It's been awhile since we went to DC, awhile since we went to any of the Smithsonians, and awhile since we saw our good friends. Our plan was to fly down Friday night of Presidents' Day weekend, but after a nice Vietnamese dinner in Chinatown, and bubble teas, and Hong Kong egg waffles, we got to the airport to find out our flight was oversold by three seats. The decision was pretty easy, actually--Helen, Samantha, and I took $1000 each in a Visa gift card to spend the night in a Hilton by the airport and take the 8:00 in the morning flight down. We also had $90 in airport food credits, so that meant quite the feast, and some extra snacks to bring with us. Meanwhile, Robert and Marcus flew down and were met by Tim, and happily played a board game until 1:30 in the morning. On Saturday, we landed just before 10:00 and Tim picked us up--he gave us a tour of downtown DC and then we met up with Robert, Christine, and Tim and Christine's kids (11-2 now!) at the zoo.
Zoo highlights included a monkey screaming at a toddler through the class, the smell in the elephant house, the marble in a maze game in the panda house, and fun with Tim and Christine's stroller (Marcus pushed for awhile, with an 8-year-old and a 6-year-old in it, and then Magnolia pushed, and then another brother laid across the top, and really, it was just a hoot.)
We picked up food from Bon Chon to bring back for lunch, and then the dads and their oldests went out running Marcus somehow got himself in a bet about running a 7-minute mile, and Magnolia was an excellent pacer. Meanwhile, the kids played all sorts of things, and everyone enjoyed themselves. Just before dinner, Christine, Samantha, and I ran out to the local supermarket to pick up s'mores supplies. We found marshmallows in the greeting card aisle, which was odd in and of itself, but combined with the Easter display (Jesus and a bunny?!), we had to pause for a picture.
In the evening we had a bonfire and roasted marshmallows before playing Quacks of Quedlinburg, which is a wonderful game. (Partial shot of Tim's game collection just for fun.)
On Sunday we went to the African American Smithsonian, which I'd reserved passes for in advance. It was very sunny, and no one was in the mood for squinting for a photo, unfortunately, but I wanted to get a shot of the cool building inside and out.
The top three floors were popular culture and modern artifacts, and they were neat, but the bottom three floors--set up as a continuous path, about 1.5 miles in length, going up ramps as you move from 1400 to 2008--was absolutely amazing. The staff were wonderful, and the artifacts (from a slave cabin, to a segregated rail car, to Emmett Till's casket, incredibly moving. At the end there's an indoor waterfall in the "contemplative room," and then we went to the (excellent) cafeteria, where we had macaroni and cheese, a whiting po' boy sandwich, and a salt cod and pepper stew with purple cabbage on the side from a celebrity guest chef.
Then we took the orange line out to Virginia, and Tim and Parker met us and went with us to the Udvar-Hazy for an afternoon. Robert and Tim and Marcus shepherded Helen and Parker through the hangar, criss-crossing it multiple times until they found all of the airplanes on the kids' scavenger hunts. Meanwhile Samantha and I had Shake Shack and saw the museum more leisurely.
Two highlights (beyond the Blackbird, of course) were up close and personal with the space shuttle, looking at all those panels on the nose, and then admiring the toys of my childhood. I had that exact carrying case, and all of those figures (plus more, including a Lando that I once found buried in the sand at Jones Beach), except I had the X-wing pilot Luke instead of the Jedi Luke. While we were at the museum, they came over the PA to announce a special guest at the museum--a real live COLONEL in the AIR FORCE! Here, at the front, signing autographs! That was not Tim, sadly, and he kept insisting (very modestly) that that was a REAL colonel. Still, it was pretty funny.
For dinner we went to an Indian restaurant--making a reservation in advance for 12 of us--and ordered a bunch of delicious dishes to share. Sakora was pretty sure we were going to get there by tricycle, and was disappointed when we all loaded up into two cars.
After dinner, Samantha and Magnolia made brownies, which everyone except the three youngest kids (sadly already in bed) enjoyed with chocolate syrup and ice cream.
On Monday morning, Robert and Tim made bacon, eggs, biscuits, and hash browns for breakfast with fruit and muffins, and then there was a lot of puzzling happening.
It was very warm out, a partly sunny 60-degree morning, so Helen, Oliver, and Sakora also played outside a bunch. This is fine...
Tim and Robert made Sue Yoon's Moroccan Chicken, which Tim said is one of their favorite recipes, so I texted Sue (well, Martin actually--oops) and we made sure to tell her we were thinking of her.
(before, and after)
While the little kids played, dads and bigger kids settled in for some Cthulhu Wars. "Oh look! Risk with cute monsters," I said. Tim beamed.
Then Tim drove us to the airport, and we had a quick and easy flight home--all of us, this time. Thank you for hosting, everyone! We had a wonderful time!
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