Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Washington + Lincoln: Washington DC Family Vacation

guys! here's part 2 of our washington dc family vacation series. prepare your eyes!
so today i will be showing you two presidential locations: the house G. Washington lived in, Mt. Vernon & President A. Lincoln's last day here on earth at Ford's Theatre & Petersen House where he died.
to get to Mt. Vernon from where we were staying at, required a boat. so we headed down to the dock and boarded a boat which was not stroller accessible, by the way. DUH. 
we finally arrived and made our way into the property. it's basically this huge property that belonged to the washington's back in the day and is now part of the Mt. Vernon Lady's Association which took it upon themselves to preserve this historic location. you would think it's government funded, but nah. women are #girlbosses like that! 
anyways, we learn about how washington liked to farm and how he invented all these cool things to expedite the farming process & saw all the slave houses and so forth. 
then we missed the little bus that takes lazy people all around the property so we had to walk. like real active people. with children. up hills. and around tree trunks. oh and strollers, i will never forget that my man had to carry the stroller because as it is in washington, it is NOT stroller accessible. 
have i made my point yet? 
we finally arrive at Mt. Vernon which is just this gigantic victorian sight with an ever lasting green lawn in front of it. i can imagine playing catch or tag there. or just having a lovely picnic with whoever would join me and just read a book. you know, like in the movies? 
but instead, we made our long walk towards it to take the tour. 
the back of the house faces the potomac river. it's back porch was so inviting, i kinda wish i had taken a picture of it. 
fascinatingly, the house is not made of brick but by wood covered in a mixture of paint + sand. its texture makes it look like brick. why? because george, even though super rich, could still not afford to build with brick. 
i feel ya george. i've been there.
back in the day they said, it was someone's job to mix paint & sand and cover all the places where there was damage & do the upkeep. every. year. they even had a cellar in the ground where they would keep buckets and buckets of the paint. 
i would have taken that job in a heart beat.  
photography was not allowed inside the mansion, BUT there's this cool app which will show you photographs and a map of the inside. the rooms were colorful. every room was a different color. the parlor, where the guests would wait to see their beloved president, was aqua. the ceilings were carved with intricate farming details. it was all just so detailed
funny though, george's study was the last room in the tour and was the coolest. it was painted a boring color, had private steps leading up to his bedroom where he could avoid all the guests that daily entered the mansion and had the coolest desk hutch i have ever seen. 
alongside the house, were various rooms that were used for other things, mostly trades. just take a look at the map and you'll see how many outbuildings there is...tons.  
we visited the museum on the grounds where again, all of his failures and accomplishments are eternally recorded and displayed. including all the battles he lost (more than he won) & records of how his wife martha, always stood by him no matter what. to me, that is what a strong woman is. while her husband was away being president and running the country , she was running that enormous estate and standing by her man.
WOW.
we also made our way to President & Mrs. Washington's tombs on property. that was kinda eerie as it was an area that was set apart from the other 'livelier' spots on property. 
everyone was taking pictures of the tombs. everyone just walked up to it, snapped a pic and walked off. recorded in their phones as pixels forever, was the tomb of the greatest man in america. 
we finally finished the estate tour without venturing in the gardens...i didn't realize this until we had left that i had not visited the damn gardens. 
yes. 
as you can tell, i am still pissed. oh they would have been such beautiful sights! 
but this view? the view of the potomac while we waited for our boat was pretty neat. and the fact that andrew loved picking at moss or exploring everywhere was pretty special too. 
so, in closing with George Washington's Mt. Vernon, it is OK to visit with small children. it's a good place for the kids to be kids, in other words. yes, it's huge and they'll complain a bit about it taking too long or their legs suddenly don't know how to walk, but there's enough there for them to be entertained the entire time. their paper maps have a treasure hunt which was neat as well as eductional. plus there's an app for the whole thing, you know them kids won't say no when you hand them that phone! 

and now.....on to Lincoln's assassination! 
we made our way into DC to visit Ford's Theatre & the Petersen house where Lincoln died. the theatre actually has the museum built into it/beside it/around it...i don't know but it's there. you have to have tickets and be there at a specific time to get into. we were being incredibly rushed and our venture was just not going smoothly that day.
one thing: it is not stroller accessible--again!
it has stairs upon stair upon stairs but there is a place where you can park the stroller. 
so sans stroller, we parents of 3 small children tried to enjoy the experience but it was absolutely NONSENSE to try and wrangle all of them at all times. everyone's so busy trying to figure out the displays & make sense of the timeline & appreciate the old artifacts, but it's absolutely impossible to if you have small children. it is a very tiny space, that museum. 
so in my opinion, SKIP the Ford Theatre/House if you have small children. i'm surprised i even got half the shots in this post, managed to exit without tears & have all 3 children still in tow.
gary took great pride in impersonating the president. he has also taken great pride in visiting the locations where our past presidents have been assassinated (like Kennedy here). 
there was so much literature to read here! it was such a great exhibit which unfortunately didn't get an opportunity to read its entirety because like i said, children. read about visiting washington with little kids here from my 1st post
after the museum, we made our way into the theatre. it was small but grand. surprisingly, they still hold shows here. with its rich red carpet, it's late 1800's seats & its detailed decorum, it was just a little overwhelming. 
i picture the whole assassination in my head. the actors on stage keeping folks attention until a loud bang lets out and a commotion breaks in the presidential box and suddenly panic. a stranger jumps from the balcony onto the stage, yells some latin nonsense and rapidly escapes through the backstage without anyone ever knowing what actually happened. only to find out the next day, the country has no president. 
my sister in law took the picture below of me wrangling elena who refused to be silent. it's funny in the picture, but believe me i was more than annoyed. 
you exit through those white doors (below) and cross the street into the peterson house. just this tiny little 20 foot facade of a building that is 3 stories high. if there were no signs, you wouldn't have ever known this place would have such importance. 
we entered the house where lincoln was taken after he was shot & finally died. the hallways still had that yellowed + patterned wallpaper. the floors creaked. you saw the house as it was back in 1865. and finally, you enter the room and the bed where he died from his gunshot. for such a tall president, the bed he lay in was a foot shorter than he was...talk about uncomfortableness (it's a word).  
after the 3 or 4 bedroom hallway, you enter an elevator and it took you up to the 3rd floor. exhibits depicting the killer & the killer's conspiracy + conspirators history and all that other good stuff filled the 3rd & 2nd floor. and as you descend the stairway, there is an amazing book tower made all of Lincoln written books novels & biographies you could think of. signs were posted everywhere to not touch the display, but i guess someone couldn't help herself! 
and finally, there's a little gift shop to finish up the 1st floor. my MIL cannot help herself either when it comes to collecting pennies either. the boys love it though, they love picking out the design, turning that crank and catching that penny! 
holy moly that was long! and i'm so happy you're still here. 
remember! i am not a historian. i often get my facts wrong so if you see something that's not right...please don't hash out. i did not study u.s. history with an open heart (i blame you lazy teacher!) so keep that in mind. 
washington dc is a gigantic place. i hope this 'guide' helps you in deciding which places you & your family would benefit from visiting. 

if you have any questions, just hit that email button on the right sidebar and get in touch with me! i will try to help with any information that i can. 
i have also provided links to the places we visited to ease your planning!

have a great week everyone, and i'll soon post the next set of landmarks :) 

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ps this trip could not have happened without the help & support of my nikon or my iphone (or my in-laws) so it is to them that i say lots of gracias!