July 4, 2011: 4th of July Trip to D.C. and Surrounding Areas

Spectacular 4th in D.C.
Highlights from today: (Click here for pictures)
Video 1 from today: (Click here for video 1)
Campbell woke up about 4 this morning, picked up her bear and taggie and stood by me with her arms up for me to pick her up and put her into our bed.  Graham joined us around 7 and before long we were getting ready to go.  The kids had pop tarts and cereal this morning and we loaded the bag and headed on our way.
We only had about a block and a half to walk to the subway and were there in no time-well, we did get turned around a few times and had to stop and look at the map but we made it none the less.  Our stop was just down the line so were at the Capitol Visitors Center around 8:45.  The security guards kept shouting “no food, bottles, liquid” and seemed pretty serious about it.  We watched as people were throwing out new sports bottles, sunscreen-actually, we thought about opening up a “we will watch your stuff while you go in for a small fee” business.  Since it was early and we had our bag loaded with snacks, we sure didn’t want to throw everything out so we decided to split up.  The boys went with Robby while the girls stayed with me.  It didn’t take long for them to see the visitor center and next it was our turn.  Kind of funny because we took pictures of the same things while we were inside.  Robby saw that they had plenty of walk up tours and decided that we might come back later in the day.
We walked up to Union Station to grab a snack-pretzels and pizza and we also stashed our bag of snacks in a locker so we could not worry about having to throw them away back at the capitol.  From there, we caught another subway and back to the parade area.  It was pretty crowded there but we managed to snag some spots about 3 people deep on the curb. Our spot was right in front of the National Archives and we were pretty pleased.
While we waited on the parade to start, Robby bought the kids red, white and blue popsicles.  They devoured them and for most of our pictures for the rest of the day, some one has blue on their face.  Poor Campbell’s hands are colored blue-she will just stare at them like she doesn’t know what happened.
When the parade did start, people started pushing and jockeying their way infront of out strollers.  I did take one picture of Anderson with a ladie's rear end in his face.  I couldn’t get him to hold his nose for the picture though.  Anyway, he actually stayed there because he could see everything at an angle.  Graham had to stand in the stroller to see but he could see well.  Reagan stood behind Campbell and they could both see.  Campbell would shout “neigh neigh” when ever she saw a horse and even waved at a the bands.  We so Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, Curious George, Garfield, McGruff, and Fred Flintstone.  Everyone enjoyed it but they were getting ready antsy, hot and crowded.  So we ventured out of the crowd-it took us about 10 minutes to walk half a block but at the end of the block, there was a fire truck spraying water-and this was probably the highlight of the parade for the kids.  They got wet, then wetter and were pretty much cooled off by the time they were finished. 
We walked back to the subway and rode a few stops and even switched trains.  Soon we were back at the Capitol liquid and food free and ready to go in for a tour.  The walk up tour line was empty and they said they had the next tour in one minute so before we knew it we were watching a film getting ready for the tour.  After the film we were handed headsets to listen to the guide.  The first person didn’t give the kids one so we asked and the lady said they might be a choking hazard-um, okay.  We did ask someone else and were given headsets for the kids. 
Reagan’s must have been on a different channel because once we were on our tour it started cutting out.  So I switched with hers and let her listen to our tour guide.  I, on the other hand, listened to a nearby tour guide.  Of course, I had to follow Robby’s lead since I didn’t know what was happening with our group.  I was listening to my tour guide on another channel and would look one way and the other 50 people in our group were looking the other way.  When it was about over, I looked down at Anderson and should have taken his headset from him earlier because he was sound asleep.  I thought the tour was fairly interesting but I guess he didn’t agree!  Ha!
We left the Capitol and walked back to Union Station for another bite to eat-more pretzels and ice cream.  By now, the troops were getting pretty tired and we rode the subway back to the hotel. 
At the hotel, Robby had a shower, we all had something to drink and rested for a bit before heading back out to see more of D.C. and catch the fireworks.  I tell you, last year when we were here, we walked over 9 miles during the day.  But this year, there would have been no way I could have done that.  Obviously, the kids all probably weigh an average of 10 pounds heavier and I also weigh a few pounds heavier.  But we still made it around pretty well and made good use of the subway system but you just really can’t get around without walking a lot in D.C.
It wasn’t a crazy walk back to the White House and then to the Washington Monument.  The Mall had security screening to enter into it and people were everywhere. It wasn’t crazy crowded but the crowds were pouring in.  We watched the people for awhile and listened to the music.  Robby went to see about getting a hot dog inside of the Mall area but they were 10 bucks and outside from a street vendor they were much, much less.  We have been giving the street vendors lots of business today because many people are selling bottled water for a dollar-and you just can’t pass that up.  Tonight when I cleaned out our bags I threw away at least 12 bottles of water. 
We left the Mall and walked along and found a vendor and ate our hot dogs.  We sat on the sidewalk and watched the people and police cars go by.  It was kind of nice because most streets were closed so we could cross as much as we wanted.  After our hotdogs, we worked on cleaning out our leftover food-chips and cookies. 
Then we headed to the Lincoln Memorial.  They are redoing the water in front of Lincoln (it needed it in September).  But that probably made the viewing area smaller for the people in that area.  People had covered up the Lincoln Memorial but we did make our way to the front for a picture.  Next up, was trying to find our fireworks spot.  We knew we didn’t want to be trapped inside of a gated area during the fireworks so we headed back towards the White House and the hotel.
We found a place that was fairly empty and let the kids run around in the grass with their flag glow sticks that I had brought from home.  I should have opened up a stand and sold them and could have paid for the trip.  We had to wait about 45 minutes for the fireworks and they were all getting pretty restless by the time they started. 
When they started, Graham came running to me as fast as he could.  But he soon saw Reagan and stood holding his glow stick towards the fireworks-like an air traffic controller.  Anderson enjoyed the fireworks at first but then he decided he was going to be scared.  I told him that no, he couldn’t be scared and to move away from me.  Trust me, he was fine.  But poor Campbell, she was nearing hysterics.  She tried her best to climb out of her stroller and then when I got her out, I guess she thought she would just run down the street away from them.  Finally, she calmed and even sat in the stroller for a bit until the finale and then she lost it again.
The fireworks were pretty good but comparable to Riverfest only a bit more impressive.  When it was over, Reagan said “we stayed for the whole thing"-she has never stayed for all of the fireworks anywhere.  She probably thought that you have to run for the boat/monorail/car at the end of them.  But we stayed tonight and then walked along with 1 million other people on the way back to the hotel.  Actually, the walk back wasn’t crazy-I had an empty buggy, Reagan and Anderson kept up fairly well, many streets were closed so we weren’t trapped on the sidewalk and we just had about 8 blocks to hike. 
Back at the hotel, we dipped the kids again and then tried our best to pack up for in the morning.  Our goal is to leave here around 6 so we will see if that happens.  Actually, it has to happen because we have a plane to catch.

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