Tag Archives: washington dc

A 21st Century Adventure!


This post is weeks overdue, but the craziness of life has left me scrambling for an hour of solitude and silence to sit and blog. In the absence of either, I find myself stealing free moments, a bite at time, so as to try and catch up on recording the events of our life that occurred weeks ago.

In the week leading up to Mother’s day we had our annual all-school field trip with 21st Century Cyber Charter School. Despite the million reasons why we shouldn’t attend this year (ie: multiple kids in crisis) we decided to press forward , especially for Molly’s sake, given this is her senior year and final 21CCCS field trip.

Our cyber school offers multiple field trips and outings throughout the school year and across the state for their students that are spread all the way from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, but the event of the year rolls around every May when everyone comes together for one huge, school-wide adventure. Past trips have included the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Annapolis, Mt. Vernon, Gettysburg, etc. This year’s end of the year field trip was to Washington D.C. Buses were sent to the four corners of the state to pick up 21cccs families and shuttle them to D.C. for the day.

We had originally reserved eight spots on the Pittsburgh bus, but on Thursday morning we found our numbers down to four. Rather than miss out when some of the kids weren’t able to come, Toby decided to stay home with those who weren’t up for the trip and I enjoyed a rare, easy-breezy day with the O3- Grace, Molly and Rusty.

And it was a gift….

Such a gift!

We left the house at 3:30 am to drive to Monroeville and catch the chartered bus to Washington D.C. with the other 21cccs families.

IMG_0845 (2)

The size of our group warranted 2 buses and we found ourselves traveling with our good friends, the Hudaks.

IMG_0848 (2)

The day ended up being my Mother’s Day gift to me.

IMG_0893 (2)

We loved the t-shirts for this year’s field trip!

It was a treat having some special one-on-one time with my “non-squeaky wheels”…those kids who find themselves setting aside their wants for the more pressing needs of our hurting kids.


For 18 hours they had me all to themselves and I reveled in the treat of being able to enjoy the joys of motherhood with none of the work. It truly was like a day off from real life as I enjoyed the company of my oldest kids and our dear friends, had hours of quiet reflection, looking out the window as someone else drove us the 5 hours there and back to Washington D.C., and a day of fun in one of my all-time favorite cities.

IMG_0856 (2)

IMG_0861 (2)

Our large school group was split into two groups. We were visiting two Smithsonian museums with half the group beginning at the Air and Space Museum and half visiting the National Building Museum.

IMG_0898 (3)

We started our day at the Air and Space Museum:

IMG_0871 (2)IMG_0875 (2)IMG_0879 (2)IMG_0880 (2)IMG_0887 (2)IMG_0889 (2)IMG_0896 (2)

At noon all the 21st Century families and staff came together on the grass of the Mall and enjoyed a picnic lunch.

IMG_0906 (2)IMG_0904 (2)

Molly enjoyed catching up with friends from across the state,

As well as getting to spend some time with her learning coach, Mr. Winterode… an all-time favorite teacher of both my girls!

IMG_0909 (2)

After lunch on the Mall we walked over to our second location,

IMG_0912 (2)

The National Building Museum:

IMG_0950 (2)IMG_0917 (2)IMG_0922 (2)IMG_0936 (2)IMG_0941 (2)IMG_0946

It was a LONG day, but in a season of many LONG days, it was a gift to have an easy/fun/non-drama sort of long day!

IMG_0952 (2)

I love our cyber school!

Taking to the Sky


While in Virginia the boys and I sought out things to do near Fairfax. We heard tale of an “out of this world” museum only 20 minutes from George Mason University (where Rusty was spending the week attending a 3D programing camp.) After a little bit of research I knew this had to be one of our day trips for the week. The reviews were incredible and the pictures were amazing, and when we learned that the cost was FREE we knew where we were headed next…

To the Steven F. Udvar- Hazy Center!


Opened in 2003, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center serves as a partner facility to the National Air and Space Museum. The two locations together attract 8 million visitors per year, making the National Air and Space complex the most popular museum in the United States.


