Many of you have been asking if we were doing a road trip this year. I have the answer for you today as I share our 2016 ‘road trip' with you.
This year, I wasn't able to save up quite enough for us to do a full road trip. We had planned to do a road trip to the NE to get those states marked off our map of states we want to visit.
The NE turns out to be a lot more expensive than the SW and the NW, so I didn't have enough to cover the costs. Much to the disappointment of my daughters, I had to modify our plans for this year.
One place that we had planned to spend 4-5 days on our trip was the Washington D.C. area, so I took the money we had and we spent almost a week in D.C.
I already had the D.C. mug in my collection, so I had my morning tea in that mug the morning we left.
Even though we weren't packed for 5 weeks like in the past, we still had plenty with us and I felt the need for our traditional leaving picture. (Like those from our 2014 and 2015 trips) Because we were just driving directly to D.C. and staying in the same hotel for the week, our packing looks a bit different than when I showed you how I pack for a road trip.
As I've told you in my post about my favorite apps for a road trip, I use Roadtrippers to help me find the fun stuff to do on a road trip. I found this called ‘The Awakening' through Roadtrippers and decided I wanted to see it. The kids, initially excited about seeing it, changed their minds on the drive to the D.C. area and didn't want to see it, but we went anyway.
So glad we did because it is in a fun area called the National Harbor. It turned out to be our favorite part of our trip….which might also be because it was the coolest and/or least stormy day of our trip. The National Harbor is just across the border of VA in MD and right on the water.
The Awakening is a statue that is in the ground.
We decided to be silly as though a giant hand is coming out of the ground to grab them….don't they look terrified? Lol!
I got to have a little photography fun with the statute.
Here is a picture that gives you an idea of what the full statue looks like.
Right in the area of The Awakening, is the National Harbor which is an area with lots of shops, food and fun things to do. We found the Peeps store and had to take pics with the cute Peeps car. 🙂
Last summer, while we were on our trip and on the opposite coast, we took a ride on the Great Wheel in Seattle. I knew when I saw they had a similar Ferris wheel here, we had to do it.
The funny thing was that last year the kids loved the ride in Seattle and I was a little freaked out to be hanging out over the water like that. Apparently, I transferred my concerns to them because this year neither of them wanted to do it.
They were a little hesitant at first (and for some reason, I was not this time, maybe because I knew what to expect this time).
They let us ride for a long time on this Ferris wheel. It was nice and cool and the views were pretty.
The air conditioning unit was working hard to keep us cool since it was so hot. The drops on the glass of our car made for a pretty picture.
I was so excited to find out there was a Maryland mug! I happily added it to my collection of mugs.
The following day was to be the coolest day and least likely to have any storms, so we took the opportunity to go to the National Zoo.
They had tons of these statues that are all made out of trash found on beaches.
Of course, we had to see the animals and I had some photography fun with my zoom lens!
I love that at the moment I snapped this shot another photographer was making a noise to grab the bears attention and the shot worked out perfectly for me. 🙂
Flamingos! They have so many at the National Zoo.
The grounds of the National Zoo have some pretty plants and flowers as well.
Finally, we had to see the Panda Bears as well. Unfortunately, because it was so hot, the Panda's were in the house not out and about, but at least we got to see them.
After leaving the National Zoo, we figured out we were the closest we were going to be to go to Georgetown Cupcakes. We took our first ever Uber (and quickly became addicted to Uber) from the Zoo to Georgetown Cupcakes.
The line was LONG! Can you find my girls in the line?
But the wait was worth it…just to see this blinged out mixer. Oh no, not just for the mixer! I want one, by the way. 🙂
The cupcakes were Ah.Mazing! We took this trip right before 4th of July, so the cupcakes were 4th of July themed.
My girls and I have watched the show D.C. cupcakes, so they were excited to see the shop and try the cupcakes. We tried to find their second workshop location as well, but couldn't find it.
My girls and I have long talked about doing the Spy in the City which is an interactive mission you can do through the International Spy Museum in D.C. That was our activity for the second day of our trip.
On our journey through the city to complete our secret mission, we passed Ford's Theatre. The mission was fun and we are glad we did it.
We did pay for the mission and entrance to the museum. The museum itself was beyond packed. It had so many people seeing the actual exhibits was not very feasible. On top of that, the museum itself was not our cup of tea, so we probably spend 30 minutes walking through the museum and left. Too bad I hadn't realized that. I could have saved quite a bit of money. Anyway…if you are thinking of doing the Spy Museum it is very real espionage based and not good for those who are chickens or get scared easily or on a super busy hot day. They have lots of small displays and that we saw there was not much that was interactive, but we may have missed that among the throngs of people in the museum.
The Spy in the City mission was fun and I think would be fun for any family to do.
I think we may have spent more time in the Spy Museum shop than the actual museum. lol!
While we were out for the day, the hotel staff made our beds….how sweet that they lined up ALL of the girl's stuffies. 🙂
The following day was the 4th of July. I have now tried on three separate occasions to spend the 4th of July in Washington D.C. It has never worked out for me.
The first time, I was with family who ended up not wanting to brave the crowds to be on the National Mall for the fireworks. The second time, we ended up on the National Mall only to be evacuated for a tornado warning and this year, it was another stormy 4th of July. The girls and I opted to have a lazy day at the hotel pool, paint our nails and watch a movie rather than go through the crowds, rain, and possible storms. Such a bummer, but in the end, I think we made the best choice for us.
The following day was our last full day in D.C. I had hoped to show my girl's so many more things, but it wasn't to be with the hot weather and crowds.
