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Back from Vacay

June 25th, 2016 at 05:50 pm

We got back from our DC trip this morning. Phew!

Was having trouble finding flights when we switched from October to June. I picked a flight from our home airport (right by our house) because it was the cheapest AND the most convenient, but I can't tell you how close I was to canceling that flight because we only had a 45 minute layover on the way back. That said, we were flying back Friday and knew we'd have the weekend to get back if need be. Dh and I discussed splitting up to get home, if need be. (& we can usually get home quickly in these cases because we could divert to SFO or San Jose and maybe even get a ride from family, which we have done in the past when a flight was canceled). I was more pushing for the direct flight from SFO, but dh talked me into keeping the "short layover" tickets and not having to deal with all that driving. We did leave on the last day of school and it would have been a lot.

In the end, the short layover was not the problem. Most California airports have curfews and the problem was more that our flight was the "last flight of the night". Our flight got delayed and we missed our connection (but it was a couple of hour delay so we'd miss no matter what, like pretty much everyone on our plane). So we spent the night in the airport (too late to bother leaving and coming back) and got the first flight out. Since I kind of expected the worst all along I guess it was better than I thought it would be. (At least we all got on the same flight, to our home city).

We flew American Airlines, which I don't think I ever have as an adult. Usually United is cheapest from our airports. I will probably avoid AA in the future. I can't tell you how many flights they had delayed or canceled due to missing crew. ???

Oh... & it took us 3 hours to get to the airport in Baltimore. 45 mile drive. We had such a late flight we just planned to get there several hours early. Thankfully security had no line. (Probably because everyone was stuck in traffic). But yeah, it was quite an ordeal to get home.

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The kids were good sports. LM is maturing considerably, so, phew! I have a picture of him scowling in front of the first Wright brothers plane. (Day 2, he was not in a good mood). But apparently nothing else was quite as boring as the air and space museum. Wink

{It helped that we bought that small laptop. & that day he was so bored he came up with a novel he wanted to write, so we packed the laptop for all our long drives and I think that went a long way to appease him. We had 4 days in the middle of mostly driving. He's 10 and his writing is incredible. As long as he has an outlet, I guess he is good}.

We were able to hit 23 or so museums and landmarks.

I hadn't been to DC since 1999. One of the tours we got was for the Library of Congress. Which is a newer thing that they are giving tours (they moved all the people working there to another building and so had more room for tourists and so on). So we just went with it because it was one of our congressional tours. On the first day actually, but was a highlight of our trip. The building is just magnificent. & we did also get to see Thomas Jefferson's library (which was the start of the government's library. Was told there he sold to them at a discount out of the kindness of his heart, and to start a government library, but learned at Monticello he sold to pay debts. Never found out why he was in debt up to his eyeballs. I am inspired to do a lot of American history reading now).

Actually, we did good on the first and last day. We checked our of our hotel Friday and went to the secondary air and space museum (a huge airplane hangar about 45 miles out, opened more recently also) and we only had about 2 hours but that was pretty incredible.

We did go to Philly and the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall was a first for me too. (LM LOVED the Benjamin Franklin museum. I think it was like $4 admission and was really well done. Another trip highlight, as were all the things we hadn't really planned too much ahead).

We did have time to go to Hershey. Spent way too much money there but I think the rest of us (other than dh) needed some more goofy time. (We had gone back and forth a few times if we would bother, but we ended up having time).

We did also make it out to Colonial Williamsburg. Which happened to be the day that it poured rain in DC, so we were very charmed on the weather front. (I was dreading the heat and humidity, but we lucked out. Some of it was good luck. I think otherwise Florida scarred me and that's like my idea of heat and humidity. Which is 10 times worse than any weather we experienced on this trip. & to be clear, I've only been to Florida in October. I could not even begin to imagine what a Florida summer is like).

Other highlights were getting to see some original works of art from DaVinci, Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, etc. Saw some famous pieces of art. Of course, it was fun to explore and find other gems. They also had an incredible photograph gallery. They really encouraged taking pictures at most the museums and the white house, etc. (Though could not take any pictures inside any historic homes). So I will definitely share some pictures later.

We barely made a dent in the art museums. They were just so ginormous.

Of course, our Capitol tour was during the sit-in. The line for the House gallery was hours long and my husband stood in line for hours just to get in after they took a break. Ugh! I didn't want to waste my last day in D.C. in line and BM is going back in the spring. So we left it at that. Of course, dh had wanted to go join the protestors the day before but no one was there (we split for a while). While he was in line seeing nothing, while we are the Capitol the following day, we went outside where all the action was. So dh got the short end of the stick there. Everyone had left by the time he came outside. He never saw any protestors though he was at the Capitol both days. (The big crowds seemed to swell later at night, looking at the news later).

Which reminds me, we got to our Congressperson's office early enough, for Capitol tour, that we were chatting with the staff for a while. Dh is just beside himself about this sit-in and was asking what we could do. (Since he seemed to be missing the protests). They re-iterated to call your congresspeople and to make your voice heard. Said they had never gotten so many calls (this young staff person said this, speaking to his time there) and they take phone calls very seriously. So passing that along as a FYI. Last time we went to DC we did meet with our congressperson. This time we really didn't bother (we've met her several times in our city) and she was at the sit-in anyway so it would have been canceled I presume. But it was still an experience all the same. It was good for the kids to see.

