Spring break 2016: washington d.c. (part one)

After we left Williamsburg, we headed to visit some old LA friends outside of Washington, DC for the night. It was way too quick a visit, but wonderful to see them again and have the kids all play together!

The next morning, we drove into DC. Our “one way” car rental into DC had us dropping the car off at Union Station, so we first stopped by the Westin Washington, D.C. City Center, our home for the next few days, to drop off our luggage and then went to get rid of our car!


We stopped and grabbed lunch inside the Union Center terminal so that Mr. M and Miss L could have their first taste of Shake Shack. I’m not sure Mr. M really tasted it, as much as inhaled it… but everyone was happy and ready to get walking on our first day in the nation’s capital!


We strolled down to the National Mall and gave Miss L a choice of activities for the day!

IMG_9984Her first destination: the sculpture garden outside the National Gallery of Art! (She asked if we could put one of these houses in the backyard… so if you ever see any Lichtenstein copies floating around, can you let me know?)


The next destination was a pretty obvious one: the National Museum of Natural History!


I got to pick the first gallery, so of course I opted for a photographic exhibition from Franz Lanting (my favorite photographer in the whole wide world). Then we wandered into the exhibit featuring Nature’s Best Photography winners… where Miss L gathered a little bit of inspiration!


Miss L was up next, and she chose to go and visit the dinosaurs!


Then it was Mr. M’s turn… and he took us down the dark and evil path of natural rock specimens…


(it’s dark and evil because we’re both rockhounds and seeing all of the specimens turns you into a rock-hunting guru who wants to take them all home!)

IMG_0009We ran into some familiar rocks from our neighborhood in California…

After that, we headed back up to the hotel for the night, grabbed some Thai Sushi for dinner nearby, and then went to bed for an early rise the next morning!

IMG_0026On Day 2, we woke up early to head over to the National Zoo!

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We were there when the gates opened (not that we had to pay or anything!) and ready to see everything that the National Zoo had in store for us…

IMG_0037Or… maybe we were just there to see this little guy.

Yeah. That’s a baby panda sleeping in a tree.


And that’s a panda eating bamboo without a care in the world.

And I’ve spared you from the other 600+ photos and videos I took of pandas over the course of 90 minutes that morning because Mr. M says I might have a problem… and, well, he might be right. BUT THEY ARE SO ADORABLE!!!!

[note: My obsession became even worse when I looked through Instagram later that day and saw a photo of a family in the enclosure WITH THE BABY PANDA. HOW DID THEY DO THAT?!?! HOW MUCH MONEY DOES IT TAKE?!?! Ugh.. I don’t think I’ll ever know…]


Once my family was able to pry me away from the black and white cuties, we wandered down the hill and back up again to see the rest of the Zoo!




[side note: I had told Miss L that, during the summer I spent at Georgetown in high school, I took photos in front of every DC fountain making a fish face. I cannot recall for the life of me WHY I did it, but I did and I have lots of photos to prove it. So… she saw a fountain, and then this happened!]

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At around noon, the crowds started to get heavy and the heat started to set in. We grabbed Miss L a panda souvenir, grabbed some Indian food, and then went back to the hotel for a mid-day nap.


[And yes… even six year olds appreciate a good midday vacation nap!]

IMG_0154Once the evening hit, we headed back to the National Mall for some night museum hours! And where did we go this time? WHY…


… the Air & Space Museum of course!

IMG_0125We touched a moon rock…


… chatted with Buzz (who had actually been up to space!)…


…checked out some crazy space capsules…


…pretended we were at mission control…


… and fell in love with Amelia Earhart! We also grabbed a whole bunch of Space Treats (like astronaut ice cream) and departed for a Peruvian dinner at China Chicano.


Miss L got this beautiful plate of ceviche (we had to seriously convince the waiter that she would like it and consume it all… as she did), and Mr. M and I indulged in our favorite: lomo saltado.

Now we get to the point of the night where we get to justify our long and indulgent afternoon nap: DC at night!


Miss L successfully hailed her first cab (“It was so easy! I just stuck out my hand and said ‘TAXI’ and it came!”), and we headed down to the Lincoln Memorial for a fantastically perfect summer night.


We spent a long time starting up at Lincoln in his memorial, then nibbled on our astronaut ice cream down by the reflecting pool. It was only then that we realized we had a perfect full moon that night… so we grabbed just a couple of photos to commemorate the night.

IMG_0156IMG_0198We then wandered over to the MLK Memorial…


…and finished with a walk back to the Washington Memorial for some shadow play.


Then … we walked up past the White House and back to our hotel (26,000+ steps that day!) and it was on to the final few days of our trip!