I'm really torn about how to post this...
On the one hand I would like to really write a scathing letter to both our president and to the GOP dude yelling at them for a totally ruined vacation.
On the other I could post about how we were able to make the best of a terrible situation and get something good out of our trip.
I'm really ticked that GOP waited until the very last minute to finally pass the debt increase without getting ANYTHING in exchange for it. I'm also really ticked at the president for all the crappy things he did, like not signing the executive order to pay military families of fallen soldiers and for keeping the congress gym and golf courses open while keeping closed the monuments that really don't require any security when open...yet spending a lot of money to keep them closed.
I'm also ticked that while some furloughed employees got time off with pay, my husband was deemed essential so he got to work with no guarantee of pay.
So let's back the train up a bit here. We bought our non-refundable tickets to DC back in August...long before there was any hint of the government closing. In fact we had to schedule for the week of Columbus day due to all the meetings that hubby had to spend more government money! (awarding contracts for use or lose monies). So we had our flights and hotel already booked and paid for.
And then Oct 1st hits and there isn't any deal. Hubby should have been sent home, but that didn't happen because he was needed to oversee the projects that had already been paid for. Later congress agrees that the military should be paid, but after the debt gets raised (note: I'm avoiding using the term debt ceiling here because really there hasn't been any ceiling to this debt for decades!)
So we take off for DC with the hopes that congress will get their poop together and open up at least the monuments...we had some hope seeing as they let the vets into the War memorial.
Okay, lesson #1... NEVER fly east after 4pm Mountain time. EVERYTHING WILL BE CLOSED WHEN YOU LAND!!!! We actually got into DC a bit early, but the food shops on our terminal were all closed. There was no food to be found. I called up our hotel to find that there was NO airport shuttle to pick us up as it ended at 10pm when we landed. :p
So we decided to take the metro as close as we could get to our hotel to save some of the money for the taxi fare. Once we got to our station we had a lot of "fun" (read with dripping sarcasm) finding our way OUT of the metro. We first ended up in the mall that is over the metro station. and of course it was completely closed, yet not locked up?!?! We wondered around the mall for quite a bit trying to find our way out and also still in search of food.
Once out of the mall/metro we needed to get to our hotel...but we were right in front of a Ritz Carlton. LOL! They were very nice about it and called us a cab (tip the bellman!) Drive to the hotel who drops us off at wrong end of the hotel (tip the cabbie) and walk to the hotel.
We ended up having sandwich crackers, peanuts and Doritos for dinner! Luckily there was a free breakfast in the morning.
Day 1 of our vacation we take the metro into town and go to the National Geographic Museum (a bit overpriced I thought). Once we find it, we enjoy the exhibits and then start walking south toward the White House. Note there are a LOT of folks with mental illnesses living in our nation's capital. We saw someone who might not have been dressed in Lafayette's Square. We also witnessed several guards with heavy armor and weaponry guarding the White House. In fact when taking our picture, hubby had to wait a bit for a guard to pass so he wasn't an unintentional photo bomb. We also witnessed a motorcade bringing someone "important" to the White House, but judging from the amount of vehicles and the lack of ambulance it was not the president. However, folks were herded out of the park before the arrival.
We continued walking south toward the National Mall and went to the WWII Memorial. It was supposed to be closed, but this was the one memorial that the vets crossed the barriers on the first day of the shutdown and those barricades while still there are all pushed open. We took pictures of just me standing defiant behind them. bwahaha!
Next we headed over to the Lincoln Memorial. The "barricades" for the reflecting pool consist of rebar with ropes tied between them. As we approached the Lincoln we could see folks up in the memorial, but soon security arrived and drove them out. Bummer! We were able to get some pretty good pictures of the memorial, but were not able to go up into it. :(
We now had a very tired of walking Darly on our hands so we headed past the Washington Monument and to the metro station with her whining the entire way.
The mall I mentioned earlier proved to be very handy as it had a food court where we ended up eating our dinner every night. The only problem with this is that all the school groups that were visiting DC were also eating their dinner here, so we had to share our dinners with a lot of tween/teen kids. For the most part they were respectful, just loud.
