Yes some of these pictures are repeats! :P
The reflecting pool was also frozen over!
Ya that is my monkey hanging from the gates of the White House! hmmm :)
We loved those squirrels in them there trees!! This one even had a nut!!
Ben and the girls walking on the FROZEN OVER Mississippi River!
*pictures are first again cause once again silly blogspot. The pictures have no real order to them! :)
I know it has been forever but it is time for me to finish up our time in DC.
I left off when Lyse was throwing a fit and I was loosing it in Washington DC on the Sunday.
Once we got back to the hotel room after going to the top of the Washington Monument...we were exhausted, wet and COLD! I wanted to sleep forever...I was completely spent (emotionally and physically).
As we got the girls in the shower to clean up and warm up, I got the feeling - find a church and find it closer by. I decided to follow that prompting. I ended up finding a church just about 5 minutes away and it started in about an hour. We were going to just "not go" but both Ben and I felt like this could be "it" so we rushed and got out the door and towards church.
It was still cold and rainy outside and it took us a few minutes to find the church. When we got inside, Church had already started so we went to the overflow and found a seat. There were a lot of talks about how life takes you where you don't expect, you don't find what you were looking for but if you pay close enough attention, you can find what the Lord wants you to and you WILL find happiness in that.
We ran into some people Ben knew from his parents home ward. We THOUGHT it was the answer to our prayers on where to stay, but that didn't pan out. We also THOUGHT that maybe his job with the govt. was the answer to what Ben needed to search for but that wasn't it either (I know that now looking back but at the time it gave me a LOT of hope).
After Sacrament meeting, we went back to the hotel and CRASHED. We all slept for 5 hours!!! When we woke up, it felt great to be good and rested. It had been a while since I had slept that good (probably a couple weeks).
Sunday night was quiet but come Monday morning, I decided to take the girls "out on the town" while Ben did some job hunting. It was Martin Luther King observation day so not a lot of businesses were open, but the internets were (for some reason we got free wi-fi this day)!
Katy, Lyse and I headed to the American History Museum. It was fun and a bit nerve wracking for me to walk out the door in a foreign city with my girls and take the Metro downtown. It was also a lot of fun! We walked around and saw a TON of amazing things. Because it was National Black History Month AND Martin Luther King Day, there were a lot of exhibits that aren't normally there (like the "sit - in" demonstration in the lobby area and the entire Abraham Lincoln Exhibit). It was amazing to walk through the museum and show the girls the history of this great nation.
After we explored the museum for hours, we headed outside to meet Ben. That night we kept low key and Ben and I tried to figure out WHERE we were going to go the next morning (our hotel stay at the Hyatt was up). I was sick inside about a room. We went to a cafe that had internet. We entered in a price and the next thing we knew we had a NICE hotel just down the street. We didn't get to pick if we had a pool or not but I can testify that my Heavenly Father KNEW my promise to my girls - we got the Marriott and it had a pool!
The rest of Monday night we spent as a family. We walked around Downtown DC. The girls LOVED when we walked to the White House and we talked to them about how the President of the United States lived in that house. It was nice to just enjoyed some family time. It was a HUGE relief to know we were headed to another nice hotel with a swimming pool.
Tuesday morning was spent packing. We got the car packed up and checked out of our room. Since we had already paid for parking, we left the car in the slot and headed into DC. Honestly I don't recall all that we did on Tuesday but I think we found the zoo but it was too late to go in.
I should have typed this earlier because honestly, I have forgotten most of Tuesday and Wednesday. I do know that Tuesday night after getting checked into our room we headed to the pool. I know one day we spent the day looking for a Target or Wal-mart. It took us WAY into Virginia (ya the navigation system wasn't the greatest) and took us about 3 1/2 hours!
As for swimming we did a lot of that on Tuesday and Wednesday. Lyse was a bit sad she couldn't go in the hot tub (life guard was on duty so we had to obey the rules). On Wednesday we were in the pool area for about 30 minutes with no life guard and I did let her go in the pool that time, but that was the only time she got to be in there. The swimming pool was warmed...just not hot :)
I know that we once again got free wi-fi when we weren't supposed to on Wednesday. I left with the kids for a while and let Ben search for jobs. He searched for jobs for HOURS on Tuesday, Wednesday and even Thursday but Wednesday it was about 8 hours.
