RV trip: Connecticut to New York

It wasn’t the most action-packed week in Mystic CT, but it was a good one. We drove into town on Tuesday hoping to see their cool drawbridge in action, but we missed it. We did, however, walk past the town crown jewel: the Mystic Pizza joint, made sorta-famous in 1988 by the Julia Robert’s movie of the same name. You’ve seen it, right? Me neither.

We didn’t have a sewer connection at our camping spot, and we did NOT do a very good job of conserving and managing our waste tanks. Fortunately, the campground provided a free poo-sucking service that emptied our tanks mid week. That was nice.

Also mid week, the girls did some fresh raspberry pickin’:

…and visited the Submarine Force Museum in Groton, CT. They were able to tour the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear powered submarine, christened in 1954.

The girls enjoyed comparing the tight quarters of a submarine to our RV.

Natalie had a fun day on Thursday. Amy drove her back to Newport, RI (about an hour away) so she could take some surf lessons, something she has wanted to do for a while now. (Her favorite movie is Soul Surfer.)

Nat catching a wave:

That day was also the 4th of July, and Emily made us an all-american dessert featuring the fresh picked raspberries:

We ended up at a Connecticut Tigers minor-league baseball game that night, just to see their post-game fireworks. The game was tied when we got there in the 7th inning, and it was still tied at the bottom of the 9th. But the Tigers scored a run and won their game, and I avoided extra innings. It was win-win.

…and we got to see our fireworks. It turned out to be a pretty fun evening.

The next day we made another trip into Mystic, and this time we DID see the cool drawbridge. Yes, those are humungous hunks of concrete that act as counterweights to lift the drawbridge:

We had a pretty light travel day on Saturday, so we were looking for something else to do (and to stay out of the heat). It was near our route, so we made a stop at the PEZ factory in Orange, CT:

Sextuple-parked in the PEZ parking lot:

Did you know that PEZ was originally a peppermint candy marketed as an alternative to smoking? And that the iconic dispenser originally looked like a cigarette lighter? We learned all kinds of fun facts like that.

All was quiet on the factory floor; no PEZ-making on the weekends:

We made it back into New York yesterday afternoon and we’re now camped in Elizaville, NY for the next few days.

We went to a farmers’ market in nearby Rhinebeck this morning. Amy has been to about a gazillion farmer’s markets over the course of this trip and she said this farmers’ market was one of her favorites (good selection, cool town, good vibes, etc.).

It was another hot day here, so we decided to postpone our Sunday morning hike for later in the day. However, it rained hard this afternoon, and there were some flash flood warnings.

We now have a few concerning issues that we’re closely monitoring. One is the refrigerator, which does not seem to be refrigerating. Our food is spoiling!

Another issue is that the creek is risin’:

…and lastly the power is out in the campground, which means we can’t run our air conditioning on this very hot evening. (Actually, we could run the air conditioning if we fired up the generator, but we’re not that hot. Yet.)

The water level is climbing, but it’s still a good 30 yards away from our RV…we’re watching it closely. That’s the nice thing about having a house on wheels: If things start getting bad, we’re outta here.

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RV trip: Massachusetts to Rhode Island

It turned out to be a busy work week for me while in Cape Cod. But on Tuesday evening, we went out for a double-feature at the drive-in over in Wellfleet:

Amy had been to a drive-in before, but it was a first for the girls and me:

It was really fun, and the picture quality was surprisingly good, especially for a 1950’s era facility. We didn’t get back to the RV until 1:30am.

At the recommendation of the campground office staff, Amy took the girls to the Chatham fishing pier. The seals there have a Pavlovian response to the returning fishing boats:

The weather continued to be as volatile as ever, toggling between rain and shine throughout the day. We hoped to catch an ocean sunset on Wednesday evening, but it was drizzling and mostly overcast when we got there:

We got lucky, however, and the sun poked through. It was rather surreal, with the muted pink lighting and the ocean water only a few inches deep as far as we could see:

As we waded through the water, we could feel throngs of these little critters hopping up on our ankles (I have no idea what these are):

On Thursday, Amy and the girls took a side trip to the Cape Cod National Seashore. The lighthouses are an important part of the history of this treacherous shoreline. That there were three lighthouses at this particular spot called the “three sisters” is sort of poetic.

