We got to the airport and pre-weighed our luggage in case we had to re-arrange anything. Our scale at home was pretty dead on. All was good to move to the counter so as we were checking in, we were thrilled that the lady let us check the extra tote of medical supplies FREE and didn't charge us an extra baggage fee-which we were told would be $200! We were thrilled! We then waited and waited and took some pictures......said goodbye to the kids and got on the plane. The kids did great-they were so excited to stay with grandma and grandpa that they didn't really care where WE were going!
Noah being a big help
Family photo at Portland International Airport
We got our rental car and the guy that checked it out for us was from somewhere in Africa he asked why we were going to Ethiopia and we told him about our adoption. He then said, "Thank you for doing what you are doing". Of course I teared up and it just touched me that he would say this! And, after he saw all our luggage, he upgraded our car to a SUV - nice!
We got lost 3 times from the rental place to our hotel, but finally found our hotel in Rosslyn VA. So much harder navigating in the dark (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). We dropped our bags off, got on warm clothes and rode the DC Metro to Downtown DC -we used it all weekend and it took us all over but we also walked MILES each day!! It was beautiful to see all the monuments lit up at night-they were amazing. We went to the Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial and Korean War Memorial. The memorial wall with all the names on it was awesome-it was hard to imagine all those people. We walked to all these and then headed back to the hotel.
Jacob and Abe
Washington Monument looking from the Lincoln Monument
Korean War Veterans Memorial
We woke up Saturday and headed out-we went to The Clock Tower Pavilion and rode the elevator to the top-the view was outstanding!
Old Post Office Pavilion Clock Tower
We then went to Fords Theater where Lincoln was shot, and saw the house that he died in across the street.
We then went to the Museum of Natural History.
Natural History Museum
Natural History Museum
Then we saw the National Archives as well as visited the Smithsonian Museum of American History, and then headed over to the Washington Monument and took the elevator to the top of that-it was SO high up and again the view was awesome!!
National Archive Museum
We then saw the Museum of African Art and then saw the Smithsonian Castle.
Then exhausted as we were from walking all this, we went to the Air & Space museum.
Air & Space Museum
Actual size of Space Shuttle rocket engine
We loved all the museums they were wonderful and you could literally spend an entire day at JUST one of the museums-so we ran through pretty quickly to be sure we can see as much as we can in DC. We wanted to see the Capitol, Supreme Court and Library of Congress so we walked to the other end of the Capitol Mall. They were so amazing-the structures were unbelievable.
National Capitol looking from Pennsylvania Ave
Library of Congress Ceiling-Beautiful!!
All of our legs were aching but knowing, or should we say, not knowing when we would ever be here again, we pushed forward to cover as much as we could. The sun started to set so we knew our day of running around was coming to an end. We rode the Metro back to the hotel were we decided to trade walking for driving in our rental. We drove to Georgetown which was one amazing town, traffic wise. The main "drag" was only four lanes with NO median. Talk about pedestrian traffic and cars trying to turn left from their left lane, we were kind of nervous being in a rental car. Didn't want to start our trip with a car accident. We found the Old Stone House in Georgetown which is one of the oldest houses built in the DC area, if not the oldest. It was stuck right in the middle of the town in between the shopping stores and restaurants. Kind of funny looking. Usually you see them tear down a building to build a new mall or something. Here, they built right around it. We then toured the neighborhoods which have VERY cute cottage type houses. Very small (narrow) and long but cute curb appeal.
Zero Milestone Marker
Every maps direction is based on this one marker. So for them to find out how far Oregon is from Washington DC, they start at the Zero Milestone Marker and start measuring. Kind of cool. Didn't know about that. We then saw the National Christmas Tree being set-up. I'm sure this place is going to be one busy place when it's time to light the tree in a few weeks. Another long hike back to the car and off to dinner.
We haven't eaten anything since 11:00ish so we were all starving. We drove to this one diner, Metro 29 Diner that we passed when coming into DC. They ended up being a restaurant that was actually just visited by a TV crew called, BEST KITCHEN. Their show was going to air the beginning of December. Portions were huge and very good as well as the service. We got back to our hotel about 11:30 and boy did we hit the sack.
Sunday morning we got up and had "continental breakfast" on the top floor of the hotel-you can see a great view of the Potomac River-it was great! It was free with the room and I expected some dry cereal and toast.....but they had tons of food-bacon, sausage, hash browns, eggs, oatmeal, cereal, juices, and fresh fruit it was yummy!
View from Arlington Cemetery Enterance
Rows of Headstones
Headstone of the Unknown Sailor
We saw the Kennedy's graves and also went to the Robert E. Lee estate which is on the property and how Arlington got started. It was so old and the history was so cool to think that that house has been standing for so many years and all of the things that happened there. There were even slave quarters on the property. The view from his front door was astounding!
Robert E. Lee Estate
View from Robert E. Lee Estate
We also attending a Changing of the Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This takes place in the Arlington Amphitheater-which was beautiful.
That was a great experience to watch. A school was also there that day and so we also got to witness a Laying of the Wreath Ceremony. The way that all those men work together and keep in PERFECT pace, making the same exact moves was UNREAL! They NEVER get out of their role....I am not sure what happens if they have to sneeze-but it was SOOO cool to watch it all! We were told that each soldier that gets the honor of guarding the tomb of the unknown soldier have to go through rigorous training and they all have to be the same build as the others so that they all look excellent in uniform from one guard to the next. Their pants are even two sizes too small. It is no joking matter there. They each guard it for an hour during the winter and half-hour during the summer. They take 21 steps and turn. It alludes to the 21 gun solute which is the highest honor given any military or dignitary. It is just an amazing thing to witness.
Guarding the Tomb of Unknown Soldier
Changing of the Guards
After this, we went back to the hotel and had to check out. We then went and toured the Holocaust Museum-it was SO SO hard to see those things but I felt that we and even Jacob needed to so that we never forget. We didn't have much time to spend there and so we didn't read everything-but it was so cool-it went through how the persecution got slowly started and then progressed, they had pictures and video and the things that I remember most from it are: videos of them performing various medical experiments on the Jews also, getting to actually walk through an actual box car that used to transport Jews to concentrations camps, and also, the thing that I will always remember was we walked into this one hallway and on each side of the walkway was a long corridor of shoes-JUST SHOES on both sides to look over at-thousands of them and they were all shoes from Holocaust victims that they had recovered from the concentrations camps-I looked at them and realized that each shoe had at one time, held a precious foot-there were adult and children's and babies shoes and I thought of my kids and how the worst thing for a parent would be for someone to hurt my child-it is unimaginable what they did to those people!
At this point, we timed it just perfect to get back to the hotel, get the car and get it back to the rental place before 5:00pm. We showed up at 4:50pm. Talk about perfect timing. :-) They shuttled us back to the airport where we had to re-check in all of our luggage. We re-weighed our luggage to make sure we were still within our 50lbs per luggage. We had to adjust two of the suitcases but made it through just fine. The guy behind the counter allowed our extra tote to go through without charging us the extra fee which was GREAT! We flew Ethiopian Airlines which ended up being a very nice flight and very good food. :-)
Walking down the hall to the plane
Route showing the airplane in DC heading to Rome to re-fuel
Jacob watching a movie
Amber styling while she sleeps
Arriving at Rome Airport to re-fuel
Route showing the airplane leaving Rome heading to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia