Monday, April 25, 2011

An Impromptu Visit to DC: 5 kids, 2 days and no notice: Part 1

Last week was Spring Break in our school district and many others.  For our family, this meant that we had a "bored" first-grader and a pre-schooler with "nothing to do" whining from morning 'til night while Mom and Dad tried to get some work done while explaining that we too would like to "go to Hawaii like EVERYONE else" but it just couldn't be done.   "Why?  Why can't we go to Hawaii? or Florida?  or even Washington D.C.?!  There are THREE kids in my class going to see the Washington Monument and we NEVER get to go ANYWHERE!"  we were told. More than once.  Which started the wheels turning.  Hawaii and Florida were clearly out of the question but why not D.C we wondered?  

And so it was that we spent last Monday and Tuesday night searching online for a place to stay.  Trust me when I tell you that finding affordable accommodations for a family of seven during a week that encompassed not only Spring Break but Passover and Easter as well was no easy task.  But, always up for a challenge, we decided to give it the old college try.  I have to admit, at one point it was looking pretty grim and I made a reservation for a night in Conshohocken, PA, which is about 20 minutes outside of Philly, and 20 minutes away from Villanova, my alma mater... back in those days, we called it Consho'Rockin! (cool, huh?!) due to some fun frat houses that were expelled to the outer limits of campus life.  Somehow I was never able to convince the rest of the Lyons Den that the Liberty Bell and Betsy Ross House were more alluring than the Lincoln Memorial and Air & Space Museum so, despite my most rational appeal ("But it's only a four hour round trip vs. a TEN hour round trip for 48 hours away!!!!!), we ended up driving south toward our nation's capital.  The events unfolded something like this...

  • Tuesday: 4PM:  My boss approves my request to take Thurs/Friday off
  • Wednesday: 2PM:  My Consho'Rockin dreams are dashed as Des confirms reservation for the Marriott Residence Inn in Old Town, Alexandria -- about 5 miles outside of DC
  • Wednesday: 4:30PM:  I arrive home from work.  I don't know if I'm sweating due to a panic attack or the packing frenzy that follows.  I am anal.  I am not spontaneous.  This trip defies the logic I live by:  plan, prepare, make a list and check it twice. There is not time for this.  I shove things in bags, kids in the car, and before I know it, we're on our way.
  • Wednesday:  5:15:  Our car pulls off our street.  In less time than it takes to prep for church on Sunday, we're headed away for 48 hours.  I'm officially frightened.  And still sweating.
  • Wednesday: 5:16:  The back seat requests for meal service and entertainment begin.  We are literally on Main Street in our town.  It's going to be a long ride.
  • Wednesday: 7:16:  We are in traffic on the New Jersey turnpike.  I am still sweating.  I realize it is because I never got the AC in the car fixed at the end of last summer and the outside temperature has reached 81. I can't help but think "if we were going to Consho'Rockin, we'd be there by now!"
  • Wednesday: 9:45PM:  We arrive at the Residence Inn.  It is good.  Although, much to my dismay, after i just spent almost five hours straddling the back two rows of the minivan disseminating goldfish, PB&J, juice boxes, grapes, cheese & crackers and fruit snacks, the kids are asking for dinner. Seriously.  Despite the temperate AC in our well appointed room, I start to sweat. Again.
  • Wednesday: 10:30 PM:  Kids are tucked in.  Des appears with a Corona.  Or, as I called it that night, dinner!  Even without a lime, it was stellar.  We settled in, exhaled, and passed out.  Vacation had begun.
Without days of planning and packing and prepping, we had somehow arrived in D.C.  I started to think that maybe I've been spending too much time sweating the small stuff. Or perhaps just simply sweating!  Stay tuned to see what the next two days brought and some key takeaways from our impromptu getaway.  Thus far, that old college try was well worth the effort and proved that if you set your mind to it, you can accomplish pretty much anything... including a last minute trip with five kids six and under during a peak travel week!

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