so after may, OF LAST YEAR, we finished up the school year, collected our children from their various school trips, including DC, and turned right back around and drove to.... WASHINGTON DC. yep that's right, without thinking about it too much, we packed the kids into the old burb and drove to the white house. well with a few stops along the way.
for some reason i decided to chronicle our drive hour by hour (driving time only) from arizona to our friend's driveway in indiana.
we took route 66 all the way from flagstaff to st. louis. i got this cool book to help us along the way. it had all kinds of fun facts for the kids, things to look for out the window, and interesting things to do right off the side of the road. i never got to see the ice caves in new mexico... i'm still pretty bummed about that.
our first stop.... root beer floats, serious talkings to, threats and time to run around. then time to hit the road again...
we were pumped to spot cadillac ranch, just outside of amarillo, tx... america's first installation of road art. we got pretty muddy with red clay and it was really hard to wipe off. we also ate at a weird bbq spot somewhere around here... i really hate to think of what kind of meat we might have eaten.
oklahoma and missouri were pretty stressful to drive through. we encountered heavy rain and tornado warnings. while i did find friendly's ice cream to be delightful, and the road kill was so very interesting (really big) we got some pretty serious prayer time in. the kids were so quiet. we were googling what the heck to do when driving thru a tornado. growing up in az niether of us had a clue what to do. if we were near a fast food restaurant, we were supposed to go in and take shelter in their deep freeze. and if we were in the middle of nowhere (which we were) we were supposed to get everyone as far away from the car and lay in a ditch on top of the kids. there were tornadoes touching down in towns all around us but we luckily avoided them in our direct path... we "weathered" thru it if you will. hahahahaha
we finally made it to st. louis!! we checked out the arch and old cathedral. lucked out with parking there...
after, i can't remember now, so many hours we finally pulled up to our friend's house in indiana. we spent around a week there visiting friends and family. the kids couldn't wait to get to my grandma's house to see her and pick flowers. it was pretty much heaven with it being peony season and all.
memorial day on the front porch with gram & gramp
we were really thankful for our dear friends, the timkos. they opened their house to us and probably thought we would never leave. i kind of didn't want to.
we got to be there for my auntie's birthday. we enjoyed lovely walks in the park with her and she even had the little girls over for a sleepover with their cousin avery.
another highlight of the trip, my cousin sam the fireman gave us a tour of his station. he let the kids do everything!! they tried on his clothes, sprayed the hose, honked the horn, pushed all the buttons... they were in heaven. then as we were saying goodbye, they got a call. we watched them rush into their gear and swoop off to save someone. my eyes filled with tears, they were all so sweet and heros!! goll i love firefighters.
after a sad goodbye but wonderful visit to grandparents, family and friends we left indiana and headed towards philly. we stopped in ohio to visit with some of paul's family. we were spoiled with an amazing cookout and salads galore. we chatted and the kids played piano and we even got some backyard haircuts :)
we also made a stop at Paul's family farm in tiffin. it is also the place where our engagement took place, so of course we reenacted...
we had to grab a dog & suds too...
in the morning we drove through pennsylvania which has got to be one of the most beautiful states. the rolling green velvet hills were fabulous. we had to make a primanti bros. stop in pittsburgh. so delish.
we made it to my uncle & aunt's house and had the most fabulous time filling their house to the brim with our brooklyn cousins & their dog, miss honey too! we toured philly & checked out the liberty bell and had water ice... which was not as good as our philly cheese-steaks. we stayed up way too late laughing and solving the world's problems. the kids adore their cousin lucia & had a blast staying up all night watching movies in the basement.
after philly, we packed up the car again and headed to DC! we met up with more fun family at the hamilton restaurant. we loved exploring the city life and the kids loved seeing everyone's apartments. this one in particular had a bed that folded away every morning. the kids got a kick out of that.
the white house!!! we made it!! although we were not picked for a tour, again, ugghh.
the washington monument!
abe, little s & mom selfie...
after hand delivering a paper for S's congressional award program, we were directed to our congress woman's office and told to say we were constituents from the district and would like a tour of the capitol building. so we did. and it was awesome. we had done this tour in the past, but this was better because we got to go through the underground tunnels that lead out of the capitol building. it was so cool.
clearly enjoying themselves...
since D had just returned from a trip to DC with her class a few weeks before our trip, she really enjoyed showing us around. she directed us to the natural history museum, a few times, the library of congress and to the place where her class had stayed.
the weather was exciting and a little different every day. it went from extremely hot & muggy, to pouring down rain... to freezing! we had to make a stop to gap clearance to pick up some warm sweaters!
one day my sweet aunt took the big girls to the spy museum while we took the littles to the library of congress. they were so excited to check out all the cool spy gear and my aunt even treated them to an operation spy adventure. they were given a mission and chose to accept it. they loved it. and the littles loved just chillin in the library. they colored and played with the puppet show for what seemed like hours.
one of my favorite nights... dinner at 2 amy's. the food was AMAZING. it might have been that it was SO far & it was quite an adventure getting there. oh and they had my favorite beverage on tap :)
after this dinner we took a taxi to the lincoln memorial and walked all the way back to the apartment from there. the kids were troopers!!
another family hit was spending the day at mount vernon. we learned so much and the grounds were beautiful. they have a great museum at the end all about george washington (obvi) we could have spent the whole day just in there! it was also fun seeing some of the spots where the national treasure movies were filmed. we watched those movies every night. the kids got a kick out of the apartment being right next to the national archives!!
just like any other night... right Uncle John??? :)
sadly, at some point we needed to head back home. we said goodbye to our oh so generous aunt and uncle who shared their one bedroom apartment with us and our family of 8. it was a little tight but we managed (and loved it). we mapped a little different route home and stopped to see friends in nashville.
somewhere in arkansas....
kids spent lots of time pondering why it's pronounced ar-can-saw when it's spelled just like kansas but with an "ar" in the front. unanswered questions...
we had to stop at graceland!!!! unfortunately i was the only one who wanted to go in. so we didn't experience elvis's gloriousness. wahhh.
we spent our last evening in albuquerque before driving thru the night to home. we had a yummy mexican dinner & walked around a bit. it was bittersweet. we were ready to be home, but we had grown accostomed to being so close to one another. we were free, no plans, no stress, just us, the kids & the open road. i loved it. we thought it would be a disaster with fighting and being in such close quarters, but we were pleasantly surprised.
after 17 states and 1 district, we dreaded heading back to the heat but the new mexico skies put on quite a show for us on our last night and we were so thankful.
i would definitely recommend DC to any family looking for a vacation destination. we all loved the history, the activities, there are lots of free things to do (especially handy for big families) & good food... i can't wait to go back!!