Day 2 we went to the Spy Museum which was pretty good but very expensive. Hubby got a discount though. Darly thought that the museum was set up in the wrong order. She would have rather have seen the historical spy gadgets first. We all felt that they were letting far too many people into the museum at a time as it was VERY congested with loads of pushy kids and adults. We had decided earlier that since we couldn't get into the museums that we would take a trolley tour. This tour drives you by each of the museums and monuments and stops to let you out if you like, and you can just catch the next trolley coming in 30 minutes to continue your tour. It was very nice and filled with historical and funny stories about everything that we saw. Did you know that in Georgetown (named for King George, NOT Geo Washington!) that they had to pay their taxes based on how wide their home was on the street...so most of the homes there are very thin yet very deep to keep their square footage. There is actually the skinniest home that is only 9 feet across on the street. I forget how deep it is. I don't know how you fit a bed in your house that way. The Spite House in Alexandria is actually only 7 feet wide and is the skinniest house in the US.
Day 3 (our last day) we went down to Alexandria to see a really cool Apothecary shop.
The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum was a family business
founded in 1792 and operated in this location from 1796 until 1933. It
represents one of Alexandria's oldest continuously run businesses that
combined retailing, wholesaling, and manufacturing. The museum boasts a
remarkable collection of herbal botanicals, handblown glass, and
medical equipment, much still in its original location. It also has a
spectacular collection of archival materials, including journals,
letters and diaries, prescription and formula books, ledgers, orders and
invoices. The names of famous customers appear in these documents,
including Martha Washington, Nelly Custis and Robert E. Lee.
Since 2006 when the museum was donated to the City of Alexandria, the
museum continues to evolve as new research is uncovered and the museum
expands its understanding and interpretation of the medical and business
history captured by this site.
We all really enjoyed this tour. I learned that the "fictional names" of some of the medicines in the museum were REAL! Dragon's Blood is from the sap of a tree and that Unicorn is from a flowering plant. Wow! We also learned that Mandrake Roots are not just from Harry Potter fame and they do resemble human legs (no screaming heads though!)
We also went to the Gadsby's Tavern Museum which was very nice, but we felt REALLY rushed through. The one lady at the Gadsby mentioned a "Spite house" in town, but we never did find that. Darly was tired and hungry by then. And from this article it doesn't appear that we missed much. ;) Although she told us that the house was built to keep one particular resident from parking his carriage on the land, this article states that it was to keep everyone out. I just googled the location and I don't see why anyone was trying to get back there...perhaps it really was just the neighbor parking there.
After lunch we jumped back on the Metro to try to make it to Arlington Cemetery on our Trolley tour, but that never panned out due to me needing to make a pit stop at Union Station...we would have made it if hubby hadn't decided AFTER Darly & I went to go himself. :p By the time we got to the transfer stop it was too late to catch the trolley back to the cemetery. bummer
Now the fun of getting back home... Our flight out of DC was at 6:20 in the morning. We knew that we did NOT need to be at the airport 2 hours early, but still getting there one hour was tricky. I had planned on us taking a taxi to the metro (our hotel shuttle didn't start until 6am)...I had NOT planned on the metro not even being open until 5am. oops! I figured that our taxi driver was lying to try to get more of a fare from us, but he wasn't. So we called for another cab because I didn't trust that catching the metro that may or may not show up at 5am would get us to the airport on time. So we were waiting for our cab and there were other folks waiting for a cab...they snagged our cab!!! So I called again (the operator at the cab company was annoyed with me!) But I was annoyed also. The cabbie who picked up the other folks told us (as I was on the phone with the cab company) that he would send for another cab. Soon a totally unmarked car showed up, and asked if we needed a cab. At first I was very skeptical about taking this car, but then we realized that this was the same driver who had been driving the shuttle from our hotel to the metro every day! :D We learned that when he wasn't driving the shuttle, he was a cabbie. He was able to drop us off right at our terminal (the metro, if it had been on time would have dropped us off at the station near the center terminal and we would have needed to take a shuttle back to our terminal).
We made it quickly through check in as at this hour the airport was empty...at least at ticketing. We almost made it through security smoothly except I was "randomly" selected for a TSA "screening" (aka groping). So they explained what would happen and offered to do this in private. I decided that I would rather do this in the open (the more viability, the quicker and safer for me I felt. I'm also hoping for more public outcry in the totally inappropriate and unnecessary groping of innocent people. While I totally agree that we need to keep safe on our aircraft, I do not believe that these screenings help at all.)
The rest of our trip was totally uneventful, except that we now have found our new favorite carrier. Oh and I must say that flying on Frontier is no longer worth it. They have totally turned into a charge for everything airline! :p They charge for your checked luggage, if you book your ticket through anyone but them, they also charge for carry on bags and for drinks & snacks! note: when booking through a 3rd party company it isn't mentioned that you'll get charged extra.
Jetblue on the other hand did not charge us anything extra for anything. We also had more leg room and could have as many snacks as we wanted. :D YAY Jetblue!