Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Time Traveling

Our 'small' flight. 
Mom pouring out samples. 
The family that drinks together stays together?
Except Megan. She drinks water. 
University of Mary Washington bell tower
Such a pretty campus
Touring the art building
Mary Washington's house
George Washington's bedroom when he would visit his mother. 

We got to really sleep in since we were sleeping in a basement. It was wonderful. Right away we got ready for the day and Gretchen and I, along with my mom and cousin Megan piled into my mother's car and made our way to Blue and Grey Brewery! We were able to get a nice tour of the brewery and some wonderful tastings of some of the beers. My mother and I were able to pour a tasting right from the tank it's brewed in! From there we sat at the bar and ordered some wings and a couple flights of different beers. Cute little Megan drank some water. Poor girl. Maybe one day she can hang with the big kids.

Megan took us on a nice tour of her college, University of Mary Washington. It's right in historic Fredericksburg. We were able to see her messy dorm room and despite the cold she took us on a walk to show us the art building where she spends most of her time. She let us see some of the work she has done in class. All of which was very good! The campus was so beautiful when we were there, I can't imagine how it would look in the summer.

Our next stop seemed appropriate considering what school we were at. We went to visit and tour Mary Washington's last house that her son, George Washington bought for her. He purchased the house in 1772 and she resided there until her death in 1789. It was more fun than you would think. We got our own private tour of her parlor, bedroom, and kitchen. She had a large garden, but like everything else has been on the trip, it was all dead. We learned that Mary was extremely loyal to the British crown and loved her tea, but was still very supportive of her son.

We had a nice lunch at Capitol Ale House. There were so many taps I couldn't handle it... (haha) But somehow we all resisted and spent our lunch drinking water. We all shared a great lunch of Beer Cheese Soup, Spinach & Artichoke Dip, and a Stuffed Pretzel. Highly delicious.

After such a yummy and filling lunch we had to go home and take a nap. Only to wake up to a wonderfully prepared dinner by my stepdad. He deboned a chicken so he could stuff it and we had asparagus and yummy Virginia wine to wash it down with.

Can't Wine About This Day

We slept in again. Had a tasty breakfast of leftovers. Once we were ready to go out we traveled up to a winery not too far away. It is called Hartwood Winery. We had a nice tasting of 11 different wines and learned a lot about wine making in Virginia. My mother called us right around the time we were done with our tasting and she suggested meeting at a second winery. We spoke with the guy that gave us our tasting and he sold us a package that included tastings at 4 wineries, the brewery, and the distillery in town! 

It was further south, closer to my mom's house. This one was called Mattaponi. They make a lot of their wines using fruits other than grapes. Our favorite was a wine made with strawberries and chocolate making it taste like a chocolate covered strawberry! Another of my favorites was a blueberry with strawberry wine. We had cheese and crackers after our tasting as we drank a full glass of wine. 

From there we went to a third winery! This winery was called Lake Anna located on... Lake Anna! We went through another tasting and sat outside to drink a couple more glasses since the sun came out. 

We called it a day and headed home. The twisty roads didn't totally agree with Gretchen's stomach after all the wine. We had an  amazing steak dinner without any wine... And then called it a day. It was a very nice day out with my family and the wine wasn't bad either!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Home Sweet... Hyundai

Washington D.C.: March 27, 2015

Stars in the sky at an exhibit in the Native American Museum
There were some very excellent displays in this museum
This canoe caught me by surprise as it was the only Hawaiian artifact. So I guess Hawaii is kind of sort of considered being Native?

Train station to go back to Fredericksburg
We had to sit in the back of the train so no one would judge us. 
Dinner with the Family
How to survive dinner with the Family (1 Liter of Hofbrau Lager) I only wish you could see a size comparison. It weighed about 5 or 6 pounds full. 

The Dinner spread. Everything German. Completely amazing! Sauerkraut, potatoes, cabbage, corn, schnitzel, and much more!

Today was our last day in Washington DC. We slept in and had breakfast at the hotel again. Unfortunately their coffee was not very good today. We then proceeded to pack and check out of the hotel. Since we had about 3.5 hours before our train we left our bags at the hotel and headed to the National Museum of the Native American. We wandered for a good bit. They had some excellet exhibits and a couple blah ones. We left there and got Starbucks to do the job the hotel coffee could not. Picked up our bags and arrived at the train station early. 

