Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Traveling Northward

So, we went on a business trip to Atlanta, added a wonderful family vacation in Orlando, and made a great road trip out of the whole thing. We did fun things getting to Atlanta and Orlando and getting back. Here we go . . .

 We decided to splurge and actually BUY breakfast (something we hardly did the whole trip). We had a lovely morning, ate breakfast at Sal's outside on the piazza, packed up, relaxed on the patio on the terrace, and loaded the car.

 Ahhh, this is the life.

Yes indeed. Chai latte and the morning paper on the terrace. Heheheh.

We drove from Orlando to St. Augustine, walked the beach, and got our feet in the ocean.

 Scout is a fan of the sand, but not the surf.

 Oh, how we love the being by the ocean.

St. Augustine - the nation's oldest city. Beautiful Spanish-style buildings!

We stopped in Jacksonville to visit a friend. This is me and Mike. Mike is the younger brother of my best friend growing up (Cathy). We hadn't seen each other in about 15 years. This is the guy who, when I was about 16 or 17 (and he was 15), kicked my teddy bear at the same time that he brought my mother flowers. Apparently that is how 15-year-old boys show a girl they like her. His older brother Charlie had told him to charm my mom. He forgot to tell him not to kick my stuffed animals. In all seriousness, Mike is a good guy. It was nice to meet his wife and kids while there, too!

Our next stop was Savannah, GA. It's a lovely town on the coast and just past the border to South Carolina. We drove up and down the picturesque riverside and got a feel for the place since it's our good friend Kellie's dream place to live. We can see why she likes it. Very charming!

 Hey Kellie! I'm in Savannah!

We don't like driving at night and it was already getting late, so we drove a ways into South Carolina and spent the night at a hotel. The next morning, we were on the road again . . .

In the South, huge confederate flags still wave. WTH?? Our kids are appalled at them. I asked them if they found something they REALLY wanted (and couldn't find anywhere else ) in a store that sold confederate flags, would they buy it? Both said no, horrified. Have I mentioned how great these kids are?

Since Krispy Kremes originated in South Carolina, we stopped to get a snack there. I'm still underwhelmed by them -- too greasy and too sweet, but any excuse to stop for food ranks in our book.

 Case in point. We made a point of getting Carolina BBQ in North Carolina. We are in the stone ages, I know -- no Internet on our phones -- but we'd find some free WiFi and look up good places to eat on Yelp. Fantastic resource! We didn't have a lousy meal the ENTIRE trip. This hole-in-the-wall place in Fayetteville, NC did not disappoint. We went to the Fort Bragg location and the workers there were super nice. 

We ate phenomenal BBQ pork, hush puppies, "vegetables," fried chicken, and even tried the South's famous sweet tea (YUCK! It was waayyyyy too sweet - I don't know how anyone in the South has any teeth at all.). We also tried a soda only available in the South called Cheerwine - it was gross, too. It tasted like cherry-flavored cough medicine. Thing 2 liked it, though. Anyway, the food was a great deal and while we definitely felt like Yankees there, they were great about sharing their Southern hospitality with us just the same.

Oh, the "vegetables."

Cole Slaw. Potato Salad. Baked Beans. French Fries.
No comment.

Scout is such a great traveler. She snuggles between the kids and just chills.

We stayed in Fredericksburg, Virginia the next night and, with the help of Yelp, we found a GREAT sushi place. Lousy service, but terrific sushi! They were both beautiful and delicious.

Scout at the hotel

We got an early start and drove into DC. We love Washington, DC! I said it while on this trip -- there is a palpable energy in that city. Doesn't matter if the people you see on the street are Republicans or Democrats - they are ALL there because they all want to be a part of making things better and you can sense it there. Movers and shakers. And such an EASY city to visit. So much is free. And it's all so wonderful to visit and see!

First stop - Arlington National Cemetery. What an amazing place full of rich, interesting history. When we got back from our trip, we watched a documentary about Arlington and it added to our sense of awe.

We took the kids to JFK's and Jackie's graves and the eternal flame there

See the Washington Monument in the background?

Robert Kennedy's (RFK's) grave

Senator Ted Kennedy's grave

pbs.org - Three brothers: JFK, RFK, and Ted
I'm fascinated by the Kennedys. Every time I sit to read anything about them, it always turns into hours of reading and research, because there is so much that is so interesting! Mark and I are currently more than halfway through watching the miniseries "The Kennedys" on Netflix. Which means, I've been spending A LOT of time reading up on all kinds of things.

We visited several more memorials, including one for the victims of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
I was in 6th grade when that happened. It was so sad.

Next, we took the kids to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
We witnessed the changing of the guards -- very reverent, symbolic, and moving.

It is a solemn place.

We then went to the Iwo Jima monument.
Here is our family in front of the monument.

And we took this picture so you can see the whole thing -- flag and all.
The place was crawling with so many WWII vets - I got a little teary-eyed watching them.

We found a Chipotle and all split salad in the car just to tie us over for dinner.

And then, the main reason we visited DC . . . we were so excited to see the new Martin Luther King Memorial that they recently dedicated. It is better than I had imagined. I had seen pictures and at first thought, "Oh no, it's small and hidden away." Nope. It's prominent and large and right on the tidal basin. As it should be. It was another moving place to visit. There were A LOT of people visiting the memorial.

