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Beloved and I took the girls on vacation this past week, which was school vacation week here in New England.

Originally, we were going to go to Spain – primarily Barcelona – but then the Economic Downturn hit the law firms, and our previously-thought-to-be-predictable bonuses were scaled back.  Fortunately, mine was not scaled back by much – we were still able to take care of most of our NEEDS.  It was scaled back enough, however, to make me feel that Spain was imprudent.

So we went to D.C.

We had wanted to take them for a long time, but many things were in place to make this year perfect:  Well, of course, Obama.  Also, E is doing key parts of American History in 7th grade this year.

J seemed considerably less excited leading up to the trip.  We couldn’t get her engaged in the travel books to say what she wanted to do – she kept saying ‘mm, yeah, that’ll be fine.”  So we were a little worried on that front.

We were also a little worried because this was (oddly) our first real “tourist” vacation with the girls.  We’ve gone on weekend trips, and we’ve gone to Disneyland.  But otherwise, the heavy travel that Beloved and I have done has been while they’re with the Ex.

Well, it was a resounding success.

We had a blast.  Oh, pictures, you say? I’ll give you pictures.

Washington Monument @ sunset, after a storm

Washington Monument @ sunset, after a storm

WWII Memorial

WWII Memorial

Pandas!

Pandas!

White House

White House

And, um, Escalators.

And, um, Escalators.

We did pretty darned close to everything while there (6 days).  It’s easier to list what we did NOT do:  The Jefferson Memorial; the Aquarium; Georgetown.  We did (I think) every Smithsonian museum that was open, the major monuments, the White House Garden Tour (see Michelle, Malia & Sasha’s veggie garden):

White House Veggie Garden

White House Veggie Garden

We also were able to watch the Senate in session, which was high up on E’s list.  It was both our most frustrating and most rewarding experience.  We’d gone all over D.C. — the White House, the museums, the Supreme Court building — and been through many security systems.  To all of these locations, we’d brought our metal (beautiful) water bottles, and in all of these locations, it was okay.  Actually, we thought it wouldn’t be okay at the White House, and so we left our bags in the hotel (2 blocks away), but others had brought theirs and it was okay.

But the Capitol Building was different.  We waited in line for a long time in the morning to get into the building.  When we finally got to security, one of the very official military-esque security guards barked at J to go outside and dump her water and said “have that guard out there check it before you come back in.”  We went outside and dumped them and asked the other barky military man to check them.  He laughed at me and said, “I just saw you dump it, it’s fine.”  So we went back in.  But then the barky military man who was looking at the x-rays told us we had to throw them away.  No bottles or cans in the building.

We were sad.  Beloved was even a little indignant, but I attempted to talk him out of it.  He and J ended up sitting outside the building with our precious (beautiful) water bottles while E and I went back in to see if we could figure out what was going on with the tickets I was told were on reserve for us.  Turns out the info I had was all screwy (thanks Kerry-staff), and what we really wanted (Senate Gallery Passes) had to be picked up at Kerry’s office – across the street.

We did follow through, and were very glad of it.  We were able to see the Senate in session (Beloved went to a photography exhibit elsewhere, with the water bottles) – although we missed the exciting debate over the “Truth Commission” – and the girls almost peed their pants when John McCain walked in to the chambers and engaged in the (unpopulated) debate.  We had fun seeing how many senators we could identify, loved watching the procedure of the vote (where the senators walk in, stand at the top of the steps and just wave at the woman doing the roll call  — she sees them, calls out their vote, and they turn around and walk back out).

The girls also had a lot more tolerance for museums than I thought they would.  J was a lot more into the art than I think she expected to be.  We stuck with modern art, for the most part, and the girls were happy.

We walked a lot, and packed our days full.  I am thrilled with how the girls held up, and think they’re definitely more than ready for a Europe trip.  Hopefully next year …

But in the meantime, we are definitely due for a BEACH vacation. One where we sit in a chair and read a book for 6 days straight.  I’m already choosing a rental in the Outer Banks for August.  Now I just have to see if I can swing another solid week off of work, especially since there’s an October trial looming ….

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I have been sad about the tiger incident since the first time I read about it, at post-Christmas day 3 a.m., while suffering from insomnia.  I used to visit those tigers.  I’ve seen Tatiana in person.My first sadness was over the re-realization that no matter how much tigers seem like the world’s biggest, cuddliest kitty cat, they really want to rip my throat out.   I love those animals.  Tigers and lions and leopards.  I always have.  When I go to the zoo, I could sit there and watch the cats forever.Once, in Oakland, a tiger peed on my shoe.  That zoo had a fence, not a moat.  Apparently, the fence allows visitors to get within pee-ing distance of the tigers, without endangering their lives.I am upset that a tiger got shot.  Not in relation to anything else about the story – it’s just SAD.I am upset that people think it’s fun to torment animals – even if that is not what happened here (although I believe it is, despite the lack of hard evidence) – there are accounts of it being a new “fun afternoon” for teens.  “Hey, Dudes!  Let’s go to the zoo and give the gorilla hell!”  Apparently, the gorilla at the SF Zoo now gives visitors the finger when they bother him.  Unless they bother him too much, then he starts to pace and shake and get really agitated. Poor little kitty.

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