Friday, March 14, 2014

Post Internship Holiday - Part 1

Once we had finished our internship at Pompton Plains we had about a week 'spare' before my Mum came to visit. We talked at length on what we were going to do. I had already arranged to visit Lilian and Jeremy. We knew Lilian's (Hoyt) family from back in NZ and so thought it would be nice to see some 'kiwi's' in the USA. But what else to do? Boston? Niagara Falls? Washington DC? In the end, our interest in early American history won out. It also did help that there was yet another air and space museum (or two) in Virginia close to DC. 
I talked to Lilian about our plans (since we had all our gear with us also) and she was VERY helpful in accommodating us. She organised for us to stay in one of their friends houses on a Thursday night. She also very kindly took our gear for the 24hrs that we were going to DC. Now if you have been to Lilian and Jeremy's house (J&L) that is quite an offer. There is not a lot of spare space. Last but not least once we came back from DC we stayed at their house. Again very nice since space is at a premium. What a great thing to hear a 'kiwi' accent and meet the lovely Shana as well. The girls in particular were very taken by her especially since they have missed seeing their cousins. 

  • Thursday night we left. Late I might add, it took us longer to pack up that we had thought. Also while we were ready to pack, the heavens opened but we managed to pack and keep everything dry. PHEW
  • Thursday night - we arrived in Philadelphia in the dark. The lights are beautiful with lots of artwork around the city. After driving around (to the wrong address, our fault) we finally unload all our gear at J&L's place and collect the key for our overnight stay. (Lilian also thought of sheets/towels etc so that we didn't have to use their friends linen for one night, thank you!). We settle in, girls are very tired and we all have a great sleep. Humbled by peoples generosity! We later met the 'friends' at church on Sunday. 
  • Friday morning. We left very early (after picking up the camera charger we had left behind at J&L, thankfully they were up early also) for the Steve F Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum. Something to note, all the Smithsonian (Museums) are free in the DC area. Of course there is just about always a fee for parking. We LOVED the Museum. We were able to see the Discovery Space Shuttle. That was quite something. Photo's to come.
  • After having a packed lunch at the Space Center, we traveled into DC to visit the Arlington Cemetery. Another piece of the early American history. It is an active cemetery which covers acres of land. It was VERY hot that day and after seeing all that we wanted to see, we 'ducked' for some cool air inside the visitor center. We were warned that visiting DC at this time of the year was the worst time weather wise. Ah well, we'll just put up with it :). 
  • Late Friday afternoon we drove into DC to look for our hotel. Generous people at Pompton Plains had given us specific money to visit DC and so we used that for our one night in a hotel room. To find a hotel room near the National Mall (where all the monuments are) was quite a feat. I didn't know but apparently DC has got a rule that you are only allowed so many people per square feet. In desperation (for accommodation, just to clarify) I rang the local information center. The lovely operator on the phone could only find us one (read one!) room which was a suite at a hotel above our budget. In the end we had no choice, so swallowing/breathing deeply we paid. So we ended up with a suite which had a separate bedroom as opposed to one room. Included in the price was free (well free, ha!) drinks and snacks at night and a cooked to order breakfast! See clever people stay in Virginia where the rules doesn't apply and commute in. We decided not to do that as we only had about 24hrs to see EVERYTHING in DC and so commuting wasn't an option for us. I'm glad that we stayed were we stayed as we could walk to everything and park the car in the hotel car park. 
  • Friday night - After we had checked in and arranged all our food etc, we headed downstairs to the pre-dinner snacks and drinks. We told the girls to 'eat up' as this would be our dinner. I had planned dinner but a 'free' dinner is welcome. Albert and I also enjoyed a beer and glass of wine (or two). We went to bed early as another very full day as planned for the next day!
Can you see the ad? And what is Albert drinking?
Ha I got this free!
Zara and Horse in the hotel (watching TV!)
Our 'Posh' Hotel in DC
Girls outside the Hotel
Oops forgot to pack Horse, ah well, he had to spend
the day in the security area in the lobby of the hotel.
Can you see him? Hint, he is lying down on the top shelf!
  • Saturday morning - A cooked to order breakfast, what a bonus, we thoroughly enjoyed that. I had brought my own food for the rest of the day, so to have some 'cooked' for you was a treat. 
  • After breakfast - We pack up and check out. Albert and the girls and I split up with Albert and the girls going to visit all the monuments in the National Mall and doing lots of badge's and me going to the Spy Museum. I was really interested in going to the Spy Museum but I didn't want to pay for the whole family. Albert said why don't you just go and I'll look after the girls for the morning. Oh such a nice man :). I thoroughly enjoyed the Spy Museum and I was glad that I came early as when I came out, there was a HUGE line. Albert and the girls visited all the monuments and did at least two badges. We met up again at lunch time.

Cooling our feet!
  • Afternoon - Albert wanted to go and see yet another air and space Museum and so off we went. I stayed in the foyer with Zara as it had already been a long day. Security was very strict for most of the Museums and so there was always a line outside (in the heat) while the security guards checked the bags etc. We also visited a sculpture garden on our way to the one of the American History Smithsonian. It was there that we 'found' a big fountain in which we cooled our very warm and 'sore' feet. What a relief the cold water. We also tried to visit the National Archives as Michaela wanted to see the original Constitution. We decided to give it a miss after seeing the HUGE line and after being on our feet all day we weren't that keen to wait in the heat with the possibility of not being able to get in (as it was getting late in the day). 
  • Evening - After collecting our car from the Hotel and Zara's horse from the lobby we took off for our drive back to Philadelphia. We ate dinner in the car (sandwiches) and arrived safely in Philadelphia at J&L's place. One thing to note that car parking is at a premium in major cities, J&L's place was no exception, thankfully we didn't have to walk that far to our car. 
Mama, does this look familiar?
(My Mum used to do this on our family holidays :) 

To be continued...

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