Monday, June 6, 2011

Our Trip to Washington, DC

We just returned from a 9 day trip to the West Virginia/Washington DC area and, man, did we have fun! It has been 5 years since we have taken a family trip like this but this one was so good, I'm ready to plan the next one...and it better happen sooner than 5 years! There are a two stories from this trip that will be shared in their very own blog posts but, in this post, I'll give you the basics of what we did.

We drove, that's what we did. We drove...and drove...and drove some more. Including Oklahoma, from where we started this trip, we drove through 6 states in 1 day. 16 hours in a truck...with two kids, 1 husband, and a lot of electronics....AND we were towing a motorcycle on a trailer...AND it drizzled/rained the entire time. Yep, that pretty much sums up Day 1. It really wasn't as bad as it sounds. Scott and I traded off driving, while the other read or slept. My kids were practically raised in a car, so as long as they had a DVD to watch or a video game to play, they were golden. We arrived safely to my in-laws' house in West Virginia and quickly settled in for our exciting vacation.

Before I go on, I want to encourage all of you to take yourself or your family on a driving vacation. That is, a trip where you drive to and around your destination, instead of flying. I totally understand the convenience of flying but everyone should drive on, at least, one vacation. I promise you will see so many beautiful things.

I have seen some beautiful scenery in my lifetime but the drive from Oklahoma to West Virginia was one of, if not THE, most gorgeous drives I've ever been on. Growing up in Louisiana, I've seen my fair share of trees but that was nothing compared to all of the trees I saw on this drive. There was green everywhere! And hills! REAL hills! I loved to look down and see the little communities and houses nestled in the trees. You read that correctly... I had to look down to see the neighborhoods from the interstate. There were even times where it looked like we were driving into gigantic heads of broccoli! At least, that's what it looked like to me, with all of the trees everywhere. Now, to be truthful, I don't think my kids looked up from their electronic devices once during the drive, so they totally missed all of the green but they can, hopefully, experience it again and appreciate it when they are a bit older.

The second day of our trip involved more road time but this time I was driving the truck with the kids and my mother-in-law, Linda, and Scott and his dad, Jim, rode motorcycles. We did some local sightseeing, including the New River Gorge Bridge, and then stayed the night in a hotel. We drove through even more rain on this day than the day before and our "Harley Guys" were soaked to the bone, so we were all happy to make a stop for the night.

The next day, we visited Manassas, Virginia, where the Battle of Bull Run occurred. For you Civil War buffs out there, 2 battles actually occurred here but the memorial mainly focuses on the first battle because it was the first major land battle of the war. I love American history and was beyond excited to visit this Civil War battleground. There is an enormous statue of Stonewall Jackson on his horse, overlooking the fields where his men fought and died, that gives me chills just thinking about it.

From Manassas, we drove to Washington, DC. That evening we rented a limo, which was really a Suburban SUV with a driver, and toured the mall, where most of the memorials in DC are located. I cannot accurately describe how it felt to finally see these memorials in person. I've wanted to see the mall since I was a kid and to be able to see it and share it with my children was simply amazing. It is my firm belief that every American citizen, history buff or not, should visit DC at least once in their lifetime. It will change you, I promise.

We spent the next 2 days touring DC and didn't even get close to seeing all that we wanted to, so I am now wanting to plan "DC Trip #2" SOON!

After DC, we drove to Maryland and visited the Antietam National Battlefield, where the bloodiest Civil War battle took place. Being on the fields here and in Manassas was so moving. I was standing on the same ground that all of those soldiers and officers and, even President Lincoln, once stood, fought, and died on and, not to sound too hokey, it was like I could feel their presence and the importance of their actions.

We spent the rest of our vacation resting and hanging out with my in-laws in their home and then spent another 15 hours in the truck driving home...this time in complete sunshine so that I could enjoy the view even more.

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