Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Great American Road Trip Day 5

We jetted on into D.C. from Williamsburg this morning.

We're staying at the Westin in Arlington. It's really nice and very handily located - right next to a mall, the Metrorail stop and Starbucks.

Toto, we are not in Ar-kansas anymore.

We ventured down to the Metrorail System and spent about 20 minutes deciphering the fares. All-Day Pass or not? I voted for the simplicity of the All-Day Pass but Wes insisted that we could try to go the cheap route by paying individual fares for each stop. Wes decided we needed to call in a local expert to arbitrate for us and he was gracious enough to come over and help us. He recommended the All-Day Pass...hmmm, who else thought that was the best option?

Straight off the metro, Wes picked a fight on the street with an environmental wingnut. Actally, I think Flat Glenn started it.

We buzzed by the Visitors' Center and picked up some brochures(Mom!), and also passed by the EPA.

Flat Glenn was seriously bummed out by the EPA.

So our first stop was the International Spy Museum. I could tell you about it but then I'd have to kill you.

After we left the Spy Museum we thought it would be good to go ahead and find the White House since it looked so close on our handy-dandy map. Not.

We walked for eternity a while and I kept looking at Dixie's GPS and telling Wes that we were going the wrong way. He insisted that he knew where we were going so who am I to argue, right? So I kept one eye on the GPS and one eye on Wes. And we walked some more. And some more until we came upon the Washington Monument. That's on our must-see list too so that was cool. And conveniently, there was a street sign that pointed the way to the White House...in the exact opposite direction we'd been going. Hmmm...who said we were going the wrong way?

I thought we were going to have to tranquilize Wes until he climbed up the hill to the Washington Monument and "got his bearings."

Here's Wes and Flat Glenn with the Capitol in the background...also known as The House of Weasels.

We finally found the White House.

And then began the long trek over to the Lincoln Memorial. On the way, we found ourselves in the middle of a REAL, LIVE PROTEST!

It was very exciting. Unfortunately they were shouting in Spanish (Portugese?) so we had no idea what we were protesting. Wes found another local to ask. Apparently there is a problem with the President of Honduras. I'm not sure if they were for or against him. I'm looking into it so I'll know who to root for next time.

Caitlin's legs were about to. fall. off. so we stopped at the World War II Memorial to put our feet in the water.

The Memorial made me a little weepy. It was beautiful.

Finally, the Lincoln Memorial.

Caitlin bought some postcards because she is so into that right now. I think we've mailed them to everyone she knows, even the dogs. Maybe you'll get one too.

On the way home, I kept telling Wes we needed to catch the Orange Line to Vienna to get back to Arlington. He kept looking at maps and second-guessing every decision. He was trying to convince me to get on the Blue Line to Whatever when he finally asked another local who said, "Oh, no. This is the Blue Line. You need the Orange Line." Hmmm...

For the record, Wes, I was RIGHT about EVERYTHING today. Ye of little faith!

We ate dinner at Ted's Montana Grill. That's Ted, as in Ted Turner. (Big Lib--gasp!)

I ate a bison burger and I liked it.

The "tablecloth" was made of recycled paper. So were the menus. And the straws. Yes, people, I drank through an "earth-friendly" PAPER straw. Kinda stiff and tastes funny. Also, it stays room temperature instead of getting cold like your drink. It was like drinking lukewarm tea. Whatev. We had a great time making fun of everything.

Flat Glenn refused to get out of my purse.

I tried to take pictures but unfortunately they are using those great, new, "earth-friendly" CFL light bulbs so it was too dark.

Bison, it's what's for dinner.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Great American Road Trip Day 4

The last post ended with us hittin' the hay in Lynchburg, VA. We left bright and early for Williamsburg.

Flat Glenn was giddy with anticipation.

First, Caitlin did a little masonry work.

Then we stopped at the King's Arms Tavern to eat, of course.

Hayley is exasperated with all the mortifying picture taking. I do not know what is going on with Wes.

I ate this:

Your welcome, Amb!

We visited the wigmaker...

and the home of George Wythe, a tutor and friend of Thomas Jefferson. He also let George Washington and his men use his home to plan the Battle of Yorktown where Cornwallis surrendered.

This is George Wythe's office where he practiced law and tutored Thomas Jefferson.

Flat Glenn and I were verklempt at the thought that we were standing in the very rooms where George Washington strategized for the most decisive victory of the American Revolution.

We also ran into French General Rochambeau who was kind enough to pose for a picture, much to Hayley's dismay.

It was very hot and we walked. A LOT. I would not have been a good settler. I would have been one of the wienies that got back on the boat and headed for England.

I lost my sense of humor somewhere near the Magazine.

But when we got back to the hotel, Wes ordered room service for the girls and we had a "date night."

I married a genius!

Next stop, D.C.

Great American Road Trip Day 3

Day 3 of our trek finds us on the road again, this time to Gatlinburg, TN.

About an hour or so into the drive, I spied a billboard proclaiming "America's Largest Indoor Flea Market" and my heart skipped a beat. Wes was in agreement that it was a must-see.

Caitlin asked "What's a flea market?"

Where have I gone wrong?

I said, "Baby, we're gonna buy some fleas for Tess."

I think she believed me briefly.

Oh, how I heart seeing that much junk under one roof!

Then, we turned and saw this...

And my heart went pitty-pat!

Caitlin said, "What's a Moon Pie?"

My mothering skills are truly lacking. I am ashamed.

There's no way to describe the heavenly goodness of a fried Moon Pie. It's melty, with a crispy coating, powdered sugar...and it's on a stick, for heaven's sake. Everyone knows that anything served on a stick is good eatin'.

