was either child going to eat their whole meal. (i'm a mom. that's my job.) surprisingly, they ate more than i thought (the food was just that good), so i'm glad i also had a small (super fabulous) salad.
so, lunch eaten, we cabbed it to the air and space museum. this? was marc's happy place. 110%. henry was pretty happy, too.
(underside of apollo 11.)
harper dealt with being there, until we found one of amelia earhart's planes. then she was giddy. and then she was done.
after wandering the museum for a few hours, we decided a quiet evening was a good idea. so we got a cab back to georgetown for a movie (muppet movie ... awesome!) and dinner. (we tried to make a reservation at a middle eastern place. when we arrived after the movie, the place was totally empty, three employees were sitting at a table, we asked if they were open, and they responded with, "what? oh, okay." um ... no. sketchy. so we went to a pub.)
wednesday morning - day five - we again got some sleep, headed back to the smithsonian area, to go through the natural history museum and american history museum. the kids loved the animals and skeletons and bugs and science and minerals and "where did humans come from" exhibits, so we spent quite a bit of time at the natural history museum.
harper and i went into the butterfly house which, i'm pretty sure, was another highlight of the week for her.
we eventually reached sciency saturation point, so opted to go through the american history museum. turns out, though, our gumption wasn't nearly as strong as we'd thought. and there were so. many. people. in the museum.
happily, i got to see the swedish chef ...
and while the boys went through military history, harper and i went through presidential history and focused our attention on the first ladies ...
(eleanor roosevelt's inaugural ball dress? squeee!)
and we were done. i'd really wanted to spend more time in that particular museum, but oh well. next time.
the kids were asking for sushi, so we went to kaz, which was near our hotel, and henry put away about $80 worth of sushi rolls by himself (he is NOT a cheap date), and harper just wanted to eat the sucker with a scorpion in it that she'd gotten at the natural history museum.
sufficiently stuffed, we walked back to the hotel, had another evening dip in the pool ...
and called it a day, because thursday would come with an early wake-up time.
day six - last day - was, for me, the best.
we had to be at the hart senate building at 8:30 for a minnesota morning gathering at senator amy klobuchar's office. we got to meet sen. klobuchar (really ... i'm a fan. she's such a neat lady.), then got a special senate office aide-guided tour of the capitol. this? was my favorite. you cannot help to feel awed in this building.
(allegedly, it's good luck to put your feet in the white star on the floor at the center of the rotunda. unless you are an elected official. then you want to steer clear of it.)
our tour included passes to see the senate and house galleries. we went to the senate one, sat for a few minutes, then marc suggested we keep moving. the security guy behind us told us that, if we were interested, the senators would be returning in fifteen minutes to vote on a bill. uh, YES. so we stayed.
henry and i? stoked. marc and harper? so not.
but soon the doors opened and the senators started to return from lunch. and i was pointing out all of the stars of the daily show to henry ... mcconnell, cruz, rubio, mccain, etc. ... then i saw al franken enter and give a grin and a thumbs up and leave again, and i got giddy. then elizabeth warren entered and i got positively fan-girly. love that lady.
after about 15 minutes, marc said we should really go. so ... okay. at that point, it was nearly 2:00, no one had eaten since 7:45, so we opted to to not go to the house gallery. i was kind of bummed about that ... would have loved to have seen where my grandpa worked for 16 years ... but he was right.
we ate at the capitol's cafeteria (note: most expensive ham sandwich and bowl of soup ever. thanks, government.), then walked over to the library of congress. we didn't spend much time there, but it was enough to be completely awed, again, over the architecture.
we got moving, though, because we knew it was our last chance to make it to the memorials we hadn't yet seen: jefferson, mlk jr, and roosevelt.
the thing that struck me most on thursday - and, really, all week - were the figures to whom we've built statues and memorials, and the ideas we've carved in stone and put around our capitol city in places of honor. the common thread among them all are the ideas of humanity, of care, of treating others equally and with respect, and of america being the land of opportunity and hope and progress. i had to wonder, on more than a few occasions, if our elected officials ever read the words of their predecessors and really take to heart what made them great and gave them their places in history. because it seems like none ever do.
which is sad.
our week came to an end friday morning. we returned to founding farmers for breakfast (harper's carrot cake pancakes? holy cow. and i had amazing leek and potato hash with poached eggs and a freshly baked english muffin.), then grabbed a cab back to the airport.
we returned with a whole weekend to spare ... to relax, recover, do laundry. and today? it was lovely to get back to routine. with a whole new week's worth of memories for us all.