As most of you know, Tyler and I got to spend about 5 weeks in Washington, DC this summer. Tyler was offered a fellowship from Ken Starr's Office to work with the iCivics team in DC. iCivics is an online based civics curriculum for educators to use in their classrooms. You can learn more about the organization here. After I got permission from my doctor to travel for 5 weeks before I had to stop traveling because I would be 5 weeks away from my due date, Tyler and I made our plans to spend our last summer of just the two of us in DC. We left on June 4th and spent 31 nights in DC (we spent a few nights in St. Louis for our family reunion) before returning on July 7th.
To say it was an amazing summer would be short-changing the experience. We had a blast, and even though we were ready to come back and face the real world again, we miss our summer 2014 home away from home. We did our best to keep track of everything we did while we were gone. Here's the story of our summer in DC (don't judge us...we talk a lot about the food we experienced!):
A Summer in Washington, DC
Wednesday, June 4- Arrived via Southwest, Taxi to Apartment (1227 15 Street NW), Dinner at Etto, Grocery Shopping at Whole Foods (ran back to the apartment in the pouring rain with our groceries...soggy bags!).
Thursday, June 5- First Day of Work! Met for lunch at Bethesda Bagels. Walked to the White House that evening and to the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial at dusk.
Friday, June 6- Tyler's parents came to visit us our first weekend. They arrived at 10:30 am, and we met Tyler for lunch at Cosi, then (in good Ellis fashion) got ice cream a Larry’s on Connecticut Avenue. Tyler went back to work while M, D, and E shopped at Safeway. The three of us (Zac, Kathy, and Me) took a nap while Tyler worked to pay for everything. We made sandwiches for dinner, walked to the White House and then to the National Sculpture Garden for Jazz in the Park with Juanita Williams. Apparently they make an incredible Sangria, but they ran out by the time we got there, so Tyler, Zac, and Kathy drank beer and wine while I watched.
The Sculpture Garden was pretty crowded!
Saturday, June 7- Ate simple breakfast at home (cereal, Buzzy Eggs), walked to the Smithsonian American History Museum-saw Julia Child’s kitchen, the Ruby Slippers, the Flag that Inspired the National Anthem, inaugural dresses, and much more! Then we walked the mall to lunch at the National Museum of the American Indian food court style. Walked past the Capitol Building, stopped to get ice cream from a food truck called Street Cream (you gotta get the coconut) and put our feet up in the sculpture garden...next a bathroom break in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (1 of 32 for me that day). We walked some more to the World War II memorial, then to the Korean War Memorial. Zac and Kathy checked out the Lincoln Memorial while Tyler and I tried to cool down on a park bench overlooking the reflecting pool...we then moved over to the Vietnam War Memorial, and back home to shower and change (we walked the whole Mall from home to home again all in 7.8 miles). Then we walked into the Gay Pride parade in our neighborhood. The parade made everything really crowded, so we tried to avoid the crowd by going another way...then we walked into the parade again! Tired and hungry we walked and walked and walked until we finally found a restaurant that didn’t cost our first born child or require a reservation 5 days in advance-Rice (Erin and Mom-Crispy Duck, Tyler-Soy-Sake Marinated Sliced Beef, Dad-chicken fried rice, am I right?), then to bed! (total of 10.2 miles!!!)
Sunday, June 8- Today we’re on the metro! We bought passes at the CVS and headed to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, wow! That was powerful! Then we split up and got food at the food trucks on the mall, though we all had separated Zac and I got tacos at the same truck and Kathy and Tyler had lamb gyros…mmmm mmmm, then we walked to the metro, then walked to the right metro and rode to Arlington National Cemetery where we saw Kennedy’s grave and the changing of the guard (just in time!) at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Then we headed to U-street for famous Ben’s Chili Bowl for hot dogs, hamburgers, and chili cheese fries with the president (‘s picture). On our walk home we stopped and bought donuts at Ted’s Bulletin for breakfast the next day. I finished the day off with some homemade cookies from a container J
Monday, June 9- Ted’s donuts for breakfast and Tyler’s goodbye to Zac and Kathy. Amy (Tyler's cousin) picked up Zac and Kathy for their “BalDimore” adventure and I took a much-needed nap. For dinner we ate the best BLTs ever and walked down to our local Trader Joe’s for some fun grocery shopping (Is Whole Foods not the most expensive place in the world? Joe says it is.)
Tuesday, June 10- Dinner at Pho 14, went to Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond to finish buying Emma all the stuff she just “has to have” . . . talk about a high maintenance little girl!
Wednesday, June 11- I met Tyler for lunch at our favorite DC taco stand, Chipotle. For Dinner sandwiches, rain and half of Sky Fall
Thursday, June 12- Finished Sky Fall and packed for our trip to St. Louey...just a simple day in DC.
Friday, June 13-Sunday, June 15- Lots of great fun at the Tower’s Family Reunion hosted by the Heavners in St. Louis (well outside of STL a bit). It was our own Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Over the course of the weekend, we walked to the metro, took the metro to Union Station, caught the Marc Train to Baltimore, flew to St. Louis, took the shuttle to the Hertz, rented a car, drove to Mark Twain National Forest and Trout Lodge at the YMCA of the Ozarks, drove back to the rental place, shuttled, flew, took a bus from Baltimore to DC, and then metroed and walked home. Whew! While at Trout Lodge with the Carpenter Clan, we did the following: Camp Fire S’mores, Put-put speed version, family photo, kayaked, sailed, canoed, tried out some archery (some better than others, eh, Mark?), played tetherball, put-put serious style, played sand volleyball, ping pong, ate some GORP (Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts…or in our case pretzels, m&ms, goldfish, m&ms, and m&ms), played Tennis, ate dinner, family feud, and one more put-put silly style (that all happened in pretty much one day).
Monday, June 16- Sandwiches outside Tyler's office for lunch. That night, we walked to Ford’s Theater.
This is the house that Lincoln was taken to after he was shot
Tuesday, June 17- Meatloaf Sandwiches at DuPont Circle for lunch. Then Tyler suprised me with plans to walk to the Kennedy Center to hear Zachary Ostroff (ukulele and upright bass) play a free concert. Decided since we were dressed up we would eat at a nice restaurant. Walked to Founding Farmers (1.5 hour wait…nope) so we decided to let the city decide for us. That was the last night we decided to let the city decide for us. Ended up walking all the way home but finally landed on Great Wall Szechuan House for dinner.
Wednesday, June 18- Walked to Park for Lunch (Tyler Chinese food, me sandwich)…it was BURNING UP HOT OUTSIDE!!! Took the metro to Navy Park for Nationals baseball game. $1 hot dog night, so we each had 2…drank 3 (got our money’s worth) large souvenir sodas and finished it all off with a giant order of chili cheese nachos!
Thursday, June 19- Homemade tacos for dinner at home. Facetimed with Ryan and Becca to find out that Emma is going to have a best friend in Brooklyn, her cousin coming in November!
Friday, June 20- Met Tyler for lunch at his office. Had taco bowls with Amber’s (coworker of Tyler) kids (they are PRECIOUS). Went home to meet Kelsey who was visiting for the weekend. Got her settled in the apartment and then headed to Coastal Taco for happy hour (let the weekend vacation begin)! Had prickly pear margaritas (and lemonade for the preggers one…me) and chips and queso. After happy hour we met up with Tyler at the grocery store. We came back to the apartment and got ready for dinner. Decided to walk down 14th street and see what sounded good. Landed on Barcelona (Spanish tapas) but it was an hour and a half wait…so we decided to put our name down and walk around until we found a patio to get drinks at! It was such a beautiful night so drinks on the patio of Policy was the perfect solution to waiting on our table at Barcelona. When an hour and fifteen minutes came, I called the restaurant to see where we were on the list…Dominique let me know it would be another forty-five minutes…oh well…order another drink! Made it back to Barcelona (2 hours now!)…so Tyler sent his poor pregnant wife to check the list again. BINGO! Dominique apologized for the long wait (and the fact that I was standing outside), invited us in to sit by the kitchen where we dined on 5 of their tapas free of charge and partook in their AMAZING sangria…so I heard. Had potato torte, crispy fried snap peas, roasted eggplant flatbread pizza, ham and chicken croquets, and grilled asparagus. Finally got seated and ordered more sangria (virgin margaritas for me), a charcuterie tray, grilled hanger steak, and crepes. IT WAS AMAZING FOOD!!! So good, in fact, that Tyler and I made reservations to go back the next weekend for our anniversary. Then it was home and bedtime!
