Monday, April 11, 2011

Adult Spring Break


With the selflessness borne of a full decade of parenting, Matt and I dropped the kids with my parents last week and set out on our own little vacation.

It's around a nine-hour drive from their place in North Carolina to Washington, DC, our destination. We rolled along, I-26 to I-81, through the mountains and the hills. We watched out the windows. We chatted. We were silent. We listened to a lecture about a Middle English poem. We looked at cows. We listened to a Fresh Air interview with Jon Hamm. About six hours into the drive, I said, "I don't even feel like we've been in the car that long."  Matt waved his hand over his shoulder, back toward the seats that weren't occupied by our children. "It's because there's none of that," he said.

We got to stay with my brother Dave and his wife Kate, who are really fun. And dang, when you don't have kids with you, you can cover a lot of ground.  Here is our itinerary, with snapshotty illustration.

Day 1: Dave dropped us at the Jefferson Memorial. We got our Jefferson on, then walked on around the tidal basin to the FDR Memorial. Comparative memorial architecture was discussed, with Matt being on Team Lincoln and me on Team Edward. Oh Edward. Wait, I mean Team Franklin!

New Deal
Matt said, "Look like you want a New Deal." 
The cherry blossoms were in full force, and they were gorgeous. This memorial is all stone and water, and the trees took it to a whole 'nother level of beauty. It worked. Oh, and also, in the picture above, I'm modeling the warm-up jacket and puffy vest combo that I wore the entire trip. I recommend this highly utilitarian ensemble, but all our photos look like one long day, because I'm wearing the same clothes. Often, Matt and I both had our puffy vests on at the same time. Don't worry, you'll get to see.

Then we wanted to head on around the tidal basin to the Washington Monument. I've never been up in it, but anyway, I think it is one of those buildings that is best appreciated from afar.

washington monument

So to get from the FDR Memorial down to the little path that hugs the water, we had to get over a chainlink fence that the city fathers had placed there to corral the Cherry Blossom Festival crowds. I was studying the fence, planning my approach, when suddenly something whooshed by my shoulder. It was Matt, vaulting over the fence. Then he was kind enough to grab me under the arms and haul me over.

Adult Spring Break is dignified like that.

Then we walked around to where the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is under construction. We peeked through the fence and could see the big statue of him. Lookit. You can see his face up there.

MLK Memorial Under Construction

Then I stepped back from the fence and almost knocked a jogger into the water, causing Matt to tell me that I shouldn't have stepped backwards like that, but honestly, she was too quiet, sneaking around jogging, and it's not like she actually fell in. Let her have her moment of cursing hapless tourists. I sail on.

Then an older lady power-walking on the path in those "shape-up" sneakers fell down right in front of us, hard. I knelt down and asked her where she was hurt, and she said her ankle. Sure enough, her ankle started to swell up in an alarming way. We helped her sit up, and then stand, but she wouldn't let us call anyone or walk with her, and instead hobbled off back to her office. We thought we better leave the tidal basin before anyone got seriously hurt. Adult Spring Break is hazardous.

Then we walked across the Mall to the Museum of American History.  Overall we did not think much of the big renovation they did, but it still has some of our favorite stuff.  Like the First Ladies' Dresses.

michelle's dress
ZOMG it's Michelle's Inaugural Gown! 
Dave joined us and we did that museum and then walked over to the Old Post Office, but the tower was closed (awesome view and still free), and then we walked down the street to the National Archives. Now, at some point in the past, I remember just walking up the front steps and right into the rotunda with no waiting. These days, not so much.

There was a line out the side of the building, and just huge crowds inside. I was like, "These people know there's not really a treasure map on the back of the Declaration, right?" Dave said the crowd was because of the Cherry Blossom Festival, but I blame Glenn Beck and his exhortations that his flock should study the words of the Founders.

So then we called it a day, but dang, we couldn't have done half of that with kids. My feet were tired and I was thinking about asking Matt to carry me, I don't know how Hank could have lasted.

Day 2: We drove out to Mount Vernon.  I don't know what gave us that idea, but the weather was fantastic. I love house museums, and that place is well worth a trip. However, once we realized that part of National Treasure 2: The Book of Secrets was filmed there, it brought on paroxysms of Nicholas Cage impressions that were unstoppable and that continued the whole week. Like so.

The camera is a little jiggly because I was laughing.

dave and me
My funny brother and me on the porch at Mt. Vernon

That night we went out for swanky drinks downtown with Jenni and Nelson, and then we ate at the Old Ebbitt Grill, because I wanted to dine with the power elite. We were seated next to some congressman I didn't recognize who was there with his staff, and he was getting all cuddly with this chick, which did not escape our notice, and then as we were leaving his younger aide was in the foyer cautioning him to be more discreet. Good crab cakes too.

jennie and me
Jenni and Me
Day 3: Dave, Matt and I went up to Dupont Circle to the Phillips Collection museum for Impressionist and modern art. I went to college in D.C. and had never heard of this, but Elle tipped me off.  It's in one of those mansions near Mass Ave. This is wonderful and you should not miss it if you are in town. However, this is not one of those museums that is knocking itself out with "Discovery Zone!" type stuff for kids. More like, "Here, you may seal your child tightly in this bag, place it in the coatroom, and retrieve him when you exit the museum."

Then we came out of the museum and it was raining, but we made it across the way to Kramerbooks. We used to love to come here when we were in college, so we got to relive the founding myths of our relationship. An agreeable way to spend a rainy day.