Do you recognize this famous Cape Cod lighthouse?…

…if so, you’ve eaten too many of these:

We left Cape Cod on Friday afternoon, and were once again heading in the right direction. Arriving in Cape Cod at the end of a weekend and leaving before the next weekend begins is definitely the way to do it!

We arrived in Newport, Rhode Island on Friday night, and on Saturday morning met up with a client of mine. She and her boyfriend showed us around the Newport Shipyard where they work, so it was like a backstage pass to the world of yachting.

This was an impressive site, watching a ferry getting placed in the water:

A picnic lunch by the Newport Harbor:

My client also hooked us up with some free passes to a 1-hour narrated boat tour of the Newport Harbor and lower Narragansett Bay (thanks Shannon!).

It was a great way to see and experience Newport from the water. Of all of the places we’ve been to lately, Newport has felt the most “New England-y.”

For our Sunday morning walk, we did the “cliff walk” of Newport:

It’s not as perilous as it sounds; it’s actually a paved path that meanders between the ocean-facing cliffs and some of the historic mansions of Newport:

Speaking of mansions, we took the tour of this cozy little place once owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II:

It was a fascinating and incomprehensible display of wealth, and this was just his summer home! (No photos were allowed inside unfortunately.)

We made it to Mystic, Connecticut this afternoon. Our campground seems nice, but there are no sewer hookups. But hey, they have a bounce house!

Tomorrow is July 1, and thus begins the countdown toward the end of this little RV trip.

Only four weeks left…

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RV trip: Boston

I had a pretty busy work schedule early in the week last week, but Amy and the girls were able to meet up with my cousin Kathee and her kids on Monday at her nearby pond in Concord. (I’d get to see her as well as my Aunt Grayce later in the week.)

On Tuesday we learned that my nephew Matthew from Greensboro was laid over at the Boston airport on his way to France. Amy and the girls were already heading there for some plane spotting, so it was great that they could stop in and say hi:

Emily also got to see her first Boeing 787 Dreamliner take off:

On Wednesday afternoon we drove into Salem and learned all about the witch trials of 1692. It was a sad, sad reminder of what happens when fear and superstition mix.

Strolling through Salem:

Amy picked up a few books at this Salem bookstore. It was a cool place, in a crazy mess sort of way:

We visited the Salem graveyard — known as the “Burying Point” — which dates back to 1637. We located the gravestones of a witch trial judge as well as a Mayflower pilgrim.

Total side note: I don’t care enough to research why, but there are Dunkin’ Donuts evvvverywhere out here. Everywhere.

On Thursday, I worked at the Concord library…

…while Amy and the girls visited Sleepy Hollow cemetery nearby. They tracked down the headstones of Thoreau, Hawthown, Alcotts and Emerson.

They also stopped at Walden pond:

These are the woods where Thoreau hung out for two years at Waldon pond. (I love that Thoreau quote.)

Amy and I enjoyed some beautiful scenery on our morning runs at the Lorraine Park Campground in Harold Parker State Forest:

As I mentioned in last week’s post, our challenge for the week was to live without the electric, sewer and water connections that we typically enjoy. Turned out to be a piece of cake, with our only real challenge being that our waste tanks fill up faster than I wish. Our water supply, however, was more than enough, and I still had almost 11.5 volts of juice in the batteries at the end of the week (that’s really good).

Saturday was our big day in Boston, starting with the Boston subway system. (Fun fact: Boston had the first subway system in the country in 1897.)

One of the first things we came upon was the make-shift memorial for the Boston Marathon bombings. It was pretty moving.

Amy left one of her race bibs and a note as part of the memorial:

The bombs blew up just a short distance from where I took this photo:

Inside the Boston Public Library:

Another old graveyard — Granary Burying Ground. We saw the headstones of Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams and James Otis (the dude who coined the phrase “taxation without representation”) among others.

The Old South Meeting House. This is where Samuel Adams launched the Boston Tea Party:

This little place — what is now a Chipotle restaurant — used to be a book publisher and was where Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne and others brought there manuscripts to be published:

This is the Old State House built in 1713 to house the British colonial government of the time. In 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read to the Bostonians for the first time from this building:

The site of the Boston Massacre:

We had covered a lot of ground by mid-afternoon. We were whipped.

…nothing a little Italian ice and gelato can’t fix, though:

We summoned enough energy for one more trek, this time to the Charlestown Navy Yard to tour the USS Constitution:

This old ship, named by George Washington himself, formed part of the original US Navy. While fighting in defining battles of the War of 1812, it received its more recognizable nickname “Old Ironsides.” It’s amazing that it even still exists, let alone still floats (and even still sails!). It was very cool; the highlight of my visit.

