Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Unsuccessfully trying to reinsert said sheets back into their original packaging, I finally gave up the impossible task, shoved the whole mess into a Sunflower Market bag and called it good. Time to assert my consumer rights.
After hearing my tale of woe, the customer service gal gladly refunded my money. Woot woot for Kohl's! So off to the sheet section I went, ready to purchase 2,000 thread count sheets if that's what it took to put my bed and I back into a harmonious relationship. Searching and pondering, I finally found a set that should do nicely and headed for the checkouts. *Insert foreboding music here*
Cheerfully placing my newly acquired sheets on the checkout counter, I made small talk while she rang up my purchase. As I went for my debit card, I heard these disturbing words, "You don't happen to be over 55?" What??!! (Don't get me wrong but I don't have a lot of patience with people who go into a deep funk about growing older or complain about another birthday. Come on people--get a perspective here! Would you prefer the alternative???)
Gathering up my crumbling dignity, I nicely answered, "No, but some days I feel like it." I know she didn't mean to be unkind. Good thing I had put on make-up and my hair was done or maybe she wouldn't have even asked politely. Then I would have had to explain the situation and watch while the 20% discount was reapplied to the total. Stupid Oxygen!
Note to self: Avoid shopping at Kohl's on Senior Citizen Wednesdays--at least for the next ten years.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Days should just not start at 5:45 a.m.--for any reason if you ask me. But the good doctors at the Orthopedic Center of the Rockies didn't think so when they scheduled Rheid for arthroscopic surgery this morning. Argh. Time to repair a torn tendon from a January snowboarding mishap where Josh, my son, said, "Mom, I saw him crash and I thought Dad was dead!" So I guess it could be worse, right? They will also clean up some scar tissue from two previous broken collarbone incidents...one where his mom said something at the time like, "Come slide on this hill instead, it will be safer." Oops! Hopefully it will clear up some numbing issues he's been experiencing in his hand. They also planned to reduce a bone spur forming at the tip--a smaller version of what he had operated on nearly two years ago on the other side. Poor guy!
It's such a different experience being the caretaker-type person instead of the invalid-type person. Both really stink in their own way. It is never fun to be the miserable one, feeling so awful. But its not exactly a fun fest watching someone else feel miserable and not being able to do much to make things better. Horrible or helpless??? My vote is neither one--thank you very much.
I managed to get both him and his therapy chair in the house in one piece which was no small feat. They wanted him to start in the chair as soon as possible...can you say barbaric? Come on, the guy's countenance still has a tinge of off-gray--but we are nothing if but compliant to doctor's orders. It's a bad habit we've developed over the years. So I help him get his dead-arm into the contraption all the while praying my sleep deprived brain remembers all the instructions the tech gave me on how to operate it. Then to get him out of the sling/harness--can you say velcro gone wild??? Not as easy as it looks. All this while supposedly keeping his shoulder completely relaxed...rrrrright. Then repeat this 50 minute procedure 5 more times during the course of the day and pump him full of pain medicine every 4 hours around the clock. Are we having fun yet??? Well at least this merriment only lasts for three weeks then he goes to PT twice a week for I can't remember how many months. But ten months from now he will be cured and we can look back at all the fond memories we've made.
We are so blessed to live at a time when doctors have the ability to make things good as new. Rheid's doctor is top-notch and it will all be worth it in the end. The surgery went well and my prayers were answered. Cool technology will also help Rheid be able to do his computer work. He talks into a microphone and basically bosses his computer around. Open Firefox. Close Word. You get the idea. It's awesome.
Well it's time to go do my nursely duties so off I go.
Friday, June 25, 2010
A friend shared this clip with me and I thought it was wonderful. Just wanted to share!
Spent time during my breaks today reflecting on this past year. A day before last years conference I left the hospital (for the 5th time in 6 months) carrying oxygen over my shoulder--determined to feel good enough to attend the first expo, since I'd been lucky enough to win a free ticket to the event. Entering the conference center marked the first day I ever had to wear oxygen in public. I pasted a smile on my predisone-puffed face and moved my shaky legs forward to my new kind of "normal."
Wearing oxygen among my mostly geriatric genealogy friends (yes, I am one of the few young'uns in the bunch) should have helped me to fit right in...but I couldn't have felt more conspicuous if I'd been wearing a purple polyester jumpsuit with hair to match. The few people who knew my situation were kind and gracious but I still hated explaining why the oxygen. I had almost convinced myself, after a day of explanations, that my O2 accessory was only a temporary thing until the antibiotics killed the MRSA for good. I desperately wanted to believe it.
