Wednesday, April 1, 2015

DC 5th Grade Field Trip

I spend a lot of time volunteering in the girls' schools. I love it. I especially love going on field trips. It's so fun to spend time with them and their classmates outside of the classroom. So, when I found out that the 5th graders were heading to Washington, DC, I was one of the first moms to sign up as a chaperone.


I didn't know what I was getting myself into.

I had never gone an overnight field trip before.

It was absolutely exhausting.

But Whitney loved it. And I was glad I could share the experience with her. And I think I'm too protective to send my 10-year-old away for three days with another parent that I may or may not even know.


First stop:
Arlington National Cemetery

I had never been here. I'm so glad we stopped.

Very humbling to see how many people have fought to protect our freedoms.
Over 400,000 people are buried here.
An interesting tidbit we learned:
Spouses can be buried here, too.
But to save space, instead of being buried next to one another,
the husband is placed 9 feet deep, the wife 7 feet deep.
And if they have any single children who want to be buried there also,
they are buried 5 feet deep.

We were in for a special treat that day, because they were performing a 
special ceremony for recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor
at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

See the blue ribbon around their necks?
It holds their medals. 


A military band played the National Anthem 
and a soldier played Taps on the bugle.

There were tons of people watching, so we did not have a great view.
One of the most touching moments for me was when they posted the
American Flag and again when they played The Star Spangled Banner.
This older gentleman who was a medal recipient who had been pushed 
in to the ceremony in a wheelchair, stood up with his hand on his heart.
What a great example of patriotism.

At this point in our day...
the fiasco began.

We were supposed to take the metro to the Holocaust Museum.
But one of our girls tripped and heard a pop in her ankle.
They called the ambulance and she needed to have x-rays taken.
In the meantime, instead of the other 149 of us going ahead with our plans,
our tour guide sent us back up the LONG hill to watch the
changing of the guard at the tomb.

We had eight minutes.

We were already tired of walking.

We speed walked as fast as we could to the top.

And we missed the ceremony by five minutes.


So we hung out for an hour waiting for the next changing of the guard.

A group pic with lots of our kids.
(Some of the chaperones said NO WAY to hiking back up the hill.)

Changing of the guard.
To me, this ceremony was neat, but not nearly as
cool as the one for the medal recipients.

Now our schedule was all mixed up.
Instead of riding the metro, our buses drove us 
to the Mall to see the monuments.

At WWII, with Washington Monument in the background.





At this point, we'd walked about six miles,
my legs were so tired,
my girls were ready to be done,
but our tour guide and her orange noodle kept speed walking.
So we kept following.

We walked around the LONG block to see

and Jefferson.

And then they FINALLY let us get back on the buses after 7 miles of walking.
Playing doubles tennis once a week was apparently not enough 
training to be a chaperone for this field trip. Sheesh.

We ate at a yummy buffet for dinner.
My girls were so good at getting bathed and ready for bed quickly.
And we all CRASHED as soon as our heads his our pillows.
Good thing, because our wake-up call came at 5:45 the next morning.
More walking ahead! 

Day 2 started at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum 
for an IMAX movie about the ocean.
It was fabulous.
Poor Whit can't see in 3D, so the whole thing was fuzzy for her.
She said she still liked it, though.

It wasn't the prettiest time to be in DC.
They are doing lots of remodeling.
The reflecting pool is empty,
There are no leaves on the trees yet.
We saw lots of signs like this.

What a view???

We took the metro down to the Capitol Building.
 It was slightly terrifying to be in charge of getting these
three on and off the metro, when none of us were very
experienced. We all made it, though. Phew.

Scaffolding on the Capitol dome.
And pouring rain.
Yep, it was that kind of morning. 

Happy to be in DC!
Even if it's raining!
At least they're not in a classroom!

Our buses took us to the Holocaust Museum.
They have a special exhibit for kids called Daniel's Story.
I thought they did a wonderful job of sharing the
story of the holocaust without being graphic.
Very touching.

