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……………or on Sunday!

I think by this point all of you realize that the last day of the trip is NOT the day I’m gonna post anything. And I WOULD have posted on Friday while we were waiting during our layover in Nashville (very nice airport, BTW) but my darling son went and checked his laptop!! Jude Devereaux never had a more attentive reader than I during those two hours…..

OK! So our last day in DC, after taking a day off for poor ol’ Teej to recuperate from whatever weirdness happened to him, started off with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery. I was very excited to go here, but the experience is almost too much for words. I’m sure everyone that visits has their own emotional reation to it, but for me and TJ it just really drove home the point that there’s a whole lot of brave men and women that serve in so many areas in our country to protect it and better it. I just felt overwhelmed with gratitude for their sacrifice and willingness to fight for millions of people that they’ll never know or meet – and to die for them. I hope that by us visiting them and paying our respects to them (and sharing it with you) that it validates what they’ve done for the US.

Anyway….let me hop off my soapbox and post some pictures!

Every where you look, there’s white marble headstones. I was somewhat surprised that there weren’t JUST the white headstones we’re all used to seeing. Size, shape, and color are dictated by rank and position and have to fall in Arlington guidelines. In some areas, it looks like any large cemetery, anywhere in the US.

This is a very, very old part of the cemetery with graves dating back to the Civil War era. In fact, the white square sarcophagus in the back ground is the final resting place of Brig. Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs, the man who orchestrated the “foreclosure” of Arlington House and her land and petitioned the government to turn the 1,100 acres into a national cemetery. Once a comrade of Robert E. Lee, who was married to Mary Custis (a great granddaughter of Martha and George Washington), Arlington House was where the Lee family lived at the outbreak of the Civil War. Even thought Gen. Lee was presented in the media as being a Benedict Arnold and turncoat, I find his willingness to sacrifice everything he had so that he would not have to raise a hand in combat against family & friends quite honorable.

Arlington House still stands today, and is quite remarkable on the outside. Inside, however, it is somewhat a small residence – not what you expect when you see the outside. But it DOES have the best view of any property in Washington, as it looks down a hill towards the Lincoln Memorial, with all of the monuments and the Capitol building spread at it’s feet.

This will give you an idea of the size of those pillars (and a look at the ridiculous faces my son makes when you try to take a good picture of him).

We were fortunate to be able to walk inside and watch some of the restoration work they are doing to Arlington House. Some of the Lee family’s personal touches, especiall Gen. Lee’s, are still in the house.

And, lastly, the amazing view…

To the left, is the Lincoln Monument, moving right you can make out the Old Post Office, Washington Monument, the Capitol building, and some of the Smithsonian Castle. It was a really foggy day that day and while it gives an air of mysety to my shots, it made it hard to see everything!

Now, while we were there, these little things called “cherry blossoms” decided to bloom. We were very lucky to have this happen while we were there, as they are a hot commodity this time of year. Of course, the trade off was very warm and humid weather. Once you got used to walking around in wet clothes, it wasn’t so bad! (No….it was bad.) BUT the payoff was getting incredibly beatiful pics of cherry trees at Arlington. I took them, but once I saw them on screen, some of them took my breath away….(yes, I just complimented myself there)

(TJ took this picture, and I don't what it is - but I love this picture!)

(Sadly, I just checked the Cherry Blossom camera set up at the Tidal Basin and all the blooms are almost all gone now. Our driver told us on the way back to the airport that they were expecting a storm that would blow most of them away that evening – but that’s what nature intends and she doesn’t wait for festivals!)

My last shot from Arlington will be an iconic one. Remember to thank a soldier when you see them. Even if you don’t agree with policy, these people keep our country safe and most serve honorably and humbly.

Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Next, we rode the Metro (which is hotter, meaner version of the lovely Luas we used in Dublin) back into DC. I told TJ it felt like we were birthed out of that hot, humid sweaty underground into a bright, new world when we came out of the station. And, somehow, the Metro stations manage to disappear from view once you’ve taken 10 steps away from it. Weird. Must be some kind of magic or something (or really good engineering, TJ said, but he has no imagination)…..

