This was a great trip. Cherry Hill Campground was a perfect location and we had no trouble getting around DC. Kaeden and Barrett were so well behaved and we just had a lot of fun together. As usual on our trips with them there were no rules. We just expected everyone to be respectful of the other. It’s hard to pick a high point because there were so many. The visit to the Viet Nam Memorial at the urging of “Navy Wayne,” the Lincoln Memorial, riding the Metro, the Lincoln Cottage, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and on and on. They had a great time just hanging with the cousins and, of course, the race on the sailboat. Would do it all over again.
May 23, Saturday
We picked up Kaeden and Barrett at the Derby Parkway exit off I-459 about 10:30 am from their parents and traveled through Chattanooga and Knoxville stopping at Ripplin’ Waters Campground in Sevierville about 5 miles off of the Interstate.
May 24, Sunday
Drove up I-81 to just south of Staunton, VA and stayed at the KOA campground. They had a Memorial Day celebration going on with music and food. The Boys enjoyed this, riding bikes and the swimming pool but commented about the rednecks camping there.
May 25, Monday
Arrived at the Cherry Hill Park Campground about 3:00 pm. Nice park with two swimming pools, game room and lots of space for biking. We attended a talk at 4:00 pm about how to get around Washington. We purchased cards that enabled us to ride the Metro and could be cash reloaded. Also picked up Big Bus passes that allow you to hop on and hop off at various locations over a 48 hour period. Decided to drive and park at the Green Line Metro stop in College Park as the quickest way to access the subway. The local bus that stopped in the campground would have taken longer.
May 26, Tuesday
Today we headed into Washington for the first time to the Archive stop on the Green Line. I think the boys were really excited about riding the subway. By the end of the trip they were better at reloading the Metro passes than Jeanne and I and were showing us how to get from one subway stop platform to the other to change trains. We walked to the National Archives to introduce the boys to the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution. Of course they needed something from the “ice cream truck” before we entered the building. While outside a man walked up to me with his cap drawn down over his head and he asked me for money. He turned out to be Steve Cowley our orthopedic surgeon from Birmingham. He was attending a medical meeting in DC and he and his wife were seeing the sites. We then walked to the Natural History Museum. Unfortunately many of the dinosaurs had been moved to another location. We toured the Dinosaur, Ocean and human development areas of the museum. There was a former teacher in the human development area that worked there and explained the evolution of the human skull to the boys. Everywhere in DC seemed crowded. This was the season of school field trips.
We had been told by Cherry Hill that the marines were having their first Sunset Parade of the season at the Iwo Jima memorial tonight. Marine buses were transporting people between 5:30 and 6:30 between Arlington National Cemetery and the Memorial. I really wanted to attend and I wanted the boys to see the marine band perform and the marines march in formation. So we first visited Arlington National Cemetery to see the “changing of the guard” at the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.” We quickly walked to the “Tomb” and got back in time to catch one of the marine buses. Marines in dress uniform were directing people on and off the buses. The Iwo Jima Memorial was set up with chairs for hundreds of guests who arrived in special buses. They consisted of both civilians and high ranking military who came dressed in uniform for the occasion.
The band began precisely at 7:00 and performed several military pieces while going through complex formations. Thirty minutes later two companies of marines in dress uniforms from the local barracks marched onto the parade field to perform intricate maneuvers. One of the platoons performed extensive rifle with bayonet maneuvers for an additional 45 minutes.
We were so tired by the time this ended and I hope it was worth it. We returned to Arlington on marine buses then walked to the local Metro station and eventually returned to the College Park Metro. Everyone was hungry so we stopped at Momma Lioni’s restaurant in the local mall close to the campground. At 9:50pm they were about to close but took our orders and fixed our food to go. So, we returned to the LD to eat and fell into bed exhausted.
