Testing the Limits of How Much Walking Our Kids Can Endure

I’m continuing our Washington, DC family vacation re-cap with the seemingly endless trek we took to see some monuments and memorials.  The boys are good walkers.  We go stroller-less to theme parks, zoos and on long shopping excursions.  They can hang all day as long as we take breaks here and there.   Given our confidence in their walking ability, we thought we would take them to see some sights when the Metro dropped us off smack in the middle of the National Mall.

The walk to the Washington Monument didn’t look that far in person.  So, we set out to see it.  We thought we’d see if there were still tickets available to ride up to the top.  That is a joke!  Apparently the line for tickets begins forming at 6 AM and it was about 10 AM when we showed up.  They were, of course, sold out.

So, we decided to continue on to the World War II Memorial since it was just on the other side of the Washington Monument.  I’m so glad we did because it is breathtaking.  The boys got to sit down and rest their tired feet for a while.

It was the Saturday before Memorial Day so there were red, white and blue flower arrangements laid out everywhere.  It was a perfect spot to take some time out to reflect on those who paid the ultimate price for our country and our freedom.

The photo above might be the best in terms of framing, lighting, editing, what have you.  But I wanted to post it here because this was my favorite part of the WWII Memorial.  The Freedom Wall with the 4,000 stars reflected in the still water of the pool below was so beautiful.  The stars commemorate the more that 400,000 Americans who sacrificed their lives.

Since we had already walked so far, we figured we would continue our westward journey to the Lincoln Memorial.  I showed the boys the backside of a penny and told them that was where we were going.  They thought that was pretty cool.  So, off we went walking along the side of the Washington Monument Reflecting Pool.  Dodging duck poo left and right…

The boys were quite tired by the time we’d reached the halfway point of the Reflecting Pool.  J and I did our best to stop for drinks, sit on benches and take turns carrying the boys toward our final destination.  It was slow going and HOT but we finally made it!

The boys looked like they wanted an air conditioned nap when we arrived!  Poor boys!  They were such troopers.  I was proud of them for making it all that way.

The Lincoln Memorial was so crowded!  We had to inch our way through the people to get a decent shot of Abe.

After a few more quick photos, J and I decided to have mercy on Wildman and Cutie Pie.  We hailed a taxi to take us back to the Air and Space Museum!  The boys were so happy!!!  It was an opportunity to sit down and it was their first ride in a cab.

It was the best $9.50 we have ever spent.


Mount Vernon

Attending the Sunset Celebration at Mt. Vernon was, for me, the coolest thing we did on our trip.  The house and grounds were opened up after hours only on Memorial Day weekend for an amazing evening experience.  I have a feeling that it would have been even more spectacular had the clouds moved out so we could actually see the sunset.  But it really didn’t matter because everything else was so neat.

We arrived at the Ford Welcome Center at 6 PM.  There were many things to look at including this group of bronze Washington family statues.  A lady asked if she could take a photo of Wildman and me for us.  J had taken Cutie Pie to the bathroom so I figured why not.  While I was thanking her and retrieving my camera, Wildman busied himself shaking hands with the former president.  It was quite adorable.

We took a quick glance at the map of the grounds then headed outside to see what we could see.

The grounds were a beautiful, lush green.  A gravel pathway took us by several grazing goats.  The boys stopped to check them out for a while.  Then we wound our way toward the main house with the help of a few employees dressed in colonial garb pointing the way.  When we rounded the final bend the view was like a post card.  The white house with the red roof up on a hill was stately and serene.

As we made our way up the drive we noticed a group of ladies playing an 18th century hoop game on the lawn.  They offered to let us have a try but Wildman and Cutie Pie were feeling too shy.

We continued up the drive to the front of the house where we found this gentleman with his cart full of  instruments.  He was playing a portable harpsichord when we arrived but then offered to demonstrate anything the boys wanted.  The boys weren’t too sure what all the instruments were so he chose the bag pipes because he thought they would like them best.  We listened to him for a while.  I don’t play any instruments so I am always in awe of those who can.  And people who can play multiple instruments are just amazing to me.

We took a horse-drawn wagon ride around the property then toured the home.  Afterwards, we made our way toward the backyard where the dessert tents were set up.  Wildman and Cutie Pie insisted on the red velvet cupcakes while J and I indulged in the flourless chocolate cake and red wine.  Yum!

The boys worked off their sugar by racing up and down the hill toward the Potomac.  Even with the overcast conditions, the view was stunning.  J and I were amazed at how undeveloped the banks opposite Mt. Vernon were.  I’m sure that was by design but, in this age of rapid development, it’s nice to see some untouched land.  The view looked as it must have in Washington’s time.

It was neat to see a lady dressed as Martha Washington doing needlework on the back porch.  She had the character down pat and was very charming as she entertained the guests gathered around her with stories from her life.  We listened to her for quite a while.

Did you know that the Washingtons used to make their own chocolate on the plantation?  We got a little tutorial on the process (upper right photo above) before we selected our dessert.  The boys each received a cocoa bean to take home.  The demonstration is what swayed J and I to pick the flourless chocolate cake 🙂

We moseyed back around to the front yard because the boys were feeling more daring and wanted to try out the games.  There were several families out there giving it a try.  It was really fun.  We all did better at it that I thought we would 🙂

Most of the grounds were open so we were able to explore the kitchen building, the stables, the gardens, etc.  It was fun to watch colonial style line dancing in one of the formal gardens.  It was getting dark by then and my photos did not come out so well.

The boys got to see fireflies for the first time that night as well.  We don’t really have them here in Florida so it was a special treat.  They made a game of trying to spot them in the bushes and trees.

As darkness fell, the paths were lit by candlelight.  It was so pretty.  Between the glow of the candles, the flicker of the fireflies and the rise and fall of the trio playing music on the back porch, it made me want to stay forever.

The boys found the blacksmith’s shop fascinating.  We could hardly tear them away when it was time to leave.  The blacksmiths were making a chain.  They were demonstrating how the links were made and attached together.  I must admit that I was captivated too.  Sparks flew everywhere!

We lost ourselves in all the fun things to do and see that 9 PM came before we knew it.  The staff began ushering us toward the exit and I think everyone in attendance found it hard to leave.  I highly recommend this tour of Mt. Vernon if you ever get the chance.  There were no crowds.  The weather was mild.  We could explore everything at our leisure.  The atmosphere was almost magical.