Saturday, June 21- Slept in…met Justin’s brother and sister-in-law for brunch at Logan Tavern. Made our way to the Capitol so we could get our exclusive (brought to you by the T Ring) tour. Good ol’ Joe from Virginia was our tour guide…and he was old…and a showoff. Walked to the Library of Congress afterwards. The reading room was beautiful! Then we took the metro to the other side of the mall and saw the Forklife (or Folklife) Festival on our way to the Natural History Smithsonian Museum. Afterwards we grabbed pizza at &Pizza. Brought it home to eat and then drank wine and played Golf until about 2:00 AM!
Sunday, June 22- Had cinnamon rolls for breakfast and then went to Eastern Market. Walked around…got hungry, so we had chips and queso at District Taco. Came home, watched the USA vs. Portugal World Cup game…watched Portugal tie the game in the last 20 seconds. Made pork chops, potatoes, and green beans for dinner and then watched Shawn pitch for the Rangers. Then we watched Dave!
Monday, June 23- Had breakfast with Tyler before he went to work at GBD…OMG! Maple Bacon Bourbon, Apple Fritter, and Chocolate Pudding…oh and a chicken biscuit with spicy honey! Kelsey and I went back to the apartment and slept until it was time to meet Tyler for lunch. Ate at Shake Shack (YUM) and then spent the afternoon shopping cute boutiques. Grabbed a glass of wine at the end of our shopping spree (or spreeless) and came back to put our feet up before Kelsey’s flight left. At the last minute, Kelsey’s flight was delayed by 2 hours! So we made baked pasta before we said goodbye to her!
Tuesday, June 24- After work, Tyler and I caught the train to “BalDimore” to meet Amy and Steve (Tyler's cousin and her husband). We had dinner at Nacho Mama’s, and Amy and Steve treated us to some Natty Boh, Seafood quesadillas, and crab dip. We had so much fun catching up with those two and we were so glad it was easy to get to them!
Wednesday, June 25- Pizza for lunch at Flippin’ Pizza. Walked to Meridian Hill Park (Malcolm X Park) after work. IT WAS SO HOT!!!
Thursday, June 26- USA watch party at DuPont Circle, while we had burgers and beers at bar down the road with the iCivics staff. Not much going on that evening, but we did make our way to Amsterdam Falafel for amazing falafel!
Friday, June 27- Lunch with Carrie (Tyler's boss) at Bistro Du Coin for DELICIOUS mussels. Then, since it was our anniversary, we celebrated with a Charcuterie tray at home before we headed out for our fancy dinner at Founding Farmers. Dinner was amazing...fried green tomatoes, bacon lollipops, chicken and waffles, steak, and beignets for dessert.
Saturday, June 28- Waked down to the mall for the Forklife (Folklife) Festival, then beat the heat and headed to the National Archives. Saw the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. So cool! Then we went home and got dolled up for dinner at Barcelona. After dinner, we took an Uber to the Kennedy Center to see The Lion King! It was amazing...and I cried 15 seconds after the show started because it was so cool...I know...emotional pregnant woman!
Sunday, June 29- Matchbox for breakfast (iron skillet cinnamon rolls!). Then, we headed to the Spy Museum and got to participate in a spy simulation! Across the street was the National Portrait Gallery, so we crossed that one off our list too! Then, Dim Sum for dinner...but it wasn't enough food, so preggers (me) dragged Tyler back to Ben’s Chili Bowl!
Monday, June 30- We stayed in this night for Sloppy Joes and watching American President.
Tuesday, July 1- Time for more World Cup action. Unfortunately, the new boss at iCivics began her first day today, so Tyler and the iCivics staff would have a bit more difficult time getting away. However, they were able to sneak out to Darlington House again to cheer on team USA. Even with the 2-1 loss in extra time, it was a great time. After the game, we headed next door to a great store called Table Top. I saw a few…ok many things…perfect for Emma, but DC is so stinking expensive...so we put those purchases on hold!
