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Friday, December 19, 2008

We're baaaaaaaaaaack!

(This post was written on Thursday, 12/18)

So here I sit in the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, with sounds of a vacuum cleaner in the nearby gift store and the chatter of non-English speaking travelers in my ears. Brian is sitting next to me, very involved in an ESPN Q&A article that undoubtedly goes on to explain why there is more to football than grunting and life-threatening injuries. And thus, we are on the home stretch of our vacation to Washington DC.

A special thank you to Daddy Nelson and Allison for guest blogging while I was away—I hope they kept you entertained. I also hope that they didn’t inadvertently lower your opinion of me, but I guess they probably didn’t point out anything regarding my character/personality that you weren’t already aware of just from reading my ramblings on here. But anyway, I’m glad that they provided some extra reading material in my absence.

We started our trip on Sunday and were greeted at the airport in Washington by our friends, Chris and Casey, who are married and go to seminary out here. They were kind enough to let us crash at their apartment for 2 nights of our stay, and the first night they even gave us a brief tour of some of the harder-to-reach-by-the-metro spots around town. (Side note: In order to prevent anyone from falling asleep while reading this, I’m going to refrain from listing every single thing we saw and did. Besides, I'm not sure there is enough room on the world wide web to list it all anyway…). I’ll just make sure to hit the highlights.

We had a nice dinner with them in Alexandria, VA, on Sunday night and then went back to their apartment to play a few (hundred?) rounds of Scattergories. In case you have never played a game with me and my wonderful husband, then you have yet to learn that things can get a little bit feisty. We are both a tad on the competitive side, and let’s just say that insults flow a little more freely when points and/or the title of “winner” are involved. Fortunately, Chris and Casey had a little bit more light-hearted approach to the game, so no blood was shed (even when Brian cheated and tried to use the words “little Coke” for things found in a hotel room that start with the letter “L”… seriously, Brian? Seriously?)**.

It is hard to describe Monday without becoming overwhelmed with exhaustion just thinking about it. Apparently Chris is a seminarian by day and a hardcore Washington DC tour guide by night. Not only does he try to fit in the most activities/attractions possible, but he also happens to walk at the speed of light. Brian and I were both fairly convinced after traversing miles of terrain to see all of the important monuments that our legs were either going to fall off or cease functioning. Fortunately neither happened, but we were pretty sore by the end of the day.

It was unseasonably warm for December that day and got up to around 65 degrees, so the tricky part was having enough layers to stay warm in the shade or while standing still (which, let’s be honest, rarely happened that day), but having enough arms to carry the shed layers indoors/in the sun/while walking upwards of 15 mph between each monument. Fortunately I brought a purse large enough to carry a small child inside, and extra-fortunately, Brian was willing to carry my coat for me, most likely in order to avoid listening to me complain… but he got to hear a bit of that anyway :o) We wrapped up the night with dinner nearby their apartment, another few (less intense) rounds of Scattergories, and a viewing of Christmas Vacation. Oh, and let’s not forget that Brian spent the majority of the evening trying to get their 2 cats—Max and Olive—to rumble, street fighter style. No such luck, but they were still fun to watch.

Casey drove us to our hotel on Tuesday morning (thanks, Casey!). We stayed at the Omni Shoreham for those of you who are looking for a nice (seriously- very nice!) place to stay that isn’t overpriced. We decided to take the rest of the day at a bit of a slower pace… and by decided, I mean to say that our bodies were not physically capable of doing much after the whirlwind city tour of day 1. We made it to a few museums, spent a good amount of time at Starbucks, and finally met up with my friend from high school, Alexis, and her boyfriend for pizza. And I should note here that I’m not really sure how I am still able to breathe with the amount of food that I consumed, but I think that has something to do with the thousands (maybe I’m exaggerating) of miles we walked to burn it all off. Anyway, we made a stop at Alexis’s apartment, and then headed back to the hotel to collapse, err, I mean go to sleep.