We started our final day with a visit to see the White House.
You can't get nearly as close as you could when I was a kid, but my kids didn't know the difference and enjoyed seeing the home of the President.
We had bought tickets to one of the hop on hop off bus tours. That was a huge mistake and I don't recommend it. I've done this same mistake twice now. Once in New York City and this time in D.C. I'm writing it here so I remember next time! Don't use those stupid hop on hop off buses. They take forever and don't necessarily go in an order that makes sense and the one that we selected made us get off at one point (for no reason we could figure out) and get on a bus with no a/c…it was so insanely hot. It was horrible.
At any rate, we used the bus to go from the White House to the Capitol Building and to our stop after that. After that, we gave up and requested a refund for our ticket price. Thankfully, they were willing to give us the refund.
Next time, I would take that same amount of money and just use Uber to zip around to where we want to go in a nicely air conditioned car. 🙂
Next, up we went to see the Capitol Building. It was so stinkin' hot. We kind of just walked to the base of the steps you can see in the distance there and then left.
From there we went to go do the monuments. We started with the Washington Monument.
We tend to be night owls and therefore get a later start to our days. By the time we got the Washington Monument all of the passes to go up in the monument were give out for the day, so we just got to see it from the outside.
I love all the flags. After this, it was soo hot and humid that we considered giving up.
My girls were begging me to take Uber's everwhere or to try renting those bikes that we saw all over the place. Even though I have hip dysplasia and am not supposed to ride bikes long distances, I decided to pay and try the bike shares. Sadly, Pumpkin was just a little bit too short to safely ride her bike. Another expensive lesson learned. She felt so bad, but it wasn't her fault and I was game to try it because they wanted to do it so badly.
Uber to the rescue!
Our wonderfully cool Uber car dropped us right by the Roosevelt Monument. I had been to this monument before and really like it. My girls really liked it as well.
Pumpkin loved this statue! She loves critters in almost any form.
While we were at the Roosevelt monument I heard multiple helicopters flying overhead and I saw a man with a huge telephoto lens running toward the water. I yelled at the girls and quickly followed suit. Sure enough, it was the President flying into the White House. When he does, there are three of his helicopters that fly in and one of them contains the President. That helicopter lands at the White House while the others fly off. They do that as a security measure as you don't know which helicopter contains the President.
As you can see above, the lower helicopter in the middle is the one landing at the White House. I switched to my telephoto lens after the fact and I am so glad I did.
A little while later, I heard the choppers again and ran out to the water to catch the helicopter that had contained the President leaving. Love that I got a good shot right in front of the Washington Monument.
Excitement over, we finished walking through the Roosevelt monument. We loved that there was a little portion about Eleanor Roosevelt as well.
Just down the way from the Roosevelt Monument is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument. I was able to use my telephoto lens and get some great shots from across the water. We were so tired, hot, sweaty and sticky from the humidity that we opted not to stop to see it up close and in person but rather to walk by and to the next monument.
What we thought was going to be our final stop, the Lincoln Memorial. It was so busy and crowded.
Such a pretty time of day to be there, though.
Do you see what I mean by how hot and sweaty we were? You guys D.C. just really is humid and nasty hot in July. I've been SO many times in the summer and I never really enjoy it, but then again my body hates humidity…so maybe other people aren't as bothered as I am. Still, it was great to show my girls all the sights.
The memorial, when you have a little bit of patience and the right lens.
The reality of how many people were there.
I'm always thankful for strangers who will take our picture. Thank you!
As I said, we thought the Lincoln Memorial was to be our last. It has such a pretty view of the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool.
As I searched on Google Maps, it showed me that there was a Metro stop not too far. So I pushed the girls to walk. (My fit bit showed that we walked 8 miles this day…in that heat!)
We ended up walking past this Vietnam Memorial Statue.
As well as the Vietnam Memorial Wall. It is truly staggering how long the wall is and how long the names go on for. So many lives lost.
At the end of the memorial was supposed to be a Metro (the subway) stop….and there wasn't one. I'm not sure if Google maps gave me a Metro bus stop or what, but there we were with no restaurants in the area and hungry stomachs and ready to be done for the day.
I bet you can guess what we did. We ordered an Uber. I was going to have it take us back to the Metro stop where we started the day because there were a bunch of restaurants there. When we got there we couldn't find what we had found earlier in the day. We ended up walking further to a restaurant I found in FourSquare that looked really good.
We got to see a tiny taste of Chinatown by walking to the restaurant…. and my girls got to see a homeless guy peeing in the corner of a building alcove. I'm telling you, they get the full education on our trips. 😉
I loved the walkways in Chinatown.
We also had an amazing dinner and after a while, in the cool air and with some good food in our bellies we were ready to take the Metro back to our hotel.
The following day we spent the morning at our hotel and we headed toward home. Snowflake, my oldest daughter, had really wanted to see the Supreme Court, so on the way to see the Court, we happened to go by the Jefferson Memorial. Not all of us really wanted to do the walking to go see it, but I prevailed and in the end, both of my girls were glad they go to see it.
Our final stop was to drive by the Supreme Court. I was able to pull off the road in a little pull out nearly across the street and Snowflake got to see the building and take a few pictures.
Despite the heat and the storms, we had a good trip together.
It was nothing compared to our road trips and all three of us really miss the adventure of our road trips. Our summer just hasn't been the same. So, I'm already working to save for next year. Here's hoping we can get on the road and have a grander adventure next year.
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