Monday, April 11, 2011
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.