Tuesday, September 23, 2008

East Coast Wedding Weekend

I got home last night from an amazing trip to the Washington D.C. area for a good friend's wedding. My friend from high school, Farrah, got married to Corey Arrington on Saturday, September 20th in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Farrah looked beautiful in her wedding dress and it was a pleasure to get to know Corey while I was there. It was also wonderful to catch up with her family who I still keep in touch with as well. I am SO glad I made it to her wedding. The whole event was fabulous and I had a great time. I even made it out on the dance floor before it was over. :) Congratulations again to you both, we wish you all the best together...

Farrah graciously invited me to the family barbecue on Sunday evening at her parent's home in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The food was delicious, I had to get a pic of the guys out barbecuin'. :) I was really glad the two of us had a chance to hang out by ourselves and catch up in person. Love you Farrah, let's not go another 10 years without seeing each other again!!!
This was my first visit to the East Coast so I packed in as much sightseeing as I could in the 4 days I was there. I saw pretty much everything I planned to see, but nothing could prepare me for the great people I would meet along the way and the amazing experiences I would have. So, here goes...

Day 1

The Washington Monument: Most of my sightseeing took place at "The Mall" in downtown Washington D.C. Going to the top of the Washington Monument is where I started. Standing at 533 ft tall, the views are awe-inspiring. The area is beautiful, it was incredible to see the monuments, memorials, White House, etc. from up there.

World War II Memorial: I spent over an hour here because I was so taken in by the powerful emotion of not only being there to honor and remember those men and women who fought for us during this war but also to be amidst the war veterans themselves who were there to visit the memorial. I felt immensely humbled and grateful to be standing there among these courageous men and women. I have never felt more proud to be an American and live in this great country. It is an experience that I will always carry with me.

As I walked around taking my own pictures, I decided to volunteer to take pictures for veterans so they could be in pictures together. I continuously got emotional as I took pictures for them. When they thanked me afterward for taking their pictures, I was quick to thank them for what they did and tell them how honored I was. I asked some of them if I could take my picture with them so that I could remember meeting them and thankfully they were happy to oblige. The following is one of those pictures...

I not only took pictures for the following two veterans but also walked around with them for a few minutes and talked with them. I had the privilege of the man on my left sharing some of the experiences he went through during the war. I quietly listened for a few minutes as he opened up. At the end, he said he hadn't talked about all this for a long time. When he said that, I felt overwhelmingly honored that he felt comfortable enough to share his thoughts with me even though we had only just met. He served in the Pacific Islands and the man on my right served in Europe. They had both been on the front lines and both mentioned that they had been thanked more that day at the memorial than when they had come home from the war. It was wonderful to see them beaming from the appreciation they felt for all they did on behalf of our country. Before we parted, I gave them each a hug and walked away changed from the whole experience. I will always remember these courageous men I had the honor of spending some time with at the World War II Memorial that day... Lincoln Memorial: I loved the architecture of this memorial, especially the grecian columns. Lincoln's statue alone is impressive along with being surrounded by engraved readings of the Gettysburg Address, his second Inaugural Address and murals by a French painter.

Korean War Veterans Memorial: This memorial is dedicated to the 1.5 million American men and women who served in the Korean War. It includes 19 statues of soldiers facing an American Flag, a granite wall with a mural of the faces of 2,400 unnamed soldiers with a reading that states "Freedom Is Not Free" and a Remembrance Pool. Seeing the statement "Freedom Is Not Free" makes quite an impact. Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Being able to see this memorial in person was another emotionally powerful experience. The V-shaped black granite Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is inscribed with the names of 58,209 Americans killed or missing in the Vietnam conflict. The veterans names are listed in chronological order of when the casualty occurred and an alphabetical directory helps visitors locate names. I looked up Boyack in the directory, but surprised to find there weren't any listed. However, there were a handful of names listed in my maiden name of Andersen. People leave flowers, letters, medals, etc. along the bottom of the wall, seeing these items personalized the names. There is also a bronze statue nearby of three young servicemen.
Vietnam Womens Memorial: This memorial is near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It's a sculpture that depicts three women in the military with a wounded soldier to honor the women who served in the Vietnam War.
The White House: This was my last sight to behold on Day 1. On my way there, I decided to capture one of the many cool street signs in the area (I love cool street signs) at the corner of 15th St and Constitution Avenue. I also loved this building near the White House. I walked past many government buildings along the way and saw groups of servicemen walking here and there. I saw an outdoor concert in progress with lines of men and women in uniform carrying flags. Three fighter jets even flew overhead at one point. Being surrounded by all these sights and sounds of our nation's capital, in addition to seeing the beautiful grounds of the White House, really resonated with me as to the undeniable power of our great nation.
Day 2

Smithsonian Institution Building - The Castle: Day 2 was mainly about seeing the Smithsonian museums at "The Mall". I began at "The Castle" which is the Information Center for all the Smithsonian museums. The architecture of the building is beautiful inside and out. I stopped in for some info and quickly checked out an Olympic exhibit with Olympic medals, outfits worn, etc.