Boston is an amazing town, one with a staggering amount of historical significance. It was a very full day, however…we were all ready to head home.

Before getting on the road Sunday morning, Em and Nat helped me finish my air-conditioner repair job. It worked!

We made an impromptu detour on our way to Cape Cod to see Plymouth Rock. I’m glad we stopped just to say we were there, but we didn’t stay long. Those Pilgrims sure picked a busy town to land in.

Here we are heading into Cape Cod. Note that this is the right direction to be going on a Sunday afternoon:

And now we are settled into our latest retirement community of the week:

We have been told by many Bostonians that we must stop at “the Cape.” We’re looking forward to discovering the draw of the this beloved place.

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RV trip: Maine to Massachusetts

Maine is a really pretty state when it’s not raining. On Monday, we drove into nearby Bar Harbor (pronounced locally as “Bah Hah-bah”). Fortunately, the rain held off and we were even able to glimpse a slight sunset:

We took a quick stroll through the touristy part of Bar Harbor before heading home:

It was a rainy Wednesday, but the weather let up enough by late afternoon for us to venture into Acadia National Park. Not even the gloomy clouds could mask the beauty of this place:

It felt a bit like Oregon, actually:

Acadia has highest point on the Eastern seaboard (Cadillac Mountain) which normally offers a spectacular view. Not this day, however:

It was cold, windy and drizzly. Not your typical day in June.

None of us had ever had lobster, so we figured we were in the right place to give it a shot. There are places like this on practically every corner:

I don’t think Nat was prepared to see her dinner staring longingly back at her:

…or to see it sent to a boiling, steamy death:

The verdict? Meh. I guess we’re just not a lobster family.

We skipped running on Wednesday due to the rain, so Thursday was a make-up day. Fortunately, it was beautiful: the sun was actually out! Amy and I drove into Acadia to run on the “carriage roads” created by John D. Rockefeller. These paths were designed to meander through the park and are not “destination oriented.” I love everything about that sentiment.

The sunshine was short lived, and by afternoon it was overcast. Good enough for some more hiking in Acadia, however.

We hiked up to a high point that overlooked the ocean for a lovely picnic dinner:

The shores around Acadia are piled high with slabs of granite. Amy and I were reminded of some RVing friends who told us how they’d rather have granite mountain tops than granite counter tops. Amen to that.

We took another trip up to Cadillac Mountain, as the visibility was slightly better than the day before:

Friday afternoon we headed South to Freeport, Maine where we camped at a local county park. Here we are celebrating 2 years on the road and the last day of school, two great reasons to get loaded on sparkling grape juice:

We were treated to a wonderful sunset that evening. In true Maine fashion, however, it was raining within an hour of taking this photo.

On Saturday we visited the VERY touristy town of Ogunquit, Maine. We relaxed as best we could on this crowded little beach for an hour or so. If the ladies chit-chatting behind me are to be believed, this isn’t crowded; it gets much worse.

Nearby Kennebunkport is also the location of the Bush Compound, summer home of George H. W. Bush. Supposedly, the flag flying means he’s in there somewhere.

This was Amy’s view from her yoga mat at 5:42 this morning. I thought it was a cool photo, but I’m glad that I was back at the RV fast asleep.

We did a good cleaning of the RV before leaving Maine. Here’s Emily helping out with some quarterly battery maintenance:

We’re now in North Andover, Massachusetts about to embark on a new challenge: Go an entire week without any connections whatsoever (this park simply doesn’t have the amenities we’re used to having.)

Batteries are charged. Fresh water tanks are topped off. Sewer tanks are empty. I think we can do this!

Tune in next week to find out how we fared…

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RV trip: Maine…MAINE!

It was a pretty low-key week of school and work, but we did make some time for a mid-week trek through the Adirondack mountains:

As Carrie repeatedly noted last week, the bugs were bad. But the view at the top made it worth it:

On Friday, we drove into Vermont in what we would be the start of a wonderful sugar-charged weekend (more on that in a sec).

Our campground Friday night was just an overflow lot of a local RV dealership. It had been raining all day, so it was quite a sloppy mess:

But just down the road was Bragg Farm Sugarhouse, which sounded promising. He we are sampling some pure Vermont maple syrup. We left with a jug of our own as well as several other maple-y treats.