On Wednesday (after we awoke from our comas), we managed to finish off the museums on our “to see” list, get an in-depth tour of the Capitol from a friend, AND go ice skating. This was my first time ever going ice skating outside, and while I feared that I was going to resort back to my age 7 ice skating skills and eat it in front of a large crowd of people, I managed to stay on 2 feet the whole time... and I may or may not have held onto Brian’s hand with a death grip for the first few laps. I’ll never tell. Regardless, it was a fun seasonal activity and a highlight of the trip for me… even if the elementary schoolers were lapping me left and right.

Our tour of DC came to an end this morning (Thursday) with a trip to the National Zoo. I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet that we came at the perfect time of year—the weather is cold, but definitely bearable, and there are very few other tourists around. We didn’t have to wait in line anywhere, and only rarely did we flee an exhibit in a museum in an attempt to escape screaming children on a field trip. Anyway, back to the zoo. It is really hard to pick which animal was my favorite, but the red panda was pretty darn cute. And the sloth bear. And the beaver. And pretty much all of the animals. What was not cute, however, was the cheetah that was ripping a bunny rabbit to shreds in front of our very eyes for its lunch. Um, I’m fairly sure that if I was a child visiting the zoo, that would more or less ruin the experience for me. But maybe that’s just me.

So now here we are, tired and ready to be back in our own bed, but thankful for a great vacation, and of course for time away from work (!!!!!!!!!!!!). I am actually sitting on the plane right now, and had the good fortune of sitting behind the most obnoxious person on the plane. He is seated in an exit seat (read: has NO seat in front of him), but still felt the need to lean his seat back as far as possible. And every few seconds, he shoves it back even further into my lap as if to ensure his spot as most annoying person in the entire world. Rude. I hope he reads this blog. Oh, and he just paged the flight attendant because his ear phones aren’t delivering optimal sound volume. A real winner.

And I know this is ridiculously long, but I can’t wrap up without highlighting some of the greatest things about visiting DC:

1. The metro: cheap, clean, and efficient! We made it to the airport in less than half an hour for only $1.35 a person!
2. The bathrooms are clean: You would think with thousands of people visiting these public attractions on a daily basis that the bathrooms would be filled with all sorts of communicable diseases, but they were seriously (for the most part) spotless. I’m impressed.
3. The weather: I guess I can just appreciate any place that has seasonally appropriate weather. And I know some people say that DC is humid, but those people have never been to Houston. It was raining for 2 of the days, but still my hair did not expand into a wavy and unsightly afro.
4. Almost everything is FREE! Well, the museums, monuments, etc. anyway. Other than ice skating and eating, we did not pay for a single activity while we were there. A very budget-friendly vacation indeed.

I highly recommend that you visit our nation’s capitol if you haven’t done so already, and I most definitely recommend going in December… before the holidays, that is. I'll try to put a link on here for pictures from Shutterfly soon. In the meantime, I hope you’re all having a great weekend before Christmas!

**Editor's note from Brian: Please comment and let Amanda know if you think "little Cokes" is an appropriate response. If not, don't worry about it. But I feel like at least one person will take my side on this one!


Colleen Pate said...

Brian, I think little coke is totally a thing that starts with L in a hotel room.

Have you guys ever played Taboo. That is our favorite game. I am also highly competitive. Sounds like you had a great trip to DC.


The Blogivers said...

Sorry Bri, gotta take Amanda's side on this one... but glad y'all had such a fun vacay!

Angela said...

Brian - NO, "little coke" is not an acceptable answer. I am a big fan of fair answers in the game of Scattergories, and "little coke" is not a fair answer. Nope. It's not.

Amanda - As you probably remember from this past summer (because I did try to fit my entire vacation onto the internet) we went to DC for a couple of days, and we, too, walked until I thought our legs were going to fall off. But I just could not pass up the opportunity to visit all of those free places! The only thing we did that did cost money was the Spy Museum...but that was definitely worth it! Glad you had a fun trip!

Risa Holland said...

Yay for DC!! And no, little coke is not a good answer...sorry Brian. :)