Then Katie arrived in their car and picked us up at the door, depositing us at the Natural History Museum. Having a driver is awesome. And we had so much fun wandering around what is probably Matt's favorite of the Smithsonian museums. It seems like it never changes, at least not in essentials.

natural history

He loves this place so much that I just left him alone to commune with the bones. I think a museum cafe is the best place in the world to be on a rainy day, so I repaired there with Katie and Dave. Oh, and we did push our way through the crowds to see the Hope Diamond and all that jazz.  Could not believe the crowd in that room. Could not believe. But seeing this elephant was a sweet and nostalgic end to our DC time.

Then we saw Matt's cousins who also live on Capitol Hill, literally around the corner from Dave, and we drank wine and ate salami. Then we ate some more and watched the news of the budget deal and watched some Drunk History on YouTube. Then there may have been more Nicholas Cage.

Oh my Lord we had such a good time, and believe it or not, there's more to tell you.  But we will leave it here. I also have less-crappy photos, but darned if these camera phones aren't so convenient.

Did you have a nice week? Was it your Spring Break? We are back to the grind today. By which I mean, I'm blogging, visiting my neighbors, and tending the kids while Matt works his ass off.



Star said...

A lovely, lovely post. I was really enjoying it, and then you said you loved historic house museums and that made it even better...I work in one of the most fascinating (I think, anyway!) historic house museums in the whole wide world! It's like an authentic time capsule from the late 19th century, with all the original Italian Renaissance art and furniture collections of these two aristocratic brothers, who wanted to live like Renaissance princes! All the paintings, maiolica, arms, armor, vases, chairs, tables and etc. are all still in their original places. It's called the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum, and is in for your next spring break, come see me in Milan! (bi-lingual web site, and information cards, audio cards and e-mail newsletter in English...are we cool, or what?!:; if you want to write to me at work: Hope you do get to come!

Jenni said...

I've watched that video of Dave 3x, it's so funny.

Good seeing you and meeting your people. So fantastic and fun. Thanks for inviting us otu.

Elizabeth said...

I read your post and wept -- partly because I'm happy that you got this time away with your husband and partly because I had to cancel my own Washington D.C. spring break plans with my boys because of chicken pox. I'm still weeping, now, for me -- sorry to be so selfish.

Becky said...

Oh Elizabeth, I am so sorry. Of course you are disappointed. Chicken pox, dang! Maybe you guys can make it a June trip before it gets too hot there.

Star, that museum looks amazing. I would love to have some couple time in Italy!

Jenni, I laugh every time I see it. So glad you came out and Happy Birthday again!

Aimee said...

Gorgeous! I love DC in the springtime. The MLK memorial looks like it's going to be incredible. Glad you had a great time. :)

Kate said...

I do hope if you are ever on I-81 going south past roanoke, va you will give me and fraught a buzz!!!

Veronica said...

Looks like a great trip! I went to DC for the first time this last February and I loved it -- can't wait to go back!

Common Household Mom said...

I love DC. I used to live there. I tried to convince my daughter to go to college there, but she would have none of it. And it looks like there's a new reason to go back - to see the MLK memorial. Thanks for the tour.

Elle said...

I was glad to tell you, but remind you the suggestion came straight from my man. I was the one who was Library of Congress! Don't eat overpriced cafeteria food!, pedestrian concerns, etc.

If I woke up married to one of the Koch Bros, you had better believe driver tops the list. Before housecleaner and cook. Probably after island, though. Yes.

See you xo

Amy said...

You forgot the part where you all sat around and said to each other that it would've been much more fun with meeeee there!!

Those are great pics...and Dave's Nicholas Cage impression is hilarious.

Cori Curtis said...

Washington DC was a popular spring break destination this year! My husband and I went in early March during grad school spring break, and we had several sets of friends go recently. I love the city because there's so much to see for free! Looks like you had a great time. Thanks for sharing some of the treasures of DC I hadn't heard of before.

Beth said...

What a fab post. I am super jealous, though, of your Adult Spring Break. We just got off of two weeks of the elder child's spring break, during which we did a few day thingys but couldn't go anywhere because Steve couldn't get off of work. Which is total BS. Anyhoo, the real BS is that next week the little one has spring break. The hell? They can't sync that up somehow? So I've got three weeks of spring break with a kid at home and no place to go.

Sob. You feel sorry for me, right?

Keely said...

I'm so jealous of your break! It looks like it was so much fun.

Back to the regular grind now! *cracks whip*

Elizabeth - Flourish in Progress said...

A trip without children....i have to walk away now....the jealousy is taking hold of my body.

AM said...

You look mahvelous with all of that hair. Glad you got a great trip with the hubs. DC is so much fun.

Elizabeth said...

I completely love your hair right now. Almost as much as I love DC.


Dave said...

We loved having y'all up here and meeting Jenni and Nelson. You guys were really efficient in hitting lots of sites while you were here.

BTW, I spent another day or so perfecting my Nick Cage impression. Now I need another National Treasure sequel to come out so I can use it.

gretchen said...

Many thoughts...
1. Loving the hair.
2. So jealous that you got a kid free getaway! Dang.
3. Dave's Nicholas Cage is better than Nicholas Cage's Nicholas Cage.
4. You really captured the "I want a new deal" look.
5. How tall is that man of yours anyway? Mine is short, dang it. More fodder for my Matt-crush.
6. LOVED seeing you and Jenni together!