For aviation enthusiasts young and old, the Udvar-Hazy Center is just plain cool. The expansive museum consists of two hangars—the Boeing Aviation Hangar and the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar—which have dozens of aircraft and spacecraft suspended from their ceilings. Some of the most notable include the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a Concorde and the space shuttle Discovery. A more recently added hangar, the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar, is where scientists and engineers work to restore artifacts from the Air and Space museum’s massive collection.


We arrived soon just as the doors opened. As we stepped into the museum we stopped first at the information desk with hopes of getting a map to guide us through the massive museum. Upon seeing the two boys, the volunteers told us about a fun aeronautic scavenger hunt they offer children, making their time at the museum even more interactive and engaging.


The boys jumped to the challenge, especially when they heard they would earn a special souvenir if they could track down all the airplanes on the sheet and record their unique animal themed names.


With the scavenger hunt paper in hand we began our search…


Working our way through the various sections of the museum that highlight different time periods and themes in aviation.

Cold War Aviation:

After World War II ended, the United States and the Soviet Union began competing for primacy in a global struggle pitting democracy against communism. Tensions between the two superpowers led to such confrontations as the Berlin blockade, the downing of an American U-2 spy plane, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. “Hot” wars erupted in Korea and Vietnam.

Aerial reconnaissance played an important role in this struggle. To supersede its U-2 spy plane, Lockheed developed the top-secret, stealthy SR-71 Blackbird, the world’s fastest jet-propelled aircraft, one of which is displayed here. The Cold War ended with the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and relations between the former adversaries began to warm.

SR-71 and Space Shuttle Enterprise

Commercial Aviation:

Flying was new and daring in the early years of the 20th century. Traveling by airplane was rare. Airlines, airliners, airports, air routes—none of these existed. But by century’s end, you could travel to almost anywhere in America by air in a matter of hours. Commercial aviation is now both a commonplace and an essential aspect of modern life. It has revolutionized the world.

Some of the aircraft that marked important points in the evolution of air transportation are on display here: a Junkers Ju 52/3m, a popular German airliner of the 1930s; a Boeing 307 Stratoliner, the first pressurized airliner; the Boeing 367-80 Dash 80, the prototype for the Boeing 707, America’s first commercial jet airliner; and an Air France Concorde, the first supersonic airliner.


Destination Moon:

The National Air and Space Museum holds approximately 17,000 space artifacts in its collection. More than 3,500 of those stem from the historic Apollo Moon landing effort, with 400 objects related specifically to the first successful lunar landing mission, Apollo 11. On July 20, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed in the Lunar Module Eagle and became the first humans to step foot on the lunar surface while astronaut Michael Collins orbited above inside the Command Module, Columbia.

The tour and the display of Armstrong’s spacesuit help to set the stage for the unveiling of a completely reimagined permanent gallery at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Destination Moon, scheduled to open in 2021,  will present the exhilarating story of one of the greatest adventures in human history, the exploration of the Moon. It begins with ancient dreams of lunar flight, takes the visitor through the Moon race of the 1960s and 1970s, and ends with what is happening now.


Space Shuttle Discovery:


Discovery was the third Space Shuttle orbiter vehicle to fly in space. It entered service in 1984 and retired from spaceflight as the oldest and most accomplished orbiter, the champion of the shuttle fleet. Discovery flew on 39 Earth-orbital missions, spent a total of 365 days in space, and traveled almost 240 million kilometers (150 million miles)–more than the other orbiters. It shuttled 184 men and women into space and back, many of whom flew more than once, for a record-setting total crew count of 251.


Because Discovery flew every kind of mission the Space Shuttle was meant to fly, it embodies well the 30-year history of U.S. human spaceflight from 1981 to 2011. Named for renowned sailing ships of exploration, Discovery is preserved as intact as possible as it last flew in 2011 on the 133rd Space Shuttle mission.