We get Christmas ornaments/keychains of the places we visit and every Christmas, when we decorate the kids' tree, we get to talk about our memories as we hang the ornaments. The MLK memorial is so new that the gift shop didn't have any ornaments or key chains yet. That's okay. We go to DC fairly often, so we'll be back. Wonderful place!

"Out of the mountain of despair . . . a stone of hope."
A fitting quote and a symbolic rendering.
All along the sides of this were walls of great quotes by MLK. We all chose our favorites.

It started raining, but we stopped to visit FDR, as it is one of our favorite memorials there.

We walked around the tidal basin

This really short video shows you the MLK memorial in relation to a couple of others. I am really happy that it is more prominent than I had anticipated.

Next, we made a special stop at yet another national park. This time, the Clara Barton house, home of the first Red Cross site. Thing 1 was pretty excited about this - Clara Barton is one of her historical heroes and she recently won honorable mention in a prestigious, competitive, local writing contest by writing a fictionalized historical diary by Clara's sister Sally.

Our guide was excellent and it was really fascinating to learn about Clara's life journey.

Thing 1 by a picture of one of her historical heroes.

See the red crosses in the windows?

Clara Barton's house and the site of the first Red Cross offices.
Notice the flag on top of the house.

Look how huge that house is! It was like a giant house/supply closet/hospital for many, many people. Clara Barton was pretty amazing.

We left DC and found a yummy Mexican place for dinner in Maryland. It was Cinco de Mayo, so it had to be done. We then drove home and were all happy to get back to our own home and our own beds. Scout loves getting home and Thing 2 especially loves getting back after any trips away. He gets such a spring in his step and a smile on his face. Within a couple of days of getting back, he looked at me and announced, "I love life!" Yeah, he's pretty happy to be back. We all are. It was a great, memorable trip -- so glad we went!


Dr. Mark said...

Fantastic review of our trip! How do we fit so much in so little time?! I can't wait to get back to D.C. and spend more time there. We always have so much more that we want to do! And given the choice between good food and good service, I'll pick the food every time.

Lindsay said...

How fun! I am pretty sure that I did a report on Clara Barton back in Elementary School, but I don't remember much about her. Can't wait to get back out to PA

Jagged Rocks said...

First off I just want to say you look great! You all look so happy too.
That would have been such a fun trip, you guys got to see and do so much stuff.
It has been such a long time since Kraig and I have had a real vacation.

Jimmy said...

Yup on the Krispy Kremes. I don't get it either.

Thanks to your kids, I think there's hope that things can get better.

Jimmy said...

Yup on the Krispy Kremes. I don't get it either.

Thanks to your kids, I think there's hope that things can get better.

Emily Foley said...

Seriously about the confederate flag. What is that?

I loved the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as a kid. I had a fascination with the Civil War and took way too many pictures at Arlington and the Tomb.

Sweet tea. Yuck. My good friend here Mary is from Biloxi and she drinks sweet tea like crazy. She's been meeting with the missionaries and recently committed to living the word of wisdom. She says she doesn't mind giving up coffee, and she doesn't smoke or drink alcohol, but the sweet tea thing is killing her. Poor Mary. :)

I saw JFK's grave with the flame out once! That made me laugh a little.

I always get teary-eyed around vets too. I dream of one day visiting Pearl Harbor but after my trip to Normandy I'm pretty sure I'll be a total mess there.

What a GREAT trip!

Jillo said...

Fantastic trip! I'm kinda jealous your States are all so close together. Over here, we drive 8 hours and 1. Are still in Utah
2. The scenery pretty much never changes. :)

Ahh...the confederate flag....an unfortunate icon of my childhood. My mom is from Georgia (Savannah, actually) and that flag flew over many a family reuinion. Here's what I try to keep in mind ...for my moms family, and I assume many other southerly souls, the flag is not a symbol purely of pro-slavery. It is more the reminder of when the south was at its "greatest." I think they cling to the past through the flag like an old woman clings to a photograph of when she was young and beautiful. While I dont associate the flag with anything beautiful, I can sort of understand why they might.

Ten points for bringing your puppy on your trip!

We would LOVE to see DC....good thing we know some awesome folk that live nearby. :)

Boquinha said...

Mark, same here, though both is preferable. :P

Lindsay, when are you coming?

Thanks, Kim! You guys are welcome to come here on a trip if you ever get the chance! Free lodging at our house. :)

Jimmy, that is so sweet. Thank you. By the way, I'm hoping to do a post of our visit together soon!

Emily, it really was a fantastic trip.

Jill, it's one of the many things I love about living in the East. I think you're spot on about why some cling to the confederate flag. But it does amaze me, that this many DECADES later, given what else is associated with it for many, it's still flying anywhere! And I do think it needs to stop. It's *almost* akin, in my mind, to Nazi flags. Granted, perhaps not to that extreme, but just a very strong icon/symbol with very strong (and many negative) associations. Some of the flags we saw were GIGANTICALLY huge, bigger than any US flag I've ever seen (with one exception - a US flag at the Smithsonian). There is still very much a divisive feel between North (Yankees) and the South - it's palpable. But yeah, I do think you have an excellent point and I think you are right on that.

And YES, we'd love to host your family. Every time I think about it, I practically get giddy at the thought. Can you imagine the fun we'd have??