26 February 2012

February Break

Home again, home again.

We left Tuesday, and came home last night after four nights in Washington, DC and driving through seven states to get there and back.

[New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. West Virginia was not strictly necessary, but we left DC and went to the Dulles branch of Air and Space and ended up in Middleburg for lunch and then up 81 and you know how it is.]

Other than the hotel reservation, and a spot on a White House tour at 7:30 one morning, we had no plans. It's a good thing we didn't have any plans, because our Friday would have been totally FUBAR by the fact that our Capital tour was aborted by an "incident" - not midway through, we were asked to leave. So we detoured over to the Library of Congress for an hour, and got back to the Capital just as they were resuming tours.  The words "white powder" were heard. Who knows? When we asked the guard at the x-ray station what had happened, he said "just stuff". Perfect answer.

[My Danskos set off every single metal detector. Every one of them. At least they're easy to slip on and off.]

The hotel was ... odd. It bills itself as a luxury boutique hotel - but what it really is is eight furnished apartments. Nice, tasteful, even stylish - but with no maid service, no doorman, no lobby, no elevator, no room service, and hardly any staff. They do empty the trash daily, but they don't make the beds or straighten the towels in the bathroom. There's a kitchen with a fridge and a microwave and a coffee pot and enough dishes for two people - and a supermarket across the street, and a Starbuck's almost next door.  If you're looking for a fancy hotel with lots of amenities, this isn't it - but it was $150 a night, with a Jacuzzi and very nice sheets.

[Gas at the Exxon station in the shadow of the Watergate was $4.99 a gallon for regular. High test was $5.19. No, we didn't buy gas there, but I checked in on Foursquare just so I had an excuse to take a picture of the price sign.]

Because the hotel was a little off the beaten track - in Georgetown, a ten-minute walk up the hill from M Street - we ended up taking cabs into the middle of DC (instead of trying to find parking). Friday morning, we were picked up by a chatty older guy, who asked our daughter her name and proceeded to launch into a karaoke rendition of "Hello Dolly" using her name. Yes, a singing cabdriver. He entertained us all the way to the Capital and told us to check him out on YouTube.

[People in DC, especially the docents and volunteers and tour guides, were polite and helpful and refreshingly engaging.]

The Lego room at the Building Museum was fabulous. I loved seeing the First Ladies dresses. Little airplanes make my heart sing. Thomas Jefferson's library made my husband tell me he felt uneducated. Mount Vernon is a really nicely done historic site; when you're wandering around, there's almost no evidence of the 21st century. Arlington Cemetery is - like all of our national cemeteries - incredibly moving. The National Park Service does really good didactic literature.

[We didn't make it to the Mint because at 2:06 on Friday, I realized that the last tour was at 2:00. Oops.]

We had a few really good meals, spent some time with our niece (who's a senior in college which was part of the impetus for doing this trip this year), had dinner with a friend of mine from college, stumbled on a fine restaurant in Alexandria thanks to Yelp, stumbled on another fine restaurant in Middleburg by asking a guy on the street, and ate at a McDonald's in the middle of nowhere on the way home last night because it was ... easy.

[Actually, it was the first time I've ever had a Shamrock shake. It was like ice cold toothpaste, but kind of nice.]

Visiting in February turned out to be a good time to there. There were people everywhere, to be sure, but nothing was hugely crowded. We didn't have to wait at Mount Vernon, or at the Capital. It wasn't hard to find cabs or get dinner reservations.

[And the weather was unbelievably nice. Well, except for Friday when it poured down rain while we were ensconced in the building museum. But that doesn't count, right? We were inside for the rain.]

Yes, we had a good time. We'll have to go back - for the Spy Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Newseum, the Mint, and the Holocaust Museum. And probably some other things.


De said...

You'll want to go back though, because it's a great destination. I am in awe of all you managed to see. When it was just two adults we didn't manage as mUch.

Glad it was a safe trip & the white powder didn't getcha.

Bibliomama said...

I have actually BEEN to Washington D.C. (I haven't been that many places). I went to the Holocaust Museum and the Natural History Museum. I stayed in an almost comically crappy 'guest house' the first nice and then a very very nice one. And I'm still confused about shamrock shakes - I always thought they sounded appallingly bad, then had one a couple of years ago and could have sworn it was pistachio, not mint, and the McDonalds here hasn't had them since. It's a mystery.

mayberry said...

"Little airplanes make my heart sing" is my new favorite sentence. Probably my son's too.

Janet said...

I'd love to go down for the Cherry Blossom festival!

Liz Miller said...

I wish you had come NEXT week! Then I could have shmoozed with you!

She Curmudgeon said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip. I've never been for more than a weekend and haven't gotten to do more than gawk at the Mall and the Declaration of Independence. Even that made me all geekily happy.

First Ladies' dresses? Swoon.

painted maypole said...

We're looking to go with my family (parents, brother, SIL and niece and nephew) in summer of 2013 or 14 - when we think ALL the kids are old enough to get something out of it, without being so old that they eye roll at every juncture.

Kyla said...

Sounds like you packed a lot in. I've only been to DC once and it was a whirlwind 24 hours...didn't get to see much of anything besides the Capitol.