The Gilmores spent Saturday with our friend, Shawn Young, as tourists in Washington, D.C., drinking in the sights, sounds and smells. We weren't sure exactly how a full day in the city with a 14-month-old would play out but we discovered that there are definite advantages to having a kid in tow.
We jumped the Metro in Columbia, Maryland where Shawn lives and got off at the Chinatown PI stop and headed toward the Mall. After a peek inside the Spy Museum, we had our first official stop: the National Archives. This was Shawn's choice and he said it was worth seeing "all the documents our nation was founded on." This turned out to be the right choice because we beat the afternoon crowds and the line to get in wasn't too long. We also scored FREE cuts in line to the rotunda since we had Meilani and a stroller so we were quickly admitted to see the Constitution. This was Ericlee's highlight. As you can see in the photo, Meilani is prepping for the 2060 elections when she'll be running for President. Look out world, here she comes!
We decided on the Sculpture Garden (part of the National Gallery of Art) for lunch at the cafe. This a was a beautiful spot for lunch with a view of the huge fountain and the sculptures. Meilani scored a FREE large chocolate chip cookie from a worker at the cafe because she was crying - or maybe it was because she's so cute. Either way, her parents indulged in dessert and a quieter lunch.
The next D.C. stop was the National Gallery of Art - this time, Dorina's highlight. We took a few hours peruse the halls full of Picassos, Monets (pictured here) and even some Georgia O'Keefe paintings. And the best part about it is the gallery is part of the Smithsonian network and entry is FREE to all of them. (Well, our tax dollars pay for them as Shawn likes reminding us.)
Meilani's highlight of the day was the Kids Gift Store in the National Gallery of Art - full of unique toys, art supplies, musical instruments and wonderful books about artists. This one about colors and animals was her favorite. Surprise. Surprise. Next destination: the Air & Space Museum.
We walked across the Mall and took a few moments to see the Capitol in the distance and the Washington monument on the other end. We decided against actually going to either of these because of the extreme heat and distance. (Yes, we're talking dripping wet with sweat in every crevice of your body!) We headed to the Air & Space Museum, which was Ericlee's choice of the day. Dorina and Meilani enjoyed an afternoon nap while Shawn and Ericlee saw exhibits on the Wright brothers, the planets and fought through the crowds to see the inside of a space craft carrier. Then we headed for Georgetown on a FREE bus ride since the fare machine wasn't working.
We all enjoyed a much-needed break and time to clean up at dinner. Shawn took us to one of his faves, Zed's Ethiopian restaurant on the edge of Georgetown. Meilani scored a FREE meal for being whiny and cute again. We scarfed two meat (carnivore) platters and one vegetarian combo. Ethiopian food is unique because you use injera bread (like a spongy pancake) to eat the food (similar to Indian but much milder) with your hands. We lingered in a few shops, checked out the sales and the people. Dorina reminisced about the days living in Georgetown when she was a college intern for the Chicago Tribune. She scored a FREE set of en vogue sunglasses that Ericlee found in the middle of the street. We ended up at Thomas's Homemade Ice Cream shop for a delectable dessert. Ericlee chose homemade strawberry and the rest of us had sucked down smoothies. Yum-o!The day concluded with a ride on the Metro back to Maryland. Meilani squealed and jumped with joy as the Metro clanked through the tunnels. We arrived back at Shawn's car and our FREE parking space (since it was the weekend) just before the rain showers. What an incredible 12-hour tour in the nation's Capitol - Let Freedom Ring!