Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Library of Congress. Without a doubt, this was my most favorite of all. The only book that I saw was the Gutenburg Bible. I was much too interested in the ceilings, walls and floors. They were breathtakingly beautiful. Everytime I plan an important trip, I check out both the Foders and Frommer's guides from the library. I spotted a small little 2 x 2 photo of one of the windows and knew that I couldn't miss an opportunity to see it.

The Senate Building was nearby. We met a very nice guide and informed her that we only had a few minutes and what should we see. Lucky for us, she recommended the spiral staircase.

Monday, July 26, 2010

2nd Day - As promised to Taylor, back to the Museum of Natural History to see the Butterfly Exhibit. I think they liked my hairspray or something. I must have had at least 20 land on me and Taylor only a few. Had a difficult time getting the boys away from the dinosaur exhibit again. Gotta keep moving.
Enough with the train. We were frustrated the first day because there were so many things that we wanted to see that were miles away. I convinced Mark to start driving in and because of that, we were able to see so much more. Parking was a nightmare, but well worth it. Before we went to the Butterfly Exhibit, we drove over to the Bureau of Engraving to get our tickets. Tickets are free, but there are only a limited amount distributed every morning. We also drove to pick up our Ford Theatre tickets. All of this would have been difficult without a car.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Our First Trip to DC. Well, not my husband's. He's has been there twice on business. He has been everywhere. But I'm slowly catching up. We were very excited to get to the Smithsonian's. We stayed in Alexandria, VA. Ironically, my husband lived there from the time that he was one until three year's old, while his father was based there with the Army. We took the train in. When we excited at the Smithsonian Exit, this is what we saw.

The magnificent Castle.

Our First Stop - The Museum of American History.
I couldn't wait to find Dorothy's Ruby Slippers.
I just read, a few days ago, that the ruby slippers are the most expensive piece of American Movie Memorabilia.

One of President Lincoln's hats. It is my understanding that there are three in existence. Three years ago, my husband and I spent our twentieth anniversary in Vermont, Cape Cod and Rhode Island. We toured the home of the President's son, Robert Todd Lincoln, in Vermont and saw a second hat there. The third is owned by a private collector.
Michelle Obama's dress. I would like to know her shoe size. It has to be a 12 or larger. There is an entire wing of First Ladie's Ball gowns. Nancy Reagan's was so tiny. Then there are wings and wings of Presidential Memorabilia. I could hardly get my husband to leave. The kids and I would keep touring around to different rooms and there he would still be. If we lived in the area, I'm sure we would visit often.

Julie Child's Kitchen. Bon Appetit! Look at all of her pans!

Next Stop - The Museum of Natural History
The Hope Diamond - Need I say more.

Cole was fascinated with their incredible dinosaur exhibits.
Taylor and I eventually left the boys and went upstairs to the live butterfly exhibit. We try to go once a year to our Botanical Gardens to see them. The butterfly exhibit had just closed for the day! We will be back to see them tomorrow. We found our boys and took another long walk. We wanted to see the Old Post Office.

The upstairs has a tower that is supposed to have an amazing view. It closed early too. It must be difficult to combine government hours and tourists. We were sitting on the steps, resting our weary feet and looking at the newer post office, when all of a sudden, police arrived from out of nowhere and closed off the street.

Sirens sounded and the street parallel to us started being closed off too. It was a little frightening and I wanted to leave. However, my much braver family members sprinted up the street where a crowd was gathering. 17 Black SUV's, a few with open windows and guns passed, and right in the middle was the Presidential car. I can't believe I was able to take a picture of it. They were speeding by.

It was, without a doubt, a very exciting way to end our first day in DC.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Philadelphia to DC - Should have taken 3 hours, but took us 14
We really know how to pack it in. Because we were traveling to DC, I chose to stay on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Our first stop the next morning was Valley Forge National Park. Our troops stayed there during the Revolutionary War. We planned on staying there for one hour, but extended it to three. We drove the five-mile loop during which we saw the Washington National Chapel, George Washington's headquarters, the soldiers cabins and deer. We had to stop and check out the cannons.