Amy found a local 10k race on Saturday morning in Montpelier:

…as well as the Montpelier farmer’s market. (The girls and I were back at the RV sleeping in.)

The big event Saturday, however, was a fieldtrip to the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, VT:

The tour was good:

…but the taste test at the end was great. They gave us a free sample of a new flavor they’re working on called “Milk & Cookies.” If you ever see that in the grocery store, we tasted it first!

If you wonder why Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is so delicious, just look at which ingredient warrants the largest vat. Mystery solved:

We also visited the “Flavor Graveyard,” the final resting place of retired Ben & Jerry’s flavors that got killed off:

That afternoon, we moved onward, this time crossing into New Hampshire for the evening:

We camped in the quiet, peaceful little campground of Moose Brook State Park:

Even had a campfire (a rare occasion for us):

This morning we took a hike on one of the park’s “unmaintained” trails. It was beautiful.

It was not without some challenges, however. Amy had a misstep and stepped into some muck:

…and a bridge had been washed out by the river.

Undeterred, we found a large fallen tree a little ways up-river that we used to get across:

We traveled most of the afternoon and are now deep into Maine. I though this would be our northern-most point of the trip, but I see now when I look at a map that we were actually more north when we were in Washington.

We’re now nestled into our camp spot for the week in Trenton, Maine. Even though it’s a school night, we’re going to watch a movie tonight.

…and enjoy another sugar rush:

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RV Trip: Rainy Central NY

AMY: Carrie and I are filling in for Jon this week (truthfully the deal is: Carrie is helping me with the blog and I am watching a movie with her later). We started our week at Allegany State Park near Salamanca NY.

CARRIE: It was mostly rainy, muddy and buggy all week. Not my idea of a fun week…

AMY: Agreed. However, there was a great running trail around this beautiful lake:

AMY: I am grateful Jon has been joining me during my weekday runs. I enjoy sharing these early morning moments with him:

CARRIE: What did I tell you? Buggy! It wasn’t just mosquitos though, their little biting-gnat friends were in on it too:

AMY: We were also invaded by the gypsy moth caterpillars. They would dangle from tree limbs, door posts, awnings and many made their way into the RV. I wonder if we will find moths later this summer?

My sister Sherry recommended stopping at the Griffis Sculpture Park in nearby Ellicottville. It was a good hike around fleshy sculptures. Why didn’t you stick around to admire the artwork?

CARRIE: It was embarrassing! Also, the night before it had rained so hard the ground was swampy.

AMY: We also hiked an area called Little Rock City, a larger area similar to the Thunder Rocks we found in the state park.  At first, we assumed these large rocks were pushed here by the glaciers, but we discovered that they are very old sedimentary rocks that were once at the bottom of a body of water. The softer rock has eroded away leaving these marvels to hike through.

CARRIE: I wonder if there is this much mud and bugs in the jungle?

AMY: Even with all those challenges, it was an impressively beautiful place.

AMY: On Friday, we moved a little north and east to Letchworth State Park, the so-called “Grand Canyon of the East.”

CARRIE: I enjoyed it better than Niagara Falls because there were a lot less people. I. Don’t. Like. Crowds.

AMY: You are so right, Carrie. It was nice to just hang out and admire the falls as long as we wanted.

AMY: A runner I met in Williamsburg VA was able to connect me with this running group in Dansville NY (Thanks Bob!). After several weekends running solo, it was great to meet up with fellow distance runners. Running groups have been a great way for me to connect and get an inside scoop into the local scene. I am so grateful for these kind, welcoming folks!

CARRIE: On Saturday, we went to Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls NY. I was fascinated to see how hard women had to work to do more than what was just expected of them. I feel fortunate to be a girl in the 21st century.

AMY: We had an air conditioner go out on us this week (fortunately we have two). Jon very carefully examined the non-working unit and identified the broken parts. We’re expecting delivery of the new parts later this week. Total cost: $51! :)

AMY: Today, we drove to this campsite in the Adirondacks where we were warmly greeted by the fresh smell of pines.

CARRIE: Daddy took this picture approximately an hour after the photo above….this week has made me miss being out west where there was less rain, less humidity, and fewer bugs.

Maybe it’s because I love Adirondack chairs, but I have been looking forward to visiting this area and hope for some cool field trips this week.

