But here goes!
Mike and I traveled to Atlanta on the 13th of June. Thanks, Seth, for driving us to the airport in Las Vegas! Especially after having driven Gail and the kids down there just a couple of days before. THEIR flight was not very enjoyable--Jonathan threw up three times on the first leg of their trip!! Poor kid. Poor Mom! Poor passengers! The second leg and return flights went much better for them, thankfully.
Our flight was rather uneventful. We've never flown Southwest before, so it was a bit different with seating, etc. Oh! and I remembered to travel with my ATLAS so I actually was able to track our flight across the country. I've always wanted to do that. It was clear most of the way and I saw nuclear reactors, interstate highways and could identify cities by their rivers and highways. It was way fun. We got to Atlanta with only a slight delay, where Gail met us at the Rental Car place. I'd rented a mini-van for the week, so we picked that up and headed out of the airport to grab some dinner. Only we got just a little bit lost-ish. I was driving. In case you didn't know, I have what we lovingly refer to as "directile desfunction." ha. And it's true. I have no inner compass and am always turned around. Strangely, I'm a fairly decent navigator with a map, however. We decided after driving around a bit to eat at a fried chicken place and then it started to rain! Yowza. Did it ever rain! And thunder and lightening, etc. We waited out the storm in a fairly busy Church's Fried Chicken. My meal was OK, as was Gail's. Just OK. Mike's was awful. The ceiling leaked where the cooler/ac vent was. The lightening storm was quite serious, and power went out in areas of the city. While we were out and about, there were intersections with police officers directing traffic. Sort of. I'm not really sure what their signals actually meant as they waved flashlights very quickly in my direction, but we managed to get through with no mishaps.
We were biding our time and waiting for Nick and Kaylee's delayed flight. So we decided to drive around once the storm abated (and once we'd had a brief and calming catnap in the van, listening to rain on the roof in the parking lot of the chicken restaurant). We were in search of a Red Box machine because we had over an hour before we needed to be back at the airport and we had a DVD player in the very fancy-schmancy van. We watched "Parental Guidance" in the parking lot of Walgreens. We must have been a really funny sight, the three of us laughing it up in a parked car late at night. We had to crack open windows for some air, so people could hear the movie and us. Silly us.
When it was time to get Nick and Kaylee at the airport, we did. Then we drove to Warner Robins to drop them and Gail off at Donna's house and by 3 am Mike and I were tucked into bed at my parent's home in Fort Valley. Comfy bed, but not necessarily a good night sleep. But we did sleep in. Mom was taking Dad to Physical Therapy in the morning, so while they were gone we just wandered around the back yard and picked up sticks. Mike had enough walking very quickly.
It was Friday and time for the big ANNIVERSARY PARTY for Mom and Dad. 60 years wed. Wow.
Donna hosted an open house for them at her place that evening. She had tons of great food and we just showed up in time to eat and enjoy the party. And my cousin Carolyn Koenig from Missouri showed up, too! She was the only other family member who came, besides our immediate family. She and I are the same age and we have some very fond memories of growing up together in Southern California in our early years. It was so fun to see her. Many people from Mom and Dad's ward at church came to wish them well, too. Donna arranged for a large group photo to be taken. Our family looks kind of small, as only a fraction of my kids and Robert's kids were there, and David and Laura were unable to come. But those who were there did have a nice time.
|Me and my cousin Carolyn Koenig|
Saturday the 15th, Donna hosted a pool party for family. We swam and ate and ate and swam and had a great time. Well, Mom and Dad didn't swim, but they did come by for dinner later in the day.
Sunday, most of us went to Church with Mom and Dad. Mom actually came back to Relief Society after she took Dad home after Sacrament meeting. They do have a nice little ward. When we visited Nick and Kaylee's ward last week, the same lessons were given, so it was something of a repeat. I sat with Jonathan in part of Primary and Gail sat with him during class time. I got to go with Kaylee and Mom to RS. That's two RS meetings in a row for (Primary-worker) me! Nick and Kaylee and I drove around in the afternoon/evening, just to see what the area looked like. Green. Lots and lots of green!
