Thursday, April 26, 2007

Illumination Tour- Wednesday night

After dinner at the Old Post Office, we picked up our tour guide and started our Illumination tour. We started at the World War II Memorial. This memorial had two arch ways that represented the Pacific and the Atlantic theaters of the war. There were columns for each state of the union and then a pool in the center.

From this spot you could see both the Lincoln Memorial (starting to "illuminate" as the sun got lower)

And the Washington Monument... which we took some fun pictures of.

Next was the Jefferson Memorial

On our way back to the bus, I caught a glimpse of the Washington Monument, I dashed down to the water to take the picture, hoping that the bus didn't leave with out me. (Next camera I get will take a little better night time shots, but I think this turned out pretty good.)

Our next stop was the Lincoln Memorial. This was probably the highlight of the Entire trip for me. I was very moved by it. I was taking the picture below of the Gettysburg address, when music started... something like angels singing... it was the Battle Hymn of the Republic... at first I thought that it was recorded, but I turned around and there was a choir of high school students (obviously just touring, not really performing) singing. It made tears come to my eyes. SUCH a beautiful moment!

When you are standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, this is your view.

We walked over to the Korean War Memorial. This was really lovely, but I wish we had gone during the day. The pictures on the wall were cool. The tour guide said that these were not pictures of people who had died in the war specifically. They were just random pictures gathered. He said that sometimes a Korean War Veteran will find his picture up on the wall.

We headed for the White house. We only ever drove by the South lawn (never stopping, I tried every time to get a picture, but never succeeded), but this was up to the front of the house (OK, as close to the front as you can get).

We got back on the bus and headed to the Kennedy Center for the Preforming Arts. See the Oregon Flag you Oregonians? Thought of you at that moment. (Even you traitorous Idahoans!)

After leaving the Kennedy Center, we dropped our tour guide off and headed back to the hotel. In bed by 11, Breakfast at 6:45.. have to leave early to try the Capitol Building tour again...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Washington DC- Wednesday April 11

Here we go, Washington DC!!!!!!! We drove into the city and got our first glimpse of the famous places in store for us. We passed the Pentagon.. I had NO idea that it was so close to major freeways! On 9-11, the plane would have come in right over all the cars. I can't imagine what that must have been like! We never stopped at the Pentagon, and I have a few just "ok" shots of it out of the bus window, so if you REALLY want to see it, let me know and I will email you a picture.

Our first stop this morning would be the Capitol building. You have to stand in line to get tickets to tour the Capitol. We waited in line for about 1 1/2 hours and they sold out before we got to the front. While we waited, we snapped some pictures.

Hannah and her friends. I really LOVE this picture. After much grumbling from the kids.. "We waited in line for nothing???", "That was stupid..." etc., we walked up the hill and went to the Library of Congress.

The kids may not have been excited, but I was BESIDE myself at the joy of seeing THE Library!

Let me say first in my defense of this picture, that I had already taken it, when I realized that it was not allowed...
A GUTENBERG BIBLE!!! I said, "Hannah, do you know what this is?" and she said, "Mom, its just a Bible... we have those at home." (OK, so the Page in me is coming out, she may not have said those exact words, but her sheer look of boredom expressed that sentiment) So, I explained the relevance of it to her, she was slightly more impressed, but not much. I, however, was thrilled! You can check out this link to see more about the Gutenberg Bible.
I must say that the inside of the Library of Congress is perhaps the most beautiful building I have ever been in. These pictures just don't do it justice. You can't take a picture of a massive room like this and get the full effect. This is the great hall.

This is the ceiling of the 2nd floor hallway (which you see from the great hall). Really this is a STUNNING building. If we could have spent more time in any of the buildings we saw, this would be my choice. I could have spent hours in it.

Our next stop was the Supreme Court building (next door to the LOC), we actually ate lunch in the basement. This building was also impressive, but very "cold" feeling. We got to go into the court room, and they told us about the way things are done. It was interesting.

