Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Rat in the Subway

Yes, we saw a rat scurrying across the subway tracks in New York City, and believe it or not, my kids thought that was probably one of the coolest things we saw there--stereotypical expectations, I assume.

I didn't capture the varmint in action, but I did photograph several other iconic New York images.
For some reason walking across the Brooklyn Bridge topped Kellie's list of excursions for our second (and final) day in the city.
Brian and Kellie
It was HOT and HUMID, but we persevered to the first tower and sought refuge in its shade.
Travis and Abby
Does any one know the significance of these locks clamped on several protruding metal pieces?
Along with our sweltering hike across the Brooklyn Bridge, we took in the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island via the Staten Island Ferry.
The Statue of Liberty
Ellis Island
Brian and Abby
Travis and Kellie
The blocks surrounding those two tallest buildings were another destination--the 9/11 Memorial and the site of the new World Trade Center. At the time of our visit only the two pools set in the footprints of the original Twin Towers were open.
It is a beautiful and solemn space.
There are two other images captured on my iPhone that I want to share.
There was never any question when we were in the Fashion District and this parking garage definitely caught my attention.
We really loved walking the streets of New York City and especially riding the subway--even if it did include that infamous rat.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

After we settled into our friend's apartment in Midtown, we set out to explore as much of New York City as we possible could. We purchased a map, oriented ourselves with the subway system, and headed off towards Central Park.
It truly is a lush oasis in the city. The kids begged to rent the rowboats and since they were reasonably priced we opted for the memories. Kellie got first dibs on the oars. Travis was not amused.
Eventually it was his turn.
We met the Mayor of Strawberry Fields and . . .
found Alice in Wonderland.

We had dinner at the famous Katz's Deli on Houston Street (pronounced House-ton we discovered)
and called it a night after wandering through Times Square.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dear Rachel (#11)

Dear Rachel,
The two places I wanted to visit while we were in D.C./Virginia were my old home on Ann Street and the Watergate Pastry shop. We did both. Look at this napoleon. Perfection!
A napoleon from the Watergate Pastry
Do you remember back in September when I wrote about my memories of the Watergate after our trip to Italy? Now I have my own photos to reminisce over.
Abby at the iconic Watergate fountain
I was thrilled to find the marzipan creatures I talked about. I suspect they were left over from Christmas, but they were there none the less.
Here are your Virginia cousins (minus Marlee who was still in Idaho) and your siblings. Arik loved having Travis around. They broke out all of Arik's Nerf weapons and soon a great war erupted.

When it got dark Charlene walked us to "The Viewing Spot" (as Darcie calls it) to see the fireflies. I have never seen so many of them in one place before. Charlene said we saw them at their peak. Do you ever see fireflies in Atlanta?
Kellie, Arik, Travis, Abby, Kara, and Darcie
When we explored  the National Museum of American History the First Ladies Dresses were a must-see, of course. I was surprised at how meticulously Abby went through that exhibit. She waited patiently in line to read each placard describing each dress. Here she is with Michelle Obama's Inaugural Ball gown.
It was so dark in the museum. This iPhone photo was the best I could get.
Lastly, I want to show you the only "decent" picture I took of the Washington D.C. Temple where your Dad and I were married. We were traveling the opposite direction on the Beltway to get the ideal "cloud and castle" picture, but I snapped this one with my phone any way. Lovely, isn't it? Yes, that is the rain-spotted side mirror of our rented van.
It took us about 5 hours and exactly $37.55 in tolls to get from Washington D.C. to New York City. I'll share that adventure soon.

Love you and David lots!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hydrangeas & Tombstones

I took this photo at St. Paul's Chapel in New York City--very close to Ground Zero. The weathered mossy tombstones in the background are almost as beautiful to me as the fresh purple hydrangeas.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Never Enough Air and Space

I just knew no visit to the D.C. area would be complete without a trip to an a Air and Space Museum. As Brian promised, we skipped the one on the National Mall, but the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport could not be resisted.
This is a pretty impressive museum with lots of very cool aircraft.
You may recognize that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was partially filmed here. This famous SR-71 Blackbird transformed into Jetfire in the movie.
My sister and her kids met us at the museum. It was so good to see her!
My sister, Charlene, and I
We're standing in front of the whole reason we HAD to come here--the Space Shuttle Discovery.
It was massive and very impressive.
Cousin Darcie, Travis, Kellie, Brian, and Abby
Already my kids were making faces at the camera, and we had just started our "Education Vacation".

