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My Weekend in Washington, DC - Mo's Journal — LiveJournal
November 11th, 2008
10:56 am


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My Weekend in Washington, DC
So vickifelder and I took six teenagers to DC for the weekend: my daughters, her daughter, and a friend for each kid. We had a great time and did and saw a lot, particularly considering the fact that we were there less than 48 hours!

When we planned this trip we realized that it could be a really fun and exciting time to be in DC or a really depressing one. I'm very glad - for all sorts of reasons beyond the weekend, obviously - that it turned out to be the former. There was a decidedly celebratory feel about the city and it was wonderful to just kind of bask in it.

We traveled by Megabus. I've never done that before but had read about it in Budget Travel magazine. They're cheap inter-city buses, with comfortable seats and free wi-fi. They save money by not using bus stations (you just get on on the street) and not selling tickets (only web-based reservations and payment) and no one helps you with your bags (they open the compartment and you put your luggage in). It was a little chaotic on the NYC end, just because they had a lot of buses leaving from the same corner, so we got off to a late start, but other than that I thought it went great and plan to use them again. The first seat on each bus goes for $1, and even with just two or three weeks advance planning you can get buses to Boston for $5-$10 each way or DC for $10-$20 each way. By contrast, the cheapest Amtrak fares are $144 r/t and Greyhound is over $200. We had a 6:15 bus on Friday night and got in close to midnight.

We stayed in a Marriott right at Metro Center, which was very convenient and easy to get around. I got two rooms on priceline. We weren't able to get connecting rooms, but were just down the hall from each other.

We spent pretty much all of Saturday on and around the National Mall. We saw the Museum of Natural History, site of one of my favorite childhood stories.* Vicki and I looked at the rocks and minerals section for a long time (I always like to visit the Hope Diamond) and the Mammals Hall. The kids split off and looked at different exhibits. We all saw the IMAX 3-D Deep Sea movie with Johnny Depp, which was excellent.

Then the big kids (Kendra and her friend Gabe) went to the National Gallery while the rest of us went to the Washington Monument. We met up at Air and Space, where we touched a moon rock, saw lots of space ships and planes (always gives me a thrill to see the actual vehicles that went into space and landed on the moon) and saw a 3-D movie about the sun and a planetarium show about Black Holes.

After the museum closed we had dinner and then visited the Lincoln Memorial. What a stirring sight that is at night! We hung out with Abe a while, then stopped at the Vietnam Memorial, then headed back to the Natural History Museum. It's closed in the evenings, but they show feature films in the IMAX theatre. We saw The Dark Knight. I liked it a lot better this time! We got back to our hotel close to midnight and went to sleep right away.

Sunday morning we made use of the hotel pool and jacuzzi for a while, then checked out and checked our bags. We headed over to the U Street neighborhood, a cool area with great housing stock that's very much an up and coming part of DC. We met Vicki's niece, who lives in DC, at a neat cafe called "Busboys and Poets." It's named for Langston Hughes (since he was both a busboy and a poet) and has a great bookstore attached. So we browsed and ate lunch and hung out with Melissa. We also bought some Obamarabilia while we were there. I got an inauguration button, since I will be at the inauguration in spirit.

From U Street we went to the International Spy Museum which is a very fun and interactive museum and a great way to spend a few hours. I've been there before but enjoyed it again this time. I was pleased to see that they've added an exhibit on Valerie Plame and the reprehensible actions of the Bush Administration in blowing her cover since last I was there.

Our bus was scheduled to leave at 4:45, so we left the museum at 3:30 and picked up our bags and walked to the bus stop. Things were much less chaotic at the DC bus stop and we left on time and got back to NYC at 9:15, right on time.

* Family of Origin story set in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum: I went to DC for the first time on a family trip when I was nine years old. There were five of us kids at the time, and my brother Joel (age 10) and I planned the whole trip (except for the hotel and the driving route to and from our home - we did all transportation routes within DC and chose all activities, sights, etc) as an educational exercise. We spent a lot of time in the Smithsonian museums.

