Monthly Archives: June 2009

Homeward Bound!

Homeward Bound!

Time to head home!

Leaving Washington D.C – Thursday morning

Oh, so happy to see that sign Friday afternoon!

Finally home!

After a week of eating strange food in D.C., we did the most important thing…unpacked the car and then drove to our neighborhood Mexican food restaurant to satisfy our cravings!  We love to travel…but man oh man, we love home!

Washington D.C. – Day 4

Washington D.C. – Day 4

Our fourth and final day in D.C. started out extremely early with a scheduled tour of the U.S. capitol building.  The new Capitol Visitor’s Center is absolutely gorgeous and naturally that is where the tour began and ended.  As you would expect, security is quite impressive and we are fairly certain the exterior doors to the Capitol Visitor’s Center are probably bullet proof…they were soooo heavy!

Us in front of the U.S. Capitol building

Anyway…back to the tour…it started with a video about America’s government and the history of the quote, “E Pluribis Unim” (“Out of Many, One”).  Next the tour stopped in the rotunda and while we were there we were interrupted by a walk-through of important people…probably Congress members…being escorted from one chamber of Congress to the other.  Next the tour stopped in Statuary Hall, which is the former home to the U.S. House of Representatives, but as more states were added to the Union, the House of Representatives eventually outgrew this space and had a new meeting area constructed.  The last and final stop on the tour of the capitol was the crypt.  This room was built to be the burial site of George Washington, but in the time between his death and the completion of the crypt, the family changed their mind and had him buried at Mount Vernon, Virginia instead.  Today the crypt is a multi-purpose room, currently housing statues given to the capitol by each of the original 13 colonies.

The ceiling of the rotunda in the capitol building.

After touring the capitol building, we walked over to the Holocaust Museum, but unfortunately when we got there and got our tickets, we weren’t going to get in until almost 2:00.  We also wanted to go to the National Archives and see the documents on display, but time wouldn’t allow us to do both, so we had to pick between the two.  Because we felt like the Holocaust is something we both already know alot about and because we have a pretty decent Holocaust Museum here in Houston, we decided to tour the National Archives.  I’m so glad we made that decision.

The wait to get into the National Archives was absolutely ridiculous.  You basically just line up outside the door and they only let a certain number of people inside at a time.  Of course this was the hottest day we had had since being there and the sun and lots of marble don’t mix well.  All I can say though is that the wait was totally worth it.

The Magna Carta – written in 1215 in England – signed by King John

This was the first thing we saw when walking into the National Archives rotunda – my jaw dropped when I realized what it was…just absolutely unbelievable to see an original document from the year 1215.  The beginnings of democratic government right there in front of me!

The Declaration of Independence – you can barely see most of the writing anymore – but what do you expect from a document written in 1777?

The U.S. Constitution – pg. 1

Signatures on the U.S. Constitution

the Bill of Rights

The National Archives was just downright cool.  It is just utterly amazing to me that they have been able to preserve these historic documents and that they are on display for us to see!  I know…I’m kind of a nerd…

After leaving the National Archives we had some time to kill before our night tour of the city, so we went to enjoy to capitol grounds and shade trees.

I personally think the back of the capitol is prettier than the front…

me in front of the fountain at the back of the capitol

Finally it was time for our much anticipated night tour of the city.  We are so glad that we did this…it was awesome!

the Lincoln Memorial…night approaching

Looking at the Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial, across the reflecting pool

the World War 2 Memorial

This wall of stars is in the WW2 Memorial and each star represents 100 men who fought and died for freedom in WW2.  Its quite amazing to see and even has its own reflecting pool.

Day 4 was tons of fun and was a wonderful way to end our vacation in D.C.  It’s been an awesome trip, but we are both ready to be back home.

Washington D.C. – Day 3

Washington D.C. – Day 3

Day 3 was much more low key than our first two.  This morning we took our time getting up and out of the hotel and stopped for bagels at a cafe a couple of blocks from the hotel on the way to the subway.

Our first stop today was at Arlington National Cemetery.

We took a tourmobile through the cemetery and one of the stops was at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.  This tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through wind, rain, snow, heat, and even hurricanes.  While at this stop we also got to witness the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, which takes place every 30 minutes.  It was such an awesome thing to see.

Soldier guarding the Tomb

Changing of the Guard Ceremony

The tourmobile tour through Arlington National Cemetery made several other stops as well.  Other stops included the Kennedy Family grave site, Robert Kennedy’s grave site, a memorial to the USS Maine which mysteriously exploded off the coast of Cuba, memorials to the space shuttles which have exploded, and the Arlington House – home to Robert E. Lee and his family before they left for Richmond, Virginia to lead to the Confederate troops during the Civil War.  Arlington National Cemetery is such an eye-opening experience.  The white headstones are literally row after row as far as the eye can see.

After visiting Arlington National Cemetery we came back to the neighborhood where the hotel is and had lunch and laid around the hotel room for a little while before heading out to Nationals Park to watch the Washington Nationals take on the Boston Red Sox. Tickets for this game were the very first things we bought for this trip…before we even booked a hotel room!  We have been looking forward to it for so long and we can now cross one more Major League Baseball Park off of our list…we’ve visited 2 together…only 28 more to go!

the view from our seats…we sat on the field level in center field…first row…they were awesome seats!

After the game was over…I even bought a Red Sox shirt to wear to the game!  And the Red Sox won!

