Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm Global!

I use SiteMeter to track hits on my blog. It's had hits from Belgium, Sweden, Australia, Brazil, and Germany recently. In the past it's had hits from England, and I think a few others I've forgotten. How cool is that! If you're one of these people, leave a comment if you want, let me know how you found my blog. Heck, no matter where you're from feel free to let me know how you found me. I'm curious and excited to hear about it!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Washington, D.C. part 2

Friday we slept in and headed to the National Archives once we were up at about. We got there around 11:45, but the next showing wasn't until 1:30 so we decided to skip it. Then we headed to Ford's Theater, then across the street to the house where Lincoln died. Then lunch at ESPN Zone, then on to the International Spy Museum. That was really cool, but it was too crowded. They had interactive displays, and there were just too many people to get to play with most of them.

Since vacations are supposed to be relaxing, we went back to the hotel for a while and I took a short nap. Then we drove back to DC to Union Station where the Moonlight Monument tour was leaving from. We should have taken the metro again as we got a bit turned around, and traffic out there is ridiculous. We didn't have time for dinner before the tour as we had hoped. We had seen most of the monuments already, but it was cool seeing them at night all lit up. We got some great pictures of the nighttime view of DC. We also got to see the Vietnam Memorial which we hadn't seen yet. I had seen it 12 years earlier when I was there with school, but wanted to see it again. I found the name of someone my Dad had given me to look up, his childhood neighbor's husband. If you don't know how the wall is organized, they have a book at the beginning with everyone's name in alphabetical order. You look up the name, and it has a number next to it, such as 35W 61. that means it's in the 35th panel on the west side, on the 61st line. Very easy to find the name you're looking for. We also got to see the nurse's memorial.

Saturday we again slept in a little, then back to DC. We saw the Museum of Natural History, which was so cool. After that back to the hotel, grab the car, and head to Baltimore. We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. Again, traffic getting to Baltimore was ridiculous. The line at HRC was ridiculous. Hour and a half wait. But, while we were at the HRC in DC we bought a membership all access card, which gives you 10% off, and lets you skip to the front of the line. So we were seated in 10 minutes. The card doesn't, however, make the chefs cook faster, so we had a long wait for our food. Because we were running behind, and knew how awful traffic was, we didn't get to drive past Charm City Cakes. That was a little disappointing, but I'd rather have made it to the concert on time. We got there just a few minutes before Queensryche took the stage, so we made the right decision to skip CCC.

The Dream Theater Meet and Greet was at 7, so we unfortunately missed most of Queensryche, since we had to get in line by 6:45. What we did see was great though. For the M&G they first sent everyone through line to have their picture taken. Then we went through a second time to get something autographed. I got a Tshirt signed by the whole band. I was starstruck, and didn't say much beyond "hey, how's it going." It was almost better than xmas for us. So cool to get to meet our favorite band.

The next band up was Zappa Plays Zappa. It's Dweezil and others doing Frank's music. I was skeptical, but they were absolutely amazing. If you ever get a chance to see them, do it. They are all so talented. It was a great show. Then of course Dream Theater. We were second row center. Could almost reach out and touch them. So amazing. One of the best concerts of my life. They played a lot of their new music, and it was fantastic. It was the perfect end to a fabulous week.

Sunday we again woke early and started the long drive home. We made it home around 10PM, and while we were sad the trip was over, we were happy to be home with the kids again. Tiberius was super excited to see us, and Emmy had gotten noticeably bigger in the week we were gone. Kitty was Kitty, happy to see us but properly aloof at the same time, as cats will be. It was nice to sleep in our own bed with the kids, though if Emmy gets much bigger we're going to need a king sized bed to fit us all.

Washington, D.C. part 1

I wrote this last Thursday while we were in DC. but since the hotel didn't have wifi didn't get to post it. This week has been crazy catching up on stuff at home, so this is the first chance I've had to get this up.


This week has been fantastic so far. John and I woke up early Monday morning – earlier than I get up for work most days – and drove to Washington, D.C. We took our time, making stops for lunch, dinner, bathroom breaks, looking for an Amish Flea Market that turned out to only be open on the weekends. We made it to the hotel sometime around midnight. Nothing fancy, just a Days Inn, but it has a bed and a shower, which is all we really need. Not to mention a 7-11 across the street for Coke Slurpees and a Baskin Robbin’s/Dunkin’ Donuts next door. I miss Dunkin Donuts in St. Louis, and there are far too few Baskin Robbin’s.