I remember one point in which I lost it. I was so confused on what my family was supposed to do. Ben and I pulled over (we were in the Arlington area...it was Wednesday). We sat and talked for a LONG time about what we should do, when I should head home, how we would know when it was time. It was a long talk with lots of tears and my not knowing or understanding. The funny thing is - looking back it was EASY to see when the Lord told us to go home...it was a very definite - GO HOME! Amazing how the Lord lets us know when we need to know. I didn't need to sit and stress it. I should have just enjoyed the time!
Wednesday was also the day we went to Costco, drove around the Pentagon and went to Arlington National Cemetery.
It was absolutely AMAZING letting my girls witness and hopefully feel the pride in being the American Citizen. I hope they understand what lives were sacrificed for them to feel and have the freedoms they do!
It was COLD outside but watching the changing of the guard was amazing and memorable - as it always has been for me.
Thursday we had to check out of our hotel at the Marriott. I had met a friend on line and she had agreed to let us stay at her place. Once again - a blessing from our father in heaven. Rachel Tripp Rodriguez was a HUGE blessing to my little family. While her and Junior (her husband) were so gracious and I am so grateful for them going out of their way to help my family.
Thursday during the day after checking out of our hotel we went to the Nations Capital. It was amazing touring that building. They had built a HUGE visitors center since the last time we were in DC. It was cool to walk around and see where our founding fathers had made laws we still live and abide by. Following the Capitol, we decided the kids needed some time so we went to the National Zoo! HOW FUN! We all enjoyed walking the paths and looking at the animals. The Zoo is in a fun area as well...it is just plain gorgeous up there!
Katy and Lyse really enjoyed running around. It was a good "kids" day especially following the museums and cemetery and all the driving we had done over the last week.
Thursday night as we headed towards Rachel's home, we had the Presidential Motorcade drive past us!! It isn't every day you can say that. I don't know if the President or any of his family members were the actually passengers but it was still cool!
Thursday night we went to bed figuring we would figure everything out about our lives in the morning. Little did I know, we would! Friday morning we got up and tried to stay really quiet so we didn't bother Rachel and Junior. We hung around the house for a while and visited for a couple hours. At about 11:00 we headed into DC. As we pulled off their street BOTH Ben and I felt an over powering - it is time to go home!!!
We both fought it! We decided to hit the Archives building as well as the Museum of Natural History (who DOESN'T want to see the Dinosaur Museum?!?). The Pro-Life march was going on outside so it was a bit crazy. While I completely agree with pro-life - there were a bunch of psychos in the bunch and it was sad to see how they left behind so much debris and garbage in their wake. Yes they were giving out fliers for a good cause - no they didn't need to throw those as well as water bottles, candy wrappers and other garbage on the ground :(
The girls LOVED the museum and the Hope Diamond had Lyse mesmerized (her future husband beware - that kid loves her diamonds!!!)
As the day progressed Ben and I KNEW we needed to leave DC, our time was up. We got in the car and we drove down and got the last minute souveniers from the street vendors (the green sweater for Katy, the pink and brown sweater for Lyse (not sure where that went) and the gray sweater for Ben). We then drove to Rachel's to explain to her what was going on. It was starting to get late but we needed to get on the road. Rachel and Junior were GREAT about understanding. We loaded up in just a few minutes (I had tried to keep everything localized and in bags while there anyway). Before we headed out of town, we drove around the monuments one last time and got on the freeway.
We made a HUGE mistake by NOT listening to the Spirit the first time. First of all - it put us leaving DC, on Friday during rush hour. We spent a LOT of time sitting, barely moving. At one point there was a HUGE accident so we pulled off the freeway so we could find somewhere to eat. It was a HUGE surprise when we found a "Buffalo Wild Wings" in the middle of nowhere - especially when we had been told there were none of that franchise close around...it was BRAND NEW!
After getting our stomachs filled up on wings, we got on the road. We drove until we got to Ohio and then we stopped for the night. It was crazy cause in that night we drove from Washington D.C., through part of Virginia and Maryland, then Pennsylvania, West Virginia and then arrived in Ohio where we slept for the night! We pulled in WAY late to a motel. I don't remember much about it other than it was in Ohio.
We got up the next morning and hit the road again. I decided that since we were taking I-70 back home instead of I-80 (avoiding toll roads), we were going to be closer to Nauvoo. So Saturday morning when we headed out, we headed home and to Nauvoo at the same time. Unfortunately, we arrived in Carthage about 20 minutes too late to do a tour of the home, but we (well at least Katy and I) got out and walked around the jail. We talked to the girls a little about the jail and explained why it was so important.
