September 28 – October 6, 2019
Pat’s mom and sister Dee flew in from Springfield, Missouri to join us and visit DC for the first time. I love seeing the marvels here again with newbies.
Visiting the Family Scientist
The first big outing was touring Ethan’s virology lab. Well not “his” exactly, but he plays an important role. Only two more years or so until he’s Dr. Iverson.
He patiently explained his influenza research and let us peer at the cell cultures through the microscope. This is my favorite part where you look at the waving cilia on the epithelial cells. You have them to thank when you get rid of the yucky mucus in your lungs.
We also strolled a bit on the University of Maryland campus and found this statue of Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog outside the student union. Mr. Henson was a graduate of UMD and Kermit is a particular favorite of Dee.
After our gift shop expedition, we had the visitors pose with Testudo, the UMD mascot and resident terrapin. Fear the turtle!
After the campus visit, we headed to the Metro. I couldn’t wait for Mom and Dee to get their first look at all the famous monuments.
I think they’re having a good time!
This is my favorite shot of the day. Just the sort of thing I would do.
Pat sat this one out since he managed to roll his ankle in ND and needed to get the swelling down so he wouldn’t miss our other scheduled tours.
Lunch was at the Smithsonian Castle and then a tour of the Museum of Natural History led by a guy who’s passion is fossils. The place is overwhelming and we honestly just scratched the surface after hours in the place. I think our favorite part was the gem and mineral display. Everyone has to crowd around the Hope Diamond, and then you look at all the other gorgeous stones. It was a perfect way to dodge the rain and still get back in time for a picnic dinner at our “house”.
The Night Tour
I insisted we all take a night tour since I remembered it fondly from years ago. Not everything was easy to see at night, but some things are even better lit up.
First stop was the Capitol where the top of the dome is adorned with a 19 and a half foot tall Statue of Freedom. According to our guide, no other statues in Washington can be taller since nothing is more important than freedom. We liked that. Mom gets a good shot.
The Washington Monument looms large from just about everywhere at night. And that’s what you get when you hand your camera over to a helpful stranger. Judy the unicorn, although I prefer narwhal.
And my favorite monument, day or night.
We all thought it was an excellent tour and we learned quite a few things. Our stops that night also included the White House, FDR Memorial, MLK Memorial, Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall, Korean War Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and WWII Memorial. This ended at 11pm.
The White House
I laughed when I got the final word from our Florida congressman’s office that our White House tour had been approved. Hurray! But wait, it’s for 7:30 am on the morning after the night tour that ends at 11pm. And just how to you get to downtown DC that early in the morning during the peak rush hour? Well, the DC Metro system has a trip planner and I discovered with a few bucks on our cards and a 6 am departure, we could do it. So bleery-eyed and without the forbidden items such as purses and pointy objects, we made our way to the big city.
Just to prove they were there…
A few of the famous rooms.
The view that FDR had cleared so he could watch construction of the Jefferson Memorial.
My favorite from the White House ballroom. Isn’t Mom cute?
Our parting shot.
Since we couldn’t or wouldn’t stand in line at 6:30 am to get tickets to go to the top of the Washington Monument for the city view, we did the next best thing recommended by our night tour guide. We trekked to the Old Post Office Tower which is at the top of the Trump Hotel. We enjoyed the 360 degree view and particularly the rooftop gardens on the buildings next door.
After the Old Post Office, we hopped on the Metro again to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Of course it was so very hot out and most of the animals weren’t interested in being seen.
We were entertained by the giant panda who climbed a tree and the others who munched on snacks outside while the keepers tidied up inside.
Most beautiful goes to the Red Panda, but he did a quick about face when he saw us. I wasn’t quick enough get a shot of the whole animal before he disappeared through the door.
The clouded leopard cubs were so cute and one was stuck on top of the light mounted inside the enclosure. A typical cat. Can climb up, but can’t get back down. Finally we headed back home for a nap and then dinner at the local diner playing songs on the tiny jukebox at our table. Whew! Quite a day.
On the next day and last one in town for Mom and Dee, DC set a heat record for that date in October (98 degrees at the airport). We opted for the nice air conditioned mall and a little shopping, followed by a farewell dinner with Ethan & Stephanie. We jetted Mom and Dee back to the Baltimore airport in the wee hours of the next morning and bid them farewell after a grand time in the city.
A Day with Ethan
On our last day in town, Ethan came over to our house for the day. We taught him to play Exploding Kittens, the card game I bought in the UMD student union, and he’s beating the pants off of us. We learned some diabolical strategy from him.
Ethan got to spend some quality time with his dog and we showed him the sights in the RV park. He now knows the difference between class A, B and C motorhomes, fifth wheels and pull behind trailers. He also realizes now that we aren’t nearly as big as he thought next to the 40-footers in the park. Compared to some of those rigs, we’re downright tiny.
A mom and her boy.
After one last dinner and more card playing, we finally give Ethan and Stephanie some peace and quiet. Photo credit to Stephanie for the family shot. It’s been a great extended visit and so glad we could do so many things with them.
We’re now ready to leave the metropolitan area and the crazy Maryland drivers. I agree with Ethan’s assessment. They are crazy behind the wheel with the key word being unpredictable. They’re just as likely to turn left from four lanes over on the right as they are to stop dead in a busy road to let out passengers. That we won’t miss. Finally it’s time to flee the sound and fury of the big city and trade it for the peace and quiet of the Shenandoah River Valley.
Next Up: Back to Virginia. See you on the way!