NASA transferred Discovery to the Smithsonian in April 2012 after a delivery flight over the nation’s capital.


Early Flight:

Early Flight celebrates the first decade of flight by evoking the atmosphere of an aviation exhibition from that period: the fictitious Smithsonian Aeronautical Exposition of 1913. The gaily decorated gallery is crammed with fabric-covered aerial vehicles, some fanciful, most real, along with trade show–style exhibits featuring cutting-edge technology of the day.

Gracing the gallery is a rare 1894 Lilienthal glider, along with Samuel P. Langley’s Aerodrome #5 and Quarter-Scale Aerodrome, powered, unmanned vehicles that successfully flew in 1896 and 1903. Early Flight also features the most original and complete of the Museum’s three Wright airplanes, the 1909 Wright Military Flyer, the world’s first military airplane. Other treasures include a Curtiss Model D “Headless Pusher,” an Ecker Flying Boat, and a Blériot XI monoplane.


Interwar Military Aviation:

The airplane emerged from World War I recognized widely for its potential as a military weapon. In the United States, Army pilots and Navy and Marine aviators worked to realize their different visions of the airplane’s ultimate role in American defense.

These advocates faced institutional resistance and meager budgets. They also faced the danger of pushing the capabilities of a rapidly developing technology during regular operations, combat in foreign lands, and public flights that presented their visions to everyday Americans. Innovations in doctrine, organization, and technology resulted in the air forces that would fight World War II on a global scale.

The Museum’s collection of 1920s and 1930s military aircraft contains many one-of-a-kind and sole-surviving aircraft.


Aerobatic Flight

In 1908, Wilbur Wright flew the first public exhibitions of a Wright Flyer in France. It wasn’t long before aviation meets began thrilling crowds of spectators with races; altitude records; climbing and diving; and dramatic turns. Developing aerobatic maneuvers helped the military improve fighter tactics and aircraft technology. Today, aerobatic flight remains an exhilarating type of flying in which a pilot performs precision maneuvers. Civilian pilots fly aerobatics for fun, competition, or air show performance. Military pilots use aerobatic flight for combat tactics. Millions of spectators watch aerobatic demonstrations each year at air shows. Aircraft used for aerobatics range from barnstormer-style biplanes to the latest military fighter jets.



While tracking down the planes on their scavenger hunt sheet we made sure to take advantage of the interactive booths scattered throughout the museum that allowed the boys to get “hands on” with the science of flight.

How Things Fly:

How does an airplane stay aloft? How can something as insubstantial as air support all that weight? Why do you become “weightless” in space? How can you propel yourself there, with no air to push against? These and many other questions are answered in How Things Fly, a gallery devoted to explaining the basic principles that allow aircraft and spacecraft to fly.

The emphasis here is “hands-on.” Dozens of exhibits invite you to push, pull, press, lift, slide, handle, touch, twist, turn, spin, bend, and balance. Here you can discover for yourself answers to things you’ve always wondered about flight. You can explore the nature of gravity and air; how wings work; supersonic flight; aircraft and rocket propulsion; flying in space; and more.


From there we headed up to the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower, where we enjoyed a bird’s eye, 360-degree view of the planes landing and taking off at Washington Dulles International Airport.


It was pretty spectacular!

Our day concluded with the boys turning in their completed scavenger hunt sheets and being awarded a prize for their efforts.


What an amazing place!

Pictures don’t do justice to the sheer size and scope of this incredible museum.

We give this Washington D.C. site two thumbs up!

If you are in the area: check it out!

Frying Pan Farm Park




In planning for our trip to Virginia for Rusty’s five day Envision camp, I began searching out things Tyler and Ozzie could do during the day while Rusty was at camp. Since I was flying solo for the week I was looking for things that would be engaging to the two boys, things that were free or cheap, and preferably that could be accessed without having to jump back on the DC beltway.

Staying just outside Washington D.C. led me to consider sites within the city. There is certainly much to see and do (for free) within the heart of D.C, but concern about travel time and making it back to Rusty by 4:00 each day led me to shy away from the Metro for this visit and instead we explored sites around Fairfax county.

