I tried to post this blog last week, but due to a hard drive glitch, I had to wait for a new one to come in the mail. Another reason I love being married to someone who knows how to fix everything. My new hard drive is from Japan and has penguin things that light up, which I'm super excited about. (I don't know what they're called, so I'm sticking with the all-inclusive word "things.")
Here's the journal I kept during the trip with Mom and Mamaw after the 4th of July.
Wednesday, July 6
Leaving rental car place. Mom is driving Chevy Equinox. The first thing she says while the car is running: “Is this thing on?” Call Mamaw to let her know we’re on the way. “Well, I’m ready,” she says.
Passing old stomping grounds in Roanoke, Va. Mom pointing out what all the exits lead to. Learned that Papaw was in the Army from 1953 to 1955, and he and Mamaw got married in ’53 when he was home on furlough before going to Germany. I knew he served in the military, but I couldn’t remember what years.
Pit stop at Exxon on Lee Highway in Virginia. Giving the key to Mom, who calls it “newfangled” because you push a button to swing the key part out of the control. Mamaw snacking on popcorn after getting kettle corn by accident a few days ago.
Driving through Shenandoah National Park. Pass a building that says “Antique tables made daily.”
Went the wrong way to the place we’re staying. Note: If traveling north into Shenandoah Park, Skyline Drive is on your left at the top of a mountain with no clear signage on your side of the road.
Stopped at Walmart earlier for some food so we don’t spend so much eating out. Just ate dinner: chicken salad on whole wheat, macaroni salad, grapes and Fritos. Staying at Skyland Resort, Room 141.
Thursday, July 7
Mom and I walked to the gift shop this morning. Leaving for D.C.!
Saw a black bear in the grass by the highway. “Bear, bear!”
Settled in our hotel about 1:30. Staying at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. Proud of myself for navigating D.C. traffic, even if it was with the help of the GPS. Planned to go to the Library of Congress, but got a late start and spent half an hour looking for a parking spot. Went to the Capitol and cooled off in the U.S. Botanic Gardens instead.
Stopped for something cold at a little van vendor on the street corner. Mom got a frozen lemonade, Mamaw got a Dr. Pepper and I got a chocolate éclair ice cream. Watching all the pedestrians and traffic from a shady bench. Definitely wouldn’t live here, but visiting is fun.
My turn to drive again. Passed all the embassies – South Africa, Belize, Turkey, etc. Battled D.C. traffic to the National (Episcopal) Cathedral. Woodrow Wilson and his wife are buried there. It took 83 years to build (1907-1990). Obama and his family attend services there sometimes, but I’ll hold my tongue on what else I think about that. Each state’s flag is displayed on either side of the cathedral. The people of the church pray for one state a week, then D.C. and the islands.
Ate at the Bookhill Bistro, a restaurant 9 weeks old. We sat at a table on the second floor and had salmon, salad and a fruit and cheese plate.
Just got back to the hotel. Spotted the Jefferson Memorial across the Potomac River and decided to take a look. It’s all lit up at night, and it was nice to beat the heat. Learned that Jefferson suggested a grid for Washington’s streets, but L’Enfant didn’t listen. Bad decision. I’ve never seen such confusing streets, and there’s no way I would get on a bike like all these other people. People don’t like to slow down.
Friday, July 8
Took a courtesy shuttle to the Washington Monument, but realized you have to get a free ticket for a certain time to actually go in it. We weren’t interested in that anyway, so we snapped some pictures and walked around it. Got pictures of the White House and some Native American demonstration around a teepee. One guy had a POW shirt on, so it might have been a military thing. Mom complimented an Indian woman on her sari.
Walked to the World War II Memorial across from the monument. Beautiful. I love all the water. I like all the languages I’m hearing, too: Spanish, Italian, French, Arabic, German, Chinese and some kind of African language.
On our way to the Lincoln Memorial! Reflecting Pool is closed for construction. L Bummer.
Lincoln Memorial is one of my favorites. It makes me feel patriotic. We also saw the Korean War Veterans Memorial. In the Smithsonian Castle now. Took a cab over here for $9. Surprised how friendly people are – the police officers, cab driver and information desk people.
Ate lunch in a castle. J Holy moly, it’s expensive. $3.25 for a small lemonade.
Exhausted and wet from the rain. So much for packing umbrellas. But it’s all worth it; we did everything else on the list – the Museum of American History, the Library of Congress and a picture of the U.S. Supreme Court. One of the exhibits at the museum almost made me tear up. It was the one on the presidents, and it was amazing how much some of our former presidents were revered and how much they did for our country. I feel like our current Chief is taking us down. The military exhibit honored all the men and women who have fought so hard for our country, and now it’s like we’re going backwards. … We did see Lincoln's hat, though! I also enjoyed the exhibit about the diary of a Civil War nurse and seeing the ruby red slippers used in “The Wizard of Oz.” I thought they would be shinier or something.
Mom and I ate dinner at the hotel restaurant. The burgers were yummy, but mine wasn’t cooked well done the first time, so I had to get another. The service wasn’t great, either, so I didn’t tip much. At least I saved money. Mamaw is napping. Mom thinks she left one of her souvenir bags on the taxi earlier. Water tastes funny here, but I have Deer Park so it’s OK.
Saturday, July 9
Sitting in McAlister’s either in or near Fort Royal, Va. Went to the National Archives this morning and saw the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. Can barely read them now. Learned that the Constitution was the first reference to “the United States of America.” (Well, I think I learned it before and forgot.)
Also visited an exhibit about how the American government has influenced food and the American appetite. Lots of propaganda for eating healthy. Hasn’t worked too well long term. Mamaw told us about rationing during the Depression and getting books of something like food stamps. School kids used to turn in their mother’s metal canisters to be used in WWII.
Ashamed that I don’t remember more from my history classes and buy a copy of the Declaration and Constitution.
Visited the Arlington Cemetery, but I was thinking it would look like a different cemetery. Which is the one with all the white crosses? Saw JFK’s grave and didn’t know he and Jackie had two kids that died young. I think one died at birth and one at two days old.
Now heading home.
Stopped at our old house in Roanoke in the North Lakes neighborhood, 4785 Lantern St. Saw the steep backyard and mailbox I remember. House is now blue. I remember it being a white or cream color with black shutters.
Sharing funny stories about church, poetry contests, a delayed wedding and bicycle wrecks in the creek. Giving me ideas for my future interview with family members. J