We had the afternoon to ourselves to 
explore whatever Smithsonians we wanted.
I had heard that there was yummy, reasonably priced
lunch food between the two National Galleries of Art.
So, we took these girls and headed that way.
It was true. The Cascade Cafe has a few items with
decent prices. Plus, it has a wall of windows with a
waterfall running into it. Loved that view.

Whit and I couldn't wait to tour the galleries.
Apparently not all 5th grade girls are as into art as we are.
Most of the girls headed out, while we got to take in this beauty:

Whit and I could have stayed all day.
But we had to settle for an hour.

We headed down to American History.
Saw the giant flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner.
LOVE that exhibit. They don't let you take pictures.
Also saw Dorothy's ruby slippers, 

The sit-in lunch counter from Greensboro, 

the Count, 

and all the First Lady's inaugural ball gowns.

Then we headed back to the Natural History Museum.
The girls LOVED seeing the Hope Diamond
and all the other gems and minerals.

I thought this drinking giraffe was hilarious.

The girls were offered the chance to pet 
Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches
and one of them took it!

Next, we headed to...
the wax museum!
I'd never been to one.
It was pretty cool.

We spent the most time in the Presidential Hall.
Some of those presidents were SHORT!

Look how life-like!

W taking calls in the oval office.

With her look-alike Selena Gomez.

On our last day, we stopped outside the White House.

It was raining again.

Worth it for the girls to see this iconic building.

With a few of their classmates.

Afterward, they enjoyed checking out the street vendors.
Then we said good-bye to DC!

And headed to Luray, VA.
It was a beautiful drive in the mountains.

First we did a hedge maze.

I loved it.
The girls did, too.
At the beginning.
About halfway through, they wanted to be done.
But you can't really quit halfway through
because there are no exits.
So we finished.

Then, Whitney shocked me by
agreeing to try the ropes course.

Can you see the multi-story yellow equipment
in the background? Yep. We were headed there.

Whit claims to be afraid of heights, but I'm not buying it.

She and I had a GREAT time exploring up there.

Next, it was our group's turn to head into the caverns.
I like being in caverns.
What a cool place to explore.
We took an hour long tour.
There were lots of beautiful, unique formations.
The camera doesn't capture them well,
but you'll get an idea of what we saw.

Dream Lake

Ice cream cone
(Guess what flavor?)

And, randomly, they have a "stalacpipe" organ in there.

They have little mallets attached to some of the stalactites
that can actually play songs. It was pretty cool.
But quieter than I imagined.

And that was the end of our jam-packed three days!

I'm glad I could share this experience with Whit.
And very grateful to Andrew for working from
home and holding down the fort here.

It took me two days of rest to recover.
And now spring break is right around the corner!
More action-packed adventures to come.


  1. So much fun! My mom's parents and sister are burried at Arlington so I love visiting everytime we head up that way. And that hedge maze looks like a lot of fun too. But I am a little too clausterphobic for those caves!

  2. Loved reading every word and all the photos. What a lifetime of memories. I felt like I was there with you. Thanks for capturing it for us. And hilariously too! Andrea, for once I think you might hold a grudge against something - orange noodles!! XO Mom S

  3. P.S. - Your photos of all of the sights are so great! I LOVED the Smithsonian when dad and I went there a few years ago. Bucket list - three days at the Smithsonian, to wander at our heart's content? Yeah! You sure took in a lot of sights! President Obama made his first trip to Utah yesterday. The only other State that he has left to visit as a sitting President is South Dakota. It caused quite the stir!

  4. Whit looks a lot better at that oval office desk than the present occupant. "Vote for Whit in 2052"
    Grandma and Grandpa Hiatt

  5. What an amazing field trip for 5th son volunteered me for his ropes course field trip and I was excited for that (that sounds boring now compared to this trip ;)). I hope to take a trip to these places someday. Thanks for sharing!