The architecture of this chapel was amazing. You were asked to pray for active duty military when you entered.

Washington's headquarters. Martha lived here with him for several months as well. What a woman. I would love to learn more about both George and Martha after this trip. They were an amazing couple.
Next stop - Lancaster, Pennsylvania
I spent my birthday money on this Coach purse. I love it!
Now on to real reason we are in Lancaster - Amish Country!

Be still my heart. Being an Iowa girl, I've oftened wondered if I would have lived on a similar property had I not moved to Phoenix after college. I just feel such peace in more rural areas. I'll bet I'd go stir crazy very quickly! Who am I kidding?
I found a beautiful quilt in this shop. Sorry - no photos allowed. It was $2,200. I decided to pass on it.

I wish I had a photo of the farmhouse where we stopped to buy homemade rootbeer and lemonade. I gave up soda a few years ago, so I had the lemonade. I did have a sip of the rootbeer and I didn't care for it. I thought it tasted like actual beer.
While Taylor and I were shopping in the village, Mark and Cole were food shopping. Who would have thought? They discovered a little shop that specialized in homemade cheeses, bread, meats, etc. Mark came and found me and checked to make sure that it was okay to order us all sandwiches. Okay - it was, without a doubt, the best sandwich I have ever tasted. Everything was either homemade or homegrown. The bread, lettuce, tomatoes, pickle, mayo, sprouts, onion, meats and cheese. Our next stop was the proclaimed "yummiest canning kitchen". We brought back six jars of jam and several gifts. Anyone ever heard of strawberry curds? Cheese curds, yes, but strawberry curds? Cole discovered them, was brave enough to taste them, and encouraged me to try them. Delish!
Okay - time to hit the road again. Hershey, Pennsylvania is calling our name. Anyone tired yet? Not me, I'm an adrenaline junky. It helps on days like this.
Get ready to smell the chocolate.
We were greeted with kisses.
I could not smell the chocolate. Heavy sigh.
I'm feeling better - I can smell the chocolate now.

We walked along Twizzler edged pathways.

We took a ride through the factory.
After buying lots of chocolates, we were on to Gettysburg National Park.
We arrived after 8 at dusk. We were pleasantly surprised that it was still open.

It quickly became dark and SCARY. Mark drove us through the cemetery. Fog was billowing in and out of the white headstones. I felt like we were in a haunted graveyard and wanted to leave. The town looked darling with quaint little buildings and shops. We needed to hit the road, find some dinner, and drive to DC. We arrived at 11:30 pm. Now we're tired!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Philadelphia in a Day
I wanted to get a much earlier start, but because of the previous night's late hours and two late-sleeping teenagers, we did not arrive downtown until after 10 am. The daily tickets for Independence Hall were long gone, but we were able to see everything else on our list. We tried to start with the Liberty Bell. The line was looooooong and it was in the direct sun. We decided to come back later. We really lucked out. This was the only warm day on our entire trip. We walked at least two miles. Little did we know that we would be walking 5-10 miles in the following days. The above photo is Philadelphia's historic City Hall.

The Liberty Bell. It was very crowded and exceptionally sunny. I tried to get a good photo from different angles, but I still have sunspots. The building in the background is Independence Hall.

I was hoping to find a "Ben" look-a-like. He was probably at the Franklin Center which we had been warned to avoid. It is supposedly so fabulous that you would want to spend the entire day there. We only had one day so I chose everything else.

Here's Ben's first fire station.

His final resting place.
His head made from keys.

The Betsy Ross House. - It was tiny.

The National Constitution Center where the Constitution was signed. The actual Constitution is in the National Archives. We saw it a few days later.

Cool Sign.
The LOVE statue.

The Rocky Statue = Yes we ran the stairs!

Last, but not least, a few beautiful buildings.