Washington DC ~ the White House, Smithsonians and a Toddler
We usually reserve our traveling for the summer when I drag my husband to beaches (even if it’s just Lake Ontario) but this trip was his idea. A very close friend of his lives near DC and just had a baby, so after some planning, cooking, planning, cooking, planning and packing, we had a rather uneventful drive down and landed in Virginia.
The following morning the baby decided to spice things up by vomiting, because nothing speaks life into a vacation like some regurgitated cheese. Especially a few hours before another friend who now works for the government, has graciously offered to set up a private tour of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and a quick jaunt onto the White House lawn. For which you needed Secret Service clearance. So what does a responsible parent do? Probably not this.
I have vivid memories of my dad, a lifelong lover of all things historical, bringing me to DC (and many other historical locations) in a desperate attempt to evoke a love of history in his offspring. It didn’t take, until maybe five years ago when I started caring a little. So as we’re standing on the White House lawn and I’m wanting to act like some idiot on the Price is Right, my kids were walking in front of the WHITE HOUSE completely non-plussed. Sigh.
I’ve sort of come to grips with the fact that these things are really for us more than them, and whatever they get out of it has to be okay with me or I’ll get an ulcer.
So I took terrible poorly lit snapshots of my kids in front of awesome things they didn’t care about.
Like the White House. From the inside of the compound. Where you could see hundreds of people crowded on the other side of the fence. And there were secret service officers like ants on a picnic with their fingers on the triggers of assault riffles. Which, by the way, made the security around the Hope Diamond seem wilted.
Many historical places in the US, while not terribly historical by European standards, are still old enough to be intriguing. They’re often run down though. What struck me about the EEOB was that it was in such good shape it seemed like it had just been built.
Since I’m a portrait photographer I can’t really make mental peace with taking pictures of things very much… food and garden porn excepted. If you’re going to take a picture of a landmark by itself you might as well just buy a postcard. So there had to be a human subject, and my kids were low hanging fruit. You can see that they took their role very seriously.
But I did take these person-less pictures of the Indian Treaty Room, where no Indian Treaty has ever been signed.
We also went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (one of our favorites).
My three year old was allergic to walking and my toddler allergic to sitting. It was fun times.
We also went to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Dulles, which is an overflow location for the one downtown. The parking was fantastic and they had the shuttle Discovery as well as a plane the kids could pretend to fly, some flight simulators, and to Jason’s delight, a McDonald’s.
Personally I got a little excited about the shuttle. If you missed it, I also wrote some tips on better vacation photos using images of the shuttle, which you can see here.
The museum was built to look like a hangar and had planes hanging in various orientations. There were cat walks to get you close enough to the planes to want to touch them, with strategically placed plastic panels to keep you from actually doing it. The plaques were written in Greek. Or maybe I was just trying to read them while keeping my toddler from running under the railing.
We swung by to visit a third long time friend who’s a Brother in the Catholic church on our way out of town. The drive home was not quite as seamless and required a one hour pit stop at a McDonald’s PlayPlace. I discovered an amazing app called PlayPlaces which helps you find them while traveling, and is pretty much more important than crackers when traveling with a toddler.
And when we got back, I told my husband that the baby was allowed to break, spill or eat anything he wanted to for three days. It was good to be home.