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Archive for July, 2010

During my absence, I flew to the other side of the country for a few days.  What an adventure.  I went from Oregon to Washington DC for a conference for work.  When I was not working, I was walking.  There is a LOT to see, and I did not have much time.

The day I arrived, I checked into my hotel and then visited the Library of Congress (incredible) and the archives building.   When I got to Capitol Hill, it had been about 12 hours since dinner the night before.  Several people had walked past with lunch, so I decided to stop and get some too.  I asked a doorman where Subway was located.  He pointed to the metro train station across the street.

I meant the sandwich shop.

I asked another man, who it turns out was on his way there.  He was very nice and showed me the way.  We had a nice visit in line.  He worked at the Library of Congress and had some great pointers for things to do while I was in town.

The Library of Congress had a exhibit about the formation of the United States.  It had a copy of a draft of the Declaration of Independence with edits.  It was very interesting to see what was and wasn’t in the original draft.  I will never feel bad about editing a document again.

At the Archives, I saw the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.  I was a little disappointed with the Archives.  The exhibits were very interesting, but the rotunda with the original documents was hard to see and hard to navigate with the lack of lines.  It was kinda like a free for all.  I would have liked to see lines for the documents so I could see them better.

Across the street from the Archives building, is the Navy Memorial.  It has several large structures with flags on them.  They look like ship masts.

There are also fountains in a circle with artwork surrounding showing the work done by the military.  It was not on my list of things to do, but I am glad I went.

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DC day 2

It was raining when I woke up, and it rained all day.  I was working most of day 2.  I rode the metro across town to Silver Springs.  It was about a 1/2 hour train ride from my hotel.  The workshop talks were very good and it was nice hearing that others were having the same issues I was.

After work, I met my Mom at the Capitol mall.  We went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.  There are large sections that I disagree with, but I can ignore those.  The museum has a lot of mounted animals.  In the center of a large area is a large elephant.  There is a section on ocean life and it has a giant squid and a whale.  The section of African animals was interesting.  In the mammals section, there was a beaver den with a beaver inside and prairie dogs in their burrows.  The museum closed early that evening, so we were not able to finish our tour that night.

We walked from the museum to the Washington Memorial.  I never realized it is two different colors of stone.  The monument was begun before the civil war, but construction stopped during the war.  The rest of the marble was dug several years later and is darker than the base.

Between the Washington and Lincoln memorials is the World War II Memorial.  My grandfather fought in WWII and I was glad to visit the memorial.

The Lincoln Memorial is awesome.  I had seen pictures and movies of the memorial, but I had no idea how huge it is.  It has an exhibit downstairs with his words carved into marble, information on his life and presidency, and a painting of the memorial.  Inside the memorial to Lincoln’s carved into the wall is his Gettysburg address.  To his left is another speech.  He sits behind columns.  They are enormous.  He is on a pedestal that was way taller than I am.

We decided to walk back to the hotel rather than taking the metro.  It should have been about 8 blocks.  We took a short-cut and walked about 16.  On the shortcut we stumbled on the Einstein memorial.  It was a fun discovery.

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DC day 3

After a busy first two days and flying across three time zones, I woke up sore and tired on day three.  The conference speakers were good and I appreciated how the workshop was set up to allow for a lot of participant interaction.

After work, I met Mom at the hotel and got ready for a river cruise.  We decided to take a taxi to the waterfront.  I had shin splints from the ends of my toes to the tops of my knees from our “short cut” the day before.  I have never been so glad to climb into a car.

While we were waiting for the cruise to begin, we enjoyed watching rowers practice.  It was a beautiful evening.  The sun was out and there was just a hint of a breeze that kept it from being too hot.

The cruise was very nice.  The narrator explained things one direction, and the other direction he turned on soft music and let us take it all in.  We saw the monuments we had walked the day before.  The weather was nice and it was fun seeing the monuments and buildings from the water.  I love being on the water.  It was great to experience DC from the river.  It was also nice to be able to sit down and enjoy the scenery.

After our cruise, we went to Union Station.  The station has rows of stands, a bookstore, several gift shops and other small stores, and a food court.  We had dinner in the food court at a 50’s style diner.  Mom had a chocolate coke, and I tried a taste.

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DC day 4

Day 4 in DC was very busy.  We started the morning at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.  Because the museum had closed early on Tuesday, we had missed seeing the gem and mineral section and the butterfly exhibits.  We went back for these two exhibits.

