Sunday, May 28, 2017

D.C. Days

After moving into our new house, what's the first thing on our agenda in Virginia?
Well, visiting Washington DC, of course! 
First stop of the day, the Iwo Jima/USMC War Memorial.
 A quick drive from Arlington, VA on the Lincoln Memorial Bridge, on to seeing Mr. Lincoln himself!
Family selfie attempt.

The scenic pathways through the National Mall.
 The Reflecting Pool.

Yes, that's our child trying to pet a DC duck.

The haunting Korean War Memorial.

 DC War Memorial
 This one always seems to be missed by the crowds.

The World War II Memorial

The Washington Monument

The back of the White House. They don't let you get very close anymore!

And the front of the White House. Now they have another gate to keep you away from the gate.

 The Potomac River.

Longs legs at the Jefferson Memorial.

 Talking to the geese in the Tidal Basin.

 Z took this pic while A stayed with the car to avoid another parking ticket (wah wah).
 Recouped overnight at a nearby Navy Lodge on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, and continued our DC excursion the following day at the Smithsonian museums, starting with the National Air and Space Museum.

Z was excited to see Amelia Earhart's plane, thanks to the "Night At the Museum" movies.

Boy, it takes so long to walk to the Capitol Building, I think we'll just point at it from here.

 Fountains inside the National Gallery of Art Sculptures.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Z's favorite. 
Lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, apparently a family tradition since L ate here 19 years ago.

Probably shouldn't be so excited to see the place of President Lincoln's assassination, but there's Ford's Theater.

One of the many historic buildings in DC, this one across the street from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. 

Look out, Bert and Ernie!

And an accidental pic of the original Star Spangled Banner (the curator told us not to take pics AFTER the picture was already taken, ahem; they're concerned about flash-photography, although no flash was used here :).  

Always love the Smithsonian Castle (an info center for visitors), and the Smithsonian Arts & Industries Building is purdy too.

 It may not look like much, but this was actually miles of walking. Our tired feet were happy to be back in the car and heading to Clarksburg, Maryland to visit family!

Z and her Greek cousin J whom we haven't seen in 2 years!

 Fun sculptures at a local outlet mall.

 Hard at work.

Thought the random white goat on this playground was funny.

Hanging out with his Theo.

Thanks to Thea N, little J, and Theo A (not pictured) for hosting us!

Taking I-95 past Quantico, VA, stopping at the amazing Marine Corps Museum is a must!

Little World War I troop.

The displays are impressive, like this Korean War room.

Back on the beautiful open roads heading home to Virginia Beach! Grateful for our time in our Nation's Capital!

Monday, May 15, 2017

US Road Trip 2017

Our second opportunity living in Camp Pendleton, CA has come to a close, and the Marine Corps is sending back to Virginia Beach, VA! After a bittersweet weekend staying with L's parents in San Clemente, we began our cross-country adventure.
Day 1: Farewell to Southern California!

First stop: those dinosaurs you always see off of I-10 in the middle of the desert! We enjoyed seeing them up close and personal for once.
There's even a gift shop inside Mr. Long-Neck.

Hello, Arizona!

We spent our first night with some dear military friends who are now stationed near the Phoenix area. Z  had a blast playing with her old classmate/neighbors!
Thanks so much to the Berry family for hosting us! We loved reconnecting with you!

Day 2: "Standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona. Such a fine sight to see.." Dropped by the cute tribute to 70s country-rock band The Eagles, just off Historic Route 66! 

Pit stop at Painted Desert Indian Center near Holbrook, AZ.

A's "beard" contraption that catches sunflower seed shells. 
The open road.
Entering the "Land of Enchantment."

Made it to the Inn at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

 Dinner at a classic Route 66 Diner in downtown Albuquerque.  

It was extremely blustery!

Day 3: Leaving ABQ, we drove across the small stretch of Highway Route 66 where the road plays part of "America the Beautiful" when you drive about 45 mph over the rumble strip. What a hoot!

Hello, Texas!

The giant cross in Groom, TX is the perfect place to stretch your legs.
As advertised along the interstate, an inspiring rest stop.

It was our longest day of driving, but certainly the fastest we've made it through big ol' Texas.

Dinner at Pops, a fun and colorful soda shop in Oklahoma City!

The Pops frisbee has proven to be a useful souvenir.

Stayed the night at Tinker Air Force Base in OKC. An old Air Force One is parked there.

Day 4: Skipped the stops and blazed through Arkansas instead.

Suddenly, we were crossing over the Mississippi River and passing into Tennessee!

Made our first stop in Memphis at the historic Sun Studio where Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash made their first records!

Drove through the wrong part of town to find another famous recording studio, Stax Records (now a museum), home of Soul music like Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, and Booker T. & The MGs. Even made a Stax Records playlist to create the perfect soundtrack while driving Memphis.

Checked into the Memphis Days Inn across the street from Graceland, and Z was really excited about the Elvis decor.

The guitar pool with Elvis playing on the radio was definitely a highlight for these two.

Dinner at Marlowe's Ribs, a featured "Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives" spot, as well as a restaurant frequented by Elvis in the 70s. 

 Day 5: If you're staying in Memphis, you probably should visit Graceland. So we walked across the street at 7:30am to pay our respects at Elvis' mansion when the famous gates are open to the public for one hour each morning (just the exterior, but it's free!).  
 Most visitors must ride the shuttle bus through the gates and don't get to see them closed, so we thought this was pretty cool.

Walking up the long driveway.

The Meditation Garden where Elvis and his family are buried.

Still the #1 most visited home in America.
 Walking through the lovely property, a nice way to start the day.

Another generation of Elvis fans.

Next stop, Nashville, TN, just 3 hours down the road! And who knew there's a full-size replica of the Athens Parthenon in Nashville, built in the late 1800s.  

The Greek looks at home.

Our future brother-in-law drove up from Alabama and joined us in the Music City. So fun meeting him!

Horse-play at the Wild Horse Saloon in downtown Nashville, including lunch and line-dancing lessons.

So fun walking around Honky-Tonk Central and hearing live music coming out of every door.

 The simple joys of a misty sidewalk.

Playing frisbee back in Centennial Park, before being rained out. 
Thanks for driving up to see us, Mr. J!

Escaped the rain by walking around the amazing Opryland Resort.

Day 6: Beautiful country roads through Tennessee.

Roadside hike near Crab Orchard, TN.

And found the beautiful Ozone Falls! What a treat.

Cave explorers on the trail.

Enjoyed the scenic drive through the Smoky Mountains and passed through North Carolina into South Carolina. 

 So fun visiting more old friends from California who recently moved to Fort Mill, SC, just across the state line from Charlotte, NC. Z was thrilled to cook hot dogs over the fire pit with her triplet buddies!

Thank you, Mayhugh family, for hosting us in your lovely home (and on Mother's Day too)!

Ready to hit the road one last time till we reach our final destination.

What a sight for sore eyes!

Then straight from the car to a delicious BBQ dinner with our old friends in Virginia Beach! Thanks, Rose family, for feeding us weary travelers!

After almost 3,000 miles and a great journey across 10 US states, we thank God for our safe travels!