In the morning we were off to New York City!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An Evacuation

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was a priority during our two-day stop in Washington D.C. We actually slept in that first morning and were worried that we wouldn't get tickets, but we dropped Kellie off at the entrance and drove around the block hoping to find a place to park--we were lucky on both counts--although we accidentally got a tour of Arlington National Cemetery when Brian took a wrong turn back over the Potomac River.

Brian felt strongly that Travis and Abby have an opportunity to visit the museum even though he, Kellie, and I had been there years ago. (Personally, once was enough for me, but it is important that the younger ones really understand that terrifying time in world history.)

The museum has four floors. Visitors start at the top and work their way down. Just as we were finishing up the 3rd floor (which, by the way, is the most horrifying and impactful floor to me) we were told that we had to evacuate the museum. A bag had been left unattended and we had to leave NOW. Abby and cousin Kara were nearby, but Kellie and Travis were elsewhere on the floor. Brian went to search for them and I grabbed the two girls and headed for the stairs.

Everyone outwardly was very calm, although, inside my heart was racing as I grabbed each girls' hand and reassured them that everything would be OK. Uniformed officers ran up the stairs as we quickly descended. Images of the World Trade Center stairwells in 2001 ran through my mind as I searched for the first floor exit door as instructed. There was a bit of confusion as to which door it was, but soon we were all safely reunited outside.
Brian, cousin Kara, Abby, Kellie, Travis
We were told to wait with the employee holding the "3" (since we were on that floor when we were evacuated) and were moved further and further away from the building. Obviously the museum had been through this kind of thing before.
My anxiety turned to curiosity as helicopters swooped, sirens blared, and police swarmed from every corner.

No one knew exactly what was going on or when we would be able to resume our tour (if at all) and not wanting to waste any precious minutes of our time in the Nation's Capital we decided to cross the Mall to the National Museum of American History--my FAVORITE of all the Smithsonians.

Later that afternoon the Holocaust Museum reopened and we were able to pick up where we left off. Travis and Abby found it very disturbing, of course, but at 16 and 13, we thought they could handle it. Abby said there were no words to describe what she saw--just scary, and Travis actually felt physically sick.

The atrocities of the Holocaust are hard for all of us to digest. Yet, if learning about it helps my children internalize the fact that we are ALL God's children no matter our race, color, religion, or sexual orientation, then that knowledge is invaluable. If they can value and respect EVERY human being, then I have done my job.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Monuments

Jefferson Memorial
These majestic monuments never fail to inspire in me a sense of nostalgia and American pride. I grew up in their shadow and have so many wonderful memories venturing to the National Mall with family and friends on many many occasions. No matter how old I get they represent true patriotism and sweet memories. Washington D.C. was the first stop on our two week "Education Vacation" as I've dubbed it.
Washington Monument
We dragged my niece, Kara, along for the sight-seeing. I'm so glad my sister and her family still live in Northern Virginia.
Cousins Abby and Kara on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial is always impressive despite the reflecting pool being out of commission while renovations are being done.
The Lincoln Memorial
I really like this shot of Kellie taken as she was reading an inscription on an interior wall.
Abby at the "The Wall"
No matter how many times I've seen it, "The Wall" (Vietnam Veterans Memorial) is always sobering. I caught my family's reflection in the black granite as they were walking towards the Washington Monument.
Travis, Kellie, Brian and Kara reflecting
The only monument we hadn't seen before was the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Kara, Travis, and Abby
By this time the heat and humidity had sucked all the energy out of the kids. They retreated to any shade they could find. We had exhausted all the monuments we could. The Korean War Veterans Memorial, World War II Memorial, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial were others we explored.

We only had two days in D.C. and I just KNEW we couldn't get away without visiting an Air and Space Museum. That and the Holocaust Museum are coming up next.