Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Jam-Packed Day in our Nation's Capital

For anyone who has been patiently waiting for DC adventures/Part 2, I’m sorry for the wait and here goes!  Last Thursday was our only full day in DC.  With just one full day to bask in the glory of our nation’s capital, we naturally decided to cram in as much as humanly possible.  It started something like this:  Look Kids, Big Ben, Parliament!

Recall that great scene from European Vacation with Chevy Chase where they drive in circles for hours.  Well, that was us -- just replace Big Ben and Parliament with the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial and you'll have a pretty good sense of how we spent most of Thursday morning.  It was almost lunchtime by the time we found a parking spot but dammit, we would not be deterred.  We were going to get up close to those memorials no matter how many other overwhelmed tourists were in our path.  We loaded the triplets in strollers, loaded our bag with snacks, unloaded everyone from the car and were on our way.

“Big tower!  BIG tower!”  That was the triplet’s assessment of the Washington monument.  You may call it an obelisk and that would also be true but, from the perspective of a trio of two year olds, it is indeed a big tower.  As for Lincoln’s memorial, well, I think Ciara put it best – “we saw this chair that was GINORMOUS!!!!!!”.  Yep.  Never mind that big guy sitting in it and all that he accomplished, that chair is huge!
Children enjoying/escaping Lincoln Memorial
Children agreeably posing on Lincoln Memorial, artfully framed with Washington Monument in background (& sun in eyes!)

After trotting our tribe to and fro among the monuments, we did what any right-minded parents would do.  We took them to The Irish Times, one of the nation’s “top 10 Irish pubs” for lunch.  At 2:30.  Which I mention to illustrate that we were clearly WAY off our typical schedule and, I think even a two year old would need to be famished to truly enjoy the food at The Irish Times.  From what I can tell – and Des confirms – they pour a perfect point of Guinness but, while I enjoyed the Frito Pie I had for lunch (this is true!  Frito Pie!  Essentially nachos on Fritos – an indulgence that can and should only be enjoyed on rare occasions.  Like lunch with your five kids in a bar!), it was not exactly a culinary inspiration.
Proud papa with his pride o f Lyons Cubs outside National Landmark

With the pub-lunch behind us, we headed to our next destination – The National Zoo.  We did our best to drive by the White House en route so we could cross another Tourist Top 10 off our list but, I gotta say, they make it pretty hard to do a drive by of the President’s house.  I’m thinking this must be deliberate. 

We arrived at the zoo at 4:00 -- about two hours after our own little “Cubs” usually go down for a nap and two hours before it closes.  Time was of the essence and we needed to prioritize.  Those famous pandas were at the top of the list, followed by lions, tigers, elephants and gorillas.  Of the two pandas we saw, one was sleeping (leaving a skeptical Liam to wonder “are you SURE it’s not a stuffed animal Mom?”) and one was enjoying a stick of bamboo.  On his back, on a cement floor, behind a thick pane of glass, looking slightly tranquilized.  You just couldn’t feel good about those pandas.  

(only way to feel good about the pandas: photo op!)

By 5:30, we were eager to leave the zoo behind.  We were tired, thristy, cranky and in general agreement that as zoos go, well, we wish this wasn’t the “National” zoo. It just doesn’t represent the best our country has to offer in terms of caged animals given that so many of them were sleeping, missing or having their “houses” reconstructed!  That said, I will be forever grateful to the "Big 'Rilla, ate poo!" since this fun catch phrase sums up the kids fondest memory of DC.  I'm even more grateful that this neat little view into the dining habits of our gorilla friends wasn't captured on film.  I'm quite sure you are too!

It was 6:30 when we got back to the hotel.  While dinner, baths and bed would have been the sensible progression of events, we added in an evening swim (what was the point of a hotel with a pool if you’re not going to use it?!) and, get this, another pub!  Please don’t call child protective services – we just went out to meet one of Des’ pals for a beer so they could recall their glory days in DC almost two decades ago.  We had a drink, the kids had ice cream and we were all home by 10:00.  And asleep at 10:01, dreaming of our jam-packed day and what tomorrow might bring… more monuments?  Museums?  Stay tuned to find out…

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