So, we played hooky today.
I know, bad Mom, right? Weeelll, we were driving into Arlington and about to head to Sunday school and I just couldn't stop thinking about how gorgeous it was outside. Not too cold, sunny, and the air so clean and crisp. What if we just had a quick lunch and then spent the afternoon in the city? Given that the inaguration is tomorrow (and while I toyed with the notion of going, common sense quickly squealched that idea), it seemed like it would be the ideal time.
We stopped at our favorite cafe in Arlington, Northside, for "lunch." While I had salmon and an egg, the kids chose the far more flavorful route (to them, I guess) of chocolate mousse and granola with an orange blossom doughnut (you will never, EVER consider Dunkin' Donuts after you have a doughnut from Northside). We then got back into the car and drove a whopping 5 minutes into the city. Despite the millions of tourists, we quickly found street parking (and free since it's Sunday.).
One quick rant: Being a tourist does not give you a free pass for a poor parking job, mmmm-k?
It seemed like a rather whirlwind trip and even with the crowds, we had a chance to see many of the monuments. Basically, we kept going until the little legs could not go anymore. We first walked past the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Kelsey and Nick were asking questions, and while I tried to answer correctly, it was a bit hard. I mean, please tell me I'm not the only person who gets choked up everything single time she visits? I ended up giving short answers and hope they sufficed.
The Lincoln was a bit easier and while terribly full of people, we still had a good view. Also, I would like to confirm that the iPhone is THE camera of the American tourist. At least it seemed that way today.
We spent a bit of time at the Reflecting Pool before viewing the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the Way to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument. Oh, one more brief rant: I know some people insist that it seems like children are less respectful these days. Do you know why? At least today, they had a few very poor examples to follow.
As we passed the Korean War Memorial, I reminded Nick about respect, especially with regard to the monuments. I pointed out the "no wading or standing" in the fountain area directly adjacent to the memorial. Not 5 minutes later, Nick asked, "Why are those people standing where you told me we can't stand?"
We then turned to exit and walk towards the MLK, Jr. Memorial. We saw a path from the area of the Korean War Memorial, but then noticed the sign and a fence blocking the entrance. It wasn't a true path and was actually an area of turf reconstruction. We turned to head to the proper exit, but not before we heard a few 30-something women discussing where to exit.
Sure enough, the ringleader of the group instantly decides, "It's okay to use that path because everyone else is doing it."
I gave her the look of death (especially as we had just discussed this very topic!), but left it at that due to the nature of the weekend. Two minutes later, when we were out of earshot, Kelsey said, "Well, just because everyone else is doing it doesn't make it okay!"
See folks? Let's take a bit of that blame we reserve for kids, and put it back on ourselves. If we don't set the right example, how do we expect kids to follow?
Despite a horrific time crossing Independence Avenue (not only can tourists not park, they can't read "No Walk" signs either), we finally made it to the "King Luther" Memorial. It was packed, but gorgeous. I had never seen it up close before and didn't realize just how grand it was. It felt as though we were walking through mountains and then we saw the engraving of Martin Luther King, Jr., in the side of the stone. Absolutely beautiful and Nick was thrilled to see it in person at long last. (As expected, it's a huge topic in our house right now).
Nick then insisted we could walk to the Jefferson, but we were all beginning to tire. Oh, and the bathroom called. Thank goodness I had my State ID with me, as Nick seems to have an eternal fear of porta potties and outdoor public bathrooms. No idea, but hoping it will dissipate over time.
I thought our visit was over after our brief stop at State, but then both of them felt like giving Einstein a visit. He definitely ranks as the cuddliest monument, and probably Nick's favorite next to the Washington Monument. And with that, three hours later we were headed home with a very complete day behind us. While I wish I had the energy to get us all to the Inauguration, I think a visit to the city the day before was just as fulfilling. Some days it seems exhausting to live in this area...and other days I remember why I absolutely love it.