We strolled into Federal Plaza where we saw the National Archives (with it’s five mile long line waiting to get in), the J.Edgar Hoover FBI building (I really wanted there to be a monument to Scully & Mulder there) and we took a gander at the Ford’s Theater (where President Lincoln was shot) and the Petersen House (where he died). Ford’s Theatre was not what I expected:

OK, here’s my beef – it didn’t look old-timey or anything!! I turned to TJ and said, “What the heck?? What were the Lincoln’s seeing there? ‘Twilight’???” I admit, I was a skosh disappointed. AJ said I would have been happier had I gone inside, but due to our one day off for illness, we just didn’t have time to do that stuff.

Our last museum we visited was the National Crime and Punishment Museum. It’s a paid museum (one of the few in DC) and it was worth every penny. TJ and I spent 2 hours browsing through stuff and had the best time. They have alot of interactive things that show you all aspects of crime, law enforcement, and detection. TJ made quite an impression by doing an FBI simulation where he had to shoot a criminal trying to shoot him. He nailed him with a head shot (fatal) and two gut shots. The dude running the simulation was like, “Mmmm ‘kay, can you give me the gun back NOW!” AJ said she was surprised FBI agents didn’t step out through secret doors and go, “Mr. Hoover, come this way with us please…” I told TJ that maybe it was a good thing that we’d let him play all those Modern Warfare games on his Xbox!

They also had a large collection of things from medeival times to current, and things owned by serial killers. It may seem strange to some of you, but me and my son have a fascination with all things law & order related (other than SVU). In fact, I recall that at one point during the day, TJ turned to me and said, “This may sound wrong, but I do belive the Zodiac Killer is my favorite serial killer.” Yep. He did.

Some of their collection was creepy and gory. Like………………..John Wayne Gacy’s “Pogo” & “Patches” clown costumes: *shudder*


Yes, that’s a super creepy self-portrait by Gacy in his Pogo costume. *shudder*

Bonnie & Clyde’s recently air-conditioned car:

The blooody floorboards from Jesse Jame’s house that were cut out after he was murdered by………….that one guy.

That’s Frank James’s walking cane too! 

This here is the last (purportedly) gun left from the gunfight at the OK Corral & used by Wyatt Earp:

Gosh, I just realized eveything I’ve shown you could be considered gory and gross! Let’s see if I can find a picture that isn’t:

I call this shot "The Dummy and the Mannequin"

*Sigh* Nope. Not gonna happen. This poor fella had been shot with a shot gun, a rifle, stabbed, strangled, and somehow lost one of his toes. He had a bad day. And HOW, I ask you, does a manequin’s feet get dirty?? Actually, I don’t want to think about that right now……..gonna go hide in the closet for a while.

They shoot ‘America’s Most Wanted’ in a studio in this museum, and here are a few of America’s least wanted:

Again, with a face only a mother could love………….and want to smack!

I. Am. Short.

So after three full days of sightseeing and walking all over DC and back, TJ and I left with alot of great memories and an itch to return to see more……, I admit. I left TJ there.

Thanks for following along on our trip and I hope you enjoyed what I’ve put up here! Until next trip………….


No post today (well, except for THIS one)….

TJ was very sick when we woke up this morning, so I decided we’d stay in and let him recover. Fortunately, he’s feeling well enough now to be giving me all kinds of grief!! We’ll have a full day tomorrow, and will post tomorrow night or Friday sometime.



The White House and a massive thunderstorm do NOT mix!

TJ and I blasted out of bed at 5:00 a.m. this morning and turned on the local news. They were reporting that it had rained an inch to an inch and a half all around us overnight. TJ walked to the window, looked out and said, “Nothin’ here!”

