Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Our Nation's Capital

Last summer my parents approached me with an idea: they wanted to gift each grandchild a special trip for their 13th birthday. As Will comes first in the grandchild line-up, he would come first in the trip line-up and the call was ours to make. Tom and I agreed that this was a fantastic idea, and plans began to form.

In Will's birthday card, my parents explained that they would like to take him on a trip, and that the three of them could decide together where they'd like to go. Will seemed enthusiastic, but as he wasn't quite as excited as I had expected, I started suggesting possible locations: the East Coast, Cape Canaveral, the Grand Canyon... He looked up, shocked, and exclaimed, "Oh my goodness, they mean a REAL trip! I thought they were talking about Houston or Dallas!"

The three of them started talking about locations and eventually decided on Washington D.C. during the second week of winter break. But when we moved our Disney trip from summer to winter, the D.C. trip was bumped to spring break.

I visited Washington D.C. during my college years, and while we had a great time and visited quite a few of the city's monuments, memorials, and museums, we in no way saw the city as Will and my parents did. They were in our nation's capital for three-and-a-half full days, and managed to fit an unbelievable amount of fun and learning into that period of time.
  • Monday: after flying into Reagan International Airport, they checked into their hotel and headed back out to the Smithsonian National Zoo. Later in the day they went swimming and had cocktails at the hotel before meeting my cousin and her husband for dinner at Zintanya (where Will ordered and ate octopus). 
  • Tuesday: they started at the Russell Senate Building and then went on tours of both the Capital and the Capital dome. While having lunch at the Supreme Court Building, my dad and Will ran into Ruth Bader Ginsberg. 😍 After lunch and the Ruth sighting, they visited the Library of Congress and National Air and Space Museum, where they flew the jet fighter. After a brief rest and cocktails at the hotel, they sat basically court-side at the Wizards vs. Knicks game...on the last night before the NBA cancelled the remainder of its season.
  • Wednesday: they headed first to the White House (they were in the building while Trump gave a Corona Virus briefing) for their tour and then to the National African American Museum. After lunch they visited the Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and Arlington Cemetery, where they saw JFK Jr.'s grave, the eternal flame, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Later in the day they rode motorized scooters around the park, ate dinner in a tiny bookstore, and watched the USWNT win the She Believes Cup.
  • Thursday: they started with the Holocaust Museum and then moved on to the International Spy Museum. They also rode the trolley past the Jefferson Memorial, the MLK Jr. Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, blossoming cherry trees, the Ford Theatre, and the Peterson House. They fit in yet another swim before cocktails, dinner, and a movie. 
  • Friday: they all got up early to head to the airport for the journey home. 

I asked Will about his favorite experiences, and he listed (in no particular order - he wanted me to add that) the Capitol Dome tour, International Spy Museum, Smithsonian National Zoo, National Air and Space Museum, and Arlington National Cemetery.

I asked him about his favorite meals, and I LOVED that while he gave me a favorite based on food quality and taste, he also gave me a favorite based on experience: lunch at Panda Express, because during that meal he and my parents "just had a really nice, really deep conversation".

This is why we sent him. We don't live close to our families, and while both my parents and Tom's parents do an incredible job of staying in touch and sharing their love with their grandchildren, the fact of the matter is that we see everyone only a few times a year. This trip was an opportunity to develop a closer, stronger bond, and I think the goal was accomplished.