We then got back in the car and drove the hilly roads towards Nauvoo. I LOVE the Nauvoo area. It is GORGEOUS!!! When we got to Nauvoo, it was about 6:40 but the town was dead. Not even the Nauvoo Family Hotel was open. We drove around for a bit but decided we HAD to get a room so we headed towards Keokuk, IA to get a room.
We got an amazing little room for a GREAT price. It was a Fairfield Inn by Marriott and it had a great indoor pool. Our room was nice and close to the pool which was even greater. We spent the rest of the night in the pool. Lyse was in heaven cause this pool didn't stop her from going in the hot tub!! To this day she still talks about how that one place didn't let her go to the hot tub! Such a funny girl.
We got a good nights sleep and the next morning an AMAZING breakfast was provided. The Fairfield Inn had the best continental breakfast I have EVER had!!! It had anything and everything you could ever want!!! We let the girls swim a bit more than we packed up and headed back to Nauvoo to enjoy some of the things there before heading home to UT.
One thing that we did while in the Nauvoo area - Ben and the girls walked on the frozen Mississippi River - it was right next to the bank but still :)
Nauvoo - Nauvoo...there isn't much to say other than it is just plain AMAZING. The girls LOVED the black smith. The fire and getting a "prairie diamond" was a highlight. The Family Art Center was amazing..getting to make your own twine, taste bread, see how candles are made and how they would use a loom. Going to the Browning home and hearing the story of John Browning was amazing - Ben of course loved that! What an amazing man Browning was!!! Over and over again on this trip I was amazed at the missionaries serving.
The missionaries in the Browning home talked to us. Ben felt inspired to explain our situation and instantly the one man started to talk to us about how his son had been affected, etc. He then counseled us to stay strong and then told us, "The Lord will look out for you. Heavenly Father loves you and is aware of where you are." Over and over again in Nauvoo - even when we didn't tell the missionaries, they would tell us, "I don't know why but I feel inspired to tell you, Heavenly Father is aware of you and what you are going through." We were told that at the Black Smith, in the Browning Home, at the Family Art Center and at the Brick making house. Heavenly Father was and IS aware of us and our situation!!
It was sooo hard to say good-bye to our SHORT day in Nauvoo but we KNEW we needed to head out after we got our brick. We got on the road and then we realized WHY the Lord had prompted us to leave earlier on Friday.
If we had left when prompted - we would have missed the rush hour traffic and made it farther on Friday. On Saturday we would have made it to Carthage and Nauvoo early enough to enjoy everything at both places on Saturday. On Sunday we would have been able to get on the road early and we would have missed the HORRIBLE BLIZZARD!
Yes, we ran into a horrible blizzard. No it was not snowing a ton but the snow falling and the snow being blown at us across the plains made it IMPOSSIBLE to see. We prayed and drove, drove and prayed. Each prayer we prayed we would ask that we could drive as far as was humanly safe and then be able to find a place to sleep for the night. There came a point that both Ben and I KNEW we had to get off the road - it was no longer safe. We were inspired and our prayers were answered to keep us safe. We found a cheap, family ran motel that was $35. It was NOT nice but it was a safe, warm place to sleep for the night.
The next morning we got up early and headed on the road. We told the girls we would get food at the first stop - BIG mistake!!! As we were driving down the freeway, we say car after car either in a ditch turned over or in the median where it had skidded off the road in the night. I was soooo grateful to a Father in Heaven that truly protected us and our family the night before!!!
The snow was still falling and we reach a point in which traffic stopped. We didn't know why or what was going on (later we found out it was a Semi-truck accident) but we were stuck on I-80 (we had now gotten out of the toll area of I-80 so we had went up from I-70 to I-80). The traffic went NO where for over an hour and a half! We were all starving. We pulled what little food we had left in the car out and started to devour it.
Once traffic started to move and we got through that part of Nebraska, things got better. The weather cleared up, we found a place to eat and overall it was just better. The biggest problem was the day was already in the afternoon! We got back on the road and drove and drove. We got home at about 1:30 am.
We were grateful to be home but sad over Ben not having found a job. Looking back I KNOW the trip was not a trip to find a job - it was a trip for us to find gratitude, to learn to listen to the Spirit and to hear promptings in our lives. Our trip to Washington D.C. was a Spiritual Journey!