Sunday, April 25, 2010

Washington D.C. Chronicles (Part 2)

Sunday we went to church and then with everyone we all went to Harper's Ferry. Harper's Ferry is wonderful! I love the quaint Old England town feel with all of the old architecture. There was also history there with the battle there in the Civil war. So, we toured the city and then my uncle turned at me and was like, want to hike up the mountain? (It was a little over 2 miles to the top) It had just started sprinkling but I was gung ho! Haha no one else wanted to come so he and I trekked across the bridge around the mountain, and then when we couldn’t find the path, we just bushwhacked up the mountain. By the time we were about half way up the mountain, it was POURING. We looked like we had taken full showers in our clothes but, when we made it to the top, the view was completely worth it. It was beautifully picturesque. That was one of my favorite days. We then sprinted down the hill, got ice cream, and then hopped in the car, dripping wet, and drove home.

Monday was the Retirement Ceremony. I left early with The King so that I could practice singing the National Anthem. We drove in my aunts BMW Z4 convertible which is such a fun little car! Once we got there I practiced as they were setting up and then Jer gave me a tour of the base he worked on. They have a rock wall and a rope swing in one of the rooms! Haha it was pretty awesome.

When the ceremony started I sang and it went really well. It wasn’t as good as the one I’d sung for them the night before, but it was powerful and such an incredible honor to play for a group of people that love their country more than anyone else I could possibly think of. I will never sing the anthem for a group of people that will appreciate it more. When my uncle spoke he started out, with tears in his eyes thanking me for singing, explaining how he’d put the pressure on me saying that I’d have to do well and then, you could see the emotion in his eyes, he thanked me and… I can’t even explain. I got pretty emotional because I’m so greatful for my uncle and all the men out there that risk their lives to keep me and the rest of the nation free and safe. And, I love The King, he’s an amazing guy and I was grateful for the opportunity to give him such a gift as that. BUT, you’re probably sick of hearing about that, so I’ll move on. The rest of the ceremony went really well and I learned that my uncle has a Medal of Merritt and 3 Bronze Stars. I know, right? Impressive. After the ceremony we went back to the house, changed and then headed to the restaurant for the after party. The food was delicious and I got to drive the Z4 all the way there!!! Hahaha my uncle road with me and it was SO fun. Haha T looked at me and said, “You like it?” I nodded yes. “Good, haha because it suits you perfectly.” Ahaha! It was very fun :)

Tuesday we went to Manassas, another civil war battle. First, my aunt and I went to drop off papers to the apartment they had had as an investment and were now selling. So her and I went, dropped them off and she showed me around the complex. The club house was awesome and I would have loved to have lived there. Unfortunately, it was over 300,000 dollars and a little out of my price range. Haha! But funny story, so I had to go to the restroom when we were in the club house so I went into the bathroom and realized, I could not for the life of me get my belt undone. Hahahaha! See, I had borrowed my little brother’s belt because I had forgotten my own. It was one of the scouting type belts that has the little rod that slides onto the belt and therefore wedges tight. Well, apparently I had it a little too tight and it had been wedged so thoroughly that I couldn’t get it undone! Bahaha! So I had to come out, and use my aunts keys to jimmy it open! It was pretty funny, a little bit embarrassing and my aunt and I were laughing so hard I almost peed my pants. After we got out of there we weren’t all that eager to meet up with everyone at another battle field so we stopped for lunch at this great sushi place before we joined the rest of the group. When we arrived they were moving on to another site on the field and my uncle and mother were thinking about just booking it across the landscape instead of driving. So we made a little deal, if we, the hikers, made it to location (a school house) first, the other had to buy us dinner and vies versa. So we started bushwacking and cut straight across and a pretty good clip. As we neared the sight we saw the others walking up the path towards the house so my uncle yells, “RUN!” and him and I took off as fast as we could. We probably sprinted a good 300 yards to the house and we beat all but my little brother Ben who ran on the path and got there first. The King is an incredible runner though. He is much better than I. He was, the best runner in every unit he was ever in. But, we still bought lunch because Ben beat us. That night we made this strange but very delicious dinner with eggplant in it. I’m not a fan of egg plant but I really liked it. We then stayed up talking with my great aunt Merry and my grandmother Noel. (My great-grandmother named all of her kids, three girls, with Christmas names; Noel, Merry and Carol.) Merry is a very fascinating person. She was personal friends with Elvis Presley! Crazy, right? I thought so.

Wednesday, Gettysburg! It was a beautiful day and when we pulled up and got out of the car to look at where pickets charge was my uncle looks at me and says, “Wanna run it?” My mother’s ears perked up and she said she wanted to go to. So, instead of running it, my uncle, mother, and two of my brothers, Christopher, and Benjamin and I all trekked the mile and a half across pickets charge, over the fences and through the brush. From there The King and I hiked across to all the major sites, racing my family as they drove to the sites. When we got to devil’s den, we were climbing up the sides and my uncle got this genius idea that we should find all of the places where the pictures were of the dead bodies and pose like time. So, we did! Haha incredibly disrespectful to the dead, but funny. We then had dinner at a retro diner there and headed home.

Thursday we spent doing pretty much nothing. Haha it was nice to just spend time around the house, reading in the sunshine and beautiful weather, it was mid 70s for all but 2 days we were there. My mom and I had been talking with The King for a little while and he mentioned that the guys at his base would, in their spare time, practice putting in IVs. I was all, “SWEET! Haha what a fun pass time.” My mom agreed and my uncle just looked at us and said, “Want me to teach you a little later?”

