Tag Archives: trips

family vacation


This is sort of a random collection of photos, but I have an explanation that seems tedious to explain. The short version is that I currently don’t have a working cord for my phone – it was severed in transit to the beach. I need to replace my old phone, and I never seem to get around to figuring out what to buy next. And so I’ve stalled on buying new parts for an old phone. I charge it in my car, and stay off it to preserve the battery. It’s a quirky thing, but so am I. So while I waffle on decisions that cost a lot of money, I have vacation photos on my phone that are just sitting there. I realize there are alternative ways to access them – but again, tedious and lame, I’ll own in.

So here is the random collection of photos from my nice camera. I didn’t use it a whole lot during the week, but I like the photos that are on it.

My parents were gracious enough to invite our family and my sister’s family to join them this year. We’ve done this a few other times, and it’s always a lot of fun. There’s a different dynamic than when just the four of us go, but the bigger group trips are both fun and relaxing. In fact, this might have been one of the most relaxing vacations we’ve had in awhile.

We kept everything really simple. Planned meals and grocery runs ahead of time, and limited the number of times we ate out. We’ve discovered that we really like to maximize our outdoor time, and getting cleaned up for dinner cuts into that quite a bit. My sister’s family spends a lot of time at the pool each summer, and my parents hit the beach several times a year. But these seven days are what we’ve got, and we try to get the most out of them.

I kept up my ritual of waking just before sunrise and going for a run each morning. With the shift to Eastern Standard Time, that means I’m waking up at what feels like 4:45am each morning. But it’s worth it. I just know that by nine each night I’m ready for bed! I set a goal to run the equivalent of a full marathon over the course of the week and I broke that. I averaged a 4.5 mile loop each day for six days, and walked the same loop on the last morning with M. I took at least two to three other beach walks a day, and would have taken up residence on the paddleboard if I could have. It was excellent paddleboarding weather – smooth seas and not a lot of chop. It was a pretty active week, but I loved it. It was just what we all needed.

We managed to remain sunburn-free by tearing through an extraordinary amount of SPF 50 each day. There was some pool swimming and splashing, but mostly a whole lot of beach time. M and I had a porch off our bedroom that faced the ocean. We sat out there often, and could easily see where the rest of the family was. We could hear voices below or across the yard, or see cousins walking down or back across the walkway over the dunes. I loved having the shutters open – even when we walked into the condo at the opposite end, we could see the ocean at the other end of the hallway. I miss that view. Until next time…

eight year olds

Seems like a good time, midway through our week in the nation’s capitol, to point out F’s very favorite part of our trip: the two-story, 24-hour CVS on the corner by our hotel. #aislesofpossibilities

washington d.c. – day four (we’ve got a spy on the inside*)

*Hercules Mulligan. Still on the Hamilton kick…

Anyway, I’ve gotten a little behind on posts, but I’m still feeling optimistic about reinstating the habit. It’s been a really busy month, but it’s nice to have a little reminder each day to pause for a few and write something down. The flip side of that is that the actual photo editing and organizing and uploading takes so much longer. That’s what is holding me up on the rest of the DC posts – I really took a ton of photos from midweek on.

So I thought I’d do a quick start to our fourth day, and then finish that day up in another post. It started with a really exciting moment very early in the morning – on the third day of trying, I finally managed to get same day tickets to the NMAAHC. If you can plan a trip 3-6 months in advance, I HIGHLY recommend doing that, and booking tickets with an early entrance time. But, if you’re like us and don’t plan your trips until 6-8 weeks before, then this is acceptable backup plan.

Tips: Same day tickets are made available at 6:30am. Set your alarm and have your computer ready. Hit refresh every other second starting at 6:30. The options don’t show up right away. It was typically around 6:34. So I just sat quietly in the hotel room while everyone else slept and tapped the refresh button for several minutes on end. Good times.

The screen will suddenly change which will freak you out the first day. You will lose your cool and as a result, will also lose all chances to snag passes because they are gone in like 45 seconds. So try again the next day, and be chill about it.

On the second day the screen will list all the entry times – from 8:30 to 4:30 in 30 minute slots. A few of the late morning or afternoon slots will have a select button. Do not do what I did and contemplate the best time slot for your itinerary. Punch one, quickly. Even better, punch the second one down because everyone else is punching the first one. You get a drop down menu that has you select your number. Choose quickly. On the second day, between me selecting the time slot button and three seconds later, pulling down the menu for four tickets, the tickets were all gone. I returned to the time slot page, and everything else was gone as well. So I was discouraged, but also very determined to be as quick as possible on day three.

It worked. On the third day I grabbed a time slot, selected “four”, and they were mine. I took photos of the computer screen on my phone. I took screen shots. I made a pdf of the main screen and all of the e-tickets. I emailed them to myself and my husband. I saved the images in my photos. I attempted to print them out in the hotel lobby, to no avail. But we got in with the tickets on my phone. More on that visit in the next post.

With tickets for the afternoon secured, we headed over to the Eastern Market for their famous blueberry buckwheat pancakes.

It was a really beautiful morning, and the walk from the Metro station to the market was really pleasant. All the buildings in the area had really interesting ornamental brickwork. The market was pretty quiet after the morning rush, and we ordered pancakes and found a seat. I knocked over a full cup of hot coffee, which was really awesome, but the pancakes came and were delicious.

After breakfast, we headed over to the International Spy Museum. I took a few photos inside, but not many. This wasn’t our favorite part of the trip. Part of it might have been the admission fee – we were so used to being able to move in and out of free museums all week, planning specific things that we wanted to see in each one, and not feeling guilty about having to stay long enough to justify the admission price. But the Spy Museum is sort of pricey, and (at least on the day we visited) was not adequately cooled or ventilated. It was stifling inside, and crowded. Shuffling through a museum like cattle while carrying all of our bags and camera, etc. plus stripping off layer after layer of clothing wasn’t a lot of fun. There were some cool things to see in there, and I actually learned quite a bit as we went along. But the flow of the museum felt limiting and I don’t think any of us were too terribly disappointed to leave.

The gift shop was pretty clever, but we didn’t feel like buying much after what we paid to get in. F’s hat was cute, but we also thought it looked too much like a MAGA hat, so we said no to that purchase.

The gnome was really tempting though…

And… a funny side story for you. The morning we were in line for the National Portrait Gallery, the couple behind us struck up a conversation with us. They were from Virginia, and were meeting friends to see the Obama portraits. They spend a lot of time in DC proper, and had so many great recommendations for us that weren’t the typical tourist go-to’s. They recommended going to the National Building Museum, and M and I kind of laughed and said that lots of people had mentioned it but there was a part of us (as architects) that wondered if we really needed to go to a museum about what we do for a living. (I know, it’s super cool, and we made a short visit there later that week!) But you know what I mean. Anyway, they laughed at that, and then we mentioned that many people had also recommended the International Spy Museum across the street, and had they ever been to that? They looked at each other and laughed and the husband said “well, same… I just retired after 26 years from the CIA.” It was hilarious that we both pointed out the museums dedicated to the others’ professions. We thoroughly enjoyed the rest of our conversation, and I sort of wanted to go to dinner with them. I felt like there was SO much more to the story of their careers and retirements and the current administration…