Spring Break in D.C. by Sharon O’Donnell
Two weeks ago my family visited Washington, D.C. on a rare spring get away. Actually, my oldest son, who is a sophomore in college, couldn’t go with the rest of us since his spring break didn’t coincide with my other two sons’ break, and he couldn’t miss class. It was the first vacation we’ve taken without him, and it seemed very strange at first. I really missed him, even though it was a lot easier to find hotel rooms that sleep four than it is that sleep five. I’d like to plan our next vacation so that he will be able to go, also; however, I realize it will become increasingly tougher to include him. He has a promotions internship this summer with the Carolina Hurricanes NHL pro hockey team, and already the dates of our August vacation are in jeopardy because his internship schedule will be very busy.
The destination for our spring break trip was a no-brainer. My high school junior has been studying Vietnam, Law & Justice, and other history-related subjects, while my 10-year-old has been learning about the various monuments. My husband and I knew that this trip would make it all come alive for them. We had a great time seeing the sights of D.C.; it had been ten years or so since I’d been there, so it was all almost new to me too. It’s always thrilling that first time you climb the steps to the Lincoln Memorial and look up at that magnificent statue of our 16th president. We also got a tour of the Capitol building and took a wonderful nighttime trolley tour of many of the monuments at night. The Jefferson Memorial has always been an especially beautiful building to me, poised on the banks of the Potomac surrounded by cherry trees in blossom. Despite having been to Washington several times in my life, I had never been in the National Archives building to see the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Seeing these documents was thrilling, but I also marveled at the room they are in. The domed rotunda where the documents are displayed was nothing short of astounding, adorned with gorgeous murals depicting the historical signings. It was the most beautiful room I’ve ever been in. Check it out – here: http://www.archives.gov/nae/visit/rotunda.html
We wanted to see the view from the top of the Washington Monument, but it is very tough to get tickets. Advance tickets were claimed through June. My husband got up at 6:30 and in line at the Washington Monument at 7:15 in order to try to get ‘day off’ tickets. There were about 200 people there ahead of him, so it didn’t look promising. But he had no idea how many tickets would be handed out, so he stayed. After waiting in line for almost two hours, he and about 30 others in front of him were told there were no more tickets for that day. Advance tickets are definitely worth it, but unless you plan ahead, you can’t them. Spur of the moment trips like the one we were on are not conducive to getting to see some of the city’s most famous things. In order to go on a White House tour, you have to write your Senator or Representative at least 4 months in advance. Oh well.
Another place we visited was Ford’s Theater where Lincoln was shot. Had been there before, and it was chilling both times. So hard to imagine such a huge event happened right there. A few days later when my husband and I were back home, we went to see The Conspirator, a movie about the people — a woman in particular – who conspired to kill Lincoln. Some think it moves too slowly, but we thought it was riveting. We had just seen the very places in the movie right in front of us, and it was very intriguing to see it all acted out. Very well done. Go see this if you get a chance.
We also saw the Vietnam and Korean Memorials, the WW II memorial, Arlington Cemetery, and we toured the Air & Space Museum. And we walked A LOT. We knew this would not be what you call a relaxing vacation and we were right. Walked, walked, walked. My husband and I enjoyed it in a ‘Boy I’m glad we went, but I’m glad it’s done” kind of way. D.C. is somewhere everybody should see up close and personal. The city itself is cleaner and more beautiful than I remember it being in the past. There were lots of foreign visitors, and I was very proud of the city and knew those visitors were impressed. If you haven’t been lately, go! But plan in advance if you can.
We had gone with our sons when our youngest was only one, so both of the other boys had some memories of Washington. Yet, our youngest one did not. Here’s yet another dilemma for moms with age gap kids: you often have to repeat educational vacations with younger kids that you’ve already done with the older ones. Remember that the younger ones deserve the same opportunities the older ones got.
And still another conflict brought on my the age gap in kids: the parents and the teenagers want to sleep in on vacations, while the younger ones wake up early.