May 27, Wednesday
We took the Metro and then the Big Bus in order to visit the Air and Space Museum. Here the boys were interested in touching and making a wish on a piece of moon rock. The museum was crowded but we toured most of it. The boys really enjoyed the gift shops and Barrett bought a gold metallic cover to protect him from cosmic rays. Next door we toured the American Indian Museum. The building had no sharp corners outside because Indians believed that evil lurked at corners. We watched a couple of well conceived short movies explaining Indian beliefs about the earth, sun, moon and sky. At this point we tended to rush through the building. As with most Smithsonian museums we could have spent several days exploring everything there.
We then had lunch at the Union Station food court. It was total mayhem since thousands of students were there trying to get lunch. Again the boys had Subway meatball sandwiches, a favorite on this trip.
After lunch we walked to Senator Shelby’s office in the Russell Building to pick up our pass for the White House Tour. As in so many old Washington buildings this was a huge, impressive marble structure with long halls that I guess housed offices for all of the U.S. Senators. Although there was some security in all of the buildings and museums we visited on this trip, the security at this Senate building was as extensive as that at any airport.
We returned to our campground and the boys went swimming.
May 28, Thursday
Up early this morning to make sure that we made our 8am tour time at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. Again parked the jeep at the College Park Metro station and rode the Metro to the Smithsonian stop and walked a few blocks from there. Our tour began promptly and we had a small group with our tour guide who explained all of the hidden objects printed on paper money to prevent counterfeiting. We also saw several rooms where paper money was printed, cut and inspected. Jeanne had heard that they gave away samples of shredded money and she asked our guide if we could have some for the boys. The guide presented two small bags containing $5 of shredded money. We then walked back to the Smithsonian Welcome Center. Unfortunately the brick, castle like building next door that I remembered contained a great eclectic collection of Americana was being repaired and all of the exhibits had been removed.
We next took the subway to the South Capital stop. The boys were hungry so we walked to a Mexican restaurant close to the Capitol where the boys had huge plates of ribs and fries while Jeanne and I were each served 3 large, fish tacos.
We then walked to the Cannon House Building to Gary Palmer’s office to start our tour of the Capital Building. Gary was a member of the US House of Representatives who was elected to replace Spencer Bachus after his retirement. We were early and our tour was conducted by an assistant, Reagan Williams. Reagan is the son of Alabama State Representative Jack Williams and he was named after President Reagan. We went through the new and very extensive Capitol Visitors Center. Reagan explained the importance of a number of statues in the Center. We proceeded to the Capitol itself were we went to “The Old Supreme Court Chamber,” the old senate chambers and the Rotunda. Again we had an extensive conversation about the Rotunda statues and stood in the space where John Adams was reported to overhead his colleagues’ conversations without their knowledge. The Capitol was very crowded. Reagan guided us to the hallway that led to the House Chambers and we sat in the balcony while a question and answer session was going on between students and a member of House on the main floor. There was a demonstration of a vote tally on the walls behind the Speaker’s chair. The boys bought copies of the “Emancipation Proclamation,” “The Constitution” and the “Declaration of Independence.” I think the boys really enjoyed themselves.
We rode the Metro from Union Station to College Park. Tonight dinner was “catch as catch can.”
May 29, Friday
This morning we had our 8am White House tour. Took the subway to Metro Center. Security was very high with three points where our identification was checked. We were not allowed to bring backpacks, cameras or bags to the White House. There was no place to check anything and we were not allowed to carry anything with us. We felt that the tour itself was disappointing. There were a limited number of rooms available and each room had what I remarked was very uncomfortable furniture. Apparently the content of each of the rooms except for the president’s family space is controlled by a historical society. Thus, no one including the president can change anything without permission.
After the tour we went to local gift shop where the boys bought several things and spent enough money so that we got several pictures taken for free either sitting at a desk resembling the presidents or at a podium. We took one picture with me sitting in the president’s chair surrounded by Jeanne, Kaeden and Barrett. I used this picture on Facebook to launch my campaign for the presidency in 2016.
We ate across the street at cafe and had a late brunch buffet. We had heard about the White House Welcome Center so went there to view a very well done film about the history of the White House. We talked Barrett into buying a puzzle of the White House for his family to put together.
