Our Nation’s Capitol has got to be one of the world’s greatest cities. The whole city is designed with intent–the architecture, momuments and views combine for an unforgettable FEAST of history! I LOVE it and every time I visit, I leave wanting more. There’s never enough time to get it all done. I think you could live there for years and never get it all done.

This was the first visit with our family. We’ve talked about taking the children for years, and the timing seemed right–they’re at the ages where they’ll enjoy memories of their own from the trip. Thomas had just completed a study of the Civil War, so he was particularly engaged (probably one of his favorite stops was Ford’s Theatre and seeing EXACTLY where Lincoln was shot and just how far Booth jumped when he bolted from the balcony).

During the thousand hours on the road coming and going and in between, lots of memories were made. Here are some of my favorites, with #1 being my favoritist favorite.

10. The Smithsonian. Everyone knows it’s not just “one museum”, but not everyone may realize it’s a collection of 18 museums, 9 research centers and over a hundred affiliates around the world. Two museums I had never visited before are my new favorites–the American History Museum and the American Indian Museum. Three words–A MAZE ZING! I just wanted to “hold class” in the AHM, and it was a cheap thrill that my kids enjoyed it as much as Tad and I did. The AIM tells a story from beginning to end (even the architecture of the building is intentionally designed to communicate history) and will give you a higher regard for native Americans. I was a bit surprised our kids didn’t prefer my former favs–Air & Space or Natural History. We were all disappointed in the National Zoo which was under major renovation/construction, although I suspect one of the more memorable (educational???) sights was a pair of amourous orangutans!!!
9. Sharing a hotel room with my children. EVERYONE should experience this (with your own children, of course), even if you’re gazillionaires. After days FULL of pounding the pavement, when we were soooo wiped out all we could do was fall into bed, my boys still found energy to giggle after lights out. I wanted to hurt them.
8. I learned to always pack air freshener or candles in the future…hairspray is a poor substitute for both. It does little to mask or neutralize the foul odors the afore-mentioned children can emit after a day eating nothing but junk.
7. The White House means it when they tell you not to bring cameras (Tad almost missed our tour because we brought ours–“we” meaning me). They will NOT hold your camera during your visit. And the “guides” stationed in each room are “packing”–they’re all Secret Service personnel on active duty.
6. It’s worth whatever it costs to take a night-time trolley ride though the city; we visited many of the momuments at night, most are well-lit, and the drivers are a WEALTH of information.
5. They also mean it when they tell you not to bring food along on your Capitol tour. Ours was scheduled the last morning of our trip, so we packed ALL our remaining snacks in our backpack. While standing in line, we were reminded of this rule. There’s a nice, large trash receptical for would-be offenders. I asked, incredulously, “You mean even sealed water bottles? Capri Suns?? Crackers??? Granola bars???? CHOCOLATE?????! :-O The officer said “Everything…we don’t know what could be in those containers.” Evidently, post 9-11 they’re a little edgy in those parts. Also with the Antrax scare (I guess terrorists could disguise themselves as a typical American family). I think I shed a few tears when I dropped the Hershey bars in. BUT, lol, we kept a water bottle or two. When we got to the second check point, just prior to entering the Capitol, for the umpteenth time we went through metal detectors (I had set them off earlier in our trip with gum wrappers, lipstick and other objectionable weapons.). This time I was clear. However, our bookbag did NOT clear–stupid water bottle contraband. They detained Tad while the kids and I went in. Seemed like FOREVER before they let him back, we wondered if we might have to post bail or something. An exciting start to an amazing piece of architecture and history.
4. Riding the elevator to the top of the Washington Monument. I’m not sure what my kids thought was cooler–the view from this amazing treasure, or their mom having an acrophobic, claustrophobic meltdown.
3. The FDR Monument. This was new since our last visit to the nation’s capitol; you must look at all the pages of the link–! We LOVED this tributed to Franklin Roosevelt and realize why he held office longer than any other president in our nation’s history. The National WWII Memorial, also new since our last visit was beautiful…and perennial favorites remain the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial.
2. Tad and I realizing, after driving thru a “foreign city” after dark, that we needed glasses (dang it!)! We could NOT read the freakin’ atlas!!! The type seemed to get bigger in the day light.

… and the number one AMAZING memory from our family’s trip to D.C….

1. Tad has a “chemical reaction” when he looks at me!

(I was napping during the thousand hours home, and when I woke up, Tad told me when he looked at me sleeping, he had a “chemical reaction”, his body reacted to me. He looked away, then looked at me again, and the same thing happened. How FORTUNATE am I that my husband, after over 18 years, “reacts” to the very site of me. Mmmmmmmmmm, I refuse to take this for granted!)

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