Sunday, July 29, 2012

Washington DC - Day 2

Sunday July 29, 2012

Day 2 of our DC trip began with a free breakfast at the hotel, after which we made our way back out into the early morning heat. Having stopped at Ford's Theatre to try to gather the relevant information for the virtual cache the day before, we had decided that we would come back this morning and take the whole tour. I am very glad we did. We got tickets and had a short wait before filing into the theater itself and listening to a talk by a park service guide. It was very interesting, as it is a subject I don't know a whole lot about, and it was very surreal to be sitting in the front row facing the stage with the President's box just off to the right. I'm not sure the kids were all that impressed, but the adults liked it.

Ford's Theatre - Lincoln's box
We had 10:30am tickets for the Spy Museum, so we decided to come back and see the Petersen House (the Lincoln Death House), which is across the street from the theater, after doing the other for the kids.

I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into with this spy museum, as it sounded incredibly cheesy and touristy to me. It turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. It was a museum dedicated to the history of spying and espionage throughout history. There were displays on all sorts of different time periods, as well as ciphers, gadgets, famous events in history, etc. The very large section on Cold War spying between the Soviet bloc and the West was fascinating. They had a very impressive collection of all the different things that cameras and listening devices have been hidden in over the years, as well as hidden weapons, poison pills and disguises. What I thought was going to be something just for the kids ended up being one of the highlights of the trip.

By the time we got done in the spy museum everyone was hungry, so we had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe nearby. The memorabilia in these places is always nice, but the food was pretty bad, and slow. The low light of the trip for sure.

Petersen House - Lincoln's death bedroom
The Petersen House was interesting. The wasn't too much to see, but once again it was an experience to see the bedroom in which Lincoln spent his final hours and then died. After having been shot in the theater, it was deemed too far to move Lincoln back to the White House (which isn't all that far away), so he was moved into this private house across the street.

An unexpected addition to the day was a side trip to the American Girl store in McLean VA. Grace has been very much into her American Girl dolls recently, and there isn't an AG store in our area. Since we were in another major city, she asked Mom to look up whether there was a store in DC, and the one in VA was not that far out of our way for the drive home, so we made the stop. We ended up getting McKenna (the gymnast doll) because of Grace's interest in gymnastics, especially now that the Summer Olympics are on. This was probably the highlight of the trip for her.

After getting the doll, we were back on the road, and home by about 6:30 after an uneventful drive.

DC really is a great place to visit, and something we have neglected over the years. There is so much to see, and we barely even scratched the surface. With kids in tow, I don't think we even did a comprehensive visit to the sites we went to, but that is to be expected I guess. Going in the heat of the summer is not the best time, but it is when the kids are out of school and is easier to manage. With so much left to see, I wouldn't mind going back next year, and I hope we will.

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