An hour later, we started hearing massive booms of thunder, and saw bright flashes of lightening. But at least it wasn’t raining……..until about two minutes before we stepped out to catch our cab!! It was POURING. I’ve seen a lot of drenching rain, but this had to have been some of the worst I’ve EVER experienced. Not to mention the crashing thunder followed by cracks of lightening. By the time we hopped into the cab (with an umbrella) we were both wet. When the driver let us out where we were to meet the park ranger that would get us on our way to the tour, it had slowed somewhat. TJ and I were early, so we were first in line. Shortly after we showed up, people started showing up left and right. Before we knew it, there was a line going down the street of folks waiting to get in. It was really pretty with the clouds, fog, rain and sun trying to peak out. I took this shot on my phone of the area directly across from the White House entrance and visitor’s center:


Finally, it was our turn to start making our way to the White House. First we had to run the gamut of security, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but freaked TJ out. The most intense one was 2 Secret Service agents, one with a dog sniffing us for explosives (the dog did, not the agents…). I told AJ that the one agent not holding the dog looked like he would eat his own grandma if he ran out of food!!

 FINALLY we came through these big wrought iron gates and to our left was the home of the President. We entered the East Wing and were allowed to take our own time exploring what there was to see. Besides the photographs of Presidents and their First Ladies through the years, the place was lousy with original oil paintings of Presidents from Harrison to Bush (the last one). Paintings of the Presidents that served in the 17 & 1800’s actually dated to their times, which was so cool! Plus, they had a china hutch full of crystal and china from the Presidencies of Lincoln, Hamilton, Kennedy, and Clinton, to name a few.

 We were able to poke our heads into the Vermeil Room, Library, and China room. The Vermeil Room is decorated with vermeil (a gilded silver) and is used for a variety of functions. There were portraits of some of the more modern first ladies hanging here (the Jackie Kennedy was fabulous).

 The Library is most often used for interviews the President and First Lady give. It houses over 2500 books by American authors about – what else? – America!

The China room has display cases set into the wall and houses one set of china from each President. All three rooms have paneling made from 1817 timbers that were salvaged during reconstruction in the 1940’s & 50’s.

Then we went upstairs to the 2nd floor and entered the East Room. There is an original portrait of George Washington hanging here, probably the one most of us are familiar with of him in his military outfit. This room is the largest in the White House and both Abraham Lincoln and JFK’s bodies lay in state there. Lynda Bird Johnson was also married in this room. Inside the room is a grand piano that would make Steinway cry! It’s legs are eagles and it’s about 12 foot long!

From there we passed into the Green Room. This room was used as a dining room by Thomas Jefferson! The walls are covered in green silk with a water stain pattern. It holds a coffee urn that was John Adams; and silver candlesticks of Dolly Madison.

 Next was the Blue room (which has the Presidential Seal over it’s door). This room has the White House Christmas tree placed in the middle of it for the holiday season. They remove the HUGE chandelier and bring in an 18 ft. Douglas fir. There are 20 foot windows, and the middle window perfectly frames the Washington Monument. Beautiful!! This room is most often used by the President to receive guests to the White House.

The last color room was the Red Room. Used for receptions, this room is where President Hayes took the Oath of Office. As we came out of the three rooms (we were allowed to actually walk through them) we passed into a hall and I was so happy to see the painting I did. Most of you will know what I’m talking about. It was the unconventional portrait of President Kennedy with his arms crossed and looking down. I swear, I saw about fifty paintings that I had to study in my Art History class!!

Lastly, we came into the State Dining Room. The room is used for “small” luncheons and dinners where only 130 people or less are at. The dining table that was in there seated about 30 people. It was a trestle table just like you’d find at The Room Store, but about 200 years old and better built! Then our tour was over and we walked out through the FRONT DOOR OF THE WHITE HOUSE!!!!! I mean, like we BELONGED there or something!! Strolled out under the portico and down the driveway. We couldn’t take pictures inside, but I got this one (this is where we exited):

TJ and I stood right under that, er, porch! I still can’t believe we were actually in there! TJ and I kept looking at each other and saying, “We are in the White House!” It was a surreal experience. On our way down the sidewalk, I snapped this pic of the Department of the Treasury:

And, yeah, everything here looks like this!! I swear I saw a Quizno’s that resembled this architecture!!!