We were all in the Hall of Minerals when my parents noticed that my sister Kayo (age 5) was holding a small rock that looked suspiciously like one of the large rocks on display on a pedestal. They did the parental interrogation bit ("Where did you get the rock?" "I found it" "No, really. Where did you get the rock?" "I found it." "You'd better tell me the truth." "I found it.") but she didn't crack. They weren't sure they believed her, but thought it best to just give up at that point.

Only my brother Hart (age 7) kept pestering her:
"Let me see your rock."
"No! It's mine."
"Just for a minute."
"No! It's mine."
"Come on. Let me see your rock."
"No! It's mine."

Finally she got so frustrated that, in that amazingly loud and clear voice that small children use only when saying something you wish were not overheard, she said, "Oh go chip your own!"

We left quickly and after that whenever you caught someone lying in my family you said, "Oh go chip your own!"

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(10 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:November 11th, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
"Where did you get that dinosaur femur?" "I found it."

I'm impressed by these little trips you put together! And I note that you learned the skills early on.

I'm also grateful (and a little surprised) that the Mall hasn't been turned into a mall.
[User Picture]
Date:November 11th, 2008 05:26 pm (UTC)
LOL! on the dinosaur femur. I learned the skills - but even more importantly, the fun - of planning a trip early on. The skills change somewhat over time as Frommers and AAA give way to google, expedia and mapquest. But my father's principle of "planning the trip is half the fun" is one I thoroughly internalized. I think of him with gratitude whenever I travel or think about traveling.

When I was pregnant with Doran and Stacy and I were going from two salaries to one, we consulted a financial planner to get some reassurance we were on the right track. The first thing she said when she looked at my spreadsheets was, "Travel is clearly a priority." That surprised me because we always tended towards budget travel. But we did go on one "big" trip (i.e. at least a week long) a year and 4-5 mini-vacations of a weekend or 3-4 days and that was very important to us both. It's still something I really feel is important and want to share with my kids.

Edited at 2008-11-11 05:26 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:November 11th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
I agree about the joys of travel planning (nice icon, btw). Before we went to Portugal, and before India, we spent weeks getting everything sorted. In both cases, we had all our hotels booked before we left Canada, and for India, all our trains booked as well.

We went through all the guidebooks had to say on the sights in different locations, weighed them against realities like "what if the train arrives four hours late and you can't get to that spot", and made plans accordingly.

In fact, as time goes on, we get better at the process, remembering things like "You'll have been travelling for 10 days at that point: build in a day of rest in a pretty place."
[User Picture]
Date:November 11th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
I envy you your travel! I sighed enviously at the end there. I haven't been able to go on a long trip in many years. I've mostly had money or time - sometimes neither but almost never both.

I think I read the most in advance of my trip to India. Guide books, history, historical fiction...
[User Picture]
Date:November 11th, 2008 05:53 pm (UTC)
May the sighs be winds that will fill your travel sails in the future. I am all too aware of the benefits of being a DINK couple. I am wistful about the kids you are raising.
Date:November 11th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
We traveled by Megabus.

Huh...I've never thought about doing this. That is a really cheap way for me to go to NYC. I'll have to think about that when certain people around here want to go on a big shopping trip for Christmas.

It sounds like you had a fun weekend. You picked a good time to visit. I think it's absolutely lovely here right now.

Edited at 2008-11-11 06:21 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:November 12th, 2008 11:46 am (UTC)
I'd definitely recommend megabus for a shopping trip. It's cheap and easy and lets you off in a convenient place.
[User Picture]
Date:November 12th, 2008 08:47 am (UTC)
Go chip your own....LMAO :D.

Cute story, thanks for sharing :D.
[User Picture]
Date:November 12th, 2008 11:47 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it!
Date:November 16th, 2008 12:39 am (UTC)

go chip your own

I love love love this story!
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