We arrived in Washington DC late Wednesday night and crashed the Paquin crew in their 4 story DC home near the Navy Yard.
We have come a long way since our college dorm and housing days at MTU, where the three of us went to school to become engineers (which ironically, none of us are currently)! Tom and Heather live just minutes from the river, metro, Nationals Park, and the Capital building. Talk about an awesome location, right in the middle of all the action. I admit, I am not much of a city girl, but I like our kids to learn about and see how much DC has to offer. Plus, T & H had the perfect upper level “suite” for our crew with a great view of the city,
and…. we love catching up with these guys! Just several years ago, prior to having their two kiddos, they lived overseas, and followed it up by hiking the Appalachian Trail from end to end, giving them a unique perspective on life that I really admire.
We have travelled with a stroller for the last 10+ years. This was our first trip without it- it was both scary and liberating at the same time. In each location, we had occasions when the girls were really sick of walking, or just plain tired after nearly 10 miles of sightseeing, but we did it! Once in awhile, we (or the boys) piggy backed or carried them, but not much.
It was so nice not to have to worry about finding the elevators in the metro and museums, or have to find room for it in the car. We even got to ride a super cool escalator from the metro!
Excited to see all the sites, our first full day was a marathon of activities. We started off with an exciting metro ride (if nothing else, this amazing commuter system is reason enough to visit DC!)
to the National Zoo, where the kids loved seeing the pandas and other animals. One of the best things about DC is that the zoo, museums, and other activities are FREE, so we made sure f squeeze in as many as we could!
After the zoo, we headed back to the metro, and on our way, tried out the super cool capital bikes (that are free for the first half hour!) to see if they would work for a bike excursion later that day- they were just a bit too big for the boys 😉
From there, we continued on our way to Arlington Cemetery,
where we saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the changing of the guard ceremony.
Through the last week of touring so many areas rich in American history, we have had some interesting conversations with the kids about war, military, and death, and I was proud that they all came out of Arlington with a new and greater respect for those who defend our country. We took the metro back to the Paquins for a delicious home cooked meal (we definitely need that baked spaghetti recipe Heather), and got the bikes ready for an evening monument cruise. The weather looked rainy for our next two days, so we wanted to squeeze in as many outdoor activities as possible during the beautifully sunny and 75 degree day. Seeing the monuments all lit up at sunset and after was amazing… Definitely my highlight of the DC part of the trip- what a great idea guys!!
We are so thankful for neighbors who share their bikes and Tom’s amazing electric assist commuter bike that carried 4 of the 7 kids – I want one ;).
I still can’t believe the kids hung in there all day, but they loved it! I think my favorite monuments are still Vietnam and the Korean Memorials. Nothing can prepare you seeing that many names on the Vietnam Memorial, and the Korean eerily makes you feel like you were right there with our soldiers.
The next day was another story, as we had to wake everybody up early for our tour of the Capital building at 8am Eastern time 😳 We arrived early only to discover we couldn’t bring any food in as we suspected, so we quickly downed all our afternoon treats before going in.
We enjoyed the tour, but it was much abbreviated from the tours both Chuck and I have taken with our school groups in the past, and the rotunda was under major repair.
One tour guide showed us the one statue in the Capital that could be touched… Helen Keller, because there was braille on it.
We took the tunnel to the Library of Congress, which totally mystified the kids by the time we took the old elevator down and exited, looking back at how far the Capital was from us.
The Library was so ornate- the kids loved playing a fun scavenger hunt for animal sculptures.
From there, we walked down the mall area, enjoying the now 80 degree sunny day, hitting the Botanical Garden (where we met and heard the author read his book ‘The Bee Tree,’),
American Indian Museum, Air and Space,
and American History Museum. The girls loved getting to see Dorothy’s red slippers.
We really wanted to get to the Holocaust Museum, but by now, everybody was exhausted, and despite the fact that the harder stuff is barricaded so little ones can’t see, we decided this wasn’t our year for it. Since everyone was wiped out, we headed back to the Paquins for dinner and ice cream. After getting off the metro, we discovered all the fountains were on by their house, and of course the temp was in the 80s, so the kids had some fun.
My guess is this may be one of their top memories from the visit (spontaneity certainly has its benefits). After an ice cream social dished up city style (to ours and then a dozen or so neigbors, which was a good lesson in sharing for our suburb kids),
we were able to get everybody to bed early enough to enjoy learning a new game, Splendor, which I see being added to the Hoff game collection in the near future.
Saturday started out rainy, so we were able to get workouts in while the kids had some downtime. DC doesn’t seem to wake up when other cities wake up, so Chuck likes to take a morning landmark run there, where he often gets a semi- or private White House and memorial viewings, so if you are an early riser, plan to do the same when you head to DC!
As the weather cleared up, we walked the couple blocks to watch the Nationals play a pre-season game against the Twins. Can’t beat $5 tickets!
It was an exciting game, and the first professional one for the Hoff kids- our little athlete Braden claimed it was the highlight of our vacation.
He insisted on staying until the end, and the little ones loved the playground in the ballpark near the end.
We walked back along the river park
and spent the afternoon and evening relaxing, playing ball in their yard,
and grilling before gathering our things for the early 11 hour drive the next morning. Thank you Tom, Heather, Avery, and Alexi for the great stay!