National Museum of Natural History: This was one of two museums I definitely wanted to venture into, the architecture of this building was quite impressive. The main exhibits I saw were Dinosaurs and Fossil Mammals (dinosaur skeletons with real bones), Mammal Hall and Hope Diamond.

Capitol Building: I walked down to the front of the Capitol Building before I hit my next museum. As I stood before this grand building, I could once again feel the power and importance. National Air and Space Museum: This was the other museum I had to see. I was blown away from the moment I walked in the door. There are numerous full-size airplanes hanging from the ceilings throughout the museum. The main exhibits I saw were Wright Brothers, Apollo to the Moon, Exploring the Moon and the Apollo II Command Module Columbia. Pretty cool to see in person the first airplane ever built and things that have been on the moon. :)

Day 3

Ben's Chili Bowl: I had this place on the agenda, didn't think I would have time to go, decided I would regret it if I didn't and made it happen. I am SO glad I did, it was both a historical experience and a hilarious experience! But first, let me give the background. I've become addicted to watching Samantha Brown's travel shows on The Travel Channel this past year. She traveled to Washington D.C. on one of her recent shows and went to "Ben's Chili Bowl" while there. Despit race riots, slow times and metro construction, it has been in the same location since 1958, never closed its doors and is now considered a city landmark. So I was already thinking it would be a great spot to hit, but the thing that made it a definite must-see is the fact that Bono has eaten there and there is a picture of him on the wall! I knew I would have to get my picture taken next to his picture if I went. So now you know why I HAD to go while I was there. :) Many historical figures and celebrities have eaten there and have their pictures up on the walls. The whole experience was so cool! I talked to one of the guys that Samantha Brown talked to on the show. His name is Maurice and he even let me take a picture of him. When I told him I recognized him from the show, he paraphrased a joke he made on the show; he dances while making Samantha a shake and jokes that he's the secret in the shake. :) Another guy that worked there was really cool about taking my picture with Bono's picture. And a very nice man named Tony, who lives in D.C., sat next to me and we began talking. He owns a restaurant in the area, but back in the 60's and 70's he was a lobbyist. It was great getting to know him while eating our lunch which included a "Half Smoke" of course, the item you have to eat when you go there. It's a hot dog with mustard, onions and chili made from their secret recipe on top. The "Half Smoke" is what "Ben's Chili Bowl" is famous for serving. I had fun playing a wannabe Samantha Brown for a while and getting my picture taken with Bono. Hopefully next time it will be the real thing!!! :)

Old Town Alexandria, Virginia: My final sight to take in was Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. This is where Farrah got married and where everyone stayed while visiting. It's a quaint little town filled with antique shops, restaurants and beautiful views of the Potomac River on which it is located. I enjoyed strolling around, going into shops and admiring the beauty of the colonial homes and buildings. I love the colonial look so I was in colonial heaven.

I barely scratched the surface of all there is to do and see in and around our nation's capital, but look forward to going back again in the future. We'd love to take the boys when they are older. While I was away, Dave and the little bros had a fun boys weekend. I was anxious to leave them, but they had a lot of fun with Dad, and I got a much-needed weekend away. Thanks again, hon, for being the awesome husband you are to help make all this amazingness happen!

I picked up souvenirs for the boys along the way and they were too cute opening them when I got home. Connor especially loved the stuffed animal monkey I got him from the Natural History Museum and Dylan was lovin' the rocket toys I got him from the Air and Space Museum. Connor was too cute wearing the monkey shirt I got him from the Natural History Museum when we went out to dinner a couple of nights later. :)


  1. Wow, what a wonderful experience you had, Jo. I wish I could see all those places, too. Maybe someday. Your heartfelt appreciation of the men at the W.W. II Monument made me very proud to be your Mom. You are a very compassionate person. I love you. Mom

  2. Thanks, Mom. Love you, too. We all can't wait to see you soon! :)