I’m working on getting pictures downloaded that I’ve taken since we’ve been home from vacation. These are a couple I took the week after we got home, when June and Clara were both at my house. I thought this was the last time I would see them both as six-year-olds – June turned seven (!) that Friday. As it turned out I saw them both the next day, but I didn’t know that was going to happen that day. We had some sprinkler fun that afternoon.
The day after we got back from vacation was a busy day, but so very special. It started out around lunch time, when I headed up to my friend Becky’s mom’s house. Her husband Doug’s daughter-in-law and four grandchildren were in town for the first time ever, meeting as much of Becky’s family as they could before heading to Johnson City to spend the week with Becky & Doug there. I was thrilled when she texted & asked if I could stop by to meet them, too. They are a beautiful family, and I know getting to spend such an extended time with them was just a precious experience for them all.
When I left Maude’s house, I headed straight to an open house that the Dubiski’s hosted, to introduce our church family to Susanna Hope Martin, who is our associate preacher Drew, his wife Grace, and their little ones Anna Grace and Esther Joy’s new baby. She is absolutely beautiful, and I loved getting a chance to visit at least a little bit with Grace that day. It was wonderful having such special events going on to ease me back into post-vacation life 🙂
…we made one more day of it, touring the Fredericksburg Battlefield before hitting the road south. Fredericksburg is where my great-great-great (possibly one more great – I can never remember) grandfather lost his leg, so I was excited that we were staying close enough to visit there. The visitor’s center was being remodeled, so we didn’t get nearly as much information about the battle itself as we normally would, but the lady in the gift shop did look up his name, James McDaniel, on her computer, and could tell me that he was a Corporal in the Calvary, Company C, Georgia State Guard. And Lindee happened to think to ask if her mother-in-law Emma’s great-great-great grandfather fought there. They knew he’d been killed at Petersburg late in the war, but didn’t know much else about where he’d served. And sure enough, there he was. So Mallory & Clara had ancestors on both sides fighting together. Pretty cool. This picture is the Sunken Road that sort of bisected the battlefield, & was pretty much the base for the fighting.
Often – well, most of the time, really – anywhere we stopped outside on vacation, Clara would get up close and personal with any bugs or gravel or grass or whatever she could find to entertain herself :-). She was so so so so so good the entire week – just went along with whatever we wanted to do.
As we were at Chancellorsville, we were very interested in the trenches that continued to stand the test of time – over 150 years now. Fredericksburg was fought in December before Stonewall Jackson was killed the following spring, so these were actually trenches his men built. It was just another great day, and an awesome way to end our vacation.
Our last day in Washington we visited the National Archives – no pictures allowed – and Fords Theater. We toured the museum, & then went into the actual theater, where we saw the box where Abraham Lincoln was sitting when he was shot. Here is Mallory in the museum.
Across the street from Fords Theater was the Peterson House, where President Lincoln actually died. And adjacent to that was another museum and a Center for Education or something like that. Inside that Center was a stack of books about Abraham Lincoln. I think the sign said it contained like half of the 15,000 books who had been written about him. I know the stack was over three stories high. This is looking down on it as we started down the stairs. Impressive, to say the least. A great way to end our visit to our Nation’s Capital.
Wednesday when we were on vacation we spent the entire day at the Museum of American History – Mallory’s #1 place she wanted to visit while we were in Washington. Almost the first thing we saw were Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers from the Wizard of Oz – one of the things she most wanted to see. When her friend Lacy Emma was in Washington a year or so ago, the slippers were out on loan, so we didn’t know if we’d see them or not. This was an exciting discovery for us 🙂
One of my favorite displays at the museum was the hall that included items from the 1960’s. It was just so much the story of my childhood that I loved every thing about it. All around on the floor were newspaper headlines from those decades – man on the moon, Viet Nam, Kennedy assassinations. This was my favorite.
Clara’s #1 thing she wanted to do while we were in Washington was see President Obama :-). That didn’t work out for us, but she was pretty fired up about getting to have her picture made with the dress that Mrs. Obama wore to the second inauguration. Another special vacation day for us all the way around…
Here are a couple of more pictures from our visit into the city on Tuesday when we were on vacation. This first one is a picture of the statue of John C. Calhoun, who was from South Carolina, and was vice president under maybe Andrew Jackson? I never took South Carolina history in school, so can’t remember for sure. Anyway, here is an interesting story. There are statues ALL OVER the Capitol. In addition to all those of presidents, etc., every state is allowed to place two statues in the Capitol. South Carolina donated statues of Calhoun and of Wade Hampton, who was a Civil War hero. Here’s the thing: the statue of Wade Hampton is missing. No one can find it. It was in the Capitol at one time – there are records of it being there – but at this time, it can’t be located. Hilarious!
Mallory’s favorite animal in the amazing Mammal Hall at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History was this huge giraffe, which was mounted with this tongue out, as though he were eating leaves. I hate the picture didn’t turn out any better – it’s one she specifically asked me to take for her. Still, a good day all in all.
Tuesday in Washington started out not to be that great a day, as a matter of fact. We had tickets to an early time to tour Fords Theater, but ran into by far the worst traffic we encountered on the entire trip as we were driving into the city, so we missed our appointment. Then we headed to the Archives, where we thought we could take a quick tour before we were scheduled to meet with our representative Mick Mulvaney at his office building, and tour the Capitol, and sit in on a session in Congress – but the line was way, WAY too long for us to do that. So we just had a quick lunch on the steps of the National Archives, & headed back towards the Capitol. As we were arriving back down in the metro station, Mallory stopped to read the quote that was on the wall there. If you know me at all, you know that was something I was thrilled to see – a grandchild who likes to read a sign :-).
Our tour of the Capitol was conducted by one of the interns in Representative Mulvaney’s office. What a great experience it was. She really seemed to do everything she could to show us things she thought the girls especially would love. For instance, there are four enormous paintings of scenes from American history in the rotunda of the Capitol, & she made sure the girls saw this one of Pocahontas being baptized. I’m not gonna lie, it wasn’t my favorite, but the girls really seemed to like it, & she got them right over in front of it to see it.
After our tour Lindee had gotten us passes to sit in on a session of the House of Representatives, which Mallory, especially, absolutely loved. When we left there we had a fun visit on the office steps with Representative Steve Womack from Arkansas, & then headed over to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History to spend the rest of the day. There were some great exhibits, but one of our favorites was Gems and Minerals. This is Mallory is front of one of the enormous aquamarines they had on display – her birthstone. Another good, good day.
After all our busy-ness of the three previous days, and all that we had planned for the rest of the week, we took Monday off to just hang around the condo & recuperate. We slept late, read, watched a little TV, & just in general did as little as possible. Jeff did run to the store & get the fixings to cook us hotdogs for lunch on the grill on the porch of our cabin.
We literally stayed in our pajamas until afternoon, when we put on our swimsuits to head to the pool. How’s this for a cute kiddie slide? Obviously the girls were loving it. It was just a good, restful day.
We found out that we had a personal connection to some of the memorials in Washington, which made them even more special, if possible. On the Vietnam War Memorial Wall, we found Emma’s cousin’s name – Roger D. Bell – with a little help from the volunteers there. Just looking at that wall with panel after panel after panel, with hundreds of names on each one – overwhelming.
We finished up our day at Arlington National Cemetery, where we found the memorials for the crews of the Challenger and of the Columbia just as it got to be time for the gates to close. It was just a very, very meaningful day.