This is the ceiling of one of the hallways (actually, I guess it is the main hallway leading from the front steps to the courtroom itself) I noticed this flower motif, in several buildings. I thought it was pretty.
When we left the Supreme Court building, we are pretty sure we saw President Bush's motorcade. We had seen some other "short" motorcades and were told they were not the President, that we would "know" when we saw a Presidential motorcade. So this motorcade, was about 10 motorcycles, and 10 black SUV's long and the back SUV had its back open so the secret service to fire if needed. (that is how it was explained to us)

Next we walked down Constitution Avenue to the National Archives. Again, I was beside myself at the thrill of seeing what was inside! (For those who are interested, the movie "National Treasure" was NOT filmed in the building.)
We saw the Magna Carta, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, The Gettysburg Address, just an amazing assortment of documents. They had a room that had things from Presidents' schooling (report cards etc), and a room of letters sent to the Presidents' (there was a letter to FDR or Eisenhower maybe, from Fidel Castro when he was a kid... he asked for a $10 bill, because he had never seen one before...) It was a fascinating building.
After we finished there, we went to the Old Post Office for dinner (the Old Post Office is now a mall). We were looking forward to our "Illumination Tour" after Dinner, my next post will have all those pictures, but I didn't want to overwhelm you by having it all in one post!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Day 3- Yorktown and Monticello

April 10- We started the day at Yorktown. This is the place of the last battle (or the last important battle.. or something. I think Cornwallis surrendered here) of the revolutionary war.
At Yorktown, they have a farm, set up like the 1770's, and a military post. The farm had some interesting things. We found out that they had a house, and they had a kitchen or "cookhouse" separate from the house. This is so they didn't have to live with the smoky smells all day. They showed us how they lived. At this point I must admit, I was not paying too much attention. I spent the tour outside photographing a turkey. He fascinated me. I am not sure why.. I have seen turkeys before. I just took about 10 pictures of him. I did snap back to pay attention to the tour guide as she told us how they made linen from flax. Did you know that it takes an acre of flax to make one set of linen sheets? No wonder linen is expensive!
The military post was a bit more interesting. They had a bunch of pup tents set up. They had 6 people go inside. They were very cramped standing there in the tent. Then the guide said, this is how many people were assigned to each tent. MAN! No wonder sickness was an issue for soldiers then. If your tent mate was sick then you were sure to get sick too. The commander's tent was a nice roomy tent about 20x20. It slept just the commander. Had a desk, table, bed, Chandelier type candle... I think he was a little spoiled compared to his men!

Next we boarded the bus on our way to Monticello. This was about a 2 1/2 hour trip. (did I mention that the bus had 20 inch flat screen tv's all the way back?? We did get to watch a few good movies.. mixed in with a few teenybopper movies, like high school musical, blech) Anyhoo... this picture is of Hannah and her friends by yet another Dogwood tree...did I mention that I REALLY like Dogwood trees?
And I REALLY LOVE the pink Dogwood trees!!!!!
So, here we are at Monticello. Tim wanted me to have a picture taken with both Hannah and I, so here I obliged... The lighting was good, you can't see my flaws! Anyway, this was a wonderful place. I was in awe of the buildings here. I can't imagine being that well to do!

I loved the grounds. Full of flowers and trees. I could imagine spending time on the porch here and reading my book and sipping iced tea...

And one more shot of Hannah with the house in the background. After the tour, we got back on the bus, headed for a pizza hut in Charlottsville, had dinner, and then drove the rest of the way to the hotel in Springfield, VA which was our home for the next 4 nights.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Day 2- Jamestown and Williamsburg

Monday- April 9th. We started out at Jamestown. Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in the New World. We took a tour of all the village settings (docks, Indian village, settlement) and the museum. Here are some highlight pictures:

I was pretty shocked at how small the ships were. I can't imagine coming across the ocean in this! (and this is the BIGGEST of the 3 ships!) Also, we were told that the passengers were essentially treated like cargo, never coming up to the deck of the ship, not being able to get out and walk around, etc. I don't think that I would have had it in me to be a settler in the new world!

The buildings are made in the old English style. Mud and wood. In England, there was little wood to be used, so they used the Mud style. In the new world, they still used the mud and wood style, not because they were lacking wood, there was PLENTY of wood here, but because this is what they knew how to build!

I made Hannah pose with the dogwood tree. I LOVE dogwood trees, we had one in our front lawn in Portland. I wonder if Dogwood would grow in Santa Maria?

After lunch we headed to Williamsburg. I had some trouble with Hannah on the bus, but they had a great tool for me to use as soon as we got off the bus in Williamsburg! I didn't let them nail her ear to the stocks, like they would have done in the past, but I did make her suffer through yet another picture!

