Category Archives: US Holidays

Heading Home

Are you sick of all of these holiday posts?

I’ve been working on these posts for ages.

I’m itching to write about anything other than our holiday.

Well this is the very last holiday post.

Doing a happy dance.


After a cream cheese bagel for breakfast in Washington,

(the thought of it still churns in my stomach…ick!),

we piled all of our luggage and accumulated stuff

into our rental van and headed north to New York,

where we would fly out that night.

But first, we couldn’t leave the east coast of the country

until we saw the Atlantic Ocean.

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So for lunch, we stopped at Jersey Shores,

for the best chips we’ve ever had,

and a quick peek at the ocean.

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Well, it looked an awful like the Pacific Ocean to me,

but what do I know.

With time ticking down, and a plane that wouldn’t wait for us,

we jumped back into the van

and hurried on to our destination.

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Two plane trips and nearly a whole day later,

we arrived home.

To the people in Australian Customs,

you were a breath of fresh air.

Sorry to say, but most of the security folk we experienced in the US

were scary and unfriendly.

Coming home, we immediately noticed the pleasant difference in manner.

It was so nice to be home.

Except for the weather!

Going from minus freezing to plus plus Aussie summer temperatures

was really uncomfortable.

And why do air conditioners only go as low as 17 degrees Celsius.

Our internal temperature gauge said that that was much too hot!




Lincoln Walking Tour

After our Memorial Walking Tour

we jumped into a taxi,

(Yes, we skipped the walking and paid for a taxi.

Best money we spent all day!)

and headed to the meeting spot for our next walking tour.

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Lucky for Hubby and Ethan,

it was right across the road from the White House,

the thing they were most upset about missing

on the day Ethan was sick.

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With time up our sleeve,

(thanks to that cab ride),

we wandered over to check it out

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and takes some more photos.

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We actually had a lot of time to kill,

which was lovely

as our feet were in a pitiful state.

While we waited we saw our first black squirrels.

We also enjoyed watching and listening to this little squirrel fellow

(you have to listen carefully, he was competing with buskers.

See how his tail jolts to the beat).

The tour we were waiting for was the Lincoln Assassination Walking Tour.

It was excellent.

We walked around the city,

stopping in key locations,

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as our guide retold the story of the night that Lincoln was assassinated.

This was the home of Major Henry Rathbone,

who was one of Lincoln’s guests that infamous night.

He witnessed the murder and later went mad.

He killed his own wife, tried to kill his children and was sent to an asylum.

Oh yes, the night was full of unpleasant, eery stories.

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Our guide did an excellent job of retelling the stories

and setting the mood.

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I particularly enjoyed the night time scenes

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as we wandered the streets of Washington.

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Check out this gorgeous building.

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It’s the Old Post Office.

It looks nothing like our dingy old Australian Post buildings.

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Of course, the final destination on our walking tour was Ford’s Theatre.

Nope, not the modern looking place that says, “Ford’s Theatre”.

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The no-named building to the right is Ford’s Theatre.

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This is where Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth.

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The injured Lincoln was taken from the theatre

to the Peterson Boarding House

across the road.

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Here he later died

…ending our tour.

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Did you know that there were actually other assassins

targeting other key people for assassination that same night?

It’s a fascinating story.

The walking tour was a great way to spend our last evening in Washington.



Washington’s Memorials

In the afternoon on our final day in Washington,

we took a walking tour of the monuments and memorials.

While not either of those,

we stopped first to see the south view of the White House.

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Did you know that there isn’t a back and a front to the White House

Just a north and south side.

(Oh and yes, that’s a sharp shooter on the roof.

He was probably watching me take my photo.)

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After looking at the Washington Monument again,

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we walked over to the World War Two Memorial.

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In the warmer months, there is a fountain in the middle of this memorial,

which would make it quite breathtaking.

Clearly, winter isn’t the month to visit Washington,

if you there are there for the spectacular water views.

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Each side of the Memorial

is dedicated to a different region of the war.

This side is dedicated to the Pacific region

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and this side is for the Atlantic region.

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Inside each arch or victory pavilion, there is a bronze sculpture

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depicting four eagles holding a victory wreath.

The eagles obviously represent America.

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Flanking the victory pavilions,

are 56 columns,

one for each of the US states and territories.

One is named on each column.

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Alternating on each of these columns,

are oak and wheat wreaths.

These represent the country’s industrial and agricultural strength,

and highlight that not only were people sent to war

but that those at home were involved in sending much needed resources.

