Friday, April 27, 2018

Biltmore or Bust - Home again, home again, jiggity-jig!

We all were kinda slow out of the bed, but soon we straggled out, showered, dressed and headed down to the hotel breakfast room. We filled our bellies, then packed up, loaded the truck, excited about seeing the Biltmore Estate. After multiple wrong turns, we finally made our way into the estate. We weren't sure if we were allowed to drive in without a ticket, so Scott parked and Patti and I walked to the gate to ask about driving in. The gate guard really didn't give us much info, other than we could drive in about a mile or so and then we would have to visit the ticket booth before we could go any further.
The drive in was pretty, but we couldn't see any of the Biltmore. We then came to a building, which was the ticket booth and gift shop. Scott parked and Patti and I went in to get info. We really didn't have time to do a paid tour - all we were interested in was walking the grounds and taking a few pics, then getting back on the road. Well, the Biltmore Estate ended up being a Bust b/c without a $70 ticket you can't see even view the grounds of the Biltmore! Forget that - what a waste! We got back on the road, heading towards Knoxville. The views from the car made up for the Biltmore disappointment, as we drove thru the beautiful Smoky Mountains!

Pic taken thru window as we drove 70mph!
 ...and just like that we were back in TN!

We arrived in Columbia, and Steve and Patti unloaded from our truck, loaded their truck and hit the road to Mississippi! Home again, home again, jiggity-jig!
This was a very different vacation for us - totally not our usual, but the memories, the fun, and the laughs were just like every other trip we take together! We all learned tidbits of history that we didn't know before and we have memories that will last a lifetime!
I already can't wait till we plan our next adventure together! We've kicked around few ideas, but one thing is for certain - it will be a memory-making fun adventure!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Goodbye Washington D.C.

Well, today we leave DC  - we have had FULL days of touring the city, walking nearly 30 miles since last Friday! We all looked forward to a day of resting our legs and feet and were excited about traveling to the Biltmore! 
We packed up and cleaned up the house and took a quick photo before loading up the truck and heading out of DC. 
Interesting tidbit here - this is the type of housing you see EVERYWHERE! It's very-very rare to see a single house anywhere. There are neighborhood after neighborhood of row houses - it's all you see. I can't imagine living like this with no yard for a dog or kids to play in. It made me even more thankful for all the space we have where we live!
Goodbye Washing D.C. - we had a ton of fun here, making many memories!
We made a stop in Durham, N.C. at Hog Heaven BBQ, a very local  mom & pop joint, ran by Big Mama Delta who instantly fell in love with Steve! She even had to give him a big 'ol hug before we left. Steve got so flustered that after several miles down the road he was afraid he had left his glasses at Hog Heaven! (he later found them in his pocket - now that's how flustered he was - LOL!)
Patti and I got tickled at one of the signs in there that said all cell phones must be turned in at the start of work to Delta, who would keep them in the safe for the day. No doubt Delta ruled the roost at Hog Heaven! I wished I would have gotten a photo of her with Steve!
It sure made for some fun conversation while traveling to Asheville and Steve, being who he is, kept getting her name wrong and calling her "Dixie" and Patti and I kept saying, "ain't no black women in the South, named Dixie, Steve!" 
I LOVE traveling with Steve and Patti, b/c we make the best memories, not to mention having the very best of laughs all the time!
We finally arrived in Asheville and Patti found and made reservations at Spring Hill Suites, which was really nice. We unloaded and relaxed for awhile before walking next door to Carabba's for dinner. None of us was super hungry, and it was getting kinda late for a big meal, so we ordered fairly light meals, and it was delicious!  We walked back to the hotel and everyone crawled in bed and watched tv a bit before falling off to sleep.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

White House - Museum of American History - National Archives & Museum of Natural History

Finally a day that we could leave the truck parked out front and uber into DC. It was a wet and foggy morning, with a bit of drizzle, but thankfully not raining. We were dropped off at the White House, which we were not touring, just walking by. All those million school children we saw yesterday, were at the White House and I nearly got lost in the midst of them trying to take pictures. I found it interesting to see all the security up on the roof of the White House!

