Sunday, June 05, 2011

Journey East. First Stop: Washington, D.C.

"To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel
is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time,
to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted."
~Bill Bryson

As a graduation gift to myself, two weeks ago yesterday, I set off on a journey to the East. Washington, D.C. (northern Virginia) and New York City (Brooklyn) were my two stops. I know I haven't blogged about my graduation yet, but I'm still waiting for some pictures (hint hint to the maternal peeps --both of you-- in the family). But I'll post that soon, I hope. For now, I'm going to go ahead and let you in on the highlights of my trip.

First stop: D.C./Northern Virginia.

First off, can I just say that every single freeway we went on was under construction to some degree?!? Seriously.

KDJ told me that it's the result of President Obama giving funds to all of the states for some sort of something or other legislation thingy having to do with the recession. Can you tell I'm totally up on my politics and government affairs?

Apparently, the stipulation for receiving this government money was that the states have to use it by a certain deadline, like the end of this year or the end of the summer, to create more jobs and help jumpstart the economy, I think. (Wow... I totally hate that I'm completely opening myself up to scrutiny for not knowing anything about current government events... because I know I sound completely clueless... I guess, I am.) So that's why there is tons of construction going on simultaneously on all freeways.

The funny thing is, although I noticed the construction (I mean, how could you miss the orange cones everywhere??), it didn't bother me that traffic was slower due to it because I had no idea how long it should have taken to get from point A to point B without construction traffic. You know that blissful oblivion that sets in when you're on vacation and have no deadline or time constraints to work with? Yeah, it was nice. For me, anyway. KDJ may have thought differently...

While I was there, KDJ and I met up to eat lunch with Kelli in D.C., just down the street from the Washington National Cathedral.

I had never been to the National Cathedral before, so it was the first "tourist" stop on my trip. I have to admit, it reminded me of the photos and videos of Westminster Abbey that I've seen recently. (Yeah, remember how I loved everything about the royal wedding of Wills and Kate?)

It's seeing buildings like these that make me wish I were a better photographer! But at least you get the idea. I'm also so amazed at designers and architects who can make their visions come to life in such a magnificent edifice.

And the clouds were just perfect that day.

And just so you believe me... I was actually there. (Oh, KDJ likes to take candid shots, so that's why I look like I'm waving to you. haha)

After our walk around the Cathedral, we went to the Washington LDS Temple. You know, from one magnificent edifice to another.

If you have ever been to the D.C. Temple, you know what a striking sight it is, especially as you are winding your way through the beautiful green trees surround you and all of a sudden (seriously) this gigantic magnificent temple just pops up out of nowhere! It's really incredible. I know I sound dramatic, but it's true. It's really beautiful. We did a session in the temple and then walked around afterward.

P.S. I don't have any photos of KDJ because my camera battery died and all these photos were on her camera and she neglected to send me the ones of her. Reh.

P.P.S. She gave in. :) Oh, the power of persuasion.

On Sunday, we attended the fairly-newly-formed Potomac Ward, which is a mid-singles ward. This means it is specifically geared toward LDS singles aged 31-55. I really enjoyed the talks, being around other single people my age, and the spirit that was there. Seems like a great ward.

On a random side note, all throughout the trip to visit KDJ, we learned the 195 countries of the world and were able to master naming (and spelling) them all in less than 12 minutes.

This was quite a feat. I mean, come on, tell me that you knew there was a country named São Tomé and Príncipe. Or Timor-Leste (also known as East Timor)? Or how about Kiribati? Or do you remember that Vatican City is its own country? The countries of Africa, alone, will stump you. And you can't tell me it's not an accomplishment to learn how to spell all the -stan countries. You know: Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Fun stuff. If you want to try your hand at becoming a geography master, just check out this quiz on Jet Punk.

I have to admit that it's really fun to know all of them and know where they are because now when I hear things on the news about people from these countries, I can somehow picture it. You know, like I have a connection to them now.

Now, that I'm a master (there's no being humble with this feat), I'm working on the capitals of all these countries. That's a bit harder... I'll keep you posted. :)

Anyway, back to my trip...

On Monday, I went to work with KDJ, and then ventured off on my own to Mount Vernon, George Washington's estate and gardens along the Potomac. Navigating Virginia roads was not as hard as I thought it might be until the way back when I missed my turn since the street on which I was supposed to turn was named something different on one side of the intersection than it was on the other. It was a really relaxing way to spend the day, just walking around the estate.

We were not allowed to take photographs inside the home itself, but all the outside buildings were pretty interesting, as well.

Green everywhere

George Washington's tomb
All in all, it was a great day. They rave about their Virginia Peanut and Chestnut soup, so I stopped into the restaurant. They were out of it. Really? How do you run out of the one food that you advertise as your specialty? I guess I'll just have to go back someday. The tour guides repeatedly mentioned that George Washington would always want for a guest to return again for a follow-up visit, so we should consider doing the same. Well, I guess I'll have to... so I can have some of that peanut soup!

We also stopped in to see my cousin Soren, Mandy, and little Emily. I'd never actually met Mandy, even though she and Soren have been married for three years. And it was a treat to meet Emily.

Our friend Jenn and her husband Randy live fairly closeby, as well, so we stopped in to have Family Home Evening, dessert, and a healthy dose of catching up. I love Jenn and am so glad we got to see her, her home, and her family. Sadly, no pictures were taken. Too much fun and talking ensued to remember the camera.

As you can see it was a great trip. I was sad to have it end, but I had a train ticket to my second stop... New York City. That will have to wait for another post.


Kimberlee said...

What and amazing trip. The pictures are gorgeous...and I am a bit jealous of the sites that you saw...guess I have a few more to add to my list.

Sharon Neu said...

You totally have me addicted to the JetPunk quiz. Totally. And who knew there was a country named Djibouti?! The thought of its pronunciation brings a smile to my face. :)