July 18, 2012

Our terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day in Washington, DC

Today I decided to take the kids on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Washington, DC.  I knew it was going to be hot, I knew the kids would probably be cranky, but I figured instead of being hot and cranky at home, we'd make the one hour drive and be hot and cranky in the Nation's Capital.  While we did enjoy some parts of our day, we decided that the adjectives Alexander used to describe his day also applied to our trip.

Doesn't look so bad here, but keep reading.

That's right, the car thermometer was reading 103!!  (it actually reached 104 several times, but not when I had my camera out).  With the humidity, I heard the heat index was up around 112!
But, Laura, you say, your kids look fine in front of the White House and at the American History Museum.  That's right, but you must remember, I had all three of my kids with me.  My oldest daughter was whining so much about the heat and how much her brother and sister were bothering her, that she wouldn't even get in the pictures and was stomping around behind me for each of these shots. 

Plus, I wasn't able to take pictures of myself constantly trying to separate them all while walking down the street or through a museum.  I only have two hands but I have three kids.  That means one kid is always next to another and that's cause for poking, annoying noise-making, flip flop-stepping, or other behaviors that need to be tattled about.

As we left the Museum of American History to head back to the car, we felt a few drops of rain.  As soon as we walked another block, the gusty winds, thunder, lightening and torrential downpours started.   We were soaked within minutes, but at that point, we just decided to keep walking.  My son and youngest daughter were frightened by the lightning and thunder and wanted to move quickly, my oldest was complaining about how much her flip flops were hurting her (which I'd told her not to wear in the first place) and wanted us to move more slowly.

Yup, that's right.  After enduring brutally hot temperatures, unending bickering and whining, and torrential rain, we reach our van to find a $50 parking ticket.  Apparently, in my excitement to finally find a parking spot after circling the Mall for a half hour, I neglected to thoroughly read the sign that stated you couldn't stay parked there between 4-6pm.  My only consolation is that they hadn't towed my car yet (there was a box marked on the ticket that said "towing requested") and all the museums are free, so I hadn't spent a lot of money already.

Looking at the bright side, the trip wasn't a total bust...

The kids enjoyed some yummy ice cream 

Notice how they're all smiles after Mommy drops $14 on ice creams!

 They liked seeing the many historical artifacts
and even trying out a fountain pen and ink.

And we all thought the 
Bureau of Engraving and Printing 
was really interesting 
 (but I'll be doing a whole separate post on that!)

Have you ever had a trip like this?  One bad thing after another, 
but you'd do it all over again (and you do!)


  1. We had an '84 Class A motor home that we decided to drive to Florida in. Needless to say we had several break-downs, a side of the road fire and long hot waits trying to get it fixed again. We kept an upbeat attitude (there was nothing else we could do) and my kids had a blast. They didn't care that we were playing ball for the 1000+ time in a gas station parking lot or that we had no air conditioning besides the windows. After we drove all night to make it home they asked if they could go back again!

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  2. Love this one! DC is my favorite place in the world, but also lends itself to so seriously bad days- especially whiny and rain filled ones. In one trip I was determined to take my kids to as many of the Smithsonian museums as possible (not smart). My preschool age son successfully peed himself or the floor in 5 museums in a row. He wasnt trying to be bad, he just kept missing, forgetting to tell us he had to go, etc. While we had some amazing other moments in the trip, this is one memory that will forever stick in our heads!

  3. Oooh, DC in July with 3 kids - you're a brave one! We usually drive to Springfield, park the car and take the metro into the city. Of course, that provides a whole new challenge - corralling 3 kids on the train:)
    I don't think we've ever had a trip to DC without copious amounts of whining!

  4. well, regarding the temperature, where i live it's about 115 degrees and it's not even noon!

  5. I am hoping to take my kids to DC for the first time sometime in the next year... is there a time of year that is less horrible? Also, it will have to be a quick trip, I'm sure, so any suggestions on what is a "must see" for kids. I have 5 kids 9 and under... so I'd love your suggestions!

  6. Yes yes yes! Totally relate to this post. Looks okay in the photos whilst conveying too little of the angst of kids pulling in different directions / whining / not appreciating everything you've done for them in the name of a "fun" day out.
    I'm starting our summer bucket list and wondering how many of them will turn out to be more of a PITA than a fun day trip!

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  8. You will remember this when your kids are grown and have a great time laughing together!

  9. I'm so glad others have had trips like this too. (Well, not really glad that you suffered, but glad that I'm not alone.) It seems like every time I'm out and my kids are whining, I look around and it seems that every other family is smiling and happy.

  10. Kim, I really want to do a whole post on our favorite things to do it DC, but I don't want to keep you waiting.

    Any time of year that the weather is not above 90 (or below 40) would be fine. There's a ton to see, but you do a decent amount of walking outside to get from place to place so you want the temps to be moderate. If you want to avoid crowds, I wouldn't go during the Cherry Blossom Festival or other big events, as they tend to be really crowded.

    There's something neat to see in all the museums of the Smithsonian, but my kids' favorites (in order) are the Museum of Natural History, Air and Space, American History, American Indian and Botanical Gardens. They're within a several block area, so you can walk to see all of them (as long as you're wearing comfy shoes). Because the museums are all free, you can just stop in to see a few things that the kids are interested in and then go to another one.

    We also like stopping by the Lincoln Memorial, the WWII Memorial and Fountains and the White House (you can't go into the White House without special passes, but you can at least get close to it).

    Like I said, I'd love to do a whole post on it when I can, but feel free to email me anytime with any specific questions and I can tell you what worked for our family.

  11. Oooh I've definitely had the horrible, no good, very bad trips! Thankfully our worst was only an overnight trip - we went up to Hobbs State Park to enjoy some of the short little tours and classes the rangers give from time to time (mainly the tree identification and animal tracks presentations, this time) and picked the campground on Beaver Lake closest to the park. BAD CHOICE! Turned out that instead of bathrooms with running water, they had outhouses. That was HORRIBLE. There were TONS of bugs and even with bug spray we got eaten alive. NO GOOD. The classes weren't as interesting as the ones we've gotten at Lake Ft. Smith state park, and we decided NOT to go on the hike offered. It was ridiculously HOT. VERY BAD.

    And yet, the very next week, we headed out on our more extended camping trip up in Branson. It was -everything- the prior trip wasn't. Even though it was hot, Silver Dollar City had plenty of water rides to keep us cool, and a day at the beach on Table Rock Lake was awesome. The campground at Table Rock State Park was everything the one at Beaver Lake hadn't been. And we had hardly *any* bugs to deal with!

    Will we ever go camping at Beaver Lake again? Oh, probably. :P Just not at THAT campsite, that's for sure! And I will always, ALWAYS call ahead to verify they have *real* bathrooms from now on! (Our family camped frequently for most of my childhood summers, and my family and I have camped before this, and I've -never- encountered a campground with outhouses before! UGH!)

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