The museum was packed.  There were kids everywhere.  We saw the Hope diamond and a beautiful quartz and then we were off to the butterfly exhibit.

We got our tickets and went into the butterfly house.  There were more than 80 different types of butterflies and 400 individual butterflies.  I loved this exhibit!  They encouraged picture taking, and I took them up on it.  The butterflies were beautiful, and they were everywhere.  They had misters that would come on every few minutes.  When the misters were running, the butterflies were very active, but when they were not, it was easier to get pictures of them.

After the museum, we went to the White House Visitor’s Center.  It was interesting seeing the way the different President’s decorate the house and the photos of the families.  Each year the White House has a different Christmas ornament for sale.  We selected one for my brother and sister-in-law.  They are so beautiful that it was hard to choose.

There was a protest not far from the White House Visitor’s Center.  I have always wanted to protest, so we joined in.  It was peaceful and we stayed for just a few minutes because there was way too much to do that day.

We went back to lunch at the Subway we visited on day one.  On the way, we say a line of bicycle officers.  They looked so regal all lined up on their bikes.

We went to the Capitol building.  We did not have tickets for the tour and all of the public tickets were gone for the day, so we checked out the gift shops and looked at some of the statues.

We walked through an underground tunnel to the Library of Congress so we could visit the gift shop again to pick up presents for the kids.  They got Library of Congress backpacks and I found Hope a book light.  The gift shop here was very reasonable and had a wide selection of things to choose from.  I loved the Library of Congress.  If you are going to DC, I would highly recommend you put it high on your list.

We rounded out the evening with a trip to Arlington National Cemetery.  Since we did not have a lot of time, we rode the tour bus.  The first stop was at John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis’ graves.  This is where the eternal flame is located.  The view from the grave site across into DC is stunning.

The next stop we made was at the tomb of the unknown soldiers.  There are three graves, although only two are occupied because one of the soldiers was identified.  While we were there, a wreath laying ceremony was performed.  It was a special treat to see this ceremony.  We also saw the changing of the guard ceremony.  It was awesome how dedicated these men are to honoring those who lost their lives in battle and are known only to God.  I felt so honored to be able to witness their dedication in the ceremony.  The graves are set atop a hill and overlook Washington DC.  It is a beautiful location.

There were a lot of people, young and old at the cemetery.  I was impressed with the honor shown while we were there.  It was truly respectful.

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DC day 5

The fifth and final day in DC was another busy one.

We got up early and were at the Capitol building in time for their first tour of the day at 8:50.  Because we got there early, there were tickets available.  I did not know there is more than one type of tour at the Capitol.  If I am ever blessed to be able to go again, I will get tickets well in advance for the different tours.  We went on the main tour.  We saw the rotunda and visited the room above the grave built for President Washington.  President Washington is not buried there, but rather at his former estate at Mt. Vernon.

The sculptures are incredible as is the rest of the artwork.  I really enjoyed the tour. When we finished, we made a quick trip back across to the Library of Congress bookstore to pick up one last gift before we headed back to the airport.

We checked out of our hotel, traveled by metro rail and bus back to the airport.  I took a short nap between Baltimore and Chicago and a nice long nap between Chicago and Portland.  I enjoyed my trip to DC, and while I wish it was longer so I could have seen and done even more, I was glad to be home with my husband and my girls.

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Most annoying toy

My sweet brother and I relish torturing each other by giving each others children really annoying toys.  I started it on accident before my girls were born by giving my niece a rock and roll big bird.  I thought it was really cute and that she would like the bright colors and active music.  I was right, and she loved it.  She wore the batteries completely out.

So, when my daughter was small my brother returned the favor and bought her a rock and roll big bird.  She also loved hers and wore out the batteries.

I think you must have to play them 15,000 times before the batteries will wear out.  They are sooooo annoying!!!  I really did not think about it on a parent annoying scale before I bought it, but wow.

So as a parent I am now really careful to not buy annoying presents for other people’s children, except my brother’s. All bets are off with C.  I bought the bird because I thought the kids would enjoy it, but he bought the bird because he knew it would be annoying.

Over the years, we have prided ourselves in buying our children the most annoying toy we can find.  I struck pay dirt last year and bought them a toy called “the most annoying whistle in the world”.  Any hints for this year?

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