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RV Trip: Back on the road

This is going to be a quickest post ever, mainly because I’ve been negligent in taking any photos of what we’ve been doing for the last three weeks. Here’s a quick recap in bullet-point form:

  • We were back in Indy the week of May 6 for a vehicle inspection so we could get the RV titled in Indiana. We spent a nice week with my mom and visiting with friends.
  • We spent the following week in Ohio with Amy’s wonderful family.
  • Last week, we camped in Northern Ohio near my home town of Avon Lake, OH.

…and this is where the trickle of photos resume, with my family standing in front of the house that built me. It had been about 15 years since I had seen the place, and I was surprised how I didn’t want to leave.

We camped a few days in the lovely little town of Stow, OH. Amy and I (and Natalie too!) even did some contra dancing (it’s sort of like square dancing, but cooler somehow).

We did our Sunday walk at Niagara Falls in Canada:

Nat, enjoying a spray of mist on the American side of Niagara:

We’re now camped at Allegany State Park in New York. A few miles away from our campsite are some pretty big rocks in the middle of the woods.

It felt really good to climb something again.

We’re camped here for the next few days, and then we’ll continue moving Northeast toward the New England states. We don’t have a definite route or itinerary yet, and that’s totally ok.

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RV trip: Philadelphia, Gettysburg, Indy

I’m playing catchup again. Here’s a recap of the last two weeks:

After leaving Washington DC, we made a brief stop in Baltimore. While it was a full workday for me, Amy and the girls made a visit to Fort McHenry National Monument:

This is the site of the War of 1812 battle with the British that inspired Francis Scott Key to write what would later become our National Anthem.

It was no fun driving an RV through the narrow streets of downtown Baltimore:

We camped in Delaware for two days before moving on to Pennsylvania. Along the way, we stopped in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, the site where George Washington and his army trained during the last winter of the Revolutionary War.

Our campground for that week was at a mobile home park in Hatfield, Pennsylania. Not much to look at, but it was a reasonably quite and happy place:

It was also conveniently located near a train station. I took Friday afternoon off of work to join the girls for a field trip of downtown Philadelphia:

We toured the US Mint and learned all about how coins are made (no paper money is printed there). I thought it would be super high tech, but it’s really just a glorified machine shop. It was pretty interesting.

More public transportation, this time the Philly city bus:

I love Philly cheese steaks, so I of course had to try the original. Pat’s King of Steaks claims to have created the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich in 1930. It did not disapoint.

However, just across the street is Geno’s Steaks, a competitor of Pat’s since 1966. We had half an order at Pat’s and then a half an order at Geno’s to compare. The verdict? Both were excellent, but Geno’s was the agreed favorite (better buns).

Amy mastered yet another major city mass transit system:

Heading home on the train after our afternoon in Philly:

There was a little bit of schoolwork waiting to be done that evening. Schoolwork on Friday night; that’s rough.

We got an early start Saturday so we could spend the entire day in Philadelphia. Lots to see.

The Liberty Bell:

We caught a demo of how stuff was printed during the late 1700’s:

Independence Hall:

The Assembly Room in Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 and the Constitution was signed in 1787. This is the room, in other words, where our country started:

The inkwells used for the signing of the Declaration of Independence:

The original House of Representatives:

The original Senate:

We strolled by Betsy Ross’s place, but it didn’t look interesting enough to pay an entrance fee (we’ve grown too accustomed to things being free).

Philadelphia has the oldest continually inhabited neighborhood in the country. People have been living in these homes since 1702!

On Sunday we drove back to Valley Forge. (Amy got up early and drove out for a morning run; the girls and I met up with her later that morning.) It’s a very beautiful place.

There was a guy renting bikes in the parking lot, so we did a family bike ride:

It was a great way to see more of Valley Forge:

Just passing through the town of Intercourse, PA. (Too…many…jokes…)

We spent last week at a campground in Dover, PA that was also a working farm:

Natalie got up early most mornings to spend time with the animals:

On Wednesday afternoon, we drove to Hershey, PA for the day. I got some work done at the local Hershey public library while Amy and the girls toured a Hershey amusement park (which was mostly closed and pretty lame). And the streets were not flowing with chocolate as expected.

We packed up on Friday and drove to Gettysburg for the afternoon:

Have you ever heard of a cyclorama? (I had not.) It’s a 360 degree painting that wraps around the inside of a circular room and makes you feel like you’re “in” a scene. It’s really cool, and there is an impressive one at Gettysburg depicting the famous battle. I thought this amazing painting was new, but it was created in 1883! So it’s the 19th century equivalent of IMAX.

