I had gone to our local AAA club on Monday and received maps, etc. Even though we have GPS on our iPhone we still like the feel and security of a good old fashioned 'map'. We even had a 'Trip Tik' created for us! That was actually a really good idea. It broke down the trip in small, detailed bites and was kind of fun! We were headed from western Connecticut to northern Virginia and for the drive down decided to avoid congestion at all costs so we drove over the Tappanzee bridge, ventured into New Jersey for just a short while and then drove across Pennsylvania past many corn fields and funny sounding towns until we hit Harrisburg and turned south into Maryland. It was a long trip but without traffic. Both my husband and I talked about how fun it was to see parts of PA and NJ we had never seen before - we even saw a few barns with Amish designs on them! It's always fun to arrive somewhere and the family runs out to meet you at the car because they haven't seen you in a long time. We enjoyed a great dinner and time visiting before heading to bed. We slept soundly and contentedly.
Morning arrived and we dressed for outdoor sightseeing in DC. We were close enough to walk to one of the Metro stations that runs right into the city so we were able to avoid the cost of parking and the parking congestion! I had forgotten how crowded and busy the DC area is. The weather in the Capitol that day was beyond hot. It was soupy, oppressive, heavy heat. But we were happy to be there and anxious to see some monuments and maybe a museum or two. Our first stop was the Lincoln Memorial and while that is always inspiring every time we've seen it today was different. When we got to the top of the steps and turned around to look across the reflecting pool we saw...construction crews. It was empty. Construction seemed to be the attraction! We moved on to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and were humbled. We've seen it many times but today I was able to capture a picture of a man and a young boy making a charcoal impression of a veterans name. This has always been a place of honor and respect. Our next stop was the somewhat new WWII memorial. It was magnificent. And, we didn't mind that water was everywhere and provided a tiny bit of misting! We couldn't get anywhere near the Washington Monument but did get a good look at it on our way to the Museum of American History. Remember, that's been shut down to undergo repairs from the freak earthquake that hit DC last year.
Lunchtime at the museum brought a welcome rest from the heat! That air conditioning felt so good. This particular Smithsonian museum had just gone through a major renovation and we had not been able to visit it our last time in DC. There's so much to see so we picked out areas that we really wanted to get to and set out to squeeze in what we could. I was disappointed that the swinging pendulum is no longer there when you walk in and of course the Star Spangled banner is no longer hanging in the hall but has been restored and is on display in a safe 'low-light' area. I was anxious to see the First Ladies display with gowns and china settings and my husband wanted to get to the America at War section. We wanted to do so many more things but by 4 in the afternoon we were starting to run out of steam! We had dinner plans that evening and wanted time to restore ourselves before venturing out again.
When we woke up the next morning (our muscles complaining a wee bit) it was hard to say goodbye to family that we only had a short time with. We decided to try and squeeze in one more museum before making the trek back to CT. We drove to Chantilly, VA to see the fairly new Smithsonian Air and Space museum that houses the 'big stuff' that the Air and Space Museum in DC couldn't hold. We were there about 2 hours and I'm pretty sure my husband took pictures of everything! I did enjoy seeing the Enola Gay and the space shuttle Discovery. They even had the old 'quarantine trailer' that housed the Apollo astronauts every time they returned to earth!
For the drive home we thought we would give the Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway another shot - our mistake. We left the museum parking lot at 12:40 in the afternoon and didn't make it back to our home until 10:15 at night! The traffic, tolls and general craziness were amazing. We made it home safe and sound, the animals were alive and happy to see us, the house was still standing and the boys were...out. Normal.