Day 20: Paying Our Respects

Robert F. Kennedy's gravestone. Photo: Jenny Williams

I knew I had overplanned the DC portion of my trip. I had hoped, though, that I wouldn’t have to skip anything on my list. But in the end it all comes down to time, energy, and priorities. I definitely wanted to get in the three spots we hit yesterday (The Capitol, The Library of Congress, and The Supreme Court). But today I had planned the Arlington National Cemetery, something that I never got around to seeing when I lived here but always wanted to, and the Tidal Basin area with all the memorials and monuments, some of which I’ve seen before, some I haven’t.

John F. Kennedy's gravesite. Photo: Jenny Williams

I tend to do too much, and then my body rebels against me. I’m trying to notice the subtle signs ahead of time and then rest when needed, saving energy for when I really need it. And since I was up so late last night getting my daily blog post up, I was pretty exhausted even after about seven hours of sleep. So we got a late start today, and I instead got some work done this morning. Then Jess talked us into actually leaving the house and seeing Arlington National Cemetery, so the kids and I went and did the TourMobile tour for it (I had been considering just taking the whole day off).

Tomb of the Unknowns. Photo: Jenny Williams

We took the Metro to Arlington National Cemetery, and I think it might have been the kids’ first time on a subway. We started only one station away, at the Rosslyn station, and for anyone who has been there, they know how looong the escalator is. My son loves escalators. I’m sure that was the highlight of his day.

We got our tickets for the TourMobile ($17 total for the three of us) and got right on a bus. On the narrated tour (which was hard to decipher sometimes since enunciation isn’t these people’s forte) I did learn that the standard headstones that are familiar to us all are 250 pounds of marble. Some headstones are different from the usual, and those were supplied by the families of the deceased. Though it sounds like now the cemetery likes everyone to use the same standard headstone. There are also dozens of religious symbols available to put on them. I am interested in seeing a list. Oh look, I found one.

Changing of the Guard. Photo: Jenny Williams

Our first stop was the Kennedy grave site. John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy are buried there, as are the two kids who died early on: Patrick, and an unnamed daughter. The eternal flame is there as well. Nearby was Robert F. Kennedy’s grave, which was the most moving to me. Nearby that was Ted Kennedy’s. =(

The second stop was the Tomb of the Unknowns and the Changing of the Guard. We got there right before the ceremony, and got to see the whole thing from a vantage point in the shade. It was fascinating, and I’d love to know the history and reasons for all of the specific ceremonial parts to it. Then many people left, but before we could, they pushed us back in place to let more soldiers come by with a funeral wreath. A small family dressed in black was there, too, and a military man played Taps (so beautifully I wanted to cry, but didn’t). There was no real explanation of what we were seeing, so I’m not sure what it was. They replaced the wreath that was there with the new one, but the significance was lost on me. I just knew it was a solemn event. (Apparently it is a regular thing.)

The Challenger Crew. Photo: Jenny Williams

The third stop was the Arlington House, which was where Robert E. Lee used to live. Turns out he married the step granddaughter (or something) of George Washington. Robert E. Lee left Arlington House at the start of the Civil War, since he wouldn’t fight against Virginia (and Arlington was a part of the north at that time, I believe, being part of DC), and he never returned. There is more to this interesting story, but I’m too tired to tell it right now.

I had thought we might be able to walk across the bridge to see the Lincoln Memorial after the cemetery tour, but by the time we were done, we were so tired, and it was still so hot. So I hope we can make it later this week. I’d really like to see it again, and I’d really like the kids to see it, along with the other important sites at the Tidal Basin.

The Columbia Crew. Photo: Jenny Williams

Now, back “home”, I’m doing my daily writing and two loads of laundry. I hope to also get some other writing in later, too, and to catch up on my hundreds of emails in my backlog. But I’m pretty sure that taking the morning off from sightseeing didn’t help much. I’m still tired from our outing.

As of tonight our trip is half over. We have 20 more days to go until we are home again. We have plenty of interesting and fun things to do in the meantime, but I’ll definitely be ready to be in my own home again.

Drove: None.

States (and a District): Virginia, District of Columbia.

Weather: Hot and miserable.

They just keep going and going. Photo: Jenny Williams

Kids: Cranky. But I really can’t blame them. It was hot and miserable, and we were dehydrated.

Best Parts of the Day: Not waking up to an alarm, paying our respects to the Kennedys and those who died in the Challenger and Columbia disasters, the changing of the guard.

Worst Part of the Day: Being hot!

What I’ve Learned on the Trip: The difference between the heat here and the heat in dry Arizona is interesting. Both are annoying. But the Arizona heat is directional. You feel it coming from the sun. Unless it’s much over 90 degrees, you know where it’s coming from. But here in the humid east, the heat comes from all sides. It sneaks up on you drags you down before you know it. Arizona will most likely still be in the midst of monsoon season when we get home at the end of this month, but it will still be drier and more pleasant than here.

Another Thing I Learned: Apparently plaid shorts with Izod shirts are back in style. I saw a number of people this week wearing that ensemble. I felt like I was back in the late 70s or early 80s. All that was missing was the Docksides and feathered hair.

Total GeekDads and GeekMoms Visited: 8.

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About Jenny Bristol

Jenny Bristol is a lifelong geek who spends her time learning, writing, homeschooling her two wickedly smart kids, playing board games, and mastering the art of traveling on a shoestring.
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