We had a blast at the game and enjoyed watching a game in an outdoor stadium, unlike the air-conditioned comfort of Minute Maid Park when we watch the Astros!

Washington D.C. – Day 2

Washington D.C. – Day 2

Day 2 of our vacation to Washington D.C. led us back into downtown D.C. , but thankfully most of our day was spent inside museums and buildings…which means there was A/C!

First we waited in line for tickets to tour the Bureau of Engraving and Printing where the U.S. paper currency and postage stamps are made.  The tour is extremely interesting because you actually get to walk around and watch the money being printed, cut, and bound into individual stacks.  Unfortunately because of the nature of the tour and what you are seeing no photography is allowed…sorry…no pictures!

Our next stop was the Library of Congress.  This building is absolutely AMAZING!

The detail of the architecture and art both inside and outside of the building make it truly one of the more beautiful and unique buildings in all of D.C.

Fountains outside the Library of Congress

The view from the steps of the Library of Congress

One of many beautifully decorated ceilings in the Library

Ceiling in the main atrium of the Library

Another shot of the ceiling in the main atrium

Capitol Building

Supreme Court Building…those people all lined up were praying in front of the building

The Supreme Court building is absolutely a beautiful building with tons of detailed architectural work on the outside

Matt almost got a shot with nobody in front of the building…amazing in D.C.!

It was another busy day in D.C., but we had a blast.  We had toured the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, visited the Library of Congress, had lunch at Union Station, visited the Supreme Court and got to listen to a courtroom lecture in the actual courtroom of the Supreme Court (which was awesome) and then we boarded the Metro for the ride back to the hotel.  We had dinner in Georgetown just a few blocks from our hotel at a Chinese restaurant and then called it a night.

Day 3…coming soon!

Washington D.C. – Day 1

Washington D.C. – Day 1

Today was our first full day in D.C. and we are TIRED.  We toured the monuments and memorials today and our feet hurt…alot.  We have definitely determined that we are NOT city people.  Yes, we live in the 4th largest city in the U.S., but in Houston, we drive everywhere…there is no walking.  We’ve both determined that we really enjoy our cars…haha!  Anyways…we walked about 7 miles today, but we saw some really awesome things and ate some really good food!

The Washington Monument – we did not go inside…climbing to the top just does not appeal to either of us…at all…

First stop this morning – the World War II Memorial.  This is D.C.’s newest memorial and it is simply amazing!  It was so touching to see the veterans there who obviously never thought they would see this thing.

Each state, territory, and district of the United States that sent soldiers to fight in WW2 is recognized by a pillar – this particular pillar from Pennsylvania honors Matt’s grandfather who fought in the war.

WW2 Memorial Rainbow Pool with the Washington Monument in the background

Next stop…the Lincoln Memorial…yes…Matt was on the trip too!

Korean War Memorial

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial – Fireside Chats

Jefferson Memorial

Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Wall

After visiting all of the monuments and memorials along the National Mall area, we jumped back on the Metro Rail and road to another part of town to grab lunch at a tavern that had an awesome steak & cheese sandwich and then we spent a couple of hours walking around the Newseum.  Its an entire museum devoted to the evolution of news media, radio, tv, and printed, and its just plain cool.  They have a huge section of the Berlin Wall on display as well as a section of the antenna that was atop the World Trade Center before it collapsed on September 11.

We ended our extremely busy day with dinner at Luigi’s Famous Pizzeria just a few blocks from our hotel and we now understand why it is famous.  The food was DELICIOUS!  Its a good thing we don’t have one in Houston…haha!  More to come tomorrow…

1,400 Miles & 22 Hours Later…

1,400 Miles & 22 Hours Later…

We are in Washington D.C.!  We left Houston Friday morning about 9:00 and finally stopped for the night outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee after 14 hours of driving.  We had a great nights sleep and after a tasty continental breakfast at our hotel, we hit the road again and finished the last 600 miles and 8 hours today.

Us…after 2 LOOOOOONG days of traveling…

We pulled into D.C. about 5:00 and looked liked absolute hobos walking into our hotel.  We are staying at a REALLY nice 5-star hotel and our khaki shorts and t-shirts didn’t quite cut it when we rolled in this afternoon.

our hotel room at the Fairmont Hotel in D.C.

The daily maximum rate for our hotel room is a WHOPPING $829…OMG!  We somehow found it online for only $150 a night…how sweet is that?

…all of these goodies are of course, extra & will be added to your bill…gee…thanks.

The drive was really pretty and we had really great weather the whole way here.  We found several states we NEVER want to live in, but thats ok.  We are extremely glad that our car is parked in the hotel garage until Thursday and we will not be driving around D.C. until we put it in the rearview mirror.  These people drive like maniacs!

Tonight after we changed out of our hobo clothes and looked respectable, we wandered around the cute little neighborhood where our hotel is and found a teeny-tiny Italian restaurant to try…it was quite tasty!

Tomorrow we plan to visit the monuments and memorials, the Newseum, and the White House.  More to come tomorrow and plenty more pictures!

Katy, TX to Ooltewah, TN

Katy, TX to Ooltewah, TN

Pulling out of our garage Friday morning…

14 hours later…

In just 14 hours on day 1 of our trip, we made several observations…

  1. Men on motorcycles should always wear shirts large enough to cover their beer bellies blowing in the wind.
  2. People should NOT read comic books while driving down the interstate.
  3. If you are hungry – there is probably a Craker Barrel at EVERY SINGLE FREAKING exit.

On to D.C. tomorrow…