Our second day in the DC area was a little slower pace than the first day. After some of those delicious hotel waffles, we headed out for Thom’s tour of Virginia and Maryland. He showed us his old homes in Burke, Lorton, and North Beach. We’ve been on similar “tour of homes” before here in Georgia, and it always makes an impact on the kids—giving them an appreciation for their life, with consistent schools, friends, and community. After the tour, we had lunch at Ledo Pizza, which was a pizza place Thom worked at as a teenager, where he learned to toss pizzas. (He didn’t work at this location, but the location he worked at was closed.) Side note – if you ever make it to one of the many locations, you HAVE to check out the Buffalo Chicken & Cheese Waffle Fries! Of course the pizza is also fantastic. We thought we’d go walk on the beach after lunch, but the tourist-driven town of North Beach charged money to access the beach, so we took a picture and moved on.
As we headed back towards DC, we decided to try parking in town instead of taking transit. We figured it would save time as well as cost less (since we spent about $35 for all five of us to head in and out of the city the day before). We ended up parking under the International Trade Center for $22 and had the added fun of going through car security (opening up the doors, running mirrors under the car, etc.). The actual parking deck was a little nerve-wrecking (yet somewhat comical) as the ceiling was only inches higher than the car. While looking for a spot, we were sure the car was going to scrape at any moment…but it didn’t! Alex was slightly annoyed as we walked out, since he couldn’t stand up straight, but the other two were oblivious and were just happy to follow pigeons around the parking deck.
For the afternoon, we went to Brandon’s museum choice, the National Museum of Natural History. They had late hours that day, so we still had plenty of time to explore. When Brandon chose this museum, I was sure that it was because of the dinosaur exhibit. However, when we got in there and started walking around, he made it clear that he chose this museum because they had the Hope Diamond. I’m not sure how he knew about the diamond and was genuinely surprised that he would be interested in it. Sadly, the diamond was off exhibit (along with the fossil exhibit), so that to-do didn’t get checked off. However, the dinosaur exhibit and gem & mineral exhibit were also both on his list, and we all enjoyed both of them. We all enjoyed Alex’s favorite exhibit area, the Ocean Hall, and couldn’t believe the size of some of the replicas—especially the 45 foot long Right Whale. Lizzy’s favorite area was the Ancient Egypt exhibit, where she was intrigued by the mummies.
Reflections: For Thom, the first half of the day held the most impact. He recalled the difficulties he encountered as a teenager and remembered the moment when it changed in Maryland, as he decided that he wanted to spend his life with me. He said it showed him how he’s been victorious despite the circumstances of his youth. It was a lighter note for the kids, as Alex really enjoyed the luminous objects at the museum (both in the ocean exhibit and the mineral exhibit), Brandon was intrigued by the recreated T-Rex skull, and Lizzy found interest in skeletons—noting how many similarities there were between humans and animals.