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There are also 4 048 gold stars,

each representing 100 deaths,

which means that more than 400 000 Americans lost their lives in World War 2.

Apparently, families often displayed, in their window,

a white flag with a blue star on it

when their sons went off to fight.

If their son died, they would replace the blue star with a gold star.

Hence the gold stars on the wall.

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Okay, maybe I’m showing my ignorance here,

but I had never heard of the Kilroy drawings.

Have you?

Anyway, the Word War 2 Memorial in Washington has two of them,

tucked away in out of the way places.

Apparently they were put on all sort of things during the Second World War.

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After the World War 2 Memorial,

we visited the Vietnam War Memorial.

It’s a great long wall

etched with all the names of the dead.

More than 58 000 US soldiers lost their life in that war

(compared to Australia’s 500, which is a lot less than I expected).

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The next memorial we visited was the Korean War Memorial.

If you can have a ‘favourite’ war memorial,

this would be mine.

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In a juniper field, in front of a wall,

‘walk’ 19 (stainless steel) soldiers on patrol in Korea,

which based on those rain ponchos must have been a rather wet and muddy place

to fight a war.

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The granite strips in the field represent the rice paddies they trudged through.

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Don’t they look real.

I even think they look tired.

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It’s so life-like that you can almost tell the story of what is happening.

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The mural wall behind the statues contains etched photos.

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A stone’s throw from the Korean Memorial,

(thankfully…as I don’t know if we could have walked much further)

was the Lincoln Memorial.

It was the busiest place out of all of the places we visited in Washington.

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Before walking up the stairs,

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you simply have to turn around and check out the view.

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Admittedly, it would have been much prettier

with some water in that empty pool.

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Part way up the stairs,

everyone stops to take a photo of the spot

where Martin Luther King stood

to deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Luckily we’d studied Civil Rights and Martin Luther King last year

so our boys understood the significance of that spot.

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Then we entered the room where Abraham Lincoln sat

looking out over Washington.

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The room was actually packed full of people

but somehow I got this photo to look like we were the only people there.

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In the alcove to the left of Lincoln is the Gettysburg Address,

which is considered to be one of the most famous speeches in US history.

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And to the right of the statue

is Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

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Of course, being teachers, we had to hunt for the infamous typo in the carving.

Can you spot it?

It’s been corrected but you can still see where they made the mistake

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Leaving old Abe,

(Tom’s still my favourite),

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we headed back down the stairs,

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stopping once more to check out the view.

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We didn’t stop for long though as we had to get back across town

for our Lincoln Assassination Walking Tour.



The Air and Space Museum

After visiting the Thomas Jefferson Memorial,

we trekked back to the museums

and visited the Air and Space Museum.

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Okay, to be honest, we selected it because we knew they had food,

and we were starving.

Check out the size of their MacDonalds.

Yes, it’s inside the museum!

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Rest assured,

we found plenty of other things to enjoy in the museum.

Like, the ACTUAL command module

from the Apollo 11 mission

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that plummeted back to earth

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after the first moon walk.

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Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were in this thing.

Nope, not a replica.

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The Air and Space Museum was massive.

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There was so much to see and do.

We didn’t even see half of this place.

Instead we selected those things that each of us really wanted to see.

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At the top of all of our lists was ‘space memorabilia’.

This is Buzz Aldrin’s space suit!

Neil’s was off display when we visited.

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Yep, the actual ones they wore on the moon.

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We particularly enjoyed looking at all the things

they took to space with them.

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Yep, on their packing list was chocolate.

M&Ms no less.

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Oh and this torturous looking device is called a Urine Transfer Tube.


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We also visited the Wright Brothers’ exhibition.

Did you know that they owned a bicycle shop

before they made a flying machine?

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This is the actual plane that the brothers’ built and used

when they were given the credit for having the first successful plane flight.

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There is some contention over whether the Wright Brothers were actually the first

but the Smithsonian is not permitted by contract to mention those,

well not if they want to keep the Wright Flyer.

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Just as we were leaving the Air and Space Museum,

we chanced to look up

and saw Charles Lindbergh’s ‘Spirit of St Louis’,

the first plane to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean.

Yes, it’s the original plane.

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Leaving the museum,

we headed out onto the Mall,

and towards the Washington Monument.

We briefly stopped in at the National Museum of American History

so that Liam and Ethan could see the Fort McHenry flag

that Brayden and I had seen the day before.

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Then we headed off to find the meeting place

for our afternoon Memorial Tour.

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