Every national park has an educational movie of some sort, and they are consistently some degree of bad. Gettysburg’s movie, however — narrated by Morgan Freeman — is excellent. Excellent.

Looking out over the battlefield from the Union’s point of view on Cemetery Ridge. That tree line in the distance is where the Confederates emerged and tried to deliver a final blow to the Union army after 3 days of fighting. A lot of people died here.

We caught a ranger-led talk on the battlefield. As always, it was excellent. National Park Rangers are consistently awesome.

I was struck by two things: 1) how large of an area the Gettysburg battlefield is, and 2) its scattering of monuments and memorials. This photo shows just a few, but they were everywhere.

No one knows exactly where Lincoln stood to give his Gettysburg address at Soldiers’ National Cemetery, but this monument suggests it was somewhere near this spot. If you’ve not read the Gettysburg address in a while, read it; it’s sheer poetry.

Across the Gettysburg field on the Confederate side, where General Lee watched the battle unfold and his army fall:

We camped Friday night at state park in Chambersburg, PA. It was nice to have some woods to walk through the next morning; it had been a while.

On Sunday we stopped at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA. This is where the 4th plane from the 9/11 attacks crashed after the terrorists’ plans were thwarted by the passengers and crew.

Camping at a Walmart is never a delight, but the Walmart in Triadelphia WV comes mightly close. With wide, long, level spots exclusively for RVers, it’s like the Ritz-Carlton of parking lots:

On our way through Columbus OH, we got to visit with my Aunt Grayce for a bit. It’s always good to spend time with such a remarkable lady.

And then by late afternoon we were back in Indiana:

We had to come back to Indy to resolve a license and registration issue with the RV. It has to do with the fact that we bought the RV in California but it needs to be plated in Indiana which requires a vehicle inspection. We planned on just being in town for a few days, but this RV issue might take a week or two to resolve.

Whatever, though. We’ll just get to spend more time with family and friends before embarking on the final leg of our RV odyssey: seeing the New England states.

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RV trip, DC? Check.

Our internet has been a bit spotty lately, and I’m pretty sure last week’s post did not upload in its entirety. It’s fixed now.

We enjoyed a lovely week in Colonial Beach, VA, far away from anything meaningful to see or do. It was great to just relax, get caught up on some work, and even hang out with a fellow traveling family over s’mores.

Here’s Amy and Nat catching up on some schoolwork:

There was a constant layer of pollen everywhere:

On Friday, we relocated to Greenbelt Park to be closer to DC for one more sight-seeing weekend. We had some fun neighbors in the spot next to us:

As planned, we spent the majority of the day at the Holocaust museum. It’s difficult to comprehend that something so awful as the holocaust happened, and that it wasn’t even that long ago. Sad and frightening. (I don’t have any photos; photography was not allowed.)

Today was our final mission: Ford’s theater:

To my surprise, photography IS allowed here. We listened to a park ranger give a talk on the history of Ford’s Theater and the night Lincoln was shot.

The museum in the basement of Ford’s Theater had some really, really amazing stuff related to the conspirators and their plot to assassinate Lincoln:

The .44 Derringer pistol used by John Wilkes Booth to shoot Abraham Lincoln in the back of the head at 10:15pm on April 14th, 1865:

A blood-stained pillow used in the care of Lincoln after he was shot:

We walked across the street to visit the Petersen boarding house where Lincoln was carried after being shot:

This bedroom at the back of the boarding house is where Lincoln died the next morning:

It was a bit crowded today due to a few school or youth groups that were also visiting. But the crowds in DC are noticeably less compared to a couple weekends ago when the Cherry Blossom Festival was going on.

To finish off the day, we intended to watch The Conspirator, the story of Mary Surratt, one of the Lincoln conspirators and the first female to be executed by the federal government. All the local Redboxes were out and Blockbusters seem to have all closed, so I resorted to trying to stream it via Netflix.

Alas, t’was not to be. Netflix over a crappy cellular internet connection is a cruel joke:

It took us three very full weekends, and a few side trips in between, but we feel like we saw Washington DC. Truly, one could spend a lifetime here and still not give everything the study and attention it deserves. But for us, it’s time to move on.

Next stop: Baltimore?

