Washington, D.C.: a mini trip report
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First thanks to everyone who provided information that helped me ...
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A few days in D.C. :: a mini trip report
First thanks to everyone who provided information that helped me get this trip together. I could not have pulled it off in such a short period of time without your help!
Last summer I asked my oldest son, Big W, where he wanted to travel for a one on one trip, just the two of us. He thought about it and chose Washington, D.C. The original plan was to go over the summer. For several reasons that trip never came to pass. I assured him we WOULD go, he would just have to be patient. In November I started planning for our trip again with the intention of going over spring break or summer vacation to D.C. as he had requested. Well , I got to looking on the internet and seen specials running for Disney World. (I have never been and have always wanted to take the children , but did not view it as affordable) So, before I knew it I had booked a Disney Vacation instead - for June '08! I was very excited and knew big W would have an equally , if not better time in Disney than D.C. (I did not tell him, as it was to be a surprise) Well come January, I started thinking about how big a trip this was going to be and decided that I should go ahead and bring more than just big W. I decided to also bring two of my other children, M and D. So the new plan became a big kids trip to Disney with the 3 oldest kids and I have been planning like crazy. Big W still occasionally asks about our "special" trip and I always say , don't worry , we will go as soon as possible. (knowing how excited he will be about Disney) Well, about a month ago , I started to realize that as fun and excited as I am about this Disney surprise trip and as much as I know the kids will love it, it is NOT the one on one trip I promised my son. I started thinking that I should still follow thru with the Washington trip in addition to Disney. I was thinking I would try to take him to D.C. later the same summer. I kept thinking about it and I just really felt I should get us off to D.C. before Disney as this was a promised trip. So , I started thinking when I could squeeze the trip in and the only time I could come up with is spring break. By the time I had thought all this up we were less than 2 weeks from spring break and quick decisions had to be made for this to work. I put up a thread asking for D.C. info and several passporters responded with tons of great information and links. I found a decent deal on flight and the trip quickly became a reality! The only down side is how limited my time is. I couldn't leave before Monday due to previous engagements and had to be back before Friday for the spring quarter. (( I attend the local college part time)) So, three days it was! I had originally planned for this to be a week long trip. But this would have to do! I was planning to surprise big W the day of the trip but I ended up telling him the day before. He was excited!
A few days in D.C. :: a mini trip report
I woke up by 7am. (normal time for a non school day) I had gotten little sleep the night before due to all the excitement. We showered and packed the night before , so there was little to do before leaving. Keep in mind that Big W and his brothers and sister all just found out the day before so they were showering me with questions. The other kids had originally been excited for us , but this morning my only daughter, M, was getting jealous. She begged could she please get on the plane with us just for a little while and we could drop her off at grandaddys house. LOL (I guess she thinks its like a helicopter or something) I tried to explain to her that was impossible. The rest of the kids were excited to be spending a few days with their grandad. (Thats who would be keeping them during our trip) The only one I was concerned about was Baby W(almost 2) , as he has never really been away from me and especially overnight. My dad (their grandad) planned to stay at my place to keep things more familiar. So at about 8:15 am we all hoped in the van to get the trip underway. I had to stop by my sisters house to borrow her digital camera for the trip and let her give me a quick run down on how to use it. Then it was off to my dads house. We picked him up so he could drop us off at the airport and keep the van while we were gone. We got dropped off at 10:30am. I was concerned about security and such because I have never flew. We followed signs and went straight to the security line and went right thru with all my liquids being under 3 oz. And then we went right to the delta gate. We managed to do all this in 30 minutes! Maybe this is normal, but I expected it to take longer. (I have heard horror stories of lines) We did not check any luggage so this helped also. Anyways. Our flight didn't leave till 12:20, so we had close to an hour and a half to kill time. Big W asked to eat. (that kid is all about the food) We got chick fil A and took it to our gate. Soon , I seen a lady at the gate desk. (when I checked us in online the night before the only seats available were not together) I explained this to her and requested that me and my son be able to sit together as he is only 10 and has never flew before. She was very nice and spent a few minutes on her keyboard and took care of it. She bumped a lady up to first class (So obviously no complaints) and by bumping her up, it opened up a seat for me and Big W to sit together. This was a relief. Shortly after we finished our food, it was time to board. We were zone 5. I somehow got in line first when our zone was called and probably looked like an idiot as I had never done any of this before. I guess it should've been common sence, but not for me. First of all they have a "breezeway" and a regular line. Aparently the breezeway was only for first class so I realized I needed to move over. (this is STUPID, what am I missing here??/ both lines are right next to each other, one has blue carpet and one has red, who in the world would care about this, you can only walk on the blue "breezeway" carpet if you are special enough to have first class tickets. I was dumbfounded) Then , I go to give him my ticket and I had printed my boarding pass out on notebook paper at home (I was out of printer paper) The guy was laughing and making fun (in a funny/nice way, I was laughing too) but because of the lined paper, the scanner could not read the bar code so the guy had to reprint our boarding passes so they could be scanned to let us thru. **keep in mind , we were first in line and holding up everyone else while all this is happening! Finally we get scanned thru. Then, I could not figure out where to go, one door leaded to a hallway back to the main airport and the other looked like we were entering a dungeon. SO, I just stood there and waited for the guy behind me to come along and he pointed to the dungeon. again, I guess this is normal to most people, but I never would've thought thats what it would look like (the tunnel thing that leads you to the plane) It was dark and narrow. So, now we enter the dungeon and it dead ends into ?? Again, I had to stop and look to the guy behind me for direction. He pointed to keep going, It was very narrow to get on the plane, once again I was dumbfounded. Then We get on the plane and follow the numbers till we get to our row, then again I am holding up traffic trying to read the micro small sign explaining wich seats are A, B, and C.. Once again the guy behind me told me wich one I was. This guy must think I am the stupidest person in the world. But finally we were seated on the plane. During the trip, I am sure we continued to look stupid as we were the only ones taking pictures of the plane, us on the plane, and stuff out the windows. My son got a little nervous as we prepared for take off, but overall did fine. I enjoyed looking out the window. He had a coke and cookies and I had a diet coke and peanuts. He was excited to have drinks and food on the plane. (he really is all about the food) We landed on time right at 2pm.