On one day, we worked in the yard at the folks' home. On another day, some of us went to the Lane Peach Packing plant, and afterwards, some went to Andersonville. Nick's and Donna's blog has more pictures and information on those. But MY adventure was attempting to find out how to purchase seconds. I spoke with a "Jesse" at the back who said he'd take good care of me, cash only. $12.00 if I bought 5 or more boxes. I didn't commit at the time. I didn't even know how much a regular box of nice number ones were in their store. ($35). Donna and I decided to go get one box, so we drove back there and when "Jesse" finally came out, he looked at us like we were nuts and said, no sales to anyone at wholesale prices (of $15 a box) unless you bought more than 15 cases. We were stumped. So we went back to the car, and then out ANOTHER DOOR comes the real "Jesse". Apparently the other fellow we'd just spoken to was his twin brother and they get that a lot. Actually, they may have both been hispanic men with identical facial hair and shirts (with no name tags!) and I just couldn't tell them apart. Dumb, dumb me. The real Jesse sold us one box for $15 and we went away fairly happy. I paid for it in ones because that's all I had (for tips, you know).
Those peaches served us well. They were not ready to eat yet, so I kept some refrigerated and packed some with us to take to DC and we enjoyed them for a long time!! Donna also got a peach crisp or two out of them. mmmm, peaches. Can't get enough of those great things. :-)
|At the open house|
|At the open house outside on Donna's pool deck. Greeting friends.|
|Saturday's pool party|
|At Lane Southern Orchards|
|Lane Packing Plant with the tour that never was. So Sad.|
|Andersonville. We also drove through the cemetery there.|
Wednesday, we took Gail and Kids to the airport, and Nick and Kaylee went with us to Atlanta and toured the "World of Coca Cola." They have some very good and powerful corporate advertising. Cute props and stuff. Nothing to write home about. I would have rather have gone to the Georgia Aquarium, but the time and money just didn't seem worth it. Nick and Kaylee also took us to a barbeque place in Atlanta that a friend of Nick's recommended. It was really good. Tommys? I don't recall, but it was a great lunch!
After we got back to Warner Robins, we spent some time at Donna's house and when Mike and I got back to where we were staying in Ft. Valley, Mom and Dad were already in bed. And we left before they got up the next day (they ARE early-to-bedders). Mike and I drove Nick and Kaylee to Atlanta to the airport on Thursday, but we didn't dilly dally around and just came back. We wanted to time things and check it out for our rental car return and flight out to DC the next day. And I had some packing and organizing to do and forgot all about wanting to go to show Elizabeth how to dry peaches or make peach butter. Oh well. They still all got eaten.
It was just nice and relaxing, spending time looking at photo albums at Mom and Dad's house. Mike did a little electrical chore for them and the few of us helped a little in the yard, but it seemed a short visit.
ON TO WASHINGTON DC
Friday the 21st we arrived in Washington DC, Regan airport. Nick and Kaylee found us and picked us up. We then used their smart phone technology to navigate to the supposedly nearest WalMart, which happened to be in Alexandria, VA. So that's where we went! Meandered through skinny streets of old town, cobble-stones and all. We divided the list between[ Kaylee] and [Me and Mike] and did some serious "Speed Shopping" while Nick stayed in the car and worked out the next route. We needed to be very expedient because their car rental was just a one day/24 hours and we were down to the hour. After the shopping spree, Mike and I were unceremoniously dumped curbside in front of the Wyndham with ALL the luggage and ALL our groceries (about $200 worth for 7 people for 7 days). We didn't really have 7 people all the time, but most of it. Nick and Kaylee sped back to the airport to return their car and then find their way back via Metro and Bus. They did. And by the time they made it back, our room was ready! I took pictures of it before we dumped all our stuff off. While waiting for them and waiting for the room to be ready, Mike read the newspaper in the comfortable lobby and I explored the neighborhood on foot. It smelled delicious and there were enough eateries that we could have had all our meals in a different venue the whole time. But we chose to eat in. It is generally more healthy that way -- according to my well-ness coach-- and WAY less expensive. Each time we sat down to a delicious home-cooked meal, I'd annouce, "Well, we just saved another $200!!" Yeah, I'm cheap that way. ha.
Since we'd been traveling and chasing around all day, staying in seemed a good idea, so we rented "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." It seemed appropriate for the time and place, and I'd never actually seen that cute old flick.
Saturday the 22nd, we ventured out to the Mall. Our place had a free shuttle over the river to the nearest Metro station (King Street), so we caught that, packed some lunch/snacks to tide us over and spent some time in the National Natural History Museum. Like hours. But Mike's Knees were very tired and very sore, so we left the kids early and headed back to rest up for our evening adventure. Nick and Kaylee went to TWO museums that day. Very ambitious. They are all big (as in HUGE) museums!!