Wednesday, July 2- For lunch, we met at Chipotle. Wednesday night we planned to go to Gravely Point to eat a picnic under the low flying planes. But as the temperature rose and our desire to make a picnic waned, we decided to take the bus right over to Georgetown. We just missed our bus (as usual for us and public transportation) but made it to the ritzy area of DC. We bought some Thank You notes at a cool stationary store, walked along the Potomac river, and ate a nice Italian dinner at Il Canal.
Thursday, July 3- Tyler’s last day of work with iCivics and a staff lunch at Banana Leaves. We met for happy hour at Tortilla Coast for queso and Prickly Pear margarita for Tyler and a Prickly Pear lemonade for me. We then made our way home. When we got hungry again later we when over to get Chicken Biscuits at GBD (Golden Brown and Delicious) and “Hot Now” glazed donuts at Krispy Kreme.
Friday, July 4- Heller’s Bakery, not for apple fritters (they weren’t out because they never made any that day…according to the man at the cash register), an amazing trip to 5 Below where we purchased sunscreen, a small cooler, and 2 camping chairs for under $20. Then we made a great trip to Whole Foods to buy our ingredients for a gourmet picnic for the 4th of July on the National Mall. Finally, we headed to the west lawn of the Capitol building to stake our claim for a spot to watch the whole shebang. When we exited the metro station, we walked up immediately to the front of the line at the Capitol where the Capitol Police were opening the gate. We skipped ahead in the line and walked right on to the west lawn. After only 5 or so hours the concert, A Capitol Fourth, began...featuring John Williams, Frankie Valli, Patti LaBelle, the Muppets (Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Fozzy), Tom Bergeron as MC, Sara Evans, Michael McDonald, Phillip Phillips, Jordin Sparks, and Kelli O’Hera. What a show! Then the National Symphony Orchestra played the 1812 Overture while the best fireworks show we’ve ever seen displayed behind the Washington Monument.
Saturday, July 5- With just a few days left, we had a full day planned so we could cross off more of our "must-sees" in DC. So we took a bus to the National Cathedral. It was beautiful! And it was a great day...not too hot...to just walk around the church property. After we had our fill of the Cathedral, we headed to the National Zoo. We got lost getting there, and we were both grumpy because we were hungry and tired of walking. So we walked through the zoo really fast, only stopping to see the giant pandas! After some Dippin' Dots and giant pandas, we left the zoo...grabbed dinner at &Pizza, and went home and watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Sunday, July 6— On our second to last day in DC, we went out to explore the Jefferson Memorial. It was a little bit of a walk to get there, but we made it. It is one of my favorite memorials that I remembered from when my family went to DC years ago. After the Jefferson Memorial, we went to The America gift shop to get an ornament. That's one of the souvenirs we always get when we go on vacation. That night, we ate at Etto. It was the same restaurant we ate at on our first night in the city, so we thought we would bookend our DC trip with the same restaurant! We had an amazing dinner and then dessert at Logan’s Tavern. After weeks of craving a banana split, I finally got one for dessert our last night!
Monday, July 7 – Enjoyed our last morning at the apartment with a lovely breakfast of all of our leftovers. Then headed out on our last adventure/sightseeing day. The last thing on our “must-see” list was the Supreme Court. It was so much fun. We gave ourselves a self-guided tour, and decided to sit in on the lecture about the Supreme Court (in the actual courtroom). It was (I know…nerds) so neat! After we left the Supreme Court, we headed back to our apartment to continue eating as much of the food we bought as we could. Needless to say, we had lots of snacks that day, and some random combinations for our lunch. We caught an Uber to the airport around 4:00 and made our way back to Dallas. We were ready, but it was still bittersweet to leave our DC home!
Things We Saw:
The White House
The Washington Monument
The Lincoln Memorial
National Sculpture Garden
American History Museum
National Museum of the American Indian
World War II Memorial
Korean War Memorial
Vietnam War Memorial
United States Capitol Building
Library of Congress
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Arlington National Cemetery
National Museum of Natural History
Meridian Hill Park (Malcom X Park)
Folk Life Festival
United States Portrait Gallery