Monday, July 18, 2005
On this day:

Back in Huntsville

Finally. The D.C. trip with the family was great, but I'm glad to be back home to the land of cotton and sweet tea. One of the best things about driving to D.C. from Alabama is that you get to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the eastern United States. One of the worst things is that driving all that way is so darned tiring.

We left Alabama just as Dennis was arriving on Monday morning, so we got to drive through plenty of wind and rain all the way to South Carolina. Fighting the traffic of Atlanta's rush hour is never fun, but even less so when the weather doesn't cooperate. About 13 hours after leaving, we arrived at our first destination - Williamsburg, Virginia.

After spending Tuesday at Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown, we headed up to D.C. - stopping by the birthplaces of George Washington and Robert E. Lee on the way.

D.C. was quite an experience, as always. The fact that mom and dad had never ridden a subway before made things interesting in the beginning, but they caught on pretty quickly, and after walking as much as we did, the D.C. Metro stations soon became welcome sights.

Wednesday, we toured the Supreme Court and Library of Congress (not always at the top of the to-do list for a D.C. trip, but a must-see, in my opinion), then made our way down to the Mall to see all the monuments. I quickly remembered just how long the walk is from one end of the Mall to the other. But, as I told my parents and sis, you just can't have the complete D.C. experience without walking the Mall a few times. This time, that experience included lots of sweating - the weather was hot, muggy, and pretty much miserable.

We made our way back to the Mall on Thursday and went to the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum, where there are lots of fossils - many of which were even older than those over at the Supreme Court. After that, we saw all ninety-some-odd galleries in the National Gallery of Art. It's nice to be reminded that for many years, real artists produced real art. Betcha most of it was done without an NEA grant, too.

Friday morning, after checking out of the hotel, we drove down to tour the National Cathedral, then crossed the Potomac to Arlington cemetery. It poured down rain during the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but that was fine - vastly preferable to a rain of bullets, I'd say. Plus, it cooled things off a bit.

The rain didn't let up as we made our way towards Mt. Vernon. The rain, rush hour traffic, and a wrong turn by yours truly all combined to make us arrive at Mt. Vernon about 30 minutes after closing time. Oh well...there was a nice view of the house from a little road that runs behind the mansion.

From Mt. Vernon, it was on to Charlottesville and Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, with a couple of stops at the Chancellorsville and Wilderness battlefields along the way. I'm not a huge fan of Jefferson's politics, but seeing Monticello really makes you appreciate what an important and unique figure he was.

Anyway, that pretty much wraps it up. What's amazing about that part of the country is how many of the crucial events of our nation's history played out in such a small area. And how many of its leaders had such enduring legacies - Washington, Jefferson, Monroe, Lee, Mason, the Harrisons, the Randolphs, etc.

And, there'll be plenty more left to see next time. In the meantime, I'm gonna go grab a glass of sweet tea and hit the sack.