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This is what you get when you mix two toddlers, two border collies, a Shetland pony, two cats, a gaggle of turkeys, a former construction worker, a former lawyer and the family cattle ranch. Thanks for visiting. All images copyrighted. Do not use any text or image without permission.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

A Capital Experience

We emerged from the train in the bustling Union Station, Washington, DC.  Alice spied a cigar shop and made us stop so she could get daddy a present.  Coming out of Union Station we were greeted by the sun and green and flowers, a beautiful Spring day in Washington.  We got a car to our hotel, the Marriott Residence Inn at Dupont Circle.  It was an extended stay hotel near Embassy Row so there were people from all over there.  My kids kept noticing strange smells in the hallway that I'm pretty sure were just different ethnic foods.  We had two small bedrooms, each with a bath, and with a kitchen and living area in between.  We settled in to our room and then went for a walk.  Mom's apartment she had with Camille at 26th & O St. in Georgetown was just down the street.  We crossed Rock Creek Parkway on the P Street Bridge.  Where there had been an open park when Mumsy lived there was now a playground.  The kids were ecstatic.  They played for a while and then we walked up to Wisconsin Avenue, the main North South thoroughfare in Georgetown.  Everyone's tulips and flowering shrubs were in bloom.  We walked up Wisconsin and ate at a Mexican restaurant that could use some serious staff training.  Then we went to Thomas Sweet's for ice cream and Mumsy found a watch and jewelry shop.  On our way back to the hotel I noticed some plaques on some of the homes.  They showed firefighters or little water carts.  So, thanks to modern technology, I was able to look up what they were.  Insurance companies put them on buildings they insured so that their fire crews would know which buildings were that company's responsibility.  There weren't municipal fire crews at the time.  We settled in early so we could start off early the next morning.

Wednesday we got up early and got dressed in our good clothes.  Our hotel had a wonderful free breakfast buffet which was really nice as we didn't have to figure out breakfast every day (not to mention it was free after all the $100 breakfasts in NY).  We got a cab down to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving where security was tight.  We got to see a stack of $1,000,000 of $10 bills in the entry and then we got to watch the process of the intaglio printing.  They were printing 20s in one section and 5s in another.  The bills are printed 32 to a sheet, first the background color on both sides, then it has to cure for 72 hours, then the black and green intaglio printing on top.  Lastly, the serial numbers and seal are added.  Then it's cut and bundled.  We were on an enclosed catwalk with windows so we could really see it.  No photos were allowed.   After our tour, we walked around the Tidal Basin, first to Jefferson Memorial, then FDR and Martin Luther King, making our way to the Lincoln Memorial. It was a long walk for the kids.  They were complaining of being tired but as young kids are wont, they were still totally wired.  We got a cab to the Hay Adams Hotel where Mumsy treated us to a first class lunch surrounded by Washington movers and shakers, some of whom seemed to be talking extra loud on purpose, hoping that you found them important enough to eavesdrop.  I did learn there is a rumor that Senator Harry Reid did not fall down but rather got in a fistfight with his recovering alcoholic brother... oh the scandal!  Clyde and Alice wanted photos of the bread for their daddy.  After lunch we walked past the White House and then when it started looking like rain we caught a cab to the Russell Senate Office Building.  We had an appointment to meet Senator Risch.  He rolled out the red carpet for the kids, meeting with us first in his office and then taking them on the Senate subway to the Senate chamber (pushing the "Senators only" button on the elevator) where we got to sit on the non-public side of the chamber and watch as the votes on amendments to a human trafficking law were entered.  Risch's intern Barry took us on a tour of the capitol building where we got to see the two Idaho statues, the replacement for the (disappeared) original corner stone, and the first historic Senate chamber which is still used for classified secret sessions.  We came out the East side of the capitol where we could see the Supreme Court and Library of Congress across the street.  We headed back to the hotel.  Mumsy had a rest while the kids and I explored Dupont Circle and found dinner.  I decided to go back to the bookstore I hung out at as a teen with my family, Kramerbooks & Afterword (the cafe).  The cafe was much improved from 25 years ago.  We all got books after dinner and walked home.  

On Jefferson Memorial steps.

Photo by Clyde

Washington Monument through a bridge railing

 We were reading MLK Jr. quotes and explaining to the kids how he sought to right injustices through peaceful means and Elliott piped up, "Like Gandhi!"  So wonderful to spend time with these smart kids. 

