Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Epic Journey Part II: NYC

On Sunday morning, we woke up and had a leisurely breakfast at the Omni (what a nice hotel!) before heading cross town to Union Station.  We ended up traveling fairly light on the trip -- given the number of weeks and the variety of places.  We had my backpacker pack, Eric's backpacker pack, a daypack, a carryon suitcase, and Kai's school backpack.  But, on the travel days, it was still a lot to carry.  And, when we got to the Woodley Park Metro Station near our hotel, the escalators were out.  The escalators to the Metro in DC are loooonnnnngggg.  Really long.  Like over 150 steps long.  Walking up or down the escalators is never fun.  Doing it with 5 bags and a 5-year old is torture.  Eric had his backpack, Kai's pack, and carried Kailey.  I had my pack, the daypack (which I wore on my front), and the carryon.  My legs were shaking by the end and were so sore the entire time we were in NYC... I could barely walk up or down steps!

Once we made it to Union Station, it was smooth sailing.  I had purposely got us tickets on a train with a dining car, so that we could have lunch on the train.  I don't know what I was imagining, but -- the dining car was really just a concession stand with ramen noodles, frozen pizzas (that they would heat up), beer, coffee, and pre-made salads.  It was pretty low-brow.  Kailey loved it and spent time selecting her lunch -- settling on a pizza (and then trading Eric for his ramen noodles when she realized how much frozen pizza tastes like cardboard).  Kai slept a good deal of the train ride, which was good given the hours she had been keeping in DC.

When we got to Kate and Becca's house, they had a bbq all ready to go -- and we had fun grilling and hanging out in their backyard (where Kai proceeded to get a record number of bites... her backside was COVERED in bites).

The next morning, Kai woke up sobbing.  I asked her what was wrong and she wouldn't answer.  After several minutes of cuddling her while she wept, she finally explained, "my friends really miss me."  I asked her if she meant that she missed her friends and she said, "No, Thomas and Bianca really miss me.  They are so sad that I am not at school."  And then she burst into tears... while I chuckled to myself.  Nothing like a healthy ego!  After talking about it a bit more, it became clear that she had a dream about school and she wasn't there and her friends were looking for her and really missed her.  And, of course, she missed them too!

That day, we headed to the Museum of Natural History.  Kai had been talking about seeing the dinosaur bones for quite a long time.  It was pretty fun to see them up close.  After the museum, we headed to a ramen place and had great noodles (Kai's favorite... it really doesn't matter the type of noodle).

The next day, we stayed close to home.  Kate had bought Kailey all this fun stuff to do so we could hang out in the backyard... including a kiddie pool.  As soon as Kai saw the pool, she wanted us to fill it up (are you sensing a water theme on this vacation?  The kid really loves water).  So, we filled up the pool, turned on the tunes, and had a nice day at home (resulting in many more bites on Kai's backside.  I should have taken a picture of it.  It was extreme).  Kai entertained us by acting like a goofball most of the day, including singing many of her Spanish songs and being generally spazzy.  We all got in the action a bit, too!


It was a short trip to NYC... but we had a blast.  Wednesday morning we got some bagels before heading to the Metro for the beginning of our looonnnngggg (oh so long) journey to St. John.... 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Epic Journey Part I: DC

We just wrapped up phase 2 of our epic adventure/vacation (and I am typing this on my iPad on our plane from Newark to Chicago - where we have a layover before heading to Puerto Rico - so, we will see how well I can write a post on this device!).

The first part of our journey was to DC, because I was speaking at a conference there (and once on the east coast, we figured we might as well travel to NYC and the Caribbean... I have been telling everyone we are starting with a conference on children, ending with a conference on wine, and in-between heading to the Caribbean!).

We have been anticipating this trip for months and talking about it constantly, so on the first morning of our journey, I think Kai could hardy believe the day had arrived.  We had to catch a cab at 4:30 AM (which, means we got up BEFORE 4:30 am)... And Kai bounced out of bed with a smile on her face ready to go.  We got to the airport with no problems and buzzed thru security.  Upon boarding our plane, we learned we had a "hidden" layover in LA... What?!  That really just means we stopped in LA and then after others got off and new people got back on we took the same plane onto Atlanta.  Kai fell asleep the last 10 minute of the flight and then woke up when we landed... And that was the last of the napping she did that day. Upon arriving at our "real" layover in Atlanta, I got a text informing me that our plane to DC was delayed 4 hours.  Awesome.  We wandered around the AirTran and eventually boarded the plane, figuring once n board, we could all nap.  We were wrong.  Kai was still going strong, excited about her backpack of activities and the trip in general.  She was being really good... Just loud and exuberant.

We finally got to our hotel at about 11 pm... And Kai proceeded to run around the room and jump on the bed until about midnight.  This means she woke up at 4am CA time and then went to sleep at 9 pm CAtime.. With a ten minute catnap o tide her over.  Crazy.  

Kai has actually maintained the East Coast wake up/West Coast bedtime throughout the trip.  She is putting in 14-15 hour days with no nap.  She seems to breakdown every afternoon for a moment over something trivial, but quickly pulls herself together and goes strong the rest of the day.  She is having a total blast!  

Anyway, the next day of our journey was the only day we all had together to explore DC ( since I had to be at the conference Friday and Saturday).  We got up at 8 am (yes, 5 am pacific time) and hit the road.  We scurried over to the Capitol to get gallery passes from out Representative (Barbara Lee) so that we could observe the proceedings on the floor.  

What a day to be there... They were debating the Farm Bill and the Roublilcans had just stripped food stamps from the bill.  It was extremely heated...with the members yelling at each other across the aisles.  Kai watched wide-eyed and then asked why they were fighting.  We told her that the people on the right side wanted to make it so that people who did not have enough key could not eat, and she said (loudly) "but, if they cannot eat they will STARVE!"  We agreed and said that was why the other people were so upset, while those sitting around us glared at us for our overly simplistic explanation and demonization of the Republicans.  It was funny.

After a quick snack, we hurried over to the Longwirth House Office Building so Kai could observe a hearing of the Natural Resource Committee on forest fires.  W told her that there were real Oncelers in the room, hoping to cut down all the trees.  Maybe not your typical tourist day in DC, but t was awesome!

From there, we took a pedi-tour to a few more traditional activities.  First, we headed over to the Lincoln Memorial and then the newly created MLK Memorial (which was really cool...they did a great job).

We ended with dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant from many years ago.  When we got there, I told Kai that it was where Daddy and I had celebrated my 21st birthday, many years ago.  Kai nodded and said, "and you aren't even dead yet!". Ahhh.. It's so fun discussing time with a 5 year old.

The rest of the time that we were in DC, I had to work.  But, Kai and Eric had a great time at the pool and exploring other landmarks in the city.

The last day we were there, after the conference was over, we made it to our old neighborhood and saw the house that Eric and I had lived in for 4 years.  It has been remodeled and painted -- it didn't really look like our place anymore.  Kailey was unimpressed.  That night when we got back to the hotel, Kai kept running to the window to tell us about all the people that were still at the pool (this was at 9:30 PM at night).  I was trying to get her to go to sleep, to no avail. Finally, I said, "Kai, do you want to go night swimming?"  She shouted, "YES!" and so we put on our suits and all scurried down to the pool.  Kai jumped right in (using her classic running jump) and then shouted, "I'm SWIMMING at NIGHT!"  It was awesome.

The next day we were packed up and ready to head to NYC...