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I added up our total Friday a.m. and I think our spending was getting close to $3,500 for our trip (everything but flights). So grand total around $5,500. By far our most expensive family vacation. Though most the tours and museums we did do were free, we did have to pay for a hotel room, which we usually do not. (In the end, in-laws timeshare had nothing near D.C. They were trying to tell us that most people just stay 1 hour away!? No thanks!?)

Since I also paid for BM's DC trip for next year, I guess this year's vacation spending is going to be in line with last year's "year of splurge." Really and truly though, not planning any more family vacations after this. SO HAPPY to be done with flying for the foreseeable future.

I would like to throw $3k from our savings to pay off our expenses this month. (Will do this next week, cash flowing from my paycheck the money that would have gone to savings). I am hoping to cash flow the last $500 or so with credit card rewards and grocery savings on the home front (not buying groceries for 10 days or so). Will see how close to $3,000 I can get.

I think as to the trip, everything but flight home went as well as it could have. I really dislike traveling, but I have a really hard time with jet lag and so on. I am very scheduled and in tune with my body, so I just can never really get over the travel and get lag to actually enjoy. Probably why I enjoy smaller trips. I really thought I was insane to agree to a red eye flight out and was really dreading that part. For whatever reason, I seem to handle these things better with age. Seems counter-intuitive I guess. Maybe once you have a newborn, a one night with no sleep is no biggie. & since that went 10 times better than I ever though it would, I was pretty mellow about being stuck in the airport last night. I'll get a good sleep tonight and my body will slowly adjust back to normalcy. I am sure I will feel miserable for a few days, but I think it's just relative.

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As I look forward to being done with flights and crazy expensive vacations (from our frame of reference), my MIL wants to plan a big trip next year. By itself it is a very generous offer. But it's my MIL and it's a whole thing. Will see...

Dh will probably also go to Florida for his Grandfather's 90th, but we've known that for a while and are just expecting to pay for one cheap-ish airline ticket. Florida in fall has been historically cheap and he will be going with his parents. We know they have time-shares there since we have used them multiple times.

My dream vacation at this point is some National Park road trips with dh. Yellowstone and Grand Canyon are the biggies that we want to do. Maybe 3 or 4 trips I can think of that we want to start doing without the kids. I think this will keep us busy for a while.

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Getting back to reality...

Kids' birthdays are right around the corner and no plans have been made. They both have bigger groups of friends this year and are asking for proper parties. (Usually we have the energy to let them invite one friend over). We will probably oblige. So probably two busy weekends ahead.

Dh should have another MRI soon. I don't expect any news. It will be another years or so before I expect any news. His Doctor is eager to see any potential progress though. He agreed to limit to 2x per year since we have a high deductible plan. Doesn't really matter since MRIs would be free after first two (after deductible maxed) but they do the contrast dye thing and dh doesn't really want any more MRIs than necessary. We always joke how the dye is worse than the brain tumor itself. Seriously, lord knows what that stuff does to your body and they are injecting a lot into his system. But anyway, I expect we will collectively hold our breath a bit until that is done. Always worrying about bad news. (Bad news would be more surgery).

Reminds me, I was shocked to learn that (George) Gershwin died of a brain tumor at age 38. Had no idea. That one kind of knocked me for a loop. They had a Gershwin exhibit at the Library of Congress. (I had no idea he had a brain tumor or that he passed so young).

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I'll try to share some pictures tomorrow a.m. Any costs breakdown will have to wait for a few more days.

9 Responses to “Back from Vacay”

  1. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    Sounds amazing trip!

  2. Jenn Says:

    Glad you had a good trip. Thanks for the detail on DC - I'm considering a weekend trip this fall & it's good to hear what went over well with the kids.

    You were minutes away from our house! We live by the sweetest place on earth...

  3. Kaycee Fisher Says:




    Which Gershwin? There were 2, George and Ira.


  4. Carol Says:

    Wow, you packed a lot into that trip. I flew home to Boston from D.C. last weekend. American was terrible for me, too. Cancelled and delayed flights. Ugh. At least, home safe and sound for both of us.

  5. PatientSaver Says:

    Sounds like a really great trip!
    I did call my Senators after the sit-in. Watching it on TV actually brought tears to my eyes.

  6. PatientSaver Says:

    I have long wanted to do an extended US road trip to as many national parks as possible. If you have to zero in on someething, consider southern Utah, where there are 4 or 5 truly scenic parks like Bryce, Canyonlands, etc. A photographer's dream.

  7. creditcardfree Says:

    Thanks for the DC report, we are still hoping to drive there in July. My artist daughter really wants to get to the art museums and our younger daughter wants to see things she missed when she went on spring break two years ago.

    The sit in was a bit irritating for me. That was 24 hours they could have been working on another bill that would be agreeable to both sides. That is what is frustrating to most people on both sides. It's all a show unless we see you bringing new versions of bills or having negotiations.

  8. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Sounds like a wonderful trip!

  9. heather near atlanta Says:

    Jefferson was in debt the same way a lot of us are; he liked to buy the things, all of the things! Your further history reading will probably go into more detail, LOL.

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