Our first day of fun led us to Frying Pan Farm, a Fairfax County Park.  It was Tyler’s “Gotcha Day” and a day at the farm was a perfect way to celebrate the 5 year anniversary of his adoption. Tyler is my animal lover and Frying Pan Farm was just the sort of place that Tyler loves. Admission was free and it was only 20 minutes from George Mason University where Rusty was spending the day.

It was a win-win!

“Frying Pan Park preserves a reminder of Fairfax County’s rural heritage from 1920 to 1940 at Kidwell Farm. Visitors can see or pet draft horses, pigs, goats, cows, sheep, rabbits, chickens and peacocks.


The four-room schoolhouse built in 1911 is a hub of arts and crafts, fitness, children’s classes and summer camp programs. The Moffett Blacksmith Shop contains the smithy’s original equipment. The Country Store housed a shop and classroom for vocational agriculture from 1919 to about 1930. The Frying Pan Spring Meeting House was built in 1791 and is designated a “Virginia Landmark.”

Pigs, cows, horses, turkeys, peacocks—these aren’t the usual beltway suspects when you think of visiting D.C. but if you’re looking  afternoon away from the hustle and bustle, pack up some sandwiches and hit the road for Frying Pan Park. My boys had a ball petting the sheep, checking out the pigs, and playing on the tractors. Since it’s a working farm, you’ll probably hear mooing, bleating, and baaing. We found it to be a nice respite from all the honking we heard on the beltway.

We began our visit at the visitor’s center where we grabbed some info on the farm before swinging by the barns. In the visitor’s center guests can get brochures, use the bathrooms, and grab a map that will guide you around the farm. 


Within the Visitor’s Center is also a small museum that introduces guests to life on the farm with fun interactive exhibits and comparisons of farm life on a 1940’s dairy farm to a dairy farm today.



From there we headed down a beautiful fence lined path to the 1940’s farm. This park reminded me a lot of Round Hill Park in Elizabeth, Pa where my kids spent a lot of time as littles when they visited my parents.


The boys went udderly crazy for this part of Frying Pan Park.


Cows, draft horses, sows, goats, lambs, and more were on display for the kids to gawk at and even pet.


We had the place to ourselves with only a few other souls wandering among the stalls and pens.


My mini farm hands fell in love with all the critters.


A good scratch behind their ears, and these four legged babies were in hog heaven.



We got to see the male peacock in all his splendor and the turkey that the president  pardoned at Thanksgiving that lives right next door to the peacocks.


The ducks were found hanging out in the tub around the corner. 


A stop to see the large work horses and flock of sheep grazing in the field made us feel as though we had stepped into a pastural painting.


The barns,and pens at Frying Pan Farm not only house the animals, but they let kids see what life is like on a farm.


From milking pens, to hay lofts, and equipment used to move things around, the barns are more than just home to the livestock –



Enjoying a cold sarsparilla at the country store.

They’re a glimpse into a farmer’s life, and what it would have been like to work on a farm in Fairfax County in the early 20th century.


It was a precious way to celebrate Tyler’s special day. When he officially became a McCleery 5 years ago we had no idea the ride he would take us on. That adoption journey changed us all and molded us into better people as we learned some of the greatest lessons life has to offer…

Adoption is not always the easiest path to walk, but is a holy walk full of unexpected joys and blessings.


DC Cupcakes


“A cupcake is happiness with icing on top.”

IMG_5774 (2)

Our trip ended, as every good meal does, with dessert!

After reading about Georgetown Cupcakes in a friend’s blog (Thanks Karissa) I knew it needed to be our final stop.

Home of the TLC reality show, “DC Cupcakes,” it is located in Georgetown.


We arrived an hour before closing, found a parking spot, and enjoyed strolling through downtown Georgetown.

We found the bakery easily enough and then waited for 30 minutes to get inside to order.

