Sunday, June 25, 2017

Washington D.C tour guide (Summer week 5)

Summer week five June 18-24

Rustin is the president of the Idaho Optometric association this year.  It has meant a lot of traveling (Boston, DC, New Mexico, Portland, Boise...) and he has put in a lot of work.  We decided to tag along to his Washington DC meetings this time.  Austin has been working on the JumpCo play Guys and Dolls so he stayed home with Jackson (at grandmas house, more on that later) and Jenna and Benson came with Rustin and me.  We had such a great week!  There is no way to describe everything we learned or did but I'll put in a bunch of pictures and maybe a few highlights. And I have a few quick suggestions:

1.  Take a good insulated water bottle and fill it with ice in the morning
2. Bring some prepackaged snacks.  Food at museums and monuments is crazy expensive.  You can't take a lot of food into the museums but they didn't say anything about nuts and granola bars...
3. Bring two pairs of shoes.  Your feet will thank you.
4. Don't bother with your fancy camera.  It will get really heavy...
5. Get a bus pass for at least one day.  We did the old town Trolley which included a tour of Arlington cemetery.  And they had a pick up at our hotel.
6.  The metro costs as much as a taxi.  Just take a taxi or Uber.  However, I'm counting our metro ride as a bit of real world education.
7. If you forget to get tickets to the holocaust museum you can go online at 6 am the morning you want to go.  The African American museum is sold out for like two years but you might checkout the door.  Sometimes groups have extra tickets as they go in. We weren't so lucky...

We rode in trains, metros and cars.  The taxis were definitely my favorite! Every driver we met had a story to tell.  And they were all so kind!  One man from Morocco invited us to his house for dinner.  But then he told us his wife is due to have a baby in less than  week and I just couldn't see us barging in expecting dinner so we didn't go.  But I REALLY wish we had.  Home cooked moroccan food? How did we pass that up?!

We met a 20-ish man who was a farmer in Ethiopia who is working three jobs and trying like crazy to have enough left over so that he can send some $$ home to his wife so she can join him here.  He sounded discouraged.  I wish there was some way to help him.  His one bedroom tiny apartment is $1100 per month.  I told him to move to Idaho... :)

Another driver from the middle East has been here for more than thirty years.  He is so proud of his children who have both gone to college and have great jobs.  

I left feeling so grateful that we have such a wide variety of people in our country who all do there best with what they have.  

DC is amazing.  It definitely is't a relaxing vacation but we loved every minute.  We walked until we could barely move.  Poor Rustin was in meetings all day but by the time he got done Jenna, Benson and I were so tired we just wanted to lay down and read!  We did  have all day Tuesday with him so that was good.  

The Spy museum was surprisingly awesome. I could read about spy's and their stories all day.  

We also went to Lincoln's theater.  Likewise, I could have stayed in there and read about the politics and subterfuge that led to Lincoln's assassination all day long! 

The highlight of our first day was our trip out to Arlington cemetery.  We bought a tour bus pass and it was awesome.  The cemetery has a calming and serene feeling about it.  And the magnolias were blooming!  The sweet lemon-y smell of magnolias take me right back to our days in Memphis!  The thick, hot humid air made me feel like I was home in Memphis again too.

We spent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday exploring the museums and monuments.  There is a lot more space between the museums and monuments than you would expect!  We were pretty much hot and sweaty the whole time. 

 I love reading about history.  I could have stayed in the American History museum all day long!  I love reading about all the wars and battles and leaders and nurses and clothing and food...

In case anyone is wondering--the Shake Shack is as good as all the reviews say.  YUM!

We were able to eat breakfast in the hotel every morning (except when we accidentally slept in until 10:45...). We found a few food trucks to try for lunch and we found some great affordable restaurants near the hotel.  One night Jenna, Ben and I accidentally wandered down to Chinatown in a seriously sketchy area. It got dark before we realized how late it was and we were definitely out of place.   I pulled the kids into a restaurant off the street when a fight broke out right in front of us.  The police were there almost immediately and everything calmed down quickly but we completely were out of our element.  Funny think is that the kids didn't really notice.  Benson was just moseying along like there was nothing to see... I think he thought it was all awesome.

We ate one crazy fancy meal that was paid for by the state Optometry board. I couldn't even come close to eating enough food to make it worth it but everything was so pretty I enjoyed every second!  And I have a bunch of ideas of food to try--creamy polenta with mushrooms and tomato risotto and cauliflower rice with truffle and fish en papilotte.  Rustin ordered beef Wellington which was delicious and so pretty. 

The monuments/memorials were touching.  The reflecting pools are beautiful.  There was a nurses' monument kind of tucked out of the way and it really touched me.
The expression on their faces--it reached my soul. For some reason the Vietnam memorial also really touched me--I was realizing that some of those names on the wall were my parent's friends.  I appreciate their sacrifice so much.

Jenna and I were really impressed by a story from the Holocaust museum.  Most of the stories there are horribly sad--its easy to feel angry at people who were so cruel. One story, however,  was a light in the darkness.  A survivor told the story of a guard she grew to love.  She said when they first arrived at their camp the guard was outside barking orders.  She said she had never heard a person that sounded so harsh and literally barking.  She thought, " this is going to be terrible." But it turned out that that guard was a decent woman who saved many of their lives.  She encouraged them and kept them in line so they wouldn't get in trouble by any other guards.  One day the survivor said she was sick with a high fever so she had stayed in the bunker instead of going to work.  But that day a really mean supervisor came to inspect the camp.  The kind guard went in and helped her and two others get dressed and go to the factory where they worked on looms.  The guard knew how to operate the looms so she got everything set up and got it started for them and she said, "today is life and death, you must not look sick." She saved their lives.  I think there are a lot of good people in the world.  Even in the midst of terrible things.

I have a whole list of things I want to read more about after our visit--the Mexican-American war, Lincoln and his role in the Civil war, pretty much all of the war stories...I'm fascinated by battles and strategy all the little things that played such a role.  I want to read about spies and some of the early spies in our country. Spies played a huge role in the wars! I want to read about the enigma machine and how they broke the code... There are also so many stories of innovators/inventors that are just fascinating.  How do people think of such amazing things!? What type of life and environment do they have that encourages such creativeness and such inquisitiveness?  I took pictures of just about an entire floor in the American History museum!

I haven't even touched on the art museum.  I will just say that I love Rodin.  His sculptures of beautiful women with full thighs and pooch-y tummies were refreshing.  And truly beautiful.  Artists are amazing. There was a super popular Da Vinci painting at the museum but we really loved the American and French artists best!

Overall I came home with gratitude for those who have gone before me and with a desire to learn more about the amazing things in our world.  But more than anything I am grateful that I got to go with Jenna and Benson this year and Dallin and Landon last year. And Rustin of course.  I'd say we are all pretty lucky.

No comments: