The trip

Last Thursday night, with the help of “Mappy” (our borrowed GPS unit, so christened by the girls), we drove up to Washington, DC, for a few days of fun with Aimee and her family. And millions of other people, as it turns out, although why I expected the crowds to be thinner in July I do not know. Lesson learned, along with the cardinal lesson of parenting, which is that your children will never enjoy the parts of the vacation that you think they will most benefit from. Also: food in museum cafes is very expensive.

On Friday we went to the Natural History museum, where we saw the elephant

And the blue whale

And my favorite animal, the penguin.

From 2009-07-20

Then we paid $22 (!) to see butterflies.

It was around this time that Phoebe stated she wanted to go back to the hotel. Instead, we pressed on to the National Air & Space Museum to find Amelia Earhart’s plane, which unfortunately was not on display due to exhibit maintenance. Also, the museum was absolutely thronged with people (had something to do with the anniversary of the moon landing, I’m sure.)

Mallory’s favorite thing: playing with magnets in the gift shop:

Phoebe’s favorite thing: chasing pigeons on the Mall:

I would have liked to have gone on to the American History museum, but the children were done. So we went back to the hotel and swam, and then had dinner, and then let the kids run around in a park near the hotel. My nephews, by the way, are just wonderful kids. Funny and sweet and easy-going; Mallory and Phoebe, who were initially disappointed that their only girl cousin wasn’t along on the vacation, ended up having a great time with Rhett and Noah. Not one argument amongst the four of them in two-and-a-half days together, which is pretty amazing.

The next day, it was off to the zoo!

We waited a long time for a train:

And by the way – my children in particular were incredibly whiny both at the museums and at the zoo (My feet hurt! I’m tired! I want ice cream!) but all four of them were perfectly well-behaved when we were doing less exciting things, like waiting for a train or sitting in restaurants. I don’t understand it, but there it is.

The National Zoo is a lovely placed, well-planned, with spacious enclosures for the animals. This means, of course, that the animals are very difficult to actually see, especially if you’re a little short person. Mallory’s favorite animal is the giant panda, so we had to wait in, if memory serves, three different lines to try to catch a glimpse of it from three different viewpoints. I think she was a bit disappointed in what she was able to see:

But she was excited by this:

I forget what Rhett and Phoebe were doing here, but it’s funny:

Here they are in a T-rex skull:

Mallory loved seeing the baby gorilla; Phoebe enjoyed the “ephelants.” These moments of pleasure, however, were interspersed with oh so much whining; we finally had to rent a stroller to quell some of it:

But the girls really only cheered up when we shelled out cash for these:

...followed by twenty dollars worth of ice cream.

But this is my favorite picture of the day:

This was taken when we were leaving the zoo – and look how happy the kids are! Look at those smiles! They forgot about the heat and the crowds and the difficulty of actually seeing the animals we came to see. They loved the zoo! they said. They didn’t want to leave!

We adults knew better, though, and my advice to anyone out there reading this is – do not go to the National Zoo on a Saturday in July. You’re welcome!

Our trip back to the zoo was horrid; due to maintenance on the line, we had to wait almost an hour for a train, and the one that eventually came was packed with people. We were squished together like sardines; Aimee, Noah, Phoebe and I ended up on one end of the car, just hoping that Chris, Mallory, Seth and Rhett were somewhere on the other side – we couldn’t see through the crowds. The kids were troopers, though (Mallory told me later, “I just kept saying to myself, soon we’ll be to Boston, to Boston, to Boston” – our stop was “Ballston”) and we all managed to get off at the right stop without being crushed by the doors.

The next morning Aimee and I got up early to go see the memorials on the Mall. It was nice being child-free for a while, and the views were great too:

Then, alas, we had to go our separate ways. Aimee and family went off to a baseball game, while we headed north to Geppi’s Entertainment Museum in Baltimore, which was full of pop culture memorabilia like this (three guesses as to whose idea it was to go to this museum):

If you guessed Chris, you're right!

But it was pretty cool, and the girls liked it too:

The museum was right by Orioles Park; here is Phoebe on the “4” representing some player or another – because she’s 4, of course.

And here is Mallory on the 8 (for Cal Ripken) even though, as she kept saying, she’s not 8 -- but apparently the Orioles haven't retired the number 7 yet.

Traffic was awful on the way back, and we didn’t get home until almost 11 p.m. I have yet to recover, but the laundry at least has been done and I’m at the point where I can start repacking our bags for our next adventure, next week.

It was a great trip, despite the whininess and the crowds and the fact that I got to see almost nothing of what I really wanted to see (there was an exhibit on the Lost Colony! I love the Lost Colony! Couldn’t drag the kids through it, though). But I got to see my sister, so that’s good enough for me.


Anonymous said...

Great pictures! And I think it is amazing that you saw as much as you did with four kids.


aimee said...

We just got home a few hours ago and after a well-needed nap (getting up at 2 am central time only carries you so far in the day), I loved reading your recap of our adventure and the pictures were awesome. I loved seeing you and your family and maybe next time we can take a girls' trip (and the zoo will not even be thought of!) :)

H Noble said...

Good pictures!! Glad you guys got to go, but I'm thanking God that we got to go without kids- ha! :)