One Last Museum and Home

I’m writing today from the comfort of my own home. I didn’t realize how much I missed my own pillow, bed and even my spot on the couch. Oh, by the way, the DVR still is the most amazing invention EVER. I missed so much television while I was gone, and now I can sit down and catch up. I think it might take me three days.

OK, back to the vacation. Yesterday was our last day in Washington, DC. We flew home via Washington’s Dulles airport, and that meant a trip out to the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. I have never seen so many airplanes in one place before. There were airplanes hanging from the ceiling and on the floor. There were large ones like the Concorde on the floor of the hangar with smaller planes underneath the wings.

Planes, planes and more planes.

The Air France Concorde with a FedEx plane underneath it. And another in the foreground.

We even had the opportunity to view the Space Shuttle Enterprise. All I can say is that it is HUGE! It seems small when you see it on TV, but it’s ginormous. It was definitely the highlight of my visit to the museum.

Space Shuttle Enterprise with some satellites above it.

Another angle on the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

We had a wonderful cross-country road trip extravaganza vacation. It was like nothing either of us has ever done before. And we can’t believe that we covered so much ground and saw so many things. We had the amazing opportunity to see the following:

  • Seattle, WA
  • Missoula, MT
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Jackson, WY
  • Cody, WY
  • Rapid City, SD
  • Mount Rushmore
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Washington, DC

Family and Friends

The perfect end to our 13 day road trip extravaganza was a visit with David’s Aunt and Uncle and my bestest friend Crystal.

We started the day of sight seeing with a tour of the Capital Building. Did you know that each state has two statues inside the Capital Building? California has a statue of Ronald Reagan and Junipero Serra. Oh and in the old House of Representatives chambers, there is a “whisper” spot. John Quincy Adams had the desk in the whisper spot. From this place, he could hear, clear as a bell, the conversations taking place across the hall.

The Capital Building from the front.

A plaque marking the spot where John Quincy Adam's desk stood.

Our last tourist activity today was to walk by The White House. It’s hard to have a trip to Washington, DC without walking by The White House. Unfortunately, we didn’t have an appointment or invitation to enter the building. This is as close as we could get.

The White House through the gate that surrounds it.

The day ended with a fantastic Trinidadian meal at a restaurant chosen by Crystal. If you ever get the chance, the Brown Stew Chicken from the Islander Carribean Restaurant and Lounge. Tomorrow we head home via the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

Monuments and Memorials

Today, we drove from Cleveland, OH to Washington, DC. We arrived at the National Mall area about 3:30 p.m. with just enough daylight left to see the new Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial and walk all the way around the Tidal Basin. Here’s the list of monuments and memorials we saw today:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
  • Korean War Memorial
  • Lincoln Monument
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • World War II Memorial
  • Washington Monument
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial
  • Theodore Delano Roosevelt Memorial

The newest of the memorials on the National Mall (MLK, Jr.) was certainly a sight to see. However, I’m just not sure it has the right feel to it. It’s very stark and unfeeling for such a passionate man. My favorite remains the Theodore Delano Roosevelt Memorial. None of the other monuments and memorials have the same immersive yet comfortable experience as the Roosevelt walk.

While wandering around the Tidal Basin, I was able to capture some amazing photos using my BlackBerry Tour. It does pretty well for a phone camera.

A view of the Jefferson Monument from across the Tidal Basin.

Washington Monument from across the TIdal Basin.

One of my favorite images of the Roosevelt Memorial.

More from the other memorials on Flickr. Tomorrow, more from Washington DC. On the tentative list: Library of Congress, Supreme Court, the Capital Building and one of the National Galleries.

Cleveland “Rocks”

It was with a heavy heart that we left Chicago this morning. We were treated to some amazing sights during the two days we spent there. But, when we got to Cleveland, we were treated to a comfortable downtown area and a wonderful view of it from the Pier W restaurant across Lake Erie.

Unfortunately, the restaurant was too nice to be snapping photos from the table, so here’s a link to a photo search for “Cleveland Downtown” on Google. We had a fantastic bottle of wine with dinner, that I am finishing while I write.

On a side note, I met David’s, Aunt Inecita. He hadn’t seen her since law school, when she welcomed him into her home for every major holiday. It was his home away from home.

Tomorrow we drive to Washington, DC, where I’ll have so many photos you’ll have to scroll through Flickr to see them all.

An Artistic Day

The Art Institute of Chicago is a truly wondrous experience. Every time you turn around a corner a new wonder from the art world accosts the senses. We saw everything from Monet’s famous Water Lilies to Marc Chagall’s America Windows. Did you know that the Art Institute of Chicago installed the trading room of the Chicago Stock Exchange INSIDE the museum?

Water Lilies - Claude Monet


The third of Marc Chagall's America Windows.


A little of Pablo Picasso's cubism.

After the museum, we walked in the rain to the Hancock Building and took the ride to the top to see the city. And, we ended the day with a beer at Murphy’s Bleachers across from Wrigley Field.

A view from the Hancock Building Sky Walk.

Wrigley Field - home of the Chicago Cubs.

There really aren’t words for how beautiful today was. Tomorrow, we drive to Cleveland.

I Heart Chicago!

Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex. I think I captured the movie logo, no?

We finally made it to Chicago this afternoon. The drive from Des Moines, IA proved to be a fairly quick one in comparison to yesterday. Our first stop was a Chicago Style hot dog in Museum Park just outside of the Field Museum. Then, we were treated to the exhibits of the museum.

We saw “Sue,” the world’s most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. More than 90 percent of this skeleton is real dinosaur bones. She totally reminds me of the Jurassic Park logo from the movies.

Also at the Field Museum are the Tsavo Lions. These ferocious creatures ravaged the workers of the African train system by killing more than 140 workers before they met their own demise. To get to the exhibit, we had to walk through the Asia Mammals exhibit. What a creepy experience! The hall is dark except for the light coming from the exhibits, and all the animals are arranged so that they stare out at you. When we finished at the Field Museum we went for a LONG walk. Here’s the view from the museum.

You can see Lake Michigan out beyond the trees.

It was a glorious day for a walk, and walk we did. I think about 3 miles all said and done. We walked up Lake Shore through Grant Park to see the Buckingham Fountain. Many of you will recognize it from the opening credits of “Married with Children.” In the 15 minutes or so we were there, I counted four wedding parties and one quinceañera taking photos.

David at the Buckingham Fountain.

Because it was such a wonderful day to be outside, we continued walking North and eventually came to Millennium Park. Here, we saw an amazing fountain that looks like monoliths called the Crown Fountain. And, the most fun piece of art in the park is the Cloud Gate. It’s so shiny that everything is reflected in it. My favorite photo of the day:

It's me reflected in the Cloud Gate.

Tomorrow, we’re staying in Chicago and will do some more exploring of the city. Stay tuned!

Silly Tourist Stop

Today brought a long drive from Rapid City, SD to Des Moines, IA. We were on the road pretty much all day. And thank you to David who drove the whole 660 miles!

Our first stop of the day was at Wall Drug. A few friends of ours told us that we would HAVE to stop by the time it came along. And boy were they right! We left Rapid City, SD heading east and immediately started seeing signs for Wall Drug. Every gimmick you can think of:

  • Free Ice Water – Wall Drug
  • 5¢ Coffee – Wall Drug
  • Wall Drug Rocks

The signs were colorful and the humor was inviting. So, of course, we had to stop. Wall drug is two things 1) the largest drug store you’ve ever seen and 2) the biggest tourist trap EVER.

Yep, we went to Wall Drug.

Most of the day, weather wise, was gloomy. Here’s my favorite photo of the sky while we were driving.

Cloudy skies in South Dakota.

Tomorrow, Chicago.

Dynamite Presidents

Today was another long day of driving that had a quick detour to Devils Tower for David and ended in Rapid City, South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore.

The highlight of David’s day, this odd shaped rock that jets out of the ground in the middle of nowhere, Devil’s Tower.

Devil's Tower - Oddest shaped rock I've ever seen.

And, we ended the day with the spectacular views of Mount Rushmore. Did you know that the faces were almost entirely – 90 percent – carved using dynamite? There’s a great trail that goes around the amphitheater at the park, giving unique views of the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Here’s my favorite of the photos. More on Flickr.

As up close and personal as you can get to the President's on Mount Rushmore.

Tomorrow, we’ll be driving toward Chicago. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s fun.

Old Faithful Rocks

The Grand Tetons viewed from Jenny Lake.

It was a long day today, so much driving. yesterday’s word of the day “ginormous” applies again today. I think we drove approximately 100 miles, and we never left Yellowstone.

The first highlight of my day (there were four) was driving through Grand Teton National Park. We stopped just inside the park at Jenny Lake, named for the Native Indian wife of one of the original explorers of the Grand Tetons. It was a brisk day on the Lake, but we were treated to a gorgeous view of the Grand Tetons with some mist around each peak.

The second highlight of my day was watching Old Faithful erupt for the second time in two days. The video is up on my YouTube Channel and shared below. I have not yet mastered the editing software that came with my camera. Expect something better when I get home from this amazing trip.

The third highlight of my day was the Fountain Paint Pot. I have some fascination with the “P” sound right now. I will randomly yellow out “paint pot” while we’re driving, just because it’s fun to say.

Fountain Paint Pot in Lower Geyser Basin Yellowstone. It gurgles like boiling paint might do.

And finally, the last highlight of my day was seeing a heard of Bison on the way to the East Entrance of Yellowstone. They were hanging out in a meadow near the Yellowstone River. Up until this point we had only seen Bison hanging out in ones and twos, but not a heard. This was also the absolute highlight of David’s day. He insisted this photo be included today.

Bison in a meadow Fishing Bridge.

Next stop Mount Rushmore in Keystone near Rapid City, South Dakota.

Yellowstone is Beautiful

We made it to the North Gate to Yellowstone.

The words of the day were “beautiful” and “ginormous.” Everything we saw today was something for the eye to feast on. So many wonderful scenes to see, we didn’t quite know where to look. All of the photos are up on Flickr. There also are a few geyser videos up on YouTube. The highlight of the day was seeing Old Faithful around 7 p.m. tonight. It really is an amazing sight.

Here’s an embedded video of one of the Artists Paint Pots for your enjoyment.