Well, I lied.
Instead of only two parts to our family vacation, I’m turning it into three parts. I had two choices: create two posts with all the pictures or ask you to commit to reading the longest post in history today, so I chose three posts ;).
Grab your coffee, sit back and enjoy Part Two today. It’s D.C.’s fault I have so many pictures. There was just TOO MUCH TO DO!
We began the third day of our trip at Arlington National Cemetery. Once again, it was free and there was a wonderful visitor’s center at the entrance for us to explore before going into the actual cemetery part. It was a cold but crisp and sunny morning.
I’ve seen a million pictures of this place but to see it in person was a whole other story. The tombstones stretch as far as the eye can see from any direction.
We made our way through the cemetery until we reached these two graves. President John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
We took our time and read every little thing we could as we walked.
Madeley and I are making weird faces but K and Smith look sweet 😉 . I just wanted you to see how many tombstones there are. It was unbelievable.
We continued until we reached the tomb of the unknown soldier.
For those of you who don’t know, the tomb has been guarded every second of every day since 1937. Eighty years. Through the night, through the storms, through the heat…every second. Wow.
We saw the changing of the guard and that was a special ceremony too.
After we left the cemetery, we headed to Tortilla Coast per Meagan’s suggestion. You guys all know my friend Meagan, right?! Well, they lived in D.C. for about 10 years prior to moving to McKinney so she was a WEALTH of information. She said we must have lunch here…so we did…and it was SO GOOD!!!
We smile big for Mexican food!
That face melts me!
After we left Tortilla Coast, we headed to the Capitol to tour their visitors center. I didn’t know what to expect…but in my opinion, their visitors center was my favorite! There was so much to do that we could have stayed a lot longer.
She’s all ready to learn about Congress ;).
Pictures were limited inside the visitors center/museum part but here they are at the entrance.
Now, at this point…things start to get crazy. Please note, we just left the Capitol with no intention of returning this trip.
So, I have a friend at church who was at my house for dinner a few weeks ago and even though he lives in McKinney, he works out of D.C. a lot of the time. Well, I mentioned that we were heading to D.C. over spring break and he said,”I work with a girl named Kerri who reads your blog, I should connect you two”. I was like “yeah, sure” and didn’t think much about it, but we connected via text once we landed in D.C.
Well…on this particular day, this sweet blog reader named Kerri who I had never met before texted us and was like “would you like to go inside the Supreme Court for a private tour” and Andrew and I were like “is that a trick question?”. Um, yes! So, we knew we were meeting her on the steps of the Supreme Court that afternoon.
Mr. Smith outside the Supreme Court.
We had no idea what Miss Kerri was about to get us into ;).
So, sweet, sweet, sweet Kerri showed up with this gentleman right here and introduced us and told us that he argues in front of the Supreme Court, so she thought he should give us a private tour…and he did. And it was AMAZING.
Of course, pictures were very limited inside the Supreme Court, so I’ll just paraphrase here: thanks to these two people, we were able to freely walk around the building and peek in everywhere…including the actual courtroom where the Justices listen to arguments and make their decisions. When I stood there and looked at those nine chairs, I felt very proud and very patriotic. We kept trying to tell our kids how momentous this visit was…to stand and just be in there was such an honor. They were so nice and really took their time showing us around, pointing out certain Justices’ chambers, explaining history, architecture, giving personal stories and anecdotes from their time there…it was so cool.
Here we are standing on the top of the steps looking out.
So, so, so, so cool.
Then…Kerri asked us if we’d been to the Capitol and we were all like, yeah, we just came from the visitors center and she was like…do you want to go back and go inside the Speaker of the House’s office?
And she was all like, yeah, I have a friend over there who works for the Speaker of the House and he said we could come over now and tour the Speaker’s actual office.
And so we went.
Not going to lie…it was all very surreal.
This time, instead of going into the visitors center, we entered a door for Congress and staff only. We learned quickly that every state has to donate two sculptures that represent them to the Capitol, so we looked hard to find the two from Texas ;).
Kerri’s friend met us at security and gave us his own staff tour of the Capitol. Wow. It was unbelievable! And then, he brought us to the Speaker of the House’s office (all Speakers use this office in the Capitol) to check it out too.
We could take pics in the conference room and on his balcony but not in his actual private office.
Here we are in the conference room.
We walked into the private office after this and at one point, I had to ask Ashby to please get off of Paul Ryan’s chair at his desk…because you know, #personalspace. (Go ahead and mark that down as “things I never thought I would say to one of my children”.)
And then, we went out on the Speaker’s balcony to look at the view. #nottooshabby
Presidential inaugurations (since Reagan) take place directly below where we were standing.
Um, just so cool.
A picture with Kerri (standing next to me) and her sweet assistant, Breanne.
After this, the very nice staffer asked if we wanted to see more. Of course we did!
First stop, he took us in to the Rotunda.
And then he asked us if we had ever heard about the underground village below the Capitol? We hadn’t, so he explained. He said underneath the Capitol is a whole world where the House and Senate operate. They have trams that connect their buildings to each other and to the main Capitol part. They have barbers down there, dry cleaners, a spa, restaurants, an ice cream shop and so much more. It’s their own private world that operates underneath the Capitol building. And then he said, “Would you like to go down there?”.
So, here we are riding the tram under the Capitol. The tram car we were told to get in to said “for Congress only” but the driver said we could get in. For Congress, for four crazy kids…what’s the difference???
We didn’t take pictures on our tour below out of respect for their privacy but geez…it was insane! We went over to the House side and walked around. It really was its only little world down there. And then we popped up and visited the House of Representative’s chamber. You know…that big room where the President gives the State of the Union address and things like that? We walked around in there, sat in chairs, touched the voting buttons…it was CRAZY.
This was all such a once in a lifetime experience all thanks to sweet Kerri and her staffer friend.
So, after our big tour, we celebrated the kids’ excellent behavior with milkshakes. Kerri told us about a cute little neighborhood and a place called Ted’s Bulletin Restaurant where Andrew and I could get coffee (and we split a big oatmeal cookie with icing) and the kids could get milkshakes. We had dinner reservations later that night, but we had a little bit of time to sit down and have a treat before walking some more.
This place was so cute that I wished we would have had an entire meal here! We loved it!
After this, we started walking back towards dinner (it was a long walk, so we had plenty of time to site see along the way). We spotted this…
…and Ashby was pumped!
And then we finally arrived at Old Ebbitt Grill for dinner. We LOVED our dinner here! The food and the atmosphere were fantastic!! I highly recommend!
Blurry and crazy…just like us.
Whew! That was day three of our trip.
So, after this, we headed back to our Airbnb for bedtime when…sweet, sweet Kerri texted us and said, “Would you like to go on a private tour of the West Wing tomorrow night”.
And so we went to sleep super excited about waking up the next morning :).
That’s Part TWO. Stay tuned for Part THREE.