As most of you know, Dean and I flew to Washington DC for five days, arriving home just Monday. I'll try to narrow down a bit some of the thoughts that have been swimming through my head all week.
Top Ten DC Highlights - (no particular order)
1 - Hob Knobbing around the Capital Building -
Just hours after flying all night, Dean and I found ourselves in a little bit of a daze, walking towards the Capital building on our first morning in DC. We were soon swept up in the excitement standing in front of the Hart building (where Josh and Will's offices are) watching lobbyists, Senators, and more come and go. It was something to see Josh in his office, right next door to Senator Obama's office, and we peeked in on Will in a senate panel hearing on the War. I was impressed. We got the insiders tour through the Capital building, even witnessing some action on the Senate floor. Kimi met up with us and took us on a tour of her neck of the woods. All she needed to do was flash her hip badge and we were given access to pretty much anywhere. She even arranged for us to eat lunch with the movers and shakers in the Senate cafeteria.
2 - The Metro -
Amie was saying the words, but none of them made any sense; "the orange line, the blue, exit fare, Union Square," it was all so confusing and intimidating. But by the last day we were in DC, Dean and I felt like figured the whole system out. We tried hard to look like we knew what we were doing and tried to blend in. But, possibly Dean's "Man purse" and my large belly gave us away as out-of-towners.
3 - Playing "Scene It" in Maryland.
We've had an open invitation to come and visit Dean's sister Ann's in Maryland for the past fourteen years. So, how could we come so close and not stop in and say hi. We were so happy we did. Ann, Craig and the boys treated us like royalty, driving us all around beautiful Maryland and Pennsylvania. Ann served us a wonderful dinner even packing us a lunch for the next day and little Drew and Ross entertained the night away. Drew was disappointed that his Aunt and Uncle let him down as teammates in a high stakes game of "Scene It." Rematch for sure in August.
4- Ain't nothing like the real thing baby.
As soon as I see the word "Replica" on a sign, I lose interest. But DC didn't disappoint giving us a lot of the "Real Thing." We saw the actual 45 carat Hope Diamond, the actual grave of George Washington, the Apollo 11 command module, Custer's jacket, Lewis & Clark's compass etc. Dean and I were most impressed and humbled to see the actual top hat worn by Abe Lincoln the night he was shot. And just as impressive was seeing the actual Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. Like Josh said, "It looks like a bunch of chicken scratches," but wow, to be there looking at those hallowed documents with our very own eyes, was truly an emotional thing.
5 - Arlington
I've heard about the changing of the guards at the tomb of the Unknown solider. But to be there, to see it was more solemn and weighty than I ever expected. The chiseled words on the tomb read "Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God." I can still hear the precise click of the guard's heels as he turned and marched. The 600 plus acres were in full glory the day we were there with everything blooming, and green.
6 - Walking the National Mall at night
Josh and Amie suggested that best time to see the monuments would be at night. It was hard to trust them. I was thinking of all the great photo ops with all the cherry blossoms and sunshine, but I'll admit, they were right. Just as it was about to get dark, Will, Kim, Josh, Amie and crazy tomato Gracie all met to show us around. I can't describe how impressed I was with each monument. The Washington monument was bigger than I thought it would be. The Lincoln monument was more beautiful and brilliant than I expected, the Jefferson Monument with it's columns was so breathtaking.
7 - Ben's Chili bowl
OK, so Will suggested that we all go to a little locals only lunch spot called "Ben's Chili Bowl." So, after a few blurry stops and transfers on the metro, we emerged from below and stepped into a whole different world. Will had pretty much taken us into "The Hood." We were feeling a little conspicuous, being about the only white people anywhere around. The little place is quite famous, and a real Washington Landmark. We waited in line for a bit, and Will advised us to have our orders ready, and to remember cash only. It reminded me of the Soup Nazi episode on Seinfeld. All the boys ordered the famous Chili Half-Smoke, and I ordered as well keeping my raging pregnancy heartburn in mind, but even the milkshakes at Ben's come with a side of chili. So when in Rome...
8- Visiting the Family
I just really couldn't get over how the DC five got along just fine in such a big city. Josh and Amie's house was so charming, it was like something you'd see in a romantic comedy, and so close to all the action. If I were in Amie's shoes a few months back dumped in a strange city with a toddler, I think I would've curled up in a ball, but you should see Amie, nothing scares her, she tours the city like it's her own backyard. Gracie has become so cultured and sophisticated, she has this sightseeing things down to a science, Gracie knows when to fall asleep, when to eat, when to act crazy etc. It sounds like their days on the East coast are not over. Wow... Penn State! GO JOSH ! Will and Kim's place is in a quaint little part of Georgetown, Rex would fit right in with all the other yuppie dogs around. One day Dean and I saw a lady pushing her big yellow lab in a baby stroller, no lie.
9 - Eastern Market -
Just walking distance from Josh and Amie's place there is this cool little outside market. All kinds of fresh fruit, veggies, homemade items, a flee market, music and more. I couldn't find Dean for a minute, but soon located him frozen in place starring at the homemade crepes being made with about thirty different toppings to choose from. The line was long, so I talked Dean into leaving saying they probably weren't that good anyway. The crowd of people salivating who had lined up two hours earlier told Dean otherwise.
10-Spending Time with Dean
My best recollection is that it's been about eight or so years since Dean and I have been away from the kids longer than a day. There is a reason for that. It was nothing short of running a marathon to get ourselves ready, as well as arrange for the kids and all their stuff to go to five different places for the weekend. I have to say thanks to Nadene, my mom, Brooke, Monica, Andrea and Tammy, this whole trip wouldn't have been possible. I didn't worry about the kids at all, just missed them. Dean was a sweetheart on the trip running us here and there sightseeing around the city. One night just as I was about to collapse from walking he pulled out a granola bar for me and told me what a tough little cookie I was. It was all the motivation I needed. It was great to walk hand in hand with Dean to all the places I've read about and seen on TV all my life and finally seeing them firsthand.