Sauers go to Washington D.C.!

Last month we took the family to Washington D.C. for Spring Break! My parents were able to join us, which made it even more special!

Gigi getting comfortable on the EARLY morning flight!

We had a tour of the White House scheduled for the first morning after we arrived, however, it was canceled at the last minute with no option to reschedule. It was probably due to the March For Our Lives rally that was also scheduled in DC that same day. This was as close as we got to the White House:

We were really bummed about missing the tour, but adjusted our plans and moved on.

One of the first places we visited was Arlington National Cemetery. It was a chilly morning (the whole trip was CHILLY!), but still we had a nice time here. I felt a real sense of peace and reverence here. Seeing so many gravestones and knowing it’s only a fraction of the lives given in service of our country was truly humbling. So much has been sacrificed for our great nation and the freedoms we have. I said a quiet prayer that my kids would see and understand and appreciate this, too. A highlight was, of course, watching the Changing of the Guard.

 

The next day, which was also the twins’ birthday, we started with Palm Sunday Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

I got a little emotional as I kneeled to pray in the same chapel where Pope St. John Paul II, a personal hero of mine and one of the most holy and heroic humans to ever live, prayed. JPII, pray for us!

Later that night, we went to Old Ebbit Grill to celebrate the twins’ 10th Birthday!

They are known for their oysters here, so naturally we had to try them. Here’s Braedan trying raw oysters for the first time:

He’s not a big fan.

Next day we stopped for a visit to Ford’s Theatre. Again, I was humbled to be in the place where such a great man lost his life. We sat in the seats directly to the right of the box where Lincoln was assassinated. It was a little surreal for me.

 

Across the street is the Petersen House, where Lincoln ultimately died. It was closed for restoration during our trip, but we snapped a photo in front of it and then visited the little museum next door where they had a really nice exhibit detailing the aftermath of the assassination.

 

The next day, we had a tour of the Capitol. It was chaotic and according to our tour guide, busier than he’s ever seen it. Wall to wall people and never. ending. lines. Once we finally got in, it was impressive and beautiful for sure, but I’ll admit much of the experience got lost in the chaos and noise of the crowds. We could have visited the Floor of the House, but it would’ve meant a couple MORE HOURS in line, so we declined. I captured a few pictures of the Rotunda, but somehow that was it. Later in the trip we drove by the Capitol again and the size and scale of it from the outside struck me, but again it got lost a bit when we were actually inside. After the tour, we stopped for lunch and headed back to our townhouse to relax after the ordeal of it all.

Here is just a sample of the many lovely photos the kids took to entertain themselves while waiting FOREVER to enter the Capitol.

Later that evening, we ventured out again to visit the Lincoln Memorial. This proved to be an absolute highlight of our trip for me. I didn’t expect to be as moved by it as I was. The monument is truly beautiful, and so captures the greatness of this man.

After our visit at the Lincoln Memorial, we walked over to the Vietnam Memorial. We were cold so it wasn’t a long visit. Maybe you’ve noticed by now that I’m wearing at least 2 jackets in all of our pictures. It was so much colder than we expected. In fact, the day before we flew in DC was digging out of a big Nor’easter that dropped a bunch of snow on them. It never warmed up while we were there, which really made it pretty uncomfortable the whole time. The day after we left, it was 70 degrees and sunny.

Due to the cold, we drove more than we walked. Here’s a picture of the Supreme Court that I snapped on one of our drive-bys.

We wanted to go inside the Washington Monument and ride the elevator to the top, but in what seems like a theme of this vacation, it was closed for repairs. We were still impressed by its size and beauty. We also wanted to visit the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, but were faced with a line stretching around the block and would surely have spent hours in, so sadly we skipped that one, too. We were fortunate to visit the National Archives, where we saw the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution up close.  It was pretty awesome! The workers there stressed to visitors no less than 10,000 times that NO PHOTOS were allowed anywhere near the documents, so accordingly I have no pictures of those. I was awe-struck to be staring down at such incredible, historical documents that our Founders also stood around and looked down upon before signing.

Our last full day in D.C. was spent visiting Mount Vernon. I was so looking forward to this visit, and the place itself didn’t disappoint. If you go to Washington D.C., put it on your list for sure. I just finished reading a book about the Revolution focusing heavily on George Washington (naturally) which made it all the better (for me, anyway!) The tour of the mansion was good, especially being able to see, only steps away from you, the very bed George Washington died in. I would highly recommend doing the virtual tour of the mansion on their website, too, as it has a lot of detailed info that you probably won’t get on the live tour. The Educational Center here was awesome, too.  If it weren’t for the freezing cold weather (my poor mom said her toes literally froze a little while we were here) we would’ve spent a lot more time looking around at the many buildings and GW’s tomb, etc.

With the exception of a pretty non-eventful last night at an Embassy Suites in Baltimore (thank goodness for the pool there, though!), that wraps up the trip. I’ll just take a moment to say, incase anyone reading this is planning a visit to Washington D.C., that the driving in the city is truly horrific. Just trust me. It’s unfortunate that one of my strongest memories of this city will be STRESSING OUT in the car, spending 30 minutes trying to get somewhere 1.4 miles away, and almost being smashed into, etc. Streets make no sense. Traffic signals make no sense (left arrows, people! Where are the left turn arrows??) And the parking, too, is just about non-existent. My blood pressure is rising just thinking about it.  I know that we could’ve taken the Metro, but it was actually not as cheap as it would seem for our group of 10 taking several rides a day. And it was really, really cold, so walking to and from the Metro stops would’ve been really miserable, especially with kids.

Even so, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to visit this place, so full of history, with my family. I’m especially grateful that my parents were here with us- and that will be a wonderful piece of our memories.

 

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