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D.C. Day

June 26, 2009
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I try to wrestle the boys into posing in a picture with me. Doesn't really happen.

Maybe we should have just turned around when we saw the dump truck smashed on the side of the road, which had backed up traffic. Or maybe when we saw the guy being taken out of the metro station in hand-cuffs. But we didn’t, we kept going.

Libby and I decided to take our kids to D.C. for the day and go to the Freer + Sackler Galleries. I’ve always wanted to see the Peacock Room by Whistler there. I was last in D.C. for my birthday and we’d gone down on a Saturday. It only took an hour down and less than an hour back. Nice. I knew it would take longer on a week day, but hoped if we left at 9:00 a.m. most of the traffic would be over.

Not so. The dump truck accident put us an hour or more behind schedule. Despite leaving at 8:55 a.m. we didn’t actually arrive in D.C. until around 11:30. Then we both had to use the bathroom. We found the Freer + Sackler and couldn’t figure out how to get in with our strollers. We had to go in and ask. They told us how (different entrance) but we decided just to take turns staying with the kids while we each made a bathroom run.

DSC_0004Now, close to noon, we just head straight to the mall to eat our packed lunch and let my boys play ball and get their energy out. I start thinking to myself, “If all we did was come to D.C. to play in the mall grass, I’m going to be mad.” An hour later we pack up and head to the Freer + Sackler. We hope to be there for the next hour and a half until needing to leave at 3:00 p.m.

Unfortunately, my boys were not ready to fall asleep, despite it being near their normal naptime. They’d fallen asleep on the way in on the metro. Duncan and Owen discover that it echos in the galleries if they shout. Great. I get them calm and try to get them interested in the pictures.

The Peacock Room was neat and the boys like the pictures of the birds. It was very ornate and amazing to think it had been a person’s private dining room at one time.

I’m not exceptionally interested in the Asian art and we seem to have exhausted the American collection. The museum is actually two buildings that have been connected so for the Freer you have to go up all the levels to see the art, then back down to the basement to connect to the Sackler, then go up all the Sackler levels to see the art there. Tad confusing and all. All the kids start losing it.

We find a courtyard with shade and a fountain and take a break. We’ve been in the museum an hour. Snacks, diaper changes, nursing. Everyone’s happy again. Hang out for a half an hour chatting. That was pleasant. I didn’t have to worry about the boys running away since it was enclosed. Now it’s 3:00 p.m., time to go!

Back into the metro. It’s of course crowded with commuters now, as we expected. We have a hard time finding those the elevators! We finally do and have to travel a very convoluted path to get to where we can catch our train.

On the train at last! At each of the stops the train waits 10-15 minutes, just sitting there for some reason. Who knows why? It takes about an hour on the metro to get to our stop.

We joyfully make our way to Libby’s Pilot. Yay! We can leave! Or can we?

DSC_0001_2We can’t get out of the parking lot! Are you kidding me? The sign says “Smart Cards only, no cash accepted” or something like that. What? No signs were posted when we entered that this was some sort of special pass lot. You can only get out with a special card, it won’t accept cash or credit cards. Of course there’s no one manning the thing, so we don’t know what to do. We have to back up while tons of people are trying to exit and enter. Maybe there’s another exit that accepts cash? No there isn’t.

We find a lady that seems to work there and ask her. We can’t really understand her accent.

So Libby makes a dash back into the metro station to buy a pass. The pass is $10 and apparently could have been used on the metro too. Of course there’s no signs saying any of this.

Free at last! It’s probably been a half an hour trying to figure how to get out of the parking lot. We really aren’t morons. Really.

Traffic’s not bad about half of the way home but around Baltimore it gets rough. I feed the boys a whole bag of goldfish. Duncan keeps trying to steal Isabel’s paci.

Al long last, Lib drops me off and gets down the road herself. She’s still got another half an hour drive to get home.

