Journal of Events, as I best remember it.
We went to the SLC airport in time to check in and wait to see if we would be able to get in on the flight to New York City. We were flying “stand by” on Jet Blue. (Editor’s note: Do not fly “stand by” – it is very unpredictable.) We did not make it, but were told that we could probably make the early morning flight to Long Beach, California, and there transfer to another flight to New York City. There was not really enough time to go home, so we stayed the few hours in the airport.
We flew from SLC to Long Beach to New York City without any real problem.
We picked up a Ford Van at the Avis car rental company, and drove to Carolyn and Cade’s. A side note: I had always perceived that driving in New York would be a scary experience. Not so.
We left the next morning, Myself, Ronwen (Mom), and Hillary with Carolyn, Cade, and Matthew, traveling from Middletown, Connecticut to Philadelphia, PA. Because the traffic was so terrible, we were too late to be able to do anything in Philadelphia that day. Note: The drivers in New York City are horrible and rude and discourteous.
We did stop and see Valley Forge along the way to Philadelphia. I learned that it was a gathering place for the troops of the Continental Army, and a training ground for those soldiers.
We saw many deer along the drive as we went through Valley Forge.
We also saw and crossed a “covered bridge” along the road as we went. Mom was excited about that!
We stayed at the Hiatt Regency Hotel in Washington D.C. They had an awesome consierge who was very helpful.
We ate one night at the Trattoria Sorrento italian restaurant, 4930 Cordell Avenue, Bethseda, Maryland 20814. Awesome italian cuisine!!
We also ate ate the Original Pancake House, near the hotel. Fantastic breakfast!
We visited the following places as we toured the Washington D.C. area:
Washington LDS Temple. We saw it in the day light and after dark. We saw bats flying around it in the darkness.
White House. It was smaller than I had pictured it. The tour was short and not really worth the time, other than to say that we had “been” there.
Air and Space Museum (Smithsonian). Interesting place, but not as exciting as I had always thought it would be. Jets, planes, and space craft were on display. I thought the most interesting item was the Wright Brother’s aircraft.
National Archives. We went to see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I rode a wheel chair. I was surprised to see how faded both documents had become. They were virtually unreadable.
We passed in front of the Capitol building. Impressive! We took a number of pictures of it. Note: Hillary was the chief photographer of this trip, and she did very well in expressing her talent and skill with the camera.
Library of Congress. This was the most ornately decorated non-religious building I have ever seen! It was absolutely awesome on the inside. Arches, marble, statuary, and colorful paintings and murals decorated the entire interior of this building.
Subway/Metro. It was surprisingly clean and efficient for a public transportation mode.
Mount Vernon. We arrived there early in the morning, just before they were officially open. We waited, walking casually over the grounds. We walked out onto the east lawn, the typical spot where the familiar picture is taken of the main house. Looking out over the panoramic view of the beautiful Potomac River, I could see why Washington loved his home so much. We took the specially arranged tour of the grounds, viewing the slave quarters, the gardens, the greenhouse, the bowling green (east lawn), the west lawn with the awesome view of the Potomac, the “Necessary” (outhouse), and Washington’s Tomb. The guide asked for volunteers to carry a wreath into Washington’s tomb to honor him. I quickly rose my hand. Cade volunteered, too. It was a special experience to walk into his tomb and place the wreath, and to brush my fingers across the limestone sarcophagus and feel his presence, there. Hillary volunteered to read Washington’s Prayer for the Nation aloud for the tour group. I think she was touched by the experience.
Gettysburg. I have always been aware of this field of battle during the Civil War. It has been a place of passing interest. I had originally considered skipping it in favor of other things. I am profoundly glad I did not miss it. We drove to the site and parked the car near the Visitor’s Center. We wandered at length through the center, seeing the faces and reading the stories of those who were there. Then we stepped out the front door and ascended Cemetery Hill, the site where Lincoln had delivered the Gettysburg Address. “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate – we can not consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” (Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 19, 1863) I stood there, on the very spot where Lincoln delivered this address. I felt my body washed over by a sense of that address, the sense of the struggles that were endured there. A sense of the battle that was engaged, there, and I cried openly as I was engulfed in this spirit. I had not expected this. As we drove around the route that detailed the events of this battle, I felt their presence. I watched as the battle began, the South lined up on the north side and the North lined up on the south side of the valley. I imagined the single gunshot from the Southerners, signaling the opening of hostilities, and I saw the firing of the 166 Southern cannons and the responding 180+ cannons of the North. I felt the rush of soldiers, from both sides, as they met to defend their opinions. It struck me like a bolt of thunder that this was not a war of Good and Evil, but rather a war of opinions, there being Good on both sides. It is an experience that I shall never forget. I stood in a small grove of trees, the target objective of the attacking forces of the South, and wondered at the three day loss of life of 5,000 men.