Little Red Alice flanked by her blue striped boys.

Happy on the Senate subway

Idaho's first Governor Shoup

Idaho's Senator Borah

The compass rose at the official center of DC, all the streets are aligned to this point.  The brick at the left designates north.

Thursday we had to start super bright and early - 6 a.m. wake up.  We got our breakfast and hopped on the subway.  Dupont Circle has really long escalators.  The kids were a little spooked by them.  We got to Union Station and headed to bus terminal to board our tour bus taking us to Mt. Vernon for the day.  It was a cold windy day which made standing in line uncomfortable both at the bus station and at Mt. Vernon.  The driver was friendly and we were a small group.  We stopped in Alexandria on the way to see Christ Church which was George Washington's parish.  Then we made it to Mt. Vernon which has been really overhauled.  There is a nice orientation building and then at the end a full museum and education center that are fairly new.  I love Mt. Vernon because in addition to the historical significance of it being Washington's home it is a good example of a plantation for the kids to see.  We enjoyed the brisk walking around.  I was surprised to learn that one year Washington had over 650 guests.  The house had 9 bedrooms!  

Christ Church in Alexandria - we learned that one of the pallbearers at Washington's funeral was a George Wise - no idea if he's a shirttail relation of Elliott.

Washington's 16 sided treading barn

After Mt. Vernon the bus took us to Arlington National Cemetery where we road a tram.  Over 400,000 people are buried there.  It was beautiful with all the trees in bloom.  We got to watch the changing of guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  We wanted to see Iwo Jima but the walk would've made us miss the bus.  Despite our disappointment in missing Iwo Jima, we thought it was a good experience. The kids, especially Elliott, were very impressed with the solemnity of the changing of the guard even though it was hard to stay quiet for so long.

After hamburgers and milkshakes in Union Station we were back on the subway and home again....

Friday we got to sleep in a bit, making it to our arranged tour at the National Air and Space Museum at 10 a.m.  (which didn't materialize until about 10:30).  Our docent guide focused on firsts and we got to see the Spirit of St. Louis (first solo flight across Atlantic - Charles Lindbergh), the first moon landing vehicle (Apollo 11, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong), the first flight (Wright Brother's Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, NC).  The sheer scale of many of the space vehicles was impressive.  The kids participated in a paper airplane contest before we got hungry for lunch.  The crowds at Air and Space were overwhelming, so we hopped across the National Mall to the National Gallery of Art where we got to see some art and have a more civilized lunch.  Throughout the trip people commented on the children's good behavior.  Mumsy and I were also commended by the guard at the National Gallery for warning the kids before we entered the early American furniture exhibit that they couldn't touch.  He said rarely do people warn their kids or keep control of them.  So proud that our kids, while highly energized, could behave so well.  We got to see some famous paintings including works by Cassat, Monet, and Renoir.  We also saw sculptures by Degas.

We got home and rested up and got changed to go to dinner with Anya and Gregory Rolbin, Mumsy's friends who drove up from Virginia Beach.  We met at the hotel and went to Cafe Dupont, an upscale restaurant right on the Circle. 

The next morning we had our breakfast in the hotel and had lots of time before meeting Greg and Anya, so we got a taxi to take us to the last sights we wanted to see, Iwo Jima and the National Cathedral.  We got to go up Embassy Row first before seeing NCS and the Cathedral, driving by Idaho Avenue, Annunciation School and our first DC apartment.  Then we headed down through Georgetown, past the University and onto Key Bridge (pointing out where my apartment had been) before heading to Iwo Jima.  It was a fun drive and really made Mumsy and I remember our days in DC.  It was fun to see all the personal sights!

We met Anya and Greg back at the hotel and took the Metro to Eastern Market.  The area is very gentrified compared to 20 years ago.  It was fun to show them the indoor and outdoor areas of the market.  Anya bought them treats and little finger puppets.  Mom bought me a knock off bag.  We had a nice lunch too.  

Alice picked up the Style section on the Metro and kept it with her all day for reading material - "Mommy, where's my newspaper?"  That girl loves to read.

The kids favorite place in DC, the playground!  They love being together and playing.

What a special adventure for special children and their loving grandmother who is so interested in their development and learning.  My ranch kids got a good taste of city life and Clyde, especially, is already planning to return to NYC.  

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