I hope Wes' personal trainer, Drill Sergeant Ken, doesn't read my blog.

So, my kids' education in all things redneck complete, we hit the road again.

We went through Knoxville and just couldn't resist driving through the campus of the University of Tennessee. It is HUGE. We made a beeline for the football stadium, which is getting a facelift...

and proceeded to call the Hogs directly in front of it.

Lane Smith, this is for you!


Pig Sooie!

And now, having thoroughly embarrassed my children, we proceeded directly to Gatlinburg.

Where we drove up into the Great Smokies National Park and had a picnic, of course. What else would we do?

We hugged a few trees while Flat Glenn enjoyed the view from the comfort of his gas-guzzling SUV.

Next stop, the #1 aquarium in the US (according to TripAdvisor), The Aquarium of the Smokies.

Where Caitlin proceeded to spout off all sorts of information about the various creatures on display. That child watches entirely too much Discovery Channel. (Dpn't even get her started on Whale Wars.) We couldn't keep up with her and she ditched me at the glow-in-the-dark fish exhibit because she "needed to go read some more." Here's a picture of Hayley and me in the jaws of the prehistoric Megalodon.

Caitlin will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the Megalodon.

We played with some horsehoe crabs...

...which I really liked petting, until I was informed that they are not, in fact, crabs but are related to spiders and scorpions. *shudder*


...who did not cooperate at all.

Caitlin confided in me that she's "going to work here when she grows up."

Free admission. Woo hoo!

It was so crowded that I was ready to start chunkin' tourists into the shark tank. But Wes bought me some coffee and a crisis was averted.

We would love to visit Gatlinburg again sometime when we can stay longer. It is so fun!

But, alas, we have places to go.

Like Virginia.

And so we bid a fond farewell to the beautiful and friendly state of Tennessee.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Great American Road Trip Day 2

We started out the day in Chattanooga bright and early. Our first stop of the day was the Incline Railway which goes straight up the side of Lookout Mountain. I do mean straight up!

At the top of the mountain is a National Park, Point Park, where the infamous Battle for Chattanooga took place during the Civil War. Yeah, we still lose that one. But it was neat to visit and try to imagine fighting for your life on the steep, wooded, rocky slopes of Lookout Mountain.

Our next adventure took us to Rock City Gardens, also on top of Lookout Mountain.

We were not tempted to jump although by this point I had already lost my sense of humor.

Good thing Wes lost all that weight...notice the sign over the pass.

If you've never visited you really should

They say on a clear day you can see seven states from the top of Lookout Mountain.

But I dont' know...it was kinda hazy so we may have only seen about 3 or 4 of 'em.

Next we headed out for Ruby Falls. I'm already exhausted from all the hiking we've done but I love a good cavern and how could I possible pass up the highest underground waterfall?

So we hiked some more, although in much cooler conditions.

Once again Wes was chosen out of a crowd and asked to be the "caboose" of our group. He was to stay behind and pick up any stragglers on the tour. He took himself WAAYYY to seriously.

Flat Glenn decided he didn't like caves and such and begged to stay at the hotel and catch up on some light reading:

That evening we ate some great food in a great little local dive. Yum!
We ended the day with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. It was awesome! Non-stop action. The language was a little rough but I don't think my kids have been scarred for life because of it.

By the end of the day I had lost all reason and was not capable of blogging coherently. I'll try to post Day 3 in the morning so I'll be caught up. I know you all are sittin' on the edges of your seats with bated breath waiting to see what shenanigans we are up to!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Great American Road Trip 2009 Day 1

Today we headed out for Chattanooga.

Flat Glenn kept asking "Are we there yet?" so I was forced to zip him up in my laptop case.

Around lunch time we were looking for a place to stop and picnic. No fast food for us, no sir-ee bob. We were on the lookout for a rest area or park but you know you can't find one when you need one. Then we spied an inviting, ginormous sign that said "Historic Site, Normandy Dam". So, we're thinking, "Historic site...that sounds like a place that would have picnic tables." So we took the exit...and hilarity ensued.

We drove...and drove...and drove...and noticed that the signage for the historical Normandy Dam was getting smaller and smaller. In retrospect, I think the sign people were just trying to lower our expectations. Just when we'd about given up on ever finding said historical dam, we see the turnoff. Finally!

The dam was dam disappointing. And not a dam picnic table in sight to eat our dam lunch. The dam signs were very misleading. And it was a dam long way to the dam. (Yes, you can call us the Griswolds.) But what can you expect from a government project, right? So we turned around and went back to the recreation area we had passed along the way.

Flat Glenn was very sad that the dam was not ALL THAT AND A BAG OF CHIPS...


We finished up our long-awaited picnic and then tried to find our way back to the interstate.

We took the scenic route...

Which was fine. I mean, we're not in a hurry, we're on vacation for cryin' out loud!

Once we were back on the interstate, we discovered that the VERY NEXT exit was a state park complete with an entire picnic area with a plethora of picnic tables. Huh.

Once we arrived in Chattanooga, we checked in and then found a delightful place to eat.

Big River Grill & Brewery. All kinds of yum!

They make their own root beer!

I had Blue Crab Stuffed Chicken. It was lightly breaded chicken stuffed with crab and artichokes served on a bed of smoked Roma tomatoes, sauteed spinach and rice pilaf.

It was to. die. for.

Next, we hopped shuttle down to the Riverwalk.

There was also a free concert downtown at Miller Plaza featuring a local band, Infinite Orange. They were pretty good.

But what was really good was the Italian ice.

And thus ends our first full day of vacation. Stay tuned for more absurdity.