The line to get inside stretched down the sidewalk.

IMG_5776 (2)

As we waited we looked up the menu on Toby’s phone

deciding what we would order before we got to the counter.

Once inside the kids posed beneath the cupcake menu, pointing to their cupcake choices.

IMG_5781 (2)

At $3.00 a cupcake it was one of the more affordable treats we ran across in Washington DC…

IMG_5787 (2)

and they were delicious!

They came packaged in the iconic pink packaging of DC Cupcakes.

IMG_5794 (2)

IMG_5795 (2)

We ate outside, enjoying the cooler temperatures of evening, and the fun atmosphere of the city.

IMG_5793 (2)

The cupcakes were sweet…

but the company was sweeter.

IMG_5797 (2)

You know life is good when you can:

“Have your cupcake and eat it too.”

The Smithsonian


On the final day in Washington DC we dedicated our day to visiting some of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian Institution is composed of 17 separate collections with 11 being located along the National Mall where we were spending the day. We knew we only had about 7 hours to site-see so we chose the 4 museums/collections we thought the kids would enjoy the most.

"Where to go first??"

“Where to go first??”

We began our day by walking the perimeter of the National Mall, enjoying the architecture and gardens of each of the museum buildings.

IMG_5522 (2)

We began the day at the National Museum of American History. Here the kids enjoyed seeing the original American flag that inspired the writing of the Star Spangled Banner, Julia Child’s kitchen, the dresses and china of the First Ladies, a display on the history of war, and another exhibit on the history of transportation.

Tyler seeing if his riveting skills could match Rosie's.

Tyler seeing if his riveting skills could match Rosie’s.

Ozzie's favorite exhibit

Ozzie’s favorite exhibit

IMG_5599 (2)

Ozzie making friends…

Gracie making friends at the train station. Nice hats, ladies!

Gracie making friends at the train station. Nice hats, ladies!

IMG_5605 (2)

Next we walked to the National Museum of Natural History. Here the kids really enjoyed the live bug zoo, the bones room, and the gems and minerals exhibit where we were able to see the Hope diamond.

What a beautiful building!!

What a beautiful building!!

IMG_5623 (2)

The Bones exhibit

The Bones exhibit

IMG_5640 (2)

The Gems and Minerals room was a favorite stop...

The Gems and Minerals room was a favorite stop…

The Hope Diamond.

The Hope Diamond.

Gracie and I really enjoyed the National Geographic Photography exhibit.


Our third stop was the sculpture garden. Here the large works of art were showcased in beautiful gardens.

IMG_5661 (2)

Rusty standing by the artwork of David Smith, an artist he studied and wrote a paper about this past year.

Rusty standing by the artwork of David Smith, an artist he studied and wrote a paper about this past year.

A sculpture in the garden that invites guest to "take a seat."

A sculpture in the garden that invites guest to “take a seat.”

Our final stop of the day was the National Air and Space Museum. This stop was made at Ozzie’s request but it ended up being our favorite stop. It seemed to have the most to offer with fewer people and more interactive exhibits for kids. The sheer size of the building and the full size aircraft hanging from the ceilings was awe-inspiring.

IMG_5684 (2)

Can you spot Ozzie?

Can you spot Ozzie?

Toby and Tyler touring the spacecraft.

Toby and Tyler touring the spacecraft.

The Wright brothers and the McCleery brothers...

The Wright brothers and the McCleery brothers…

The girls posing next to plane of one of their historical heroes... Amelia Earhart!

The girls posing next to plane of one of their historical heroes… Amelia Earhart!

IMG_5726 (2)

The size of all the planes was awe-inspiring!

The size of all the planes was awe-inspiring!

What do you think...could Molly have made it as a stewardess?

What do you think…could Molly have made it as a stewardess?

Here are the qualifications:

IMG_5768 (2)

IMG_5744 (2)

The kids especially enjoyed this museum because of the familiar scenes filmed here from one of their favorite movies, “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”

Remember this staircase from the movie?