Ok, so after all the excitement, we ventured over to the National Air and Space Museum. Now, this is TJ’s favorite place, and I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t think I’d be that interested in it. Boy, was I wrong!! It’s like a big/little kid’s dream walking in there!! This is the first thing you see:

And I  was like, “Well, AW-RIGHT!!” Oh, and Tommy? Did you know that Ford manufactured airplanes for a short time? Check this out!

That’s it up top. If you look near the tail, you’ll see “Ford Motors”. The plane was built out of corrugated metal and  I just thought, “Now that is something Tommy would do!” Shoot, Tom’s held up pieces of corrugated metal building horse stalls and nearly taken flight in a strong wind!!

We also visited the WWII exhibition, and TJ and I were both excited to see a display that had Lt. Col. Doolittle’s actual medals (including his Medal of Honor (#1)) and a piece of the wreckage of his plane from the raid on Tokyo:

I am such a history dork that seeing these tangible pieces of history was really great. However, this whole time my poor TJ started having some kind of terrible allergy attack. He couldn’t stop sneezing, and his right eye kept closing involuntarily from the irritation his nose was going through. He was so miserable that we decided maybe we should get him back to the room and get some Benedryl in him STAT! But once we left the museum, his urge to sneeze seemed to go away. We thought, perhaps, there had been something in the museum that triggered it and decided to go on to the National Museum of the American Indian.

This museum didn’t seem to have near as many exhibits as the others, and a lot seemed to be closed off. But we were able to see a few things, like this GORGEOUS beaded dress:

And this cool, beaded Volkswagon. I can’t imagine the amount of time and work that went into beading this!

While we were walking around, TJ noticed some windows that looked out over the National Mall and took these pictures. I wish I could take credit for them because they are so good, but he’s a pretty good snap hound!

Yes, those are the elusive cherry blossoms that everyone loves to see. We’re going to pay a visit to the Tidal Basin, but here’s a little preview:

Finally, TJ couldn’t take it anymore and asked to return to the room. Right now he’s curled up, asleep – trying to recover from that nasty attack. While we were waiting to hail a cab, I snapped these shots just for fun:

I’m gonna warn you all that I am so in love with taking pictures of this building I’ll probably post one every day! 

This little guy posed for me, and I did not have to use my zoom lens. There were about five little sparrows hopping around us and were fascinated with the black thing hanging off my face!! I was so close at one point, I could have held one. I love birds, so this was a nice little moment for me.

And last, but not least, I have to leave my husband with this picture:

Hon, this here is the DOT and FMCSA!!! And let me tell you, I looked in their windows (yes, I did!) and there is paper EVERYWHERE. There is definitely no recycling going on here…..

See you all tomorrow! Who knows where we’ll be or what we’ll be doing, just pray that TJ is feeling much better!!

So TJ and I got up early today….

at the crack of 10:00 a.m. (DC time)!!!! Thank goodness the maid knocked on the door or TJ and I might have slept all day!! And God bless that poor maid for having to try and not burst out laughing at my hair….We decided to skip Arlington today because the forecast was for 50% chance of rain (Tommy would have said, “Yes, but there’s a 50% chance it WON’T rain either….”). But also, it was so late when we left the hotel it just made more sense to tackle something smaller.

So after walking back and forth trying to figure out the Metro bus system….and failing……..we snagged a cab that had just dropped a group off at our hotel and told him “Driver! Take us to the Smithsonian!”

Ok, not really. I admit I get intimidated by taxi drivers, so I said, “Hi, um…excuse me? Would you, uh, please be able to, er, take us to the Smithsonian Castle?” He was like, “Sure.” and off we went.

It was very exciting for me to start to see all the buildings and monuments come into view for the first time. TJ was helping me by saying, “Look over here, Mom. No! Over HERE! HERE!!! LOOK WHERE I AM POINTING, WOMAN!!!!!!!” That kid can be bossy, I tell ya.

Well, the first order was to see James Smithson’s burial spot/crypt. It somewhat resembles a holy gravy boat:

And that made us hungry so we had breakfast at the castle café. Then we strolled around the castle exhibits and TJ practiced being a little turd by asking me, “Is it weird that all the stuff you remember is in a museum??” To which I answered, “One day all the stuff YOU remember will be in a museum too!” Not really – I smacked him on the back of the head.

