For the last night of our vacation, we had decided to spend the night at the Holiday Inn in what's known as "Old Town" in Alexandria, VA, so that we could be close to the Reagan Airport for our flight home. We had a little bit of time before our flight, so we decided to take the kids to Arlington Cemetery.
Everybody knows what Arlington looks like. You've seen it in countless movies, such as Saving Private Ryan (which Betty still hasn't seen). But to be there was something different.
The land that became Arlington Cemetery at one point belonged to George Washington Parke Custis, the step-grandson of George Washington. Custis had willed the land to his daughter, Mary Anna Randolph Custis who just so happened to have married Robert E. Lee.
That's right - Robert E. Lee was President George Washington's great-step-granddaughter's husband, and Arlington Cemetery is on his property.
Anyway, at the start of the Civil War, the Union wanted Lee to lead their troops, but he opted to fight for his home state of Virginia which had seceded from the union. Lee's home was abandoned during the war, and Union troops occupied it and used it for their headquarters. As Union troops died, the Union started burying fallen soldiers on Lee's property - partly because they needed a place to bury the dead, and also as an FU to Lee.
We didn't have much time in Arlington so we headed straight for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A military funeral was taking place near one of the pathways that takes you there, so we walked around the cemetery to give the mourners their space. By the way, to our veterans, thank you for your service. We made it to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier right in time for the changing of the guard ceremony. But during the ceremony, Rosie just couldn't last in her stroller anymore. Betty took her out - and Rosie dashed towards the grass. (Betty may have had to step on the grass to grab her.) But don't worry, there weren't any graves around that area. We also saw where JFK was buried.
That was all we had time for, so we drove back towards DC and turned in our Dodge Grand Caravan. I yelled, "It's a rental!" one last time as we pulled into the car return. After all my fretting about vacuuming out the car, they didn't even look to see if it was destroyed inside before handing me my receipt. We could have rolled around in another few boxes of Ritz crackers, cereal and rice cakes and it wouldn't have mattered. Oh what could have been.
The walk from the rental car return to the airport terminal wasn't very long, but we had more luggage than a family of twenty people going on an African safari for two months, and I refused to pay $5 for a cart. I thought we could just walk it. Which we did - in total silence, except for cold stares and the mutterings of "it was just $5."
Look, it's like when we unpack the car after going to the grocery store: I'm carrying everything in on a single trip and I'm not going to ask for help. It's a guy thing.
Inside the Reagan terminal, everybody was packed together like sardines. The terminals are small and circular, and there's less room in there than there is on the Metro on the way back from a Nationals game. I escaped from the mass of unwashed humanity to go get some treats for the kids. And that's when I had the sticker shock of the entire trip: a pack of Skittles cost $4.
I was a captured audience, so what could I do but pay it? And while I was at it, I bought three other bags of candy, for what amounted to one of the largest purchases of the trip. I don't mind paying to fly to DC, rent a car for a week and drive up to Maryland, pay to get into national parks... but paying $4 for Skittles really irked me. This is the Tantrum, so you knew I'd have something to complain about.
The flight back to New Orleans was uneventful, except for when Rosie took one of Peter's souvenirs - his NASA helmet that we got at the National Air and Space Museum - and flung it towards Betty's face, cutting her eye. Betty was in obvious pain, but I couldn't take Rosie because she loves Betty way more than she loves me, and Rosie wasn't having it. So instead Betty gave me the helmet, which I put under my seat, and may... have... forgotten there. I guess we'll have to go back one day to get another one.
In typical Tanory fashion, our baby girl pooped with about an hour left on the flight. There wasn't any way to change her since we encountered a lot of turbulence, so Annie and I just cranked up the air on our side of the aisle and tried to pretend like we didn't know the rest of our family holding the stinky toddler.
On the drive back to Baton Rouge, Annie asked why we don't explore our own city like we did DC. That was an excellent question - actually, it was the very same question that I asked myself after mine and Betty's first trip to New York and DC back in 2006. That question led to the Food Outings that my coworkers and I took every so often, where we went to a new restaurant every week.
So now it's time to put our tourist tendencies to work in Baton Rouge - and even greater Louisiana. We want to take the kids to Avery Island... maybe take a swamp tour. And what does North Louisiana have to offer? Oh wait, they're north of I-10 so they're Yankees, maybe we'll just stay to the south.
I'd like to thank cousin Elizabeth and Dino, Aunt Charlotte and Aunt Jerry for letting us crash at their places and for letting the kids have a safe place to use as a home base for exploring new cities and making new memories. This was a trip that I hope they'll remember a long time.
Thanks for reading!