Gretchen's trip highlights: 
Favorite: WWII Memorial struck the biggest cord with me. My great grandfather was in this war so I think having a direct connection like that makes a bigger impact on the way you view these memorials and monuments. Of course it all has impacted our nation, but this one hit home with me. 
Least Favorite: All of the field trips that we had to zigzag around.. Kayla's going to tell me I can't use that as my least favorite part, but it's true.. everything is so ginormous and breathtaking that it's hard to concentrate and appreciate all of it when there are hundreds of screaming unappreciative children running around the city. 
Firsts: Pretty much the entire trip was a first for me. I went to DC with Kayla last year, but it seemed like all the spots we hit on this trip were all brand new. 
Lasts: I will never forget my good shoes at home again! I have two different pairs of running shoes that I use for work, and I had planned to bring a pair since they have a little more support, but being that we were here-there-and everywhere before we left, I forgot them by the front door. 

Kayla's Trip highlights:
Favorite: Tie between the Lincoln Memorial and the American History Museum. Lincoln because of what he symbolyzes and just the enormity of the sculpture. The museum because it houses so much of our countries history and all of the exhibits were amazing and intriguing. 
Least Favorite: Native American Museum. It was very confusing for me. There are so many different tribes and it was hard to understand the majority of the museum. The one exhibit called 'Our Universes' did an amazing job separating each tribe and explaining who they are, but the other ones not so much. They also had a lot of South American tribes included when it could have easily been filled with information on tribes from the US alone. 
Firsts: Ride on the VRE, Museum of The Native American, eating at Georgia Browns
Lasts: time I come when it is cold. From now on I will only come to this city in the spring or summer. 

The train ride back was pretty uneventful. Gretchen slept and I stared out of the window. The only REALLY bad part about the train ride was both of us needed the bathroom BAD. From the time we got to the train platform through the whole train ride we were doing everything we could not to think about it. When we pulled into Fredericksburg we raced to the nearest building and Gretchen ran in to ask them if we could use their bathroom. Graciously they said yes. While waiting for her with all of our stuff I noticed the sign said The Bavarian Chef. I knew my mother made plans for us at a German restaurant nearby so I asked her which one. It just so happened to be one and the same. We were able to get a table and finally use the restroom! It was exciting.

Dinner was way too incredible. I've never had german food in America that I can recall. Maybe sauerkraut with sausage and that's it. When Randall and I went to Munich we ate ALL THE GERMAN FOOD! Well we did the same for this dinner. It was an extremely cool restaurant. You pick your entree and then they bring out all of the sides for the table to share so everyone can try everything. It felt like just sharing a meal at home. We were so full so fast. Then these tricky people brought out an actual platter with their desserts. Not a menu, but the ACTUAL desserts they serve you. We had to turn down the most beautiful German Chocolate Cake IN PERSON. Such a mean trick they play... 

Friday, March 27, 2015

We the People: went on vacation and here's what we did.

Washington D.C.: March 26, 2015

National Archives located on the corner of Constitution Ave. How excellent. 

Front of the archives advertising for their Alcohol in America exhibit. Another great job Smithsonian!

She's just in awe of all the history!

An interesting gathering of Ukranians out side of the White House

Gretchen in front of the White House!

DC Selfie!

One of 12 reliefs at the WWII memorial. Had to get a pic of the representation of the combat photographer!

WWII memorial looking over everything. All 50 states are represented as well as all US territories. The states were in order of when they ratified the Constitution bouncing back and forth from left to right. In the center of the back wall is filled with around 4000 gold stars. Each one represents 100 deaths. 

The wall of stars. "Here we mark the price of freedom"

The Lincoln Memorial. Construction started in 1914. There are 36 columns on the outside of the memorial. Each column represents each state in the Union at the time of the President's death. The state names are inscribed above the columns. The memorial was dedicated in 1922 and Lincoln's son attended the dedication!
Lincoln selfie. This man was carved from marble by two brothers from New York and is 19 FEET tall and wide! Gretchen was practicing her stoic Lincoln face. 

Lincoln's view. They had the Reflection Pool drained... a bit disappointing. 

Korean War Memorial. Dedicated in 1995 on the 42nd anniversary of the end of the war. The statues were created by a WWII veteran. 
The Korean memorial wall. Etched with the faces of unidentified soldiers. From the right angle the statues can be seen mixed with the etchings. At the end of the wall is another marked 'Freedom is Not Free'
Martin Luther King Jr Memorial. Dedicated in 2011 on the anniversary of his March on Washington. The monument is in three pieces. The two large stones on the sides are the 'Mountain of Despair' and the stone in the middle fits in the center and is called the 'Stone of Hope'. MLK Jr is engraved to the back of the Stone of Hope facing the water and looking towards the Jefferson Memorial. 

