We left Philadelphia and head toward Fairfax, VA, where, once again, we were being put up by very generous friends. After a rousing welcome and some lunch, we head out for Splashdown, a really fun little water park. It's always hard to get good pictures when trying to ride water rides, but believe me, we all had a good time.
The next day was D.C! We did the smithsonian the last time we were in town, so we wanted to change things up a bit. We went to the Hirshorn, which I had never been to before. In addition to very cool outside sculptures, there was an amazing exhibit by ... which was images of dissidents from around the world. Those images were constructed out of Lego. They filled rooms and rooms. At one point jax asked "does this ever end?" I told him I thought that was part of the point.
We saw some of the permanent collection and then had a lovely lunch outside in the shade. Then on to the next museum!
Jax was shocked by the front view of this statue.
When I started planning this trip I reserved group tickets for the National Museum of African American History and Culture. This museum is new and very had to get into. About a week before we left I was notified that I had gotten the tickets. So lucky. We had a 1pm slot and, unfortunately, not all of our original group could make it. We made some people standing in line very happy giving away our extra tickets.
This museum is really two museums in one: History and Culture. We did the history section first, and it was really powerful. Basically dividing African-American history into three eras (slavery-civil war, reconstruction-Jim Crow, civil rights-modern era) it did a fantastic job balancing the ideals of America with the reality of the African American experience. All that said, it was heavy. Lea said, "I think this is the most depressing museum ever."
After we finished the kids were pretty tapped out, but I tried to get them to push on to the "culture" section of the museum, although not very successfully. What I saw was really neat, but I didn't really get to process that part nearly as much. It's definitely an institution that deserves at least two trips. I'm so glad we got to go even this once.
In the meditation room.
Back out of the city, narrowly missing rush hour, to dinner with more friends. A friend back in town on a break from her ex-pat stint in Riyad came over with her three adorable children, and a New Yorker friend in town for work joined all of us for pizza. We had 8 kids there, aged 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 12 and they all got along great, playing a scavenger hunt game the older ones planned out on the fly. It was such fun.
Kids, definitely not plotting anything.
BMC posse, +1.
Our best shot at a formal picture.
The next morning I packed up and we were fed pancakes and we said our goodbyes. We were heading further south, while our hosts were heading off for a vacation of their own. It was definitely a whirlwind, but a really good one.
Up next: Cary, color changing lizards, and Pete's arrival.