Two Weeks in July


Wow, I'm exhausted just looking at this post now. Maybe Brock has a point when he complains about how we're always go-go-going . . .

Sunday 7/10: Visited the Pentagon Memorial (very sobering--I too often forget about the Pentagon attack on 9/11) and then headed over to Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle. Sometimes it's funner to lust after books than to actually purchase them. We wanted to sit down and read a little, but you weren't allowed into the cafe unless you'd already bought the books. THIS IS WHY PEOPLE GO TO CHAIN BOOKSTORES. Kramerbooks? More like Lamerbooks. See pictures 1-9 here.

Tuesday 7/12: Went to Arlington at dusk to watch the Marine Corps band perform. The best part was when the non-band Marines came out and did amazing tricks with their guns (twirling, throwing, and other synchronized badass stuff just like in the commercials). See pictures 10-22 here.

Thursday 7/14: Grabbed some homecooked wings at J Bells up near U Street and ate them on a grassy hill overlooking a Little League game! America, much? We also met up with some of my friends from work to watch the 50th Annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Stadium. Dems had a young pitcher who'd played ball in college, so they smoked us 8-2! See pictures 25-29 here.

Friday 7/15: Had an epic TMNT party with the Barlow Center peeps. Complete with ninja turtle masks, mutagen, and homemade pizza (TMNT's favorite food . . . duh).

Saturday 7/16: Headed out into the boonies of DC to visit the National Arboretum, which was well worth it! It was so nice to be away from the city smells and bustle. We went back into town for brunch at a quiet place called Cedar, and then walked around the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden. After a couple more hours spent at the National Gallery of Art, we were le tired! See pictures 30-41 here and pictures 1-72 here.

Sunday 7/17: Went on a glorious morning run to Old Town Alexandria, where we ate at Gatsby's Tavern--a place that fed George and Martha Washington on numerous occasions! The Barlow Center missionary couple (The Sowbys) invited us over for a delicious dinner with some of the other young couples in the ward, and we had dessert with our friends Ryan and Tiffany in Silver Spring (it was Ryan's birthday!). We had some good conversation, good food, a little bit of Wii, and a few intense rounds of knock poker. Can't beat it! See this album.

Monday 7/18: Biked over to Arlington to eat at the famous Ray's Hell Burger for dinner (President Obama once dined here with Vladimir Putin). The meat was sooooo insanely good, but the burger was beyond huge! We definitely could've split one. See pictures 43-45 here.

Tuesday 7/19: Made a quick trip up to Washington National Cathedral after church. This place could easily compete with any cathedral in old Europe! Utterly gorgeous. See pictures 46-75 here.

Wednesday 7/20: Headed up to north Massachusetts Avenue for a showing of "Some like it Hot" on a big lawn! I'd forgotten how funny that movie was. Also: If Marilyn Monroe doesn't make you feel like an inferior woman, you must be a man.

Thursday 7/21: Went to the Maine Avenue fish market with Ryan and Tiffany. (See pictures 77-89 here.) Came home and played a fun dice game called Zilch. Tiffany impressed us with her luckiness. Ryan impressed us with his nerdiness. "No! I'm not risk-averse, I'm risk-neutral. You see, if the expected value of this roll is . . . "

Friday 7/22: I visited the American Art Museum in the morning and absolutely loved it! (See pictures 73-78 here.) Can't wait to go back. One of my favorite exhibits was a special exhibition of George Ault--I'd never heard of him before, but I fell in love with his paintings. Friday was also the day that I chopped off all my hair (FREEDOM!). In the evening, Brock and I headed up to Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street for some half-smokes. U Street is a historic corridor of DC--Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and scores of other prominent African-Americans used to come here for good food, good jazz, and good company. See pictures here 122-144 here.

Saturday 7/23: Spent all day at Mt. Vernon! See pictures 90-121 here. We had bought a couple Groupon tickets a few weeks prior for a fun little mini-cruise on down there--$24 including admission (which is normally $15!). Not too shabby, eh? Mt. Vernon was absolutely gorgeous and made me want to retire on an old Southern plantation. Complete with the slaves, because that is literally the ONLY way that place operated the way it did: In Mt. Vernon's heyday, they were farming on over 3200 acres of land with only 100 slaves. Can you imagine being in charge of 32 acres BY YOURSELF?!?!

Mt. Vernon definitely gave me an appreciation for the backbreaking work slaves had to do. Even something as simple as doing laundry was dangerous and physically exhausting. They had to haul up gallons and gallons of water, heat it up over a fire, mix everything in a large vat of lye and animal fat (can you imagine the number that would do on your hands?), and then dry and iron it. Try doing this on a hot summer day with endless loads of laundry for not only the Washingtons, but for all their guests, all the other slaves, etc. Unreal.

The thing the struck me most about Mt. Vernon, however, was how prudent and responsible George Washington was with his property. He truly tried to live off the land as much as possible, and always stored things away in preparation for leaner times. He saved money wherever he could and was beyond organized with his inventory and finances. Mt. Vernon was an extremely complex estate to run, but he made it seem easy. Take a virtual tour of Mt. Vernon here and look at all the things he had to juggle!

Some of the highlights of Mt. Vernon included seeing George and Martha's graves, seeing the bed that George Washington passed away in, and the key of the Bastille displayed in the house--a gift to George Washington from his friend Marquis de Lafayette of France.

The biggest NON-highlight of Mt. Vernon was how hot it was--115 degrees on the heat index! We came home dehydrated and exhausted.

Sunday 7/24: Went to the National Archives in the morning before church and saw the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights! It was unbelievable. All the writing was very faded so it was hard to read, but whenever my eyes fell across familiar phrases, chills ran up and down my spine.

"We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor...
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union..."
"The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America."
There was just something about seeing these words in writing--next to the signatures of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, everyone--that made everything real to me. Looking at the words! Those words which were once ideas but are now reality. A feeling of reverence completely washed over me as my eyes scanned those texts. However imperfect or inefficient the political system may be today, it's working. I can't believe it.

Things got even better on Sunday when I had a great Sunday School lesson with the 8-11-year old girls I teach! I've been struggling with teaching them this entire summer because a couple of them are--ahem--rambunctious. But I was finally able to corral their attention, focus, and respect (maybe the new, shorter hair helped too? They told me I looked older). I taught a lesson about the ten virgins from the New Testament, and filled a complete hour with thoughtful discussion and questions. Let me tell ya, making one parable from the New Testament take up an entire hour with pre-pubescent girls is no easy task!


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