Following this we took the Metro to the Columbia Heights stop and then the H8 bus to the Old Soldiers’ Home in north central D.C. to tour Abraham Lincoln’s Cottage. The Old Solder’s Home is not part of the Veteran Administration but is an Army facility established for retired soldiers. Lincoln’s Cottage was an escape for the Lincoln family from the heat of Washington and the swamp that we now know as the Mall. The Lincolns had also lost a son to cholera probably from the dirty water available at the time and left for the Cottage frequently to remove themselves from the scene of his death. It was calculated that Lincoln spent a fourth of his presidency at the cottage and during the Civil War would often ride back to D.C. to view the ongoing defense of Washington from converging Confederate troops.
We had a tour guide who was finishing her Masters Degree in History at George Mason University. She was very good and asked those on the tour leading questions such as what we thought liberty was. Kaeden jumped in and volunteered very thoughtful answers to a couple of questions. As we walked up the stairs to the second floor we were told that we were touching the same banister that Lincoln touched. The boys were very impressed and in talking to them later they said they enjoyed Lincoln’s Cottage best.
May 30, Saturday
This morning we left the campground and traveled a short, 45 miles to Ann’s house and set up camp in their driveway. The kids were excited to be together again and started to play lacrosse. Later Katie, Dylan and Alex came up followed by Butch, Colleen, Brody and Brynn.
May 31, Sunday
Today at our request Ann had arranged a photo shoot of the extended family by her friend, Michele. Michele’s husband was property manager at a huge farm owned by the CEO of Under Armour. The farm was originally owned by the Vanderbilts and was bought and broken into two parcels which were reunited with the current owner. It had an inside horserace track. There was an outside track with a beautiful, new stone and wood building at the finish line and this is where we took pictures of different groupings. Really nice and the photographer did some post-processing to the pictures and then sent them out to everyone. Afterwards everyone returned to Ann’s. She had ordered several dozen Chesapeake Bay crabs and Ric cooked hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. Once he got the hang of it Kaeden ate 11 crabs by himself and even beat out Rob.
June 1, Monday
Off to Gettysburg today with Ann’s kids and Rob and his kids. We watched and introductory movie, experienced the battlefield cyclorama and had a really good bus tour of the battlefield. We all had information overload. We ate lunch at the cafeteria and finished our visit with the museum both at the Visitors Center.
June 2, Tuesday
Today we met up with Megan and Asher for lunch at the Columbia Mall. All of the boys enjoyed throwing coins into a nearby fountain. After returning to Ann’s it was time for the big sailboat race. Ric took the boys and we followed driving very fast into Baltimore where the boats were moored. Ric was on the crew of the Jubilee IV; a J105, which means that the boat was 10.5 meters long. There was a crew of six not counting the boys. The boys weren’t really dressed for the cold, but they survived and had a terrific time. Ric took them to a barbeque place after the race. Later we found out that the boat came in fourth. All in all a great experience.
Later we met up Butch, Colleen and kids and Rob, Kate and kids at the “Green Turtle” close to Butch’s house.
June 3, Wednesday
We took the day off while Ann’s kids returned to school. We visited Best Buy and Walmart looking for ear phones for the boys in the hopes that we would be able to improve the DVD sound while driving home in the LD. After school the kids played more lacrosse and we ate together.
June 4, Thursday
We left for home today about 10am and stopped at a campground down I-81 that I don’t remember. The boys and I went shopping for dinner at the campground store and they ended up with canned spaghetti and meatballs and stuffed ravioli. They each ate two cans.
June 5, Friday
We stopped again at Ripplin’ Waters CG in Sevierville, TN. ” Scenic Helicopter Rides” was across the Street and Jeanne wanted the boys to experience a ride so she went with them for a short ride over a local lake. We bought pictures and the boys loved it. Barrett said he would go again.
June 6, Saturday
We finally arrived home and met the parents at the Derby Parkway exit. Jeanne and I thought we were due for a rest . . . . but off to Ohio to pick up a newly discovered 1963 Nomad camper trailer as the next addition to Jeanne’s collection.