From there, we were making our way back to the Smithsonian District, passing more monuments along the way.

This is the Eisenhower Building and I again felt like I was in Europe! The French Prime Minister was visiting DC, so their flag was flying along side the American Flag. 

Still making our way to the Smithsonian District, we walked behind the White House, 
which is just as beautiful as the front.

One thing I noticed is that in D.C. there are words of wisdom inscribed on many buildings. Words of wisdom from wise from past presidents of our nation that more people need to take notice of and apply to their lives...this one from George Washington reads "Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair - Washington"

Each one of these buildings had an inscription from a President under the American Flag!

We finally made our way to the Museum of American History and it was both fun and interesting to see - especially the fun memories from our childhood! 

I took this photo for both Patti and Lindsay - it's Clara Barton's 1st Red Cross Ambulance

I think my favorite in this building tho was the Presidents wives ball gown display

Melania Trump's Inaugural Ball Gown

Laura Bush's Inaugural Ball Gown

We left there, and stopped at a park bench for some snacks, where Steve made friends with a local beggar, before heading to the National Archives.

There was no photography allowed inside the National Archives, but here is a photo of the building. It was incredibly interesting to see all the historic documents in the Archives!

After leaving there, we walked thru an Art Garden as we made our way to the Museum of Natural History, where we were greeted with this huge elephant.

I loved this museum since wildlife photography is one of my most favorite hobbies!

This place was huge - 3 floors of Natural History!!

...along with gemstones!

After making our way back to the Live Butterfly exhibit, since we somehow missed it, we found out there was an additional fee to see that - it was getting late, we were tired and hungry and the price of the exhibit was ridiculous, we all agreed it wasn't worth spending the money to walk thru something that we could do in Chattanooga! So we found a place to sit and relax while Patti googled for a local Italian Restaurant. Most places were either closed or ridiculously expensive, so we decided to get our Uber and head back to the house and decide what to do about dinner there.

After arriving back at the house, Italian sounded really good to all of us. Laurie was reading the guestbook and saw several guests had mentioned a local organic market that was only a mile or so away, so suggested that we head to the market and get food for dinner. Patti suggested we leave the guys at home (great idea!) and us walk to the market since it was so close. So we grabbed a tote bag and started walking, using Laurie's Waze app to get there - lol! It ended up being a lot further than 1mile - I would guess more like 2 miles! 
The organic market was amazing and made up for for the long walk there! We grabbed a cart and started loading it up with all kinds of goodies, not really putting much thought into the fact that we had to carry all this stuff the 2 mile walk back! haha! We must have been hungry b/c that little cart was pretty full! We loaded the stuff into 2 fairly equal bags, in which each of us carried one (really heavy bag) and got back to the house as the sun was setting. I think the guys were kinda worried about us being gone so long, but we had a blast and plenty of laughs as usual! LOL!

Patti got right to work on a delicious pasta sauce, using many of the spices found in the well-stocked kitchen and boiled the penne, while Laurie worked on the garlic bread. Scott got fancy, finding some candles and set the table!
We made the best Italian dinner, complete with fresh parmesan cheese - I don't think we could have done better anywhere else! 

We discussed our route for tomorrow as we head back to TN, and decided to head to Asheville, NC and do a quick drive-by/walk-by the Biltmore Estate and spend the night somewhere in Asheville.

After dinner and discussion we had another wild game of cards before heading off to bed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Capitol - Library of Congress - National Air and Space Museum

Today we were up and out by 6:45am - driving again to Walmart to park the truck since street sweepers would be coming thru again. We had tickets to tour the Capitol,and arrived there plenty early, so we had time to walk down to Union Station to have a look.

 As we were walking to Union Station, we passed The Supreme Court, 
 then arrived at Union Station...
 ...kinda sad to see homeless sleeping on the stone benches outside Union Station...

