What A Year

It has been almost a year since last I did a blog post, and oh my, what a year it has been!  It’s been a crazy busy time with many ups and downs.  The entire family has been through some serious life changing events this year.  Some of these were good and some not so good, but we’ve weathered them together and I think we are doing alright in the end.  Here’s a quick review in photos of what we’ve been up to:

Sunset in Belize (Feb.) with my Sweetie

Sunset in Belize (Feb.) with my Sweetie

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Memorials and Musings

Washington DC is a beautiful city with a very colorful past.  There is so much history in this tiny stretch of land.  Espionage, intrigue, assassinations and assassination attempts, plots and policy all have happened here.  There is no place more thoroughly “American” than this.  On our private tour yesterday, Bill (from Private Tours of Washington) made a comment while we drove down Embassy Row, he said you know you’ve really made it when you become the ambassador for your country and move to the USA.  It’s what all ambassadors strive for.

When you are in DC it seems like there is constant movement and action but sitting on a quiet hill in Arlington Cemetery yesterday, taking photos, I felt a million miles away from everything.  It was peaceful.  It was poignant.  It was moving.  You could feel the tears of every wife and the sacrifice of every soldier in the earth beneath you.  It was as if the land itself was weeping in sorrow for the lives lost while joyfully shouting “your sacrifice is not forgotten”.

The rows of white marble are so profound and moving.

The rows of white marble are so profound and moving.  There are over 400,000 service men and women buried here.

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Best Tour Day So Far!

*Let me start this post by saying that I was in no way paid or otherwise compensated by ANY of the person’s or providers mentioned in this post.  These people have NO IDEA that I’m writing about how awesome they are and I paid for all of our tours.

Our very first evening I sat down and did a bit of research on tours to take.  I hate your typical “bus tour” and “mega tour” in which you are herded around a city with 25-45 people you’ve never met, on a bus.  So I finally found (on Trip Advisor) a private tour company named Private Tours of Washington.  Y’all, these guys are AWESOME!!!!  I called to try and book a tour for early in the week and ended up going out on a night tour of DC that very evening.  It was great!  A private driver picked us up in a Town Car and we then met our tour guide Gil.  He and our driver Monty took us all around DC making several stops to get out and see the sights.  His knowledge of this city (he’s an 8th generation DC guy) and its history was amazing!  We had such a great time.

The White House

The White House

 

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

 

The Marine Memorial by night is even more powerful

The Marine Memorial by night is even more powerful

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Native American History and Modern Art

What do Native American History and Modern Art have in common?  Not much really except those happen to be the two museums we saw today.  The Smithsonian Native American Museum and the Hirshhorn were both new for me.

The exterior of the Native American Museum.

The exterior of the Native American Museum.

We went to the Native American Museum first.  The exterior of the building is very nice.  I especially like that on the exterior (going nearly all the way around) they have planted Native American crops and created various habitats that reflect how the land looked before Europeans showed up.

Native American Crops planted around the grounds

Native American Crops planted around the grounds

This is a recreation of a wetlands area.

This is a recreation of a wetlands area.

 

Inside the exhibits were pretty good.  I was slightly disappointed that they didn’t have more on the plains tribes (especially in Texas).  There was a really nice display however on the treaties that were signed with various groups along the way.  It illustrated to me just how poorly these people were treated.  They were completely misunderstood by the Europeans and were therefore taken advantage of in a grievous way.  It breaks my heart to think of all the suffering, starvation and deprivation that these people had to endure at the hands of “progress”.  More than any other ethnic group, these people have something to complain about and yet they don’t.  You don’t hear of Native American’s complaining loudly to the media of their mistreatment through the years.  They simply endure.  They stay strong and steady, trying to hang on to as much tradition as they can in an ever changing world.

I had the honor of knowing a Navajo gentleman personally.  When I was very little, my dad worked for a time on the Navajo reservation and met John Benali.  He was one of the original code talkers and one of the most interesting and humble men you can imagine.  He worked closely with my father for all of those years and they became very good friends.  In that time stories would slowly seep out about the past.  The People have a beautiful oral history that I wish more people could know and appreciate.

A painting by the Cheyenne of the battle of Little Bighorn in 1876

A painting by the Cheyenne of the battle of Little Bighorn in 1876

 

After the “Treaties” exhibit, we saw the South American/Inca tribes exhibit.  That was really cool.  I think I liked it best but only because my oldest son actually works with artifacts like that as part of his maritime archaeology internship each summer.  They find a lot of these Incan items in the Spanish shipwrecks that they work on.

Incan Empire Artifacts

Incan Empire Artifacts

More Incan art

More Incan art

 

When we finished up at the Native American Museum we decided we had time for one more stop.  After consulting the tour map we decided on the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.  It was amazing!!! I loved it (the husband not so much but he was trooper).

"Marilyn Monroe's Lips" by Andy Warhol 1962

“Marilyn Monroe’s Lips” by Andy Warhol 1962

"13/11" by Sol LeWitt 1985

“13/11” by Sol LeWitt 1985

 

Well, that’s Monday in a nutshell.  We are off now to take a private tour diving into the Lincoln assignation.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

 

The Subway and a Smithsonian

On Sunday we had to do a bit of housekeeping so we got a late start.  Around 2pm we finally decided to head in to DC.  Now to get there from the RV park you have several options.  We could drive and try to find a parking spot (not too easy and about a 45 minute drive), Uber or take the subway (known here as the Metro).  The Metro is the easiest and cheapest way to get into the downtown area from here.  There is a bus that leaves right from the park and takes you to the subway station.  It sounds great in theory but there one was one tiny problem, I was still a bit terrified of subway systems after my last encounter.

Outside of the building

National Air & Space Museum.  Our destination for Sunday.

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Monticello

This trip to the Washington D.C. area has been wonderful so far.  It hasn’t just been about the sightseeing, it has also been a trip down memory lane for me.  You see, as a kid we took many RV trips to this area.  My dad bought a second hand Travco RV from a guy at work in the early 1980’s and many wild adventures ensued. The most common trip however was the “East Coast” trip.  It typically involved visiting every civil & revolutionary war battlefield and any other historic site along the way from Texas to Philadelphia.  One of our favorite stops was always the DC area though.  We would usually spend at least 3-5 days here and the favorite spot to go see (for me at least) was Monticello.

I love this view of the house.

I love this view of the house.

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Road Tripping to DC

Empty nest road trip number one is under way!

I must have been trippin’!!  Back in April I suddenly decided I wanted to do more traveling in the RV.  At the time, we had a 45 foot rig that we LOVED!!  It was truly a second home on wheels and we had many adventures with the kids in her (we once slept 11 people for a week in it).  The only downfall, it was too big for me to drive!  My husband and kids were ok driving it but I was absolutely intimidated by its massive size.  So my grand plans for more RV trips would have to be scheduled around the husband’s work.  NOT OK!

So I decided (now that it was just the two of us) that we were going to downsize the rig.  We looked around a little and settled on a 34 foot class A that I felt I could handle.  My best friend and I took her out on a short weekend trip a few days after we bought her and I handled it just fine (wrecks, closed roads, back in spot and all).  I was ready to start planning some road tripping time!

Meet Lizzie and the Towed

Meet Lizzie and the Towed

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