Tuesday, August 25, 2009

All American Vacation

We took our first family vacation this summer.

It's not our first trip away, of course; we often travel to Ireland to visit Matty's family and Florida to visit mine, but until now our travels have always centered on family. This time we were on our own.

(Except for a few days in the middle when we visited my cousins in Asheville, NC.)

We went on a good ol' fashioned Road Trip, making our way from Philadelphia through Colonial Williamsburg, the aformentioned Asheville, and Washington D.C., with stops for real North Carolina BBQ, a great bowl of matzo ball soup, and some caverns along the way.

We came home with an $80 souvenir from Tennessee, a very dirty car, and a lot of wonderful memories.

Our trip did not start well. I forgot my shoes and we had to go back home to get them. Molly had a huge poop while we were crawling through traffic; by the time we stopped to change her it had leaked all over her carseat (and her). Ronan had to poop so suddenly and urgently that we had to pull over and have him poop in a plastic bag. This was all before we even hit Baltimore.

But things picked up. The kids fell asleep. And we arrived in Colonial Williamsburg tired but happy. We spent two days there, during which the kids dressed in period garb, trained to be a soldier, learned to work a farm like their forefathers, and marched in a fife and drum parade. They learned how to write with a quill and how to split a log. They watched Benedict Arnold ride into town and learned of his treason. They had fun.

From there we headed to Chapel Hill, about halfway between Williamsburg and Asheville. We ate some fabulous BBQ and pie and drove through the town, stopping to wander the stands of a local farmers' market. We were in Asheville after lunch, where we spent three days with two of my cousins and their children. They mined for gems, played on the playground, and went to a children's museum. They had fun.

We stopped in Natural Bridge, Virginia on the way to D.C. to break up the trip, and toured the deepest caverns on the East coast. The kids held up well in the car all day, "reading" comic books, listening to books on tape, watching movies, and coloring. But we were all happy to finally arrive in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside D.C. and where we stayed for two nights.

In D.C., despite the heat, the kids enjoyed the Air and Space Museum and American History Museum, though they were unimpressed by seeing the real live actual ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in the movie or the actual kitchen in which Julia Child cooked and whose refrigerator featured a magnet from our friend's former restaurant in Somerville, Massachusetts. But they had fun.

On the final day of our trip we went to Mount Vernon to explore George Washington's estate and history. It was probably the highlight of everyone's vacation, and not just because the boys got replica guns and we got to eat a very good meal in the colonial tavern. The boys got to dress up, Molly got to crawl around the grounds released from the confines of her stroller, and Matty and I got a chance to walk through history, something we both, though avid fans, don't get to do very much.

After a short three hour jaunt back to Philadelphia, we were all happy to be home, and back to playing with cousins and sisters and brothers-in-law. And Matty, who was opposed to the trip from the start, is already planning our next road trip to Florida. Or maybe Canada. Who knows? Maybe we'll even go somewhere we don't have any family...

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