IMG_5760 (2)

The even sell the infamous Einstein bobble head dolls. 🙂

IMG_5741 (2)

It was an amazing day. What a wealth of knowledge can be found at the Smithsonian Institute,

free of charge,

for the public to enjoy!

Our only regret is that we didn’t have an entire week to devote to touring each of these national treasures.

We ended our day with short jaunt over to Georgetown to sample some tasty cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcakes…

the home of the TLC show, DC Cupcakes.

Stay tuned for pictures from this sweet excursion.

Great Falls National Park


“And the air is full of the roar

And the thunderous voice of waters.” IMG_5930 (2)

One of our excursions while in Washington DC was to Great Falls Park.

IMG_5836 (2)

Mimi Joy took us to this National Park five years ago on our way to Thanksgiving in Virginia and we were so impressed that we wanted to visit again and take the two little boys.

IMG_5841 (2)

We began on the Virginia side of the falls. Here we began our visit in the visitor’s center where we learned more about the history of the gorge, the falls, and the canals that were built here under George Washington’ presidency.

IMG_5818 (2)

IMG_5830 (2)

IMG_5831 (2)

While the Virginia side is pretty, it is nothing compared to the Maryland side of

“The Niagara of the South.”

So next we drove 20 minutes around the gorge, crossing the Potomac river, to get to the opposite side of the falls.

It is here you can see the locks of the original canal system built during the late 1700’s.

IMG_5872 (2)

The scenery was breathtaking (even with the muddy waters caused by recent heavy rains.)

IMG_5891 (2)

The walk out to main falls took us along wooden foot paths and over a series of smaller falls.

IMG_5890 (2)

We finally reached the main falls.

IMG_5904 (2)

Here we took pictures of the big kids in the same spot

they were in 5 years earlier when we visited.

kids at falls

IMG_5898 (2)

Now all the kids…

IMG_5899 (2)

As we stood looking over the falls it was hard to believe we were only minutes away from a major metropolis. We felt like we were tucked into the deep wilderness,

IMG_5861 (2)

not outside the nation’s capital.

IMG_5942 (2)

It truly was “Breath-Taking!”


“There is pleasure in the pathless woods.

There is rapture in the lonely shore.

There is society where none intrudes.

By the deep sea and music in its roar.

I love not man the less

But nature more.”

– Lord Byron

The McCleerys go to Washington


IMG_5296 (2)

When we made plans to visit Washington DC a few months ago we decided to stay for the weekend and visit some of the historic sites while we were there. We debated what to see and the most efficient way to see the city before we decided on a bus tour. We thought that would be the most time efficient way to travel the city and see the most sites in the short time we had, so on day 1 we headed into the city to catch our tour bus at 10:00am.

We booked our tour through USA tours after reading great reviews about the company online. Since we were staying at a hotel outside the city we decided to take the metro in. We left 90 minutes before our tour bus was scheduled to leave the Navy Memorial in downtown DC. We thought that would be plenty of time but we ended up getting there just in the nick of time with only minutes to spare.

IMG_5183 (2)

The kids loved riding the Metro and found it to be a grand adventure. Tyler and Ozzie were especially taken with this new and exciting mode of travel.

IMG_5458 (2)

IMG_5202 (2)

When we arrived we took our seats on the bus and met our tour guide for the day, Andy. Andy introduced himself, sharing with us that he previously worked in radio before he became a city tour guide. The melodious nature of his voice was testament to his previous profession. He was a joy to listen to and his rich knowledge of the city added to the value of the tour. As we drove around the city he pointed out the sites and shared with us the stories behind the sites we were seeing.

Along the way we also routinely stopped to get out and view some of the historic sites up close. I felt like we gained a better understanding of the city, our nation, and its rich history than we ever would have touring the city on our own.

The entire tour lasted 6 hours.

Here are some of the places we visited along the way:

1. Our first stop was the US Capitol building. While currently not in session, it is currently under construction. 🙂 The recognizable dome was covered in scaffolding as the cracks in the iron are being repaired. It is estimated that the refurbishment will be completed in 2017.