Our adventure for the evening was the "DC River Cruise" and monuments by moonlight. It wasn't what I'd expected at all. But the weather was nice. It was just way too much walking for Mike to get there, to find the right bus, to walk the length of the pier looking for our boat. It was a beautiful full moon, the weather was so mild and nice. But the trip was NOT narrated and the music was loud, and the boat was really crowded, and the planes going right over us on the river to land at the Regan Airport were way too frequent and way to close and loud. We saw only a couple of lit monuments, and the Lincoln CENTER (not the monument) was probably the prettiest. We still weren't sure about the shuttle service to and from the Metro Station to National Harbor where we were staying, so we took a cab from the Metro station back to the hotel. We found later that there is, indeed, a two way shuttle, but it is very limited and we found later still, that it is frequently over-crowded and people get left behind and shuttles are an hour apart.
Sunday, Eric and I ventured out to the Capitol 3rd ward for Church. Mike stayed in to rest and recuperate his knees, and Nick and Kaylee stayed closer and took a bus to a nearby (30 minute bus ride) chapel we'd passed a time or two. But the Capitol Ward was where the Matsumori's were going to be and I wanted to meet them. So Eric and I found the Shuttle. It was void of passengers and the driver was playing gospel music on his radio. We rode the Metro to somewhere, got off in the rain and RAN to a bus stop and just barely caught the right bus to get us to church on time. Whew! We were soaked, but it was worth it. It was the Matsumori's last Sunday in that ward as their mission is complete and they are heading home to Utah. I took a picture of Eric in front of the new chapel on 16th. I attended Relief Society--two weeks in a row!
After church, we meandered back to the Metro via walking and bus. The sun had come out and it was steamy. Eric wanted to show me an old chapel that had been built as an LDS building, but later sold. The Moonies own it now, but we went in and got to look around a little. Interesting stained glass features, but the old building is in need of some TLC.
We corresponded with Nick and Kaylee, they packed us some food and met us at Arlington Cemetery, where we walked around and saw the sights like the Women's memorial, the Arlington House and Kennedy's eternal flame and the Changing of the guards. I did note that there was a shuttle service to get around, so I made a mental note to return with Mike so he could see some of those things, too. Sunday was sweltering hot and I was in a black dress, but thankfully comfy shoes. But only to a point. By the end of that day, I was done walking, that's for sure!
Below. Eric and I at Arlington House in the Cemetery. I believe the Lincoln Memorial is way in the distance over Eric's shoulder.
Behind the Arlington House is this old amphitheater. It is covered in wisteria vines all the way around. There is no food allowed in the cemetery. I can see why--people would come in droves to picnic, I'm sure. But Eric and I met up with Nick and Kaylee here and this is where Eric and I stealthily ate our sandwiches and carrot sticks. We did not litter or feed the chipmunks.
Eric is standing at the dias.
Orating, I suppose
|Looking right, looking center, looking left. The straight rows in whichever direction you look represent the straight rows of regiments of soldiers in life--carried on after their lives have ended.|
|Eric is standing in front of the fourth from right pillar, prepared to JUMP. But it was not captured on film, unfortunately. Nor on digital pixels.|
|Resting on the steps of Jefferson Memorial, and I'm chatting with Mike on the Phone. He's ridden 2 Circulator buses by now, toured through the Capitol and Naval Yard, Georgetown. All in air-conditioned comfort. We are a bit sweaty.|
|I don't recall whose memorial this is, but he helped write the constitution or something. Eric is sitting next to the statue in the photo below.|
|Click on it. It's kind of cute. Wish I knew the Bronze Guy's name.|
|I think this photo gives an idea of the spaciousness and size of the FDR monument. It was quite impressive and modern-ish with pleasant water features and fountains.|
|Yes, Nick's back is that sweaty from carrying the backpack. We ate our lunch at this park-like monument under the shadow of trees and granite blocks surrounding FDR's monument.|
|Eric at the Martin Luther King monument.|
|Eric and I standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument (swathed in scaffolding) in the distance.|
|Nick and Kaylee enjoying a meal in our 2 bedroom suite. We ate very healthily while traveling. Milk, Juice, fresh sliced peaches, toast or cereal for breakfast. And bacon. Lots of Bacon. Mike was in charge of the meat purchases. ;-)|