The beautiful Cherry Blossoms given to us from the Japanese government in 1912 as a token of friendship. (We clearly visited on the wrong day...)

Lunch with Allison. Gretchen's yummy fried chicken!

View of the Jefferson Memorial across the Tidal Basin. Next week you will be able to see Cherry Blossoms in this picture.

I know I said I was tired yesterday, but today is a completely different kind of tired! We got more than enough sleep and woke up early, enjoyed some hotel breakfast and coffee, and hit the town. We had only made it 3 blocks when it started to pour.

We ran for cover into a nearby museum. Lucky for us it was still closed... Thankfully the guard was EXTREMELY nice and said we could stay in the foyer as long as it didn't become a trend and she offered us the restroom, which of course we did't need until it was super inconvenient. It stopped raining just enough that we figured we could make a run for the Archives.

We made it inside the door just as it started to come down again! We made our way through the Records of Rights. Starting with the Magna Carta written in 1297! That's 718 YEARS! That's like 4 times the age of our country! This exhibit took us through the Civil Rights movement, Women's Suffrage, and Immigrant Rights. From there we went to the new exhibit, Spirited Republic. This exhibit walked us through the life of alcohol in our country. Prohibition was a majority of the exhibit. Alcohol was treated like marijuana and people were written prescriptions! There was also the 'Drunkometer' on display; the first breathalyzer made in the 1930s. I never thought about how much of a role alcohol actually played in our country.
Sam Adams was a partner in his fathers malt house.
John Hancock made his money from importing alcohol.
Thomas Jefferson was famed for importing European wines.
Andrew Jackson distilled whiskey.
From there we went to the 'Rotunda' which houses the Constitution, Declaration, and Bill of Rights. It's incredibly inspiring to see the 200 year old paper that our country was built on. It's faded and wrinkled and fragile, but you can clearly make out 'We the People,' Sam Adams, John Hancock, and many more famous names.

By the time we got to the gift shop we realized we spent our entire morning in there! So we quickly headed to the opposite side of the mall to meet an old friend for lunch. Lucky girl gets to work right next to the White House! We went to a fancy place called Georgia Browns. It was fabulous southern cooking. We have been gone three whole days so I really needed some cornbread and peach cobbler. The gumbo was totally amazing also!

We trekked back to the mall and saw the White House, Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial. It was quite a walk. I didn't think we would make it back. We strongly contemplated calling a cab to take us the 2 miles back to our hotel. Out of curiosity I added up the total miles walked and it equaled out to 8 miles (not including what we walked in museums). Tomorrow will be so chill. I'm ready for some wine in Fredericksburg.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Driving Me Crazy!

I-95N: March 24, 2015


This sweet boy spent nearly the whole drive in my lap!

The only view of Gallifrey we saw

River just soaking up the last bit of sun he will see in a while

A photo we snapped at our forced pit stop

My lap has got to be more comfortable than water bottles...

Last state line we hit before nightfall came.

We had planned to leave work by noon so we could be on the road by 2pm. 
We got home at 2pm. We split up to get everything done faster. We finally pulled out of the parking lot by 5 freaking pm. It's awesome living in an office park when you leave to go somewhere at 5pm. It took us about an hour just to get to the outskirts of Jax. Right around that time was when Gallifrey thought it would be a good time to use his crate as a litter box. He couldn't even wait till we were out of Florida! We were forced to stop at the Georgia welcome center to clean him up. Then back on the road! Just after South Carolina state line I started getting antsy and couldn't sleep like I was supposed to so Gretchen and I switched and I ended up driving the rest of the way. It wouldn't have been so bad if I had slept more than 3 hours the night before, but oh well at least we made it eventually. Gretchen slept about 80% of the time, of which I am jealous of, but totally don't blame her for doing so. I started getting sleepy and hungry so I woke her up long enough to stop at a Cook Out in North Carolina. We really need one of those in Jax please. With renewed energy we kept trekking up 95. River is a trooper! He just hung out the whole time and chilled. He started getting upset around hour 9, but I was pretty close to tears myself so he wasn't alone. Poor guy was getting whiplash bouncing around while driving on crappy Virginia highways. Gallifrey luckily didn't have any other incidents. 

We pulled into my mothers driveway at 330am Wednesday! And the crazy woman greeted us at the door. We quickly dragged everything into the basement, cats included, and promptly passed out!

If I can spend the rest of the trip driving with the slightest bit more sleep I will never complain about being tired again. I swear!