So then we went outside and crossed the National Mall. I was……………………..surprised the grass didn’t look better. I mean, that’s very hypocritical of me, coming from the fact that we have NO grass at the house. But I was like, “C’mon! You are National Blades of Grass!!! Shouldn’t you be living to the best of your abilities?!?” Then TJ told me to shut up and look right:

Squeal,” said Terry. Then TJ said, “Look left.”:

 He refused to pose like he was holding it in his hand. Bummer!! But look how HUMONGEOUS he looks next to the monument! It’s no wonder he wears size 13 shoes!!! Ha ha!

We visited the Museum of American History first, where we saw an amazing exhibition on wars that America has been involved in, with actual uniforms from the Civil War on (insert squeal here). Then we came to a place that had two steel girders from the World Trade Center, and it was very solemn and sad. It seemed incredible to me that I watched those towers fall on live TV, and here was a piece of the South tower’s 70th floor. We also got to see remnants of the Berlin Wall, which was another thing I remember watching on TV.

Things lightened up when I stumbled onto an old bus that YOU COULD GET ON!!!! Ask any of my family members and they will tell you if there is anything interactive or a button to push, I’m all over it. Well, TJ was a little freaked about the model they had posed by the bus, so he wouldn’t take a funny picture. So I had him take one of me instead:

I won’t lie. My first thought was, “What’s with that face???” My second, “Hey! I look pretty darn good!” TJ, after declaring that I did not take a funny picture, posed for me:

TJ the creeper

After a short break for cold bottles of water and a snack (and by “snack” I mean a $5 hot dog), we decided to brave the masses and entered the Natural History Museum. TJ was very excited for me to see the dinosaur exhibit, AND they had a mummy exhibit!

"This actually looks like my mummy!", says TJ

And….Terry did a li-tel shopping (Tom don’t freak when you see the credit card bill, ok?):

Isn’t it weird how people won’t talk about the elephant in the room?


Oh, and Tommy and AJ? We’re bringing home another pet……..

"Please tell me it eats dog food or hay..."

As I wrap up our day (it WAS a short day since we didn’t get started until nearly noon), I’ll tell you that I am SO overwhelmed by the size of the buildings here. Not only do they take up city blocks, they are so high and so close to each other that your eyes can’t take it all in! I took this shot from the mall looking into the Federal Plaza area:

It sure ain’t Casa Grande. Heck, it ain’t Phoenix either!!!! Oh, and I think I’m gonna buy this place and live in it (but they can keep the gravy boat):

Tomorrow we get the White House tour, but I can’t take any pictures (Boo!), but I’ll post a description of everything we see there. We’ll also be going to Arlington (since we have to get up at FIVE O’CLOCK, there’s little chance of getting a late start!).

Thanks for checking out our trip, and big ((((HUGS)))) and kisses to Tommy & AJ!

We’ve arrived!

After getting a few hours sleep and waking up at 1:30 finish packing and get ready for the big trip, TJ and I were finally sitting on our Southwest plane headed for Baltimore. Fortunately, we were able to snag a front row seat that gave us plenty of legroom (important when you are traveling with a gigantic teen-age boy); unfortunately, the fellow that sat next to TJ kept falling asleep on him!!! Needless to say, TJ was NOT amused. Consequently, after touching down at BWI, catching our Super Shuttle, and taking an hour and a half van ride to the hotel……TJ was beyond exhausted.

"Me wants nap-nap..."

So we are going to sign off for tonight, get some Chicago style pizza delivered and hit the sack! Lucky for us, we have an amazing room:

So good night for now and look for our post tomorrow evening from Arlington, Virginia!

The countdown begins! TJ and Terry head to Washington DC on March 18th!

Just about the time I bet y’all were wondering when the Hoov Crew was going to post a travel blog – your wishes have been granted! Although we aren’t going out of the country this time (TJ refuses to fly across oceans. Silly boy!), TJ is making his 2nd trip to DC and Terry is making her 1st!

