Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Days 13-16: Washington, D.C., as told by Ashton

Hey guys (and girls)! It’s me, Ashton, and I’m back to tell you what we did in D.C.

First of all, we got to stay at our friend Margaret’s house and it was AWESOME. JUST AWESOME. My room had a couple soft, comfy beds that Silas and I shared. SO inviting after days (and days and days and days and days) of sleeping on the floor. Also, it was the first place we stayed at that had more than one bathroom. The hotels, Tal and Anita’s apartment, and the Shumways' house all had one bathroom. It was CHAOTIC at times, especially at the Shumways' with 13 people in a small house with one bathroom. But it was worth it to be with our cousins and aunts and uncles.

Anyways, we all had a wonderful time at Margaret’s house. We stayed there for three nights, and then had a sleepover at Eli and Julie’s apartment for our last night in D.C. During the days we saw a lot of cool stuff in DC.  

During the Retreat on Saturday, Eli took me and Isaac (the younger kids were at our Aunt Michelle’s - Dad's sister) to the second National Air and Space museum (the one in a big hangar). We saw the Discovery space shuttle (the real, 100% legit one) and tons of other cool planes/spaceships/satellites/missiles. We saw the SR-71 Blackbird (the fastest manned jet in existence). The hangar is where they filmed a scene in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. There was a missile called the Poseidon C-3 that went 6,000 MPH. Here it is:

The museum was awesome! We got back to Margaret’s house and just chilled out, watched TV, jumped on the trampoline, and had fun outside in the awesome backyard while mom got the whole someone-else-accidentally-taking-her-keys-thinking-they-were-theirs incident fixed up.

We hit the road and saw some other memorials and stuff, then went to an AMAZING place for dinner called We, the Pizza (awesome name IMO). We went to Eli’s condo and had a “sleep” over. I didn't get much sleep. I slept on three couch cushions and they kept slipping apart because the wood floor was slippery (I could have slept on the air mattress but I don’t sleep in the same bed as other people. That’s weird). Somehow, at 2 am, I woke up in the kitchen. Another time, the cushions were strewn across the floor. It wasn't fun. But it was worth it to stay in Eli's super cool apartment. I loved the modern art and photographs all around the apartment that Eli and Julie did themselves and they had really awesome light fixtures and big windows with great views. I would love to live in that exact apartment someday. Their neighborhood (Capitol Hill) was really amazing - there was a huge old ship nearby and all these old beat-up warehouses had been turned into cool shops and restaurants plus there were great parks.

Here's us with Eli on the roof of Eli's condo building:

So in the morning (of the day I’m writing this), we had a wonderful breakfast of German pancakes for Eli's first Father's Day and said our goodbyes to Eli, Julie, and their cute, adorable, lovable, tiny, friendly, smiley, wonderful, awesome, beautiful, curious, smart, young, amazing baby Zara. I will miss her (and Eli and Julie) soooooo much!

Here's when we first met our new cousin Zara - our first morning in DC.

We went to the White House and saw the place right down the street where my mom used to work (The Points of Light Foundation). She had actually been in the White House for lots of different things. 

Here's where my mom worked for a few years - she helped give awards to people who were doing great service to their communities and helped run "Make a Difference Day" - this national day when everyone's supposed to do service projects.

We also got to check out the Metro - this is the stop my mom got off at every day for work. Sort of looks like something from Star Wars. The twins LOVED it.

Here we are at the White House. It was interesting to see security guys walking around on the roof with guns.

The White House was smaller than I thought it would be; I was thinking more Capitol-sized.

Speaking of which, a few days earlier, I had my second tour of the Capitol (the first was a couple years ago when I went to visit my Aunt Michelle). 

The capitol tour was really cool; we watched a movie about how the government works and went up to the crypt and the rotunda. We learned about how they needed three guys to finish the painting that went all the way around the dome; one almost fell and developed a fear of heights, one died, and finally the last one finished it. 

We then went to the Library of Congress (not my favorite).


Then we were heading down to the Mall to go to more museums and we got caught in a crazy, sudden rain/wind storm that lasted for about 5 minutes then left as fast as it came. 

Here's the storm rolling in behind us:

Here's a picture taken right as the storm hit (by a guy who was trying to figure out our camera as the wind got worse and worse):

We huddled on a porch of the Capitol with a bunch of people in purple shirts – lots of tour groups in D.C. - while the wind and rain went crazy for a while.

When the rain let up a bit, we headed down the mall and found this - a tour bus with our name on it!

Then we saw the first Air and Space museum. We got to go on these cool simulators where one person gets to be the pilot and one gets to be the gunner and you get to tilt back and forth and even do spins while you try to shoot down airplanes. I also liked the space station you could walk through and learning about different space missions and seeing the old airplanes.

The day after that, we went to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (Eli got us tickets). They took us on a tour and showed us how many layers of security are put on the bills so they can’t be counterfeited. You could buy legit strips of bills that weren't cut into individual pieces yet. We also saw a bunch of other bills, going from $500 to $100,000. They were discontinued in the 20th century.

The next day, we were surprised and excited that Julie and Zara could join us to see the American and Natural History Museums. (too bad the Washington Monument is under construction)

I thought that the Hope Diamond was really cool and Isaac and Eliza loved all the cool rocks - they're really into rocks. 

The exhibit in the ANHM about transportation had a cool movie with clips from lots of car chases and scenes involving different kinds of cars. The twins loved the trains. Plus, we saw the first car that went on a road trip across the US in 1904. It was a lot harder for them than it is for us.

We saw the lunch counter from Woolworths where some brave black teenagers sat for days even though everyone kept mocking them and trying to make them leave.

We touched a rock from Mars (and one from the Moon at the Air and Space Museum)

Back to the present.

On our final evening in DC, we went to the Vietnam, Korean War, Lincoln and MLK Jr. Memorials. I really liked the MLK one. It had tons of MLK Jr. quotes, and the build was based off of one of his quotes: “In the mountains of despair, a stone of hope.” They’re getting rid of that quote as well as another one, because it makes him sound arrogant. There was a big statue of him carved out of a rock. Silas posed by it and tried to copy what he was doing. He did a pretty good job IMO.

Oh, and we also visited the first house my mom lived in in McLean, VA - she lived here when she was 1,2 and 3 and then again in 5th and 6th grade. Now there are condos crowding up the place and the big trees my mom used to have a swing in are cut down but the house is still there.

We also got to see the woods where she used to play:

And her old school (right near the house):

Overall, D.C. was an amazing experience. It was really awesome to see where our government is run and how everything works. It was great to be able to see our new cousin Zara and see Eli and Julie plus get to know Margaret and her family. It was so green and pretty everywhere and there was SO much to see. We have a lot more to see when we got back some day!


Eyrealm said...

Oh Ashton, you are absolutely amazing! I LOVED seeing all this through your eyes. Interesting that you liked Eli and Julie's house better than the Library of Congress. I can see why!

Pouring all this information into your head is a good call because you have an amazing mind and an amazing memory! You'll never forget this epic trip!

Cath said...

Your kids have been such troopers! Amazing. And your pics are making me homesick for DC. xo

shawni said...

Oh man so awesome. Ash, you are a great writer just like your mama and it sure sounds like you had more than a few amazing adventures!! Love u and can't wait to see u so soon!!

Becky said...

Thank you Ashton for your great post! This will really help us plan our trip with our kids!


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