D.C. Trip - The End


President Lincoln's box at Ford's Theatre
The last two days of our grand Washington, D.C. trip were interesting, but rather uneventful. We paid a visit to Ford's Theatre http://www.nps.gov/foth/index.htm) where on the evening of April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd were watching the play, "Our American Cousin" when John Wilkes Booth shot him in the head. The president was carried across the street to a boarding house, but in spite of the best efforts of the doctors, he died 9 hours later. The theatre box where Lincoln was shot has been kept just as it was that fateful night (except for being blocked off from entry by a sheet of Plexiglas), including the flags draped across the front. When Booth jumped from the box to the stage, he caught his left spur on one of these flags causing him to land wrong and breaking his leg.

The theatre is smaller than I thought it would be. The Park Ranger who led the tour and gave the historical account was very knowledgeable and friendly. I sat in my seat as he gave his speech and I looked up at the President's Box only about 30 feet away, trying to imagine what it was like that night; to feel the confusion as the shot rang out and then to see a man jump from the box onto the stage. After the ranger had answered all questions from the 25 or so people on the tour, he led us upstairs to the box where it happened.

There is a very small little hallway you have to walk through just before entry. The hallway prevented more than 2 people from being in it at the same time because it was so narrow. Everyone in the crowd was being patient and respectful of each other and waiting their turn to enter the little hall & see the site. Almost everyone. During the ranger's talk, there had been 2 kids, brother & sister of about 10 & 12 years of age, who kept talking and then got up and started running around, making noise and punching each other's arms. The parents, who spoke a foreign language which I couldn't place but think was European, did nothing. And now, just before it came our turn to enter the hallway, these 2 brats came running past everyone in line and tried to jump in front of us, almost knocking over Youngest-daughter in their rush. I don't think so, dunderheads; that's not going to happen. I quickly reached out and grabbed both of them by their shirt collars and gently, but firmly pulled them back, told them to knock it off, get back in line and wait their turn. I don't know if they understood my words, but they certainly understood my tone and did as I told them. Momma-woman thought I was about to start a fight with their parents, but I turned and looked at them standing in line a couple of people behind us - they both looked away and didn't say a word. They were cowed by their own children who weren't even teenagers yet so they wouldn't have the wherewithal to confront a grown man, especially when they know he only did what they should have done themselves. Just because you have figured out how to have sex doesn't mean you should be a parent.

After we finished the tour in Ford's Theatre, we went across the street to the boarding house where President Lincoln died. It was kind of weird looking at the actual bed where he passed away. I wondered if there was a presidential ghost hanging around. Again, I was surprised at how small the hallways and rooms are. We didn't stay long as there was really only a sitting room where Mary spent her time and the bedroom where Lincoln died. This wasn't a great, wonderful, amazing thing to do. The whole thing was rather somber and respectful and pretty much one of those things I'm glad Youngest-daughter got to see, but I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing and been none the worse for it.

Mt. Vernon
We also visited Mount Vernon, George Washington's estate. (http://www.mountvernon.org/) Overlooking the Potomac River, the 50-acres grounds are beautiful. The house was big and nicely appointed, but if I lived there, I'd be sitting in my rocker on the back porch every chance I got! For me, even though it included over a dozen buildings and 500+ original artifacts, this tour wasn't as interesting as Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate (http://1dustytrack.blogspot.com/2012/01/dc-road-trip-day-third.html). Still, it was pretty cool to walk where the father of our country did, to actually walk in his footsteps and to see the same things he did.

Great Falls National Park
One of the last places we went was Great Falls National Park http://www.nps.gov/grfa/index.htm), the park Youngest-daughter wrote her essay on for one of her classes. An 800-acre park just 15 miles from downtown D.C., the site to see is where the Potomac River rushes through the narrow Mather Gorge and crashes over falls and large rocks. The noise is incredible and you can literally feel the power of the water. There is no swimming here! If you have a bit of extra time, you certainly could do worse than visiting this interesting park.

Our last night in D.C., Momma-woman took Youngest-daughter ice-skating at an outside rink while I rested my tired legs and when they returned, we packed most of our bags, took down the paper snow flakes and other Christmas decorations we had adorned our hotel room with, and hit the beds rather early. After quick showers and breakfast the following morning, we threw the last of our luggage in the back of the faithful Honda Odyssey and pointed her toward home. We had planned to drive about 10 or so hours and stop somewhere for the night, but early that evening, we ran into some pretty heavy rain; heavy enough that we didn't really want to stop and unpack stuff from the car in it. We weren't all that tired yet as we had done a good job during the day switching drivers and taking naps. Youngest-daughter was good as the my-fi enabled Internet connection to download her TV shows which she had missed seeing while we were gone. It kept raining and we kept driving until finally we were only 3 hours from home. I said, "Either we pull over for the night now, or we go for it." Momma-woman replied, "Let's stop for coffee and then go for it." So that's what we did.

We arrived home at 1:30 in the morning; dark-30. We pulled into the garage, left the luggage in the car and made our way in. I'm always relieved to see the house still standing and our stuff still in it upon our return from a trip. We were tired and felt a little funny walking because we had been driving/riding in the car for so long, but we were home. A good trip is having a place good to go to and a place good to return to. We soon crawled into our own comforting beds and fell asleep to the sounds of the rain.
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