“Of course!” We both said, nodding our heads enthusiastically. So after dinner, while everyone else was watching TV in the other room, my mom, uncle, grandmother and I were sitting in the dining room. He gets up, fetches his first aid kit and then starts pulling everything out that we would need. He started getting out gauze and bandages and interjected with an, “ummm… aren’t we doing this on fruit or something?” He says, “Of course not! How are you going to learn on fruit!? I’m going to teach you on myself.” Hahaha! I chuckled nervously and gulped when his back was turned. He walked me through the steps and then said, “Alright, say them back to me and then you’re just going to do it!” So I repeated the instructions and then started. Put turnicate in place and then swab the area with an iodine pad and the wipe clockwise with an alcohol pad, finishing with a swipe down the center of the area. Pick up needle (after putting gloves on) and hold so you can see the flash, the spot where you’ll see the blood flash up when you’ve hit into the vein. From there you drop the top down a little so that it is at a more acute angle to the vein and then slide the IV into the vein while slightly twisting it so as to slide in better. From there, remove the needle leaving the IV in, and there you have it! Unfortunately, I did all of the PERFECTLY. Hahahaha! I got it on my very first try!! But as I removed the needle, there was nothing to catch the blood or medicine to force into the vein, so as I removed the needle there was a squirt! Squirt! Squirt! Of blood. AH! Hahaha we had to get it to stop because it was making a mess and so we pulled the IV out, covered it in gauze, removed the turnicate and put pressure where I should. We got it all under control and I started nervously stress laughing. Hahaha! It was fun, and I would like to do it again. But, he didn’t even bruise! I was quite proud of myself.

The next day we went back to the National Mall in DC and toured everything that we hadn’t seen the first time. We went to the holocaust museum, one of my life goals, and I was as powerful as I expected it to be, it was also very draining, emotionally and physically. After that museum we went to the museum of American History and saw the ruby slippers from the wizard of Oz, the flag for which the star spangled banner was written, all of the first ladies inaugural ball gowns, Stradivariuses, and Lincolns original top hat, just to name a few.

Saturday my mom, my aunt and I went on a hike in Prince William National Forrest for a couple of hours while the boys went fishing and then Frisbee golfing! That night the parents when to dinner and Christopher and I stayed home with the littleuns.

Sunday we hung around for the morning and then finally decided to go to Antietam. We walked the entire battle field. That was an incredible battle field with all of the rises and falls that so strategically hid the soldiers in plain sight. The national park guide that gave an explanation of the battle was the best guide and gave the best explanation of the battle than any other guide I’d ever heard. I completely understood and better sympathized with both sides. He made it objective, entertaining, and informative. It was a good day. That night we went to this old pub that had AWESOME fish and chips. That was the last day there.

I’ve never had a vacation where I’m so sad about leaving that I almost want to cry. I love my aunt and uncle so much. They just make me so happy. I hope to spend more time with them, sooner rather than later. Life is a wonderful thing. Know that, because it is incredibly true. And also know, life is complicated and confusing. Haha but you have to love it in the now because it can change in an instant.

And THAT, is my full story of my trip to D.C. haha i'd be quite surprised if you read it all, I suppose this was kind of a self indulgent post. but, the end!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Washington D.C. Chronicles (Part I)

I love this place.
In fact, I would love to live her forever and ever with no responsibilities except hiking with my Uncle or Aunt and finding a way to buy food for myself. It is beautifully green here, there are lovely rolling hills and the weather right now is sublime. I might miss the mountains though. Mountains are great. But, today my mother and my aunt and I went on a lovely 3.5 mile hike in Prince William Forrest. The leaves covered the ground and the buds of new life littered the branches and it was down right magical.

This trip really has been an amazing experience and I'm finding myself distraught at the thought of having to leave. What I'll miss the most is spending so much time with my family. I'm so grateful that families are eternal because it would stink to spend so much time with people, love them so much, and then never be able to see them again. So thank goodness for eternity!

I suppose I should go back and tell you about my adventures here. We left early early and got here around six. The next day we were up by 6:30 ( 4:30a.m. my time! yuck) and were out the door to visit the National Mall. First up was a
tour of the Capitol Building! Did you know that in the giant rotunda (the round thing in the middle) you can fit the ENTIRE statue of liberty with room to spare?! Well, you can. It's pretty amazing. The cool thing about that is though, it doesn't look like you can. The proportions are perfect so that it feels nice and homey. At least as homey as anything dealing with politics can be. From there we went to the Air and Space Museum and the Natural History Museum. Both are awesome and it was nice to go back and see them from a perspective that didn't involve my eyes being at the level of most people's navels. Also, they're completely FREE which is great in and of itself. We also so an albino squirrel! That was pretty neat.
After that my Uncle (Whom we will call The King) and my great Aunt met up with us and we went to dinner at an amazing Italian restaurant. It was incredible food. That's another thing I've loved about D.C., it has some wonderful restaurants.
That night we saw all of the monuments on the Mall. They're beautiful at night and have a sobering spirit about them. There is a reverence in the darkness that isn't there during the day.
Here are a few pictures,

WWII Memorial

This is the WWII memorial
My little brother and the King at the WWII mem
Korean War Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Vietnam Memorial (The envelopes at the bottom are full of letters written to fathers, bothers and sons that died in the war and even letters to the war itself)

It was a great night even though it was FREEZING! We made it home after midnight that night with tender feet and happy yet very drowsy faces.

I think that's all write for now because the pizza has just arrived!

Washington D.C. Part 1