No matter where I am going, that moment the plane lifts off the ground, I am a little kid again. Two weeks ago, I was staring out the postage-stamp window of an airplane, enthralled by the clouds. Mikaela sat on my left, Mama on my right, and we shared the same exhausted anticipation: we were going home! When we finally levelled out, I leaned back in my seat, unable to sleep with the excitement of all the adventures that I had just experienced.
A week before, we had left the Northwest on another adventure to the East coast. The main objective was for Mikaela and Joel to see each other, and since they had been limited to skype for the past three months, a visit was long overdue! Mama and I tagged along, excited to see Joel, meet his friends, tour his house, and visit Washington D.C.
We arrived late on Wednesday night, and Joel met us at the airport with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers for Mikaela. That meeting was every bit as sweet as you would expect a romantic airport reunion to be!
Although we stayed at a hotel the first night, every night thereafter a family from Joel’s church hosted the three of us. They were an incredible, dear family, and the more we got to know them, the more we wished an entire continent did not separate us! Mrs. B. and Mama had so much in common it is amazing they aren’t sisters!
|Mikaela and Joel in front of his house in Maryland|
On Thursday, I enjoyed discovering Joel’s new hometown.
Although it was incredibly windy, we went to Harper’s Ferry in the afternoon, a town so endearing it is hard to imagine the chaos that shaped its history.
On Friday, I was in heaven.
Mama and I braved the DC metro system and landed on the doorstep of the Smithsonian American History Museum! Fancy that! For a history geek like me, there was grave danger of getting lost in that remarkable building, but I did eventually emerge having gone on a whirlwind time-travel journey spanning centuries. Here are some of my favorite artifacts from the museum:
|A cello with the signatures of hundreds of dignitaries and celebrities|
|A boat sunk in the Revolutionary War and unearthed in the 1930s!|
After the museum, we took the metro to Old Town Alexandria, where we strolled along the waterfront, visited Christ Church, and watched a man perform an amazing rendition of Ode to Joy on waterglasses!
The brilliant finish to the day came when Mama and I dined at Gadsby’s Tavern, one of the oldest restaurants in the United States!
It was built in 1792, and George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and many others dined there.
I enjoyed the “George Washington’s Favorite” for dinner (on the left), a dish that he wrote about in his memoirs and which featured grilled duck, scalloped potatoes, rhotekraut, and creamed corn.
|Me with Mr. John Hall, a gentleman from the 1800s who happened to be at Gadsby's that night!|
On Saturday, Mama and I drove down to Montpelier, James Madison’s home (shown here), and Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home.
This was one of my favorite days on the East Coast! Getting to walk through James Madison’s dining room and stand in the room where he planned the Constitution and stroll through Thomas Jefferson’s gardens and see his many inventions was like going back in time. It was truly magical!
|Mama and I attempting a selfie with James and Dolley|
|The famous domed room of Monticello!|
|The sun had just dipped behind Monticello, the last shuttle bus down was leaving any moment...and I was trying to freeze time in this photo!|
Sunday brought a delightful breakfast with the B family, and a wonderful visit to the church they and Joel attend. We were all fed well spiritually by the sermon, physically by the feast of a potluck, and relationally by all the wonderful conversations afterward!
Despite the threat of snow and the bitter cold (though the day before the weather was 60 degrees and sunny!), Mama and I ventured out to Gettysburg—after all, it was only 30 minutes away! We took a whirlwind tour of the museum, and then followed the audio car tour that Mama had done when she was here last year.
I was able to see the monument to the 20th Maine, led by Joshua Chamberlain, and even got in a good ½ mile run, racing to photograph the spot where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address before we had to leave.
Mama and I found warm coffee to thaw our bodies, and that evening we enjoyed dinner with Joel and Mikaela at the Cracker Barrel—a family favorite of ours! While we had been busy touring, Joel and Mikaela had been catching up with each other, spending time with dear friends of Joel’s, and visiting places special to him.
The threat was not an empty one, for on our way home that night, a gentle snow began to fall. We had only 30 minutes to go, but after we had already travelled 20 minutes, I noticed a sign for another Cracker Barrel. “That’s odd,” I proclaimed.
It was then that we realized: we were passing the same Cracker Barrel we had eaten at! Somehow, the GPS navigator (who couldn’t have been me!) had inadvertently set the GPS for the Cracker Barrel after we were already on the freeway, and we had enjoyed a nice lazy Sunday drive—in freezing, icy conditions!
God brought us safely to the B family’s home, however, and when we woke the next morning to 8 inches of snow and cardinals at the bird feeder, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with them as well.
The boys cleared off our car, and we tentatively took off, knowing that all the government buildings in DC were closed, and grateful we had already done the Smithsonian! We made our way to Georgetown, where we indulged in DC cupcakes like the chocolate mint cheesecake: a decadent cupcake with a graham cracker crust and chocolate fudge bottom, filled with chocolate mint cheesecake and topped with chocolate ganache!
We also had to buy some macarons to save for later, and on our way out of Georgetown, we discovered a bagpiper playing on the streets in honor of St. Patrick’s Day!
Mikaela was with us for this excursion, as Joel had to work, but then she took the train back to spend the afternoon with him. Mama and I went to the Spy Museum, which was suspiciously fascinating.
I also went to see the White House, but was slightly confused by the green water spouting in front of it until I realized they had dyed the fountain green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day! Unfortunately, I did not have time to build a snowman on the National Mall, though I knew I would regret not seizing that opportunity!
Tuesday was our final day there, and Mama and woke up incredibly early to pack and leave to see the Ford’s Theater, where Lincoln was assassinated. Standing where John Wilkes Booth crept behind the audience to carry out his plot definitely gave a creepy atmosphere.
As our last hurrah in DC, Mama and I went to visit some of the Memorials. As we were walking through the Roosevelt Memorial, taking in the beauty of the sculpture against the snow, the camera we were borrowing from Melanie met a sad demise against the concrete. Thus, my final good-bye to DC, the Jefferson Memorial, lives only in my memory, with no pixels or pictures to prove I was there. But I was, and I stood on the edge of the tidal basin relishing the special gift of the past week and wishing I could hold it tight instead of watching time slip through my fingers and adventures end. But standing in the shadow of Jefferson, and then leaning back in my seat as the airplane headed west, I was also grateful that time doesn’t stand still, and that though we had those amazing adventures, God was bringing us back to future adventures on the other side of the continent.