Tuesday we slept in, then hopped a bus to the Metro station at the Pentagon and rode into DC. (We’re staying in Arlington.) From there we went to the National Air and Space Museum which was the one thing I really really wanted to see while we’re here. I’m a space geek, and getting to see all the NASA artifacts was absolutely amazing. Words can’t describe what an incredible experience it was for me. After that we walked around looking at monuments. Washington Monument – unfortunately all the tickets were sold out so we couldn’t go up in it. World War II Monument was incredible. Lincoln Memorial has way too many stairs but is impressive. Korean War Monument – did you know the statues’ faces are sculpted from photographs of real soldiers? Then on to Franklin D. Roosevelt Monument, Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Then back to the hotel.

By this time my left knee was hurting and I really needed to rest. It was also 90+ degrees that day and we were exhausted. We stayed at the hotel the rest of the night. I took a nap, we ordered pizza in and were just lazy.

Wednesday we woke up early again to make it to the Capitol in time for our 9:10 tour. I must say I was disappointed in the tour. We couldn’t take many pictures, we had to stand in one place while we listened to the tour guide talk, and it was very short. One nifty thing was we walked past the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate. Why is that cool? He’s the only person in the country who has authority to arrest the President. From there we stopped by our Congressman’s office (Troy Akin) to get tickets for the Senate and House Galleries. While there we commented on our disappointment in the Capitol tour, so one of his interns took us on a more in depth tour. That one was impressive. We got to see the old Senate chambers, which later became the Supreme Court chambers, got to take all the pictures we wanted, and just had more time in general to see more of the Capitol. Thank you, Mr. Aiken’s intern whose name I forgot for a great tour.

Before that, however, we had lunch at Tortilla Coast, a fabulous restaurant on Capitol Hill. After the second Capitol tour we went to the Supreme Court for a “tour.” It wasn’t so much a tour as a 30 minute lecture. We sat in the court and listened to a woman talk for 30 min. It was pretty boring and very disappointing.

By this time our legs and knees were showing signs of giving out, so we decided to get dinner then head back to the hotel. We walked to the Hard Rock Café, then took Metro back to Arlington, and spent the rest of the night lazy at the hotel.

Today it was up early again for a tour of the Pentagon. That was a good tour and very interesting. Our guides were great, had a good sense of humor, and very informative. We walked about a mile and a half just on that tour. Then we toured Arlington Cemetery. Kennedy’s grave with the eternal flame, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and changing of the guard. That was a very moving ceremony. Arlington House (memorial to Robert E. Lee) has a gorgeous view over DC. Our knees and legs were still tired and sore, so we went back to the hotel, grabbed the car, and went to lunch at Rock Bottom Brewery. Delicious food, I had lemon chicken and white cheddar mashed potatoes, but the beer wasn’t anything to write home about. Then we drove to Iwo Jima, then back to the hotel for a nap.

Feeling much refreshed after a nap and shower, we headed out to Blues Alley Jazz club to see Hiromi’s Sonic Bloom. Hiromi is a fabulous jazz pianist, and her band is very talented as well. The show was amazing, and I had fantastic crab cakes for dinner and a bottle of overpriced champagne. We opted to leave before the second set. I would have loved to see them play more but we wanted to walk around Georgetown for a while. We found the steps from The Exorcist and ran up them, then had a drink at The Tombs, the bar from St. Elmo’s Fire. It’s a nice, unassuming place that I could see myself hanging out at if I lived here. I had a summer tea, which is sweet tea with vodka. Most bars in St. Louis err on the side of caution (or stinginess) when making drinks, and you would never know there was alcohol in the drink. Not The Tombs. I could taste the vodka, but it wasn’t overwhelming. The drink was fabulous, but I only finished half. Then back to the hotel.

Tomorrow we’re going to see the International Spy Museum, Ford’s Theater, National Archives, then we’ll see from there. Going to take a Monuments by Moonlight tour tomorrow night.

Saturday we’ll probably drive down to Mt. Vernon and have an easy day. Queensryche goes on at 6:00 so we’ll hit the concert by then. The show is in Columbia, MD, about an hour north of Arlington and close to Baltimore. Since we’ll be so close to Baltimore, we’re going to make a side stop to drive by Charm City Cakes. Unfortunately they don’t allow random people to stop by and tour the bakery, which I completely understand, but if we’re so close I at least want to see the bakery of the man who inspired me for my second hobby (next to writing.) Maybe we’ll catch a glimpse of Chef Duff through the window. Then backstage at 7:00 to meet Dream Theater. So excited and can’t wait to meet them and see the show.

Now, it’s off to bed for me. The hotel doesn’t have wifi, and the network cable in our room doesn’t seem to work, so I might not get this posted until we get back to St. Louis. Night all.