|On Saturday, on the way back to the hotel, we stopped to rest and view an American Civil War photograph exhibit in the Smithsonian Castle. This was just a 3D display of something related to photography during the era.|
|Our Saturday evening Monuments by Moonlight River cruise.|
|Eric and I on our way to Church after being caught in the rain. We did have one umbrella between us.|
|Lots of churches in this neighborhood. The one on the right, behind me, is the one that used to be LDS, and used to have an Angel Moroni on the top. That statue is in a SLC museum now. I believe that is what Eric told me. You'll have to ask him.|
|Large panels of engraved glass are on top of that monument above, and it is all part of the Women's Memorial|
|I always picture national cemeteries as just having those plain white, uniform headstones. Not so in Arlington (before they standardized things a little more recently). This is a plot that contains headstone of mostly higher-ranking admirals, etc.|
|We walked up a lot of steps...|
|And we found a surprise Lincoln vault here. This is Abe's son, Robert Todd and wife.|
|And we walked down a lot of steps. Arlington Cemetery on Sunday with Eric.|
|To get to the lower falls, one must traverse this picturesque little path through the woods for a bit. Big Falls State Park, just north of Macon, GA.|
|The Falls at Big Falls State Park. There were actually 2 falls. This is the upper.|
|Back in Georgia on our way home from taking Nick and Kaylee to airport in Atlanta, we stopped north of Macon at Big Falls or Tall Falls or something state park. Quite pretty.|
|Saturday Evening. Full Moon over the Potomac River.|
|A soaked Eric on the Bus on our way to church on Sunday.|
|Arlington. Eric is a good photographer.|
|This tree behind Eric is a holly tree. Yeah, the kind that has pokey leaves and makes red berries in the winter. It is huge. I thought they only grew in shrubs. Apparently not.|
|Arlington. Benches that are not good to lie down on, unless you like crooked support.|
|T-Bird alumni in Washington, DC. Watch for this photo in the Alumni Magazine!|
Tuesday the 25th of June, we decided to head out to the Holocaust Museum. That took several hours. We had lunch out that day (but very late--3 pm at least!) Mike headed back to the hotel after that and the rest of us went separate ways. Nick and Kaylee to the Air and Space Museum and Eric, the Burnetts and I to the Botanic Gardens and then back to our place where Mike had made us all a delicious spaghetti dinner!
|We went to the Botanic Gardens. BO-TAN-IC garden, NOT Botanical. We had a lot of discussion about that, the former English teacher Dale Burnett and I . ha. This is a wood-carved BIG beetle. Nothing botanic or botanical about him.|
|I should have zoomed in better. It's a picture of a pot of pitcher plants. hee hee.|
|Me in front of Eric's favorite fountain in DC. Capitol in background. Near Botanic Gardens.|
Wednesday, we decided to drive to Mt. Vernon in Virginia in the Burnett's car. Eric came with us. It wasn't too far away. It was definitely a day trip. There is so much to see and learn and experience and tour and see some more! Museum, educational exhibits, gardens, tombs, farms, etc. And of course, the home itself. We got Mike a chair. It helped a LOT. We had lunch at their food court and later that evening we went to Chantilly, VA to meet up with another Elder from Mike's mission, Doug Wheeler and his wife, Linda. The Burnett's had found the Wheelers recently and Mike had not had ANY contact with Doug since coming home from their missions (again, 40 years ago). So that was a fun evening to get acquainted and re-acquainted. Doug showed up in Mike's area the day of the Burnett's baptism and they became companions.
|Mike was able to enjoy the entire visit because we got him a wheelchair and walking was kept to a minimum for him. He wouldn't have been able to see much of anything otherwise, as it is a big area and quite spread out.|
|Gardens at Mt. Vernon. We were awaiting our tour of the house and enjoyed the flowers and vegetables, etc.|
|Mike at Mt. Vernon.|
|We had a delightful visit with Martha Washington at Mt. Vernon.|
|View of Potomac river from Mt. Vernon's front porch. They had chairs lined up on the porch so you could just have a seat and enjoy the view!|
|Mike visiting with Dale and Irene Burnett from Hopkington, NY|
|I believe there just might be a rather large bird perched on the trump just in front of Moroni's nose.|
|Proof positive we rode the Metro (or subway) and got pretty good at getting around. There was NO ONE else in this station when we were returning from our Thursday afternoon excursion to the temple visitors center. Nary a soul.|