 The inside of Union Station was breath-taking...almost felt like a walk back in time!
 All the architecture in Washington D.C. is so detailed with attention to detail - truly amazing work!
Union Station had the feel of an airport with stores inside, baggage check stations and food courts.

It was getting close to time for our Capitol Tour, so we headed back there and got in line.
Once we got thru security, we were placed in a group with a guide. We all were given headphones which made it great for listening to our guide. I wished we would have had this at the National Cathedral b/c it can be so difficult to hear a tour guide in such massive buildings.
We started out in a beautiful, light-filled lower level, which is named Emancipation Hall, in remembrance of the slave labor that went into constructing the Capitol building and the United States as a whole. Around Emancipation Hall there were many statues ranging from a native Hawaiian king to an astronaut. These statues are overflow from Statuary Hall, which was our next stop on the tour.
General Lee

 Patti with Jefferson Davis - Mississippi
As you can see, the statues are massive - they rotate them often and can only have a certain amount of them in the hall at the same time otherwise the floor will buckle.
 Once again, architecture was amazing and beautiful, along with paintings on the walls and all the statues.

I really needed a wide angle lens for this shot - this is the dome and there is just so many details for your eyes to feast on!
 Painting at the top of the dome

On the floor in the Hall, were desk markers for the location each state Representative

Our tour last about an hour and was full of history and interesting tidbits of information. We were told that there is a tunnel we could take to the Library of Congress to avoid going thru another security checkpoint. The Library of Congress is a place I really wanted to see, since my Dad's World War II Memoirs are there. I promised Patti I would not hunt them down, I just wanted to have a look inside. I am sooooooo glad we did b/c it was sooooooo amazing! It seems like with each building we go into, the architecture just blows my mind in a whole new way...and THIS place was beyond amazing from top to bottom and everywhere in between! 
Be prepared for LOTS of matter where your eyes took you, it was breath-taking beauty - an architectural masterpiece!!

We then made our way to Thomas Jefferson's Library within the building...

 The books with the green markers are from the original Jefferson Collection...

 ...and there are many of them!

More images from the Library of Congress...

We then made our way over to see the Gutenberg Bible.
The Gutenberg Bible is the first great book printed in Western Europe from movable metal type. It is therefore a monument that marks a turning point in the art of bookmaking and consequently in the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern world. Gutenberg’s invention of the mechanical printing press made it possible for the accumulated knowledge of the human race to become the common property of every person who knew how to read—an immense forward step in the emancipation of the human mind.
After the Library of Congress,, we went back to the Capitol and ate lunch with what seemed like 100-million school children, then headed on foot to the Smithsonian District, passing many statues of sorts outside the Capitol.
After making our way to the Smithsonian District, we had planned to go to the Department of Engraving and Printing, however it was at the far end of the District from where we were. We were standing in front of the Space and Air Museum and decided to go ahead and spend time in there, then make our way thru the Smithsonian District and pick up tomorrow where we leave off today.
We split up as couples in here and just picked a time and meeting place, however, we kept running into each other, as we walked the entire museum. Each room was so interesting as we learned about space and air - I think the Apollo was the most interesting tho b/c it impacted so much of our lives growing up!

This exhibit was interesting for Steve and Patti

After we met back up, I was glad that Steve said his legs were spent, b/c mine were too. We all admitted that to try to visit another museum today would be too much even tho it was early in the day, compared to previous days. We decided to uber back to Wal-Mart, the drive back to our Row House and relax for awhile.
It started raining, so we were glad we cut our day short. Patti found a Mexican restaurant not far from our place, so we ventured out using google maps to navigate our way there. As usual, parking was a huge issue - no where to park - we finally found a street several blocks away with a space to park, and walked the several blocks in the rain to the restaurant. It was a tiny place, but the food was excellent! I have never been one to eat guacamole, but after having some from this place, I think I have found a new love for it!
After dinner, we headed back and played cards then headed to bed.  Tomorrow would be our last full day in Washington D.C.