8/09/2009

Summer Road Trip, Points East, pt 2

My merry band of men on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, with the reflecting pool ( famous scene in "Forrest Gump") and the Washington Memorial in the back ground

After our week at the beach, we turned north and headed to the Washington DC area. Stayed with hubster's dad, who has been having serious health problems and not doing really well. (Important note : only hubster's mother and siblings join us at the beach each year, as his parents are divorced.) Spent a few days taking the kids to see all the sights, and also took some time to help hubster's dad with some home and yard maintenance issues. It was a good visit, in spite of the fact that it rained every day and the humidity was 100%, and moving around was like living in Rangoon , like swimming through an air of thick pea soup. It reminded me of the days when I used to live in Houston - the leather on my shoes started to mold. The pills in my first aid kit melted, just from the air, into moist greasy puddles.
Paddle boats in front of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC. This is the same little pond that is ringed with cherry blossoms each spring

As hubster and I watched the kids paddle around the tidal pool at the Jefferson Memorial, we asked ourselves, "what will they remember, years from now ?" Almost simultaneously, we turned to each other and said, "paddle boats!" Ignore all that "culture" crap : the museums, the concerts, the history lessons.
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After a few days in Washington, we again turned north. Had a lovely lunch at Phillips in Baltimore's Inner Harbor- home of the world's best crab cakes. Arrived in New York City just in time to eat Pizza at John's Pizzeria ( on Bleeker St) in Greenwich Village. Spent a few days in Manhattan, seeing as many of the sights as we could.
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We've hit upon a workable formula for family travel (esp since we are frequently 5 or more people, with one or another of the kid's friends, or even my mother, sometimes dogs, always tagging along) : we always, if possible, stay at Embassy Suites. Unlike similarly named competitors, these rooms actually do have a 2 roomed suite, where you can shut the door. Plenty of beds plus a fold-out sleeper sofa mean enough room for everyone, and a little bit of privacy for me (often, the only female in this group). These rooms come complete with an all-you-can eat gourmet hot (chefs will cook eggs, omelets, and pancakes to order, as well as the usual scrambled egg-bacon-fruit-cereal-muffin-coffee-juice) breakfast buffet included in the price......not just the crappy donuts and instant coffee that competitors offer. Filling the kids up with a great breakfast really starts the day off right, and means you can see and do a lot before the "I'm hungry" whining starts up......which happens about every 5 minutes when the kids are teenagers.
We had weather in New York that was similar to what we had in Washington, but I didn't mind. I've visited NYC many times in my life, and have been there in all sorts of weather. I'll take rain every time - it sure beats a heat wave. Some of my favorite memories of NYC are in the rain, when I was young, walking hand-in-hand with a young man I loved.....I was excited to get to share all this with my little brood.
A dose of country in the Big City : Central Park

We saw and did quite a bit - several museums, the Empire St Building, (3 hour wait to get in - I do not recommend that unless it's a snowy Tuesday in February), twin towers site, Central Park, lots of great restaurants, Statue of Liberty. We were especially moved by our visit to Ellis Island, where hubster found the names of his ancestors on the wall that lists many (not nearly all) of the immigrants who came through those portals into the USA. (It must be noted that the only names etched there were the ones folks had paid to have put there, as a fund raiser, during the remodeling / refurbishing of Ellis Island several years back.) All of our adventures were guided by our marvelous family friend, the magical Uncle Bill, who regaled us with history and trivia, smoothed out the bumps of travel, and helped us country mice navigate the big city. We always love to visit him, when we can, every where we go .
Uncle Bill leads our band of merry men through the morass of Times Square

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