The real cherry on the sundae of this trip is we found out last week that we were approved through Senator John McCain’s office for a tour of The White House on March 20th!!!!!! TJ and I are both so excited to go (my mom wasn’t THAT excited for us until she realized she’d toured the Capital building and not The White House – then she got excited….). The crummy thing is, we aren’t allowed to take any pictures inside the property. I’m hoping they’ll have a photographer there, like at Disneyland, that snaps a pic of you in front of something and gives you a photo pass card to purchase in the gift shop. Wishful thinking on my part, I am sure – but you never know!

Regardless of that, I will give an in depth report as to what we saw and how many Secret Service agents we harrassed while we’re there (Example question from TJ: “So….I probably shouldn’t joke about bombing anything while we’re there, huh?). Our tour starts at 7:30 a.m. (!!!) that morning, and as soon as we get back to our room we’ll get online and post what happened and whether or not we’ve been invited to sup with the First Family that evening (they have food in Secret Service prison, right?)

On the other days we’re there, we’re visiing the Crime & Punishment Museum (our family has…..eclectic tastes…..and they have TED BUNDY’S CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and Arlington Cemetery where we’ll pay our respects to an Uncle buried there, Ira Hayes, and the 184 people that are buried there from the attacks on the Pentagon on 9/11. Other than that, we’ll be hitting some museums, memorials, and monuments – and hopefully Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington. I’ve been dreaming of Ray’s sweet potato fries ever since I saw their menu online (thanks anonymous member!). Mmmmmmmm………………………..

So starting March 19th, look for our blogs at the end of the day (and hey, it will actually be the end of BOTH our days -not 8 hours later this time!). Oh, and maybe a picture with the Prez??? You can subscribe to this blog and it will notify you every time a new post is uploaded so you don’t miss any of the fun.

Post at ya soon!

Day 4 Ireland 10/16/2011 Part a dó

Part deux…..alright, we’ve been jetlagged unbelievably bad, so that’s why this is so late in coming!

See we did learn something while we were here! a dó is two in Gaelic (all right, I admit it. I Googled how to spell it – but I did learn it!)

Back to the Coleman Cathedral!

Like I said in the previous post, the inside of the cathedral was HUGE:

(Hey! I know that lady up there on the right! She’s probably praying for more mini DVDs to record herself talking to…well, herself!)

Leaving the cathedral (after Mom tried to “leave” through a locked door that was probably a holy, sacred door that only priests can touch and is now eternally cursed), we made our way down to the main street in Cobh to see two memorials. The first is the Titanic memorial:

The coolest thing related to the Titanic and Cobh (which was known as Queenstown, but changed back to Cobh after the Republic of Ireland gained it’s independence), is that the White Star Line offices are still standing. We couldn’t go in because it currently is closed, with likely no investors to keep it running in Ireland’s economic recession.

The even cooler thing, though pretty sad, about the White Star Line offices, is that the gate that people walked through to board the Titanic, at its last stop, is hanging at the offices. (Not from Terry: 144 Cobh residents left on the Titanic and only 22 returned. The guide told us that for years it was not unusal to be walking around and bump into a survivor of the Titanic because they all stayed in Cobh upon their return.)

Then, you have the harbour where the Titanic sailed out of. Can’t you just see it sitting out there???

The other memorial in Cobh is a memorial to the people who died when the Lusitania sank. After the ship had sunk, the local fisherman rushed out to try and resuce as many folks as they could from the water. What they ended up doing was bringing the dead back.  Some families claimed their dead. However, those who went unclaimed were buired in Cobh. They are very protecteive of these victims and you’ll not get directions to the cemetery, nor is it on any guided tour. The memorial commemorates the day the ship sank and the dead that are in Cobh cemetaries.

So, to end this blog,for now anyway, let us just sum it up with a few words:

GO VISIT IRELAND!!! It was a beautiful country, but what really made the trip wonderful was the people. They are gracious, warm and friendly – most have an epic sense of humor that we enjoyed very much. And the food was amazing!!!! Hearty and delicious and homemade – what more could a person ask for?

Thanks for following along on our trip. There’ll be more coming in a few months!