That was our D.C. day. I think we spent about 9 hours (more for Lib) out and about but only 3 or 3 1/2 hours actually in D.C. The rest were spent in transit. Never again will I go to D.C. during the week. Never. If I try, hold me down, people!

But seriously, it was fun to catch up and chat and make memories. Only I want to make different memories next time!

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2009 2:47 pm

    I’ll hold you down…really, I will. Being adventurous before kids turns into being delusional after kids. Kids are now the adventure in our lives. πŸ™‚

  2. June 26, 2009 3:01 pm

    Quite an adventure! Your retelling of it was entertaining, though. I’m a “new” reader by the way – I actually remember coming across your blog a couple of years ago, and just found it again.

  3. June 26, 2009 9:04 pm

    here, here. Different memories! I think you forgot to mention that Isabel screamed most of the car ride home!!! ha.

  4. June 26, 2009 11:00 pm

    haha… what a bummer. DC trips during the week can be fun. really! maybe when the boys are older… πŸ˜‰

  5. June 27, 2009 2:07 am

    I couldn’t help but think of my recent trip to London with my parents, sister, and niece when i read this post. So much time trying to get where we wanted to go with strollers, subways, etc….. so little time at the actual place!

  6. zoanna.blogspot.com permalink
    June 27, 2009 3:03 pm

    If I was exhausted reading this (and I am) I can just imagine the wear and tear of your nerves that day. I remember DC ONCE with young kids. I think we all make mistakes ONCE in big cities where the notion of exposing our kids to culture seems a wonderful fancy. But Bri’s right–it’s delusional. But you’ve got some cute pictures out of the deal and a new appreciation for signs that are actually posted vs the ones that we’re only suppose to imagine are posted.

  7. June 27, 2009 8:03 pm

    Now remember ladies, I said I’d never go to D.C. during the WEEK with them, not that I’d never take them again! I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, ha ha! πŸ™‚ I don’t think it’s at all delusional to take kids to the city in general. When I was down there the place was packed with kiddos!

    This wasn’t my first time taking them to big cities anyway. We’ve done Annapolis, Philly (Italian Market & BMA) and Baltimore (Visionary Art Museum & Cross St. Market) already successfully. It was mainly the traffic that was the issue. I never expect it to be easy, but that’s the way they learn how to act in public and how I learn how to do better with planning. I’ll definitely try again, only on a Saturday . . .

  8. Annie permalink
    June 29, 2009 4:10 pm

    As a former FSG employee I can tell you we ALWAYS had problems with signage! But I’m glad you found the courtyard… one of my favorite quiet spots in DC.

  9. June 29, 2009 9:50 pm

    Shoot. I wish I would have known to warn you about the SmartTrip cards. Certain stations use them exclusively and I learned this while heading a field trip with the CDS to the Holocaust Museum a few years ago. Even though we now live out of state, my SmartTrip card is still in my wallet. (It sure came in handy when my family took a daytrip to the Washington Zoo last summer.)

    My words of wisdom: take reinforcements (aka husbands).

  10. June 29, 2009 9:51 pm

    Oh, and I believe the Metro’s website mentions which stations use the cards.

  11. June 30, 2009 6:12 am

    I’ve totally been through that SMART CARD crap…only in heals, after standing in the heals all day. I was NOT happy to have to re-park my car, walk all the way back to the main place, buy my SMART CARD with my last $10…and walk back to my car.

    I feel your pain. I can’t imagine doing that with 3 small children.

  12. July 1, 2009 8:58 pm

    Oh, the adventures! And with young ones in tow, too!

    I remember, when mine were little – coming home after a similarly challenging day of travels and finding that my ENTIRE body was covered in stress-induced hives.

    Thankfully my husband was home and I was able to hand the kids to him and run to an oatmeal bath!

    Don’t give up on weekday ‘touring’ — now you’ve got all the details! Entrances, washrooms, parking…. next time has to be much easier, right?

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