Williamsburg is a town where people actually still live, but they block off the streets to autos from 8 am to 10 pm, so if you live in one of the 125 houses occupied in Colonial Williamsburg, you have to walk during the day! Or you can take one of these, but of course you need to pay AND make reservations, so that might not be too convenient to get to the store.

With no auto traffic and buildings like this, it is easy to imagine how Colonial residents of Williamsburg lived. It also helps that there are lots of people dressed in Colonial garb, to give you the "real" experience.
There are people who are dressed up, but from our time, and there are people who are "actual colonial residents". If you should strike up a conversation with one of these residents, they may stop you and say "pardon me, but what is this "dude" that you are speaking of? I have not heard that term before." Or they may ignore you all together if you don't address them in a language that they would recognize.

Hannah bought a hat (she HAD to have it.. although a few days later she confessed that she may never wear it again.. we decided that she could hang it on her wall.) and of course I made her pose for a picture!
After dinner, we took a "Lantern tour" of the town. Each leg of the trip, the guide would let someone else carry the lantern.. well you KNOW that Hannah wanted to do that! And she made it happen!
We had another great day, it was long, but very fun. We got back to the hotel at about 10pm.. off to bed, breakfast is at 7am!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Isn't she cute???!!!!

A break from our trip pictures to bring you this cute picture of Bekah, age 3. This is a scan of a polaroid picture snapped on Mother's day 2001 (a gift from her, a Sunday School craft). It has been on my refrigerator ever since. As I was opening the door today, I thought, "I need to scan that or it will be too late someday"... so I did. Now I am sharing it with you.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tales of our Travels... Day One.

So, we left Santa Maria, at 4:30pm on Saturday, April 7th. We got on a tour bus (we were bus ONE of the two.. we were on the FUN bus!) and headed to LAX. We got about 30 minutes from home when the bus driver pulled to the side of the road and we waited for bus 2 to catch up, because it was "acting funny". We sat there for about 10 minutes and then turned around and headed back to find bus 2. So now we have been gone for an hour and are still only 20 miles from home! Quite a start.
We got to LAX and went through the first of many security screenings on our trip. Then got on our plane at 10:50pm and flew to Baltimore.

We arrived in Baltimore at 6:30 am. They let us change clothes and freshen up in the airport. After picking up our bags and making sure everyone was where they were supposed to be (the joy of traveling with 75 people... keeping track of you buddy group!), we got on the buses and headed to breakfast. Bus ONE had the best driver, Fred. He was really fun all week, and I can't tell you how many times I thought to myself, "there is NO WAY, this bus will go there!" and yet Fred managed to get it there!

We had breakfast before heading to our first tour. Old Annapolis.

Our tour guide, dressed in colonial garb, took us to the Capitol building (once the capitol of the united states) and showed us where George Washington resigned his military commission to return home after the war.
The guide was well versed on architecture, able to tell us "georgian" designs and such. But if you asked him what that blooming tree was, his reply was always "I'm not sure."
Then we walked down to the Naval Acadamy. Being Easter sunday, we couldn't go into the beautiful chapel (which has the tomb of John Paul Jones under it) because they were having services.
We did however get to walk past it and learn all about the Naval Academy (including the fact that ALL of the students live under one roof... they only have one HUGE dorm)
The midshipmen were getting ready to host an Easter egg hunt, so they were out in the lawns throwing colored eggs around...
You don't see THIS everyday at the Naval Academy!!!!
After a stop at the gift shop, we boarded the bus to lunch at Fudruckers. Then we got back on the bus and drove to Williamsburg, Virginia. It took about 3 hours. We got to the Williamsburg area around 6 pm and had dinner. Then checked into the hotel and went to bed! This was a LONG day!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Getting ready for DC!!!!!!!!

Ok, so how is a California girl supposed to pack for a trip to DC in April??? I go to and check out the forecast... 50 degree high on Sunday (the day we arrive)... warming up to maybe 68 degrees and raining on Wednesday... back down to the low 50's toward the end of the week!
I can only have one suitcase and it has to weigh less than 50lbs! I don't even know where to begin... I guess my capri's and sandles are not practical...I will let you know how this turns out later!