**up next, we made it to Washington.!
A few days in D.C. :: a mini trip report
Day One:: (continued)
We arrived in D.C. at 2pm. We got off the plane without problems and took a quick restroom break. I called the hotel to let them know we had arrived. (the hotel has an airport shuttle) They said the shuttle had just left and told us what door to head to. It took us about 5 minutes to get to the pick up area. And less than another 5 minutes the shuttle arrived. Once again, we were making excellent time. We checked in the hotel quickly and went to our room to drop off our luggage. We were staying at the Best Western Pentagon. I was a little concerned because I knew it wasn't going to be the nicest of hotels but it was cheap, had a shuttle, and a free breakfast. I was pleasantly surprised. It was very roomy, very clean and we found out that night the beds were comfy also. I called to check on the other kids and they were doing fine. We went back to the desk to catch the next hotel shuttle that was scheduled to leave at 3 for the pentagon city metro stop. I asked the lady how to go about getting to the air and space museum (as this was our first stop) She began to tell me to transfer here and transfer there. I could not follow what all she was saying as I am VERY bad with directions. I spotted a taxi just outside and decided we would figure out the metro later. (you will soon see this was a BAD idea) Ten minutes and $12 later we were at the museum. I was really impressed with what good time we were making. The air and space museum was great. They also had some exhibits from the American History Museum on display. After getting a little taste of that, I really wished the American History Museum had been open as well. We made our way to the interactive area. For a fee you could ride simulator rides. The lady explained them to us and we went with the rocket simulator and Big W was the pilot. We started to buy tickets and the cashier seemed surprised that I was riding also. She said >YOUR> riding? I answered yes and she rang us up. We got in line and the guy that took our tickets and pointed us in the right direction also asked in a surprising way if I was riding. Once we got to the simulator the guy who gives you instruction also seem surprised I was riding. (I thought maybe a lot of adults didn't ride) Finally we got in the ride. It was small quarters. When I sat in the seat and tried to get in my harness I freaked. I couldn't get it to fasten, then I realize THIS is why everyone was surprised I was riding, I was too large for the buckles! I was getting nervous and I guess the instructor guy could tell, he told me a kid had gotten off before me and it just needed to be loosened. (much relief) I was struggling trying to figue it out and before I knew it the guy hoped in to help me (again, VERY small quarters) He might as well have been laying on me while adjusting the strap. (awkward) Finally we were fastened in safely. Then he mashes a button that brings an additional harness down over you as if you were on a roller coaster or something. When this happened I knew this was not going to be a tame ride. I was right. In seconds we were flipping completely upside down over and over to the point my feet were on the cieling. It was a ROUGH ride. I started thinking maybe THIS was the reason people were surprised I was willing to ride. (They really should give warnings) I really did enjoy it though. Big W liked it at first but then asked if we could push the emergency button to get off, I convinced him to ride it out and three minutes later it was over. Afterwards, he said he enjoyed it also. But when I asked if he wanted to ride again, he gave me a quick NO. We were both getting hungry, we walked towards the food court and seen a McDonalds sign. It apeared that was all they had to eat and I am not a fast food fan so we decided to wait. We got directions to the Museum of Natural History (its open till 7:30 in spring/ one of the few things open past 5:30) We were told there was a lovely garden along the way and suggested to stop in to see the interactive fountains. We spotted the garden but the fountains were not turned on , so not much too see. However, we spotted the National Archives Building. Since we were doing well on time I decided to go in (one less thing to do tomorrow). Unfortunately, the line was over 45 minutes long. (there was a sign that said 45 min from this point and the line went well past there) So we headed back towards the Museum of Natural History. This was my favorite museum. I really enjoyed looking around at everything. Big W was getting really hungry so one of the first things we did was head into the foodcourt. There was very little selection. He is a picky eater. So we decided just to get a hold me over. He had a giant cookie and a roll. I had a chocolate pudding that looked better than it tasted. He loved the cookie. We went thru the entire museum and also found a few souveniers at the gift shop.
Up Next:: Lost in D.C., trying to find our way back to the hotel.