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RV trip, DC. Lots of DC.

After hitting DC pretty hard last weekend, we took Monday off. Amy and the girls took a trip to the zoo on Tuesday. It was a very warm afternoon and they said the animals weren’t putting on much of a show. However, the admission price was free, so they didn’t mind:

I took Wednesday off, however, and we all made another full day of sight-seeing. We picked up some gallery passes to the Senate and the House of Representatives courtesy of our Indiana Representative Andre Carson:

Lunch outside the Capitol Building:

After lunch, we visited the Congressional galleries, but I couldn’t take any photos. We did witness a vote underway in the House and a speech about gun control in the Senate:

Next up was the Supreme Court building, the facade of which is apparently under renovation:

It was very cool to see those nine chairs. Ironically, this building smelled like a church.

Then we stopped next door at the Library of Congress:

This is Thomas Jefferson’s book collection that he sold to the Library of Congress after their own book collection was mostly destroyed by fire. This is a bad photo, but I was literally shooting from the hip (photography of this collection was not allowed; I had to be quick).

The Library of Congress is a stunningly beautiful building:

This is the Gutenberg Bible, one the first books to emerge from Johann Gutenberg’s printing press in 1455. One of the greatest inventions in human history, the printing press allowed the mass production and accessibility of accumulated human knowledge. This is one of the coolest artifacts I’ve seen on this entire trip.

It was amazing what a difference a couple days can make. The cherry trees were in full bloom, much fuller than what we saw the previous weekend:

There was a very cool barred owl that would swoop through our campground throughout the week. Amy was trying to lure him closer to the RV by playing owl sounds she found on YouTube:

Saturday was the beginning of another intense sight-seeing weekend, starting with George Washington’s Mount Vernon home:

Hey look, it’s me, from the future!:

The tombs of George and Martha Washington:

That afternoon, we visited the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum. It’s out by Dulles International Airport, yet it’s part of the Smithsonian system. Lots of amazing stuff there. I couldn’t believe I was standing under the Enola Gay, the airplane that dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Very sobering.

This is hardly a centerpiece of the museum, but seeing the spaceship prop used in “Close Encounters of the Third kind” brought back memories from another era of this trip. (We watched that movie after visiting Devils Tower — also part of that movie — back in July.)

The Space Shuttle Discovery:

Sunday morning started with a trip to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History:

As we should have expected, there is just so much fascinating stuff to absorb there. I really enjoyed all the exhibits on human origins.

We saw the Hope Diamond in all its 45+ carat glory:

Unfortunately, the only photo I have of our next stop — the National Archives — is this outside shot. Photography is strictly forbidden inside, and there are guards everywhere to make sure you comply. But it was otherwise a big highpoint seeing the Magna Carta of 1297, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, up close and personal. To see these documents — the tangible manifestations of such grand ideas that have shaped our society — is quite amazing.

On to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum:

Emily, taking in Amelia Earhart’s iconic red Lockheed 5B Vega:

The pièce de résistance: the Wright Flyer. Amy and the girls (and me, via osmosis) did a lot of road-school studying of the Wright brothers during the weeks leading up to our stop at Kitty Hawk, so it was rather meaningful to behold their little invention that changed the world:

A lovely view of our capitol after a busy weekend:

Last stop for the day, the Smithsonian Museum of American History:

As with the other museums, there are approximately 1 billion things to see and learn about here. These are just a few things where I bothered to raise my camera and take a picture…we were all so tired by this point.

Here are the benches from the Woolworth’s store in Greensboro NC that is now the International Civil Rights Museum (we toured that back in November). Yet another moment where two eras of our trip have come together.

This little wood desk is where Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence:

Julia Child’s kitchen:

We got a kick out of this; it’s the placard by a display showing a family living out of a trailer, one of the pieces in the “America on the Move” exhibit about transportation. Carrie has been calling us “trailerites” ever since. :)

As I mentioned, we were exhausted both physically and mentally by the end of the weekend. One’s legs can only walk so far, and one’s mind can only absorb so much.

We packed up Monday and drove about an hour and half to a sleepy little campground somewhere in VA. I don’t even know what city I’m in and I don’t really care. There is nothing to do here, and we love it!

We’ve been taking it easy this week and catching up a bit on work and school. Washington DC has not seen the last of us, however. We’re gearing up for one last mission this weekend to see Ford’s Theater and the Holocaust Museum.

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