IMG_5222 (2)

  1. Our next stop was the White house. This is the stop Ozzie was most excited for and this stop ended up being our most crowded stop of the day. Due to the masses of tourist gathered outside the White House Andy brought along his trusty stuffed shark to lead us through the fray. This was his version of the proverbial tour guide umbrella.

IMG_5457 (2)

IMG_5237 (2)You are no longer allowed to walk the street in front of the White House. The road is closed to traffic and pedestrians. You now must stay on the sidewalk across the street. The congestion this causes is a real problem, but I did manage to snag one good picture before we moved on. I was happy to climb back onto our roomy, air conditioned bus and move on to our next stop.

IMG_5241 (2)

3. Our next stop was the WWII memorial, a beautiful memorial that sits between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.  It is a circle of columns surrounding a fountain at the center. The wall is covered in gold stars, each representing 100 servicemen lost to war.

IMG_5286 (2)

IMG_5284 (2)4. We then drove around the green to the Lincoln Memorial. This was the family favorite for the day. I was the only one who had been there before. I remember being in awe of it as a little girl but as we approached I was blown away by its massive size. I don’t remember it being so large. It is a stunning creation with a statue of President Lincoln seated in the middle measuring 19′ x 19′.

IMG_5308 (2)

IMG_5303 (2)

IMG_5318 (2)

  1. From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial we had a beautiful view of the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool.

IMG_5323 (2)

  1. From there we got back on the bus and headed to lunch at Georgetown’s Washington Harbour. Along the way we passed the Jefferson Memorial.

IMG_5431 (2)

  1. When we reached the harbour we got our pizza lunches and boarded a tour boat that took us along the Potomac to see the sites of Washington DC from the water. It was a fun novelty eating on the boat as we listened to the tour guide point out sites along the shore. This was the highlight of the trip for Tyler. He loved being on the water.

IMG_5355 (2)

IMG_5331 (2)

IMG_5333 (2)

  1. After our boat tour the tour bus picked us up again and drove us over to the Iwo Jima Memorial, also known as the Marine Corps Memorial. This was Gracie’s and my favorite stop of the day. I found the monument and the story behind it powerful. As you drive around the memorial from left to right the flag appears to raise until from the opposite side it looks as though the soldiers have raised the flag of victory.

IMG_5383 (2)                  9.  From there we traveled to two more war memorials. First stop: The Korean War Memorial.

IMG_5397 (2)

IMG_5403 (2)

“Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered a call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.”

Then the Vietnam War Memorial.

IMG_5428 (2)

IMG_5413 (2)

IMG_5422 (2)

Both were somber and reflective experiences.

  1. Our final stop of the tour was the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. This newer memorial was dedicated in 2011 and stands as a reminder of the change one person can bring about. From the outside it appears to be a solid, unmoving boulder, but as you walk toward it you can see that what appears to be solid, is in fact an optical illusion. In the center of the boulder lies a walkway created as the center of the stone was thrust forward, symbolizing the path created by the power of one man clearing the way for others. It was beautiful and Rusty’s favorite stop of the day.

IMG_5445 (2)

IMG_5448 (2)

IMG_5452 (2)

“Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”

After a full day with a lot of walking everyone was happy to be dropped back of at the Metro for the ride home to our hotel for a night of swimming in the hotel pool.

It was an amazing day and we couldn’t believe all that we learned and all that we were able to see of the city in that short amount of time. If you ever find yourself trying to see the nation’s capital with only a day to do it in, this is the way to do it.

It was a great experience and a wonderful way for the kids to see and hear and feel the very things they have studied in school and read about in their history books.

Today history came alive and my children walked away with a better appreciation of what it means to be an American.

IMG_5541 (2)

“We are blessed with an opportunity to stand for something-

for liberty and freedom and fairness-

and these things are worth fighting for,

worth devoting our lives to” – Ronald Reagan