Wednesday, August 15, 2012

DC - Part 1

We just got back from a trip to the east coast that included time in Washington DC and various locations in Pennsylvania. Awhile back, Mr. Frisby signed up for a conference for work in Washington DC. I haven't been to DC in a very long time (we're talking decades), so I figured this would be a good opportunity for a family vacation to our nation's capital. I also have a very dear old friend outside of Philadelphia that I've been wanting to visit, so we decided to extend our trip to Pennsylvania after the conference was over.

My sister also joined the fun in DC so that I wouldn't have to be roaming the streets of Washington DC by myself with little Stella while Mr. Frisby was at his conference. This was to be Stella's first plane trip and to say that we were scared would be an understatement. I learned when we went to Idaho and Utah to visit family several months ago, that traveling with a child/children is a whole new ballgame. This fact was reiterated a hundred fold on this trip. We had a fabulous time and packed in a whole lot. So, let's begin.

We got up early Sunday morning to catch our flight. Because this was business travel for Mr. Frisby, we had to book our plane tickets separately and were, therefore, not assigned seats next to each other. In fact, we were both stuck in middle seats for both flights. This fact had me scared to death as thoughts of trying to keep a very energetic and curious 10-month old contained while sandwiched between two strangers went through my head. At the airport, however, the lady at the check-in counter and the gate agent were super helpful and nice and switched things around so we got seats together (we have issues with American Airlines and have vowed in the past to never fly with them again, but to their credit, when working with their employees in person, they have always been fantastic to us). Next, it was on to security - another terrifying prospect with the addition of a child to the mix. Fortunately, security went well. We were mostly held up when they decided to put every one of Stella's baby food pouches into a scanner to check for who knows what. When they all scanned clean, we were on our way to the gate. The whole airport process was made a billion times easier by this little gadget:

It's a little seat for your child that attaches to your carry-on. When the kid isn't in it, it folds flat, so you don't even have to take it off to put it in the overhead bin. With our hands full of carry-ons, diaper bags, boarding passes, and other paraphernalia, it was great to have Stella attached to the carry-on and not in our arms. Thanks, Jul!

There was one aspect of traveling with a child that I very quickly learned to LOVE. Priority boarding! Totally awesome. Not long after we got to the gate, we started boarding and were soon settled in our seats, ready for the long flight to Dallas where we had our layover. Here's the little tyke ready for her first flight.
 My anxiety over how Stella would do on the flight proved pointless. As in almost everything, Stella was a champ and handled everything as if she was born to do it. We learned from the get go that while traveling, the Paci is king. Stella doesn't normally need a paci very often. She only uses one when she's going to sleep. But, the paci proved to be very helpful for her ears with the pressure changes during the flight and gave her some comfort and familiarity in the totally unfamiliar environments she was in that week. With her paci, she did fantastic. She did well on all of our flights. She slept, though for only 45 minutes at a time or so. And we had a couple new toys for her to keep her busy. She only cried a little. The biggest problem was that she was restless and wanted to be crawling around exploring. And, unfortunately, there was nothing we could do to solve that problem. Fortunately, in Dallas, we found this little gem near our gate. A children's play area. Pure genius, if you ask me.

When I put Stella down on the ground here, she looked around for a second, then looked up at me, got a huge grin on her face, and away she went. I let her get all her wiggles out which proved an excellent choice since our flight out of Dallas was delayed and delayed again because of weather in DC. We arrived in DC about and hour and a half later than we were originally scheduled to. By the time we met up with my sister and made our way to the hotel, it was almost 11. And Stella was ready for bed.

Wow, this is long already and we've barely made it through a travel day.

After a decent night's sleep in our hotel, we woke up Monday morning ready for adventures. Mr. Frisby headed downstairs to his conference and my sister and I headed out to DC. Our first stop was the Museum of American History. I loved that all these awesome museums were free. After spending the morning at the museum, we grabbed some lunch and headed over to the headquarters of the Daughters of the American Revolution. It was hot outside and Stella fell asleep on the way.

We checked out their research library and found some information on one of our ancestors that served in the Revolutionary War.

After that, we headed to the Museum of Natural History. We spent maybe an hour there and then it was time to head to Arlington Cemetery where we planned to meet Mr. Frisby after he finished with his conference for the day.

Arlington was really cool and we enjoyed walking from the entrance to Kennedy's grave and from there to the tomb of the unknown soldier for the changing of the guard.

Stella was as happy as could be while we waited for the changing of the guard ceremony to start.

Our experience at Arlington was made more interesting when some idiot didn't pick up on the whole "quiet and respectful" atmosphere that prevails there (made even more obvious by the signs posted all over). While waiting for the changing of the guard to start, this idiot suddenly started yelling at someone on his cell phone. Everyone else looked at him, confused at why he would start being extremely noisy when everyone else was being very quiet and respectful and the clear choice would be to follow suit. The soldier did not like the man being noisy and turned around and said, very sternly, "all visitors will maintain an attitude of silence and respect." The idiot man turned around and left.

In spite of idiot man, the changing of the guard was cool.

After we finished at Arlington, we decided to head over to the National Mall to see the Lincoln Memorial. We ended up walking over because the nearest metro stop to the Lincoln Memorial would have been the same walking distance as the distance from Arlington. So, we walked and we walked and we walked. When we got there, it was just getting dark, so we got to see it all lit up.

We paused for a terrible picture of Mr. Frisby and Stella at the top of the steps. It was the best we could do with the lighting situation.

And we admired Honest Abe. The Lincoln Memorial was cool. It was one of the few things I remember from my trip to DC as a kid and it's something Mr. Frisby has always wanted to see.

After we finished at the Lincoln Memorial, it was getting late. But, because the nearest metro stop was so far away, we decided to walk up to the World War II Memorial and the Washington Monument to see those since they were right on the way to a different metro stop. We also went past the Korean War Memorial and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial along the way. It was a ton of walking and a lot to pack in. By the time we got to the metro, we were definitely ready to head back to the hotel and go to sleep.


Ella said...

Fun! Stella is always a champion. And I feel like I saw that travel seat on shark tank! Awesome!

LJ, DC and ML said...

Ok, that chair thing is super cool, I've never seen that before! What's it called?? I decided I was brave enough (or crazy enough) to book a trip for me and the kids to CO next month. Solo! I was thinking a flight to CO was super short, but then I remembered how impossible it is to keep my kids in sacrament meeting for an hour! Hahaha! Wish us luck!

Jenni said...

Kudos to Ella. The seat was indeed on Shark Tank and later featured on Good Morning America. It's called "Ride on Carry on". It was a gift to us, so I can't tell you where you could find it, but you can google it to find the website.

Gordita said...

Awesome trip so far. I'm so looking forward to reading about the rest.

Sharon said...

Wouldn't exactly call the museums free, unless you don't pay taxes. Your cemetery experience reminds me of our time at the punchbowl when Steve asked the caretaker what else there was to do there. The caretaker looked annoyed and replied, "It's a cemetery." To which Steve said, "I know, but is there anything to do here?" One of my prouder moments for sure!