So normally our vacations are in the Summer and to New Hampshire to see family…but my husband’s TDY trip to Northern Virginia allowed me to have a mini vacation right here at the holidays. So I’ll consider this a special little holiday trip. I didn’t even plan on doing so much site seeing, but without any children with me I found myself with so much time!🤣
Originally, the plan was for me to attend the Chief of Chaplain’s ball. It was our first ball in over 12 years, and it was our first overnight trip as a married couple alone in over 11 years! Wow!! I didn’t realize how badly I needed all of this.
It was a little stressful, I won’t lie. The kids had co-op for their homeschool group still and I had lunch duty the day I was driving to my parent’s. I’m a major procrastinator so I didn’t even pack until after lunch!😂 But I remembered everything. So there’s a big win for me.
I picked up the kids and made a quick stop at Target and got on the road. We made it to my parent’s house that night just before 10:30 p.m. I was amazed because we only stopped once to get food and get back on the road.
After a good night’s sleep, I hit the road to Ft. Belvoir. Can I just take a moment to say how relaxing driving is when you don’t have to keep the peace in the car. I listened to Savannah’s local Christmas station through the iHeartRadio app all the way there. I was feeling festive! 🎄🥰
TIME TO GET READY
I got there with just enough time to have lunch with Joe and the chaplains he works with and then headed to the hotel to get ready.
Here’s another thing, I felt like I was getting ready for prom. I took a hot bath, did my nails, rested for a bit, and then did my hair. That’s about the time Joe arrived to change into his dress blues.
We headed over to the Officer’s Club at Ft. Belvoir. What a beautiful installation. It’s literally the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen. We checked out the amazing moon shining off the Potomac and then headed in.
We enjoyed sitting with Joe’s chaplains and families.
TOURING ARLINGTON AND MONUMENTS
The next day I had all day to explore, so I decided to visit my Papa’s grave site at Arlington National Cemetery. It was special the first time I went, but I had a much different perspective and was able to see just how massive it really is. Not only that, I couldn’t help but notice the numerous graves of men who were my age. It was humbling to think of so many men and women who gave their lives in service to this great nation.
I then headed over to the Tomb of the Unknown Solider to witness the changing of the guard. It too was a solemn and most humbling experience.
After viewing the changing of the guards, my friend texted me and asked if I’d like to go check out more of the city. Her family lived there for a little while, so she was a lot more familiar with the city than I was. So off I went to meet her. I saw all the war memorials, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument (which I also had a great view of from Arlington).
We then took a little trip to Georgetown Cupcake. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G cupcakes! We also got coffee. Perfect end to a day of site seeing. We weren’t quite done; Joe and I had dinner plans at a sushi place and then had to meet with his colleagues.
The day before, my friend had mentioned Mount Vernon and that it was a beautiful place to visit at Christmas. So Friday, knowing we would be heading to the Pentagon for a visit later that afternoon, I decided to take the quick fifteen minute trip up the road to visit our nation’s first president’s residence. I was not disappointed. I actually showed up on Friday the 13th. This is a special day because it was that day, 220 years ago, that our nation’s first president lived his last day on this earth. It also happened to be a Friday 220 years ago.
THERE’S A CAMEL AT CHRISTMAS
They offer military discounts, and kids under six are free. I was greeted by a super cute camel. I asked one of the guides why he was there. His name is Aladdin, and he’s one of the two Geico camels. I rode one of them when Jac was a little baby, and I’m pretty sure this was the one because the guide told me the other camel is not friendly. This one was. While they’re sometimes known to spit and have nasty dispositions, this one allowed me to pet his nose. He was so sweet.
So I toured Mount Vernon, and it’s a lot to unpack. This can be a very touchy subject, and I’m not going to play sides. Slavery is wrong. Wrong on all levels. Thank God it is no longer legal to keep slaves, but when our country was founded, having slaves wasn’t uncommon. I know we all have ideas what slavery was like, but I can say what I had in my mind as slavery and how it was portrayed at Mount Vernon is different. Keeping a person against their will and forcing them to work is wrong.
George Washington did have slaves, but from what I can tell they were treated well by our first president. In fact, he had in his will that upon his death that they should be released. There is also a story about one of his slaves whose boat he would often borrow. He would actually ask permission from his enslaved carpenter, Sambo Anderson, before he would use it and always returned it to the location where he found it. (I found that fascinating.)
The enslaved workers from the plantation are buried on the property and have a memorial dedicated to them. I made sure to visit this site to pay respect and reverence these people who had no choice in their lives. It was very moving, and I’m glad that I was able to do all of these tours (at least Arlington and Mount Vernon) on my own because tears were shed…and I hate crying in front of people.
Finally, we finished our trip with a tour of the Pentagon. I couldn’t take many pictures there, and there are a lot of areas that you can’t even carry your phone. But there is also a memorial there and memorabilia for those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Fun fact: construction of the Pentagon began on September 11, 1941.
While there, we met with the Chief of Chaplain’s again, and he gifted me a pen for my visit to the Pentagon. It really was a memorable day for which I am so very thankful.
(My hair was a mess because I spent all morning walking in the rain.)
There is so much more I would like to do in our nation’s capital, but I will forever hold this special trip in my heart for so many reasons. I hope to return and see more, but for now my heart is full. Until next time…
Merry Christmas, everyone!