A year later I am still wearing my O2 accessory--however, a much more stylin' model w/backpack, and I am much more confident in my abilities. I've hit some brick walls (stupid MRSA won't take the hint and leave); I've made some mistakes (wore the cannula upside down for the first month or so because Rheid swears that's how the oxygen delivery guy explained it to him); I've learned a lot (I can do difficult things); and I've worked hard to keep my faith strong (I believe Heavenly Father has a plan for my life). I have managed to add another year--and it feels good.
Monday, June 21, 2010
An added bonus to the trip was to be able to spend my birthday, Saturday, with all my extended family. My parents (who by the way, celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary this weekend as well--woot woot!) came down from Idaho to be a part of the festivities. Anymore, I don't often get to celebrate my birthday with my twin sister, Terri, so being together to celebrate our middle-age-dom was awesome. It's funny how as a kid I sometimes wished I didn't have to share my birthday--getting presents (from well meaning gift-givers) to "share with your sister" I found to be extremely annoying. But now I love having a day to share with my sis. We didn't do anything spectacular (unless you can count shopping at Wal-Mart as an amazing experience) but it was just nice spending the day together.
With Father's Day landing on this weekend, I was able to be with my dad too. I'm sure just getting to see his Colorado daughter was such a treat that any gift I could have thought to purchase for him would have paled in comparison. So I'm glad I didn't even try :) I love you Dad.
I didn't get to see much of Rheid's family this trip except for staying at the Schloss Hotel in Heber. It's totally impossible to see everyone in basically a day and a half so we will have to "Schloss it" on our next Utah extravaganza.
All I know is these old bones are tired. This morning I woke up early twice and was able to convince myself both times that since there was absolutely nothing on my calendar, it made no sense to get up. So with my bladder sending up a white flag of surrender, I finally drug myself out of bed about 10:00. After doing breathing treatments for the required hour and a half and eating breakfast, I decided the couch was looking rather inviting. Yep, you guessed it, I sacked out there until just after 3 o'clock this afternoon. To my credit, once I decided it was time to stay vertical and conscious, I did manage to accomplish a few important things and even get dinner on the table before Rheid came home from work.
I think there is something to be said for getting too much of a good thing. So I have decided to put away my traveling shoes and bask in my normal routine for awhile--I am officially grounding myself.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Also had to (gasp) cook actual food today. I had almost hoped that somehow after so many days off, my memory of how to plan a meal might have been permanently erased. No such luck. Have to admit my hamburger stroganoff tasted mighty fine after eating out so much, however.
One thing that has been hard and I wasn't particularly looking forward to was getting back to my high altitude breathing. If somehow DC and Denver were magically switched, there is no way I could have possibly managed to do all of that here at nearly a mile high. Last night as I woke up coughing, having a hard time catching my breath, I remembered how that same coughing fit on vacation was annoying but not exhausting. A couple of times today I've even caught myself wondering, Am I getting sick? But then I remember, no, this is normal. Twelve days of easier breathing is such a wonderful gift but now it feels snatched away...Indian giver.
In reality, getting back into a routine is a good thing.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Well, all good things must come to an end...it's time to get back to the real world. The 5:30 a.m. alarm was a most unwelcome sound but there was no time for lollygagging. I had an hour and a half to do my breathing treatments (yes, only did half), take a shower, make myself presentable, and eat breakfast so we could catch our SuperShuttle out front of the hotel. Can I just say that I might need a vacation from my vacation???
Got to the airport with oodles of time to spare before our 10:40 flight. Turned out to be a good thing too because I became the poster child for "how to have every security precaution done to you in line." I was visually inspected, wanded, given a full body pat-down (yes, that was a thrill), hand wiped for explosive residue, insulin pump taken off and residue checked, and O2 concentrator wiped down for residue. I guess I must look a bit shifty. :) Their security measures are much tighter there than in Denver I must say. I like to think I took one for national security!
Our flight home was smooooooth. After yesterday's adventure, I and my stomach felt grateful. Tried to catch some zzz's on board with limited success. We did have the funniest flight attendant ever. He was cracking jokes all during the safety procedures, take-off, and landing. For example, at take-off as the plane is hurling forward at warp speed he said, "Just sit back and relax--or lean forward and be tense. Do whatever you want to do, you paid for your ticket!" By the time we were up in the air, the whole cabin applauded his silliness. Our flight shaved over 20 minutes off the scheduled arrival time which is always good. And we had our cute chauffeur there to greet us as a bonus.
I am so thankful for the opportunity I had of spending time with Rheid in such an amazing place--he made it all possible and I am a very blessed wife. Thanks hun!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Day 11: June 14, Monday
Today started out with the bright promise of sight-seeing in a sauna! In matching DC t-shirts to commemorate our honeymoon when we got matching Famous Potato t-shirts from Sun Valley, we headed off to the White House Visitors Center. We watched an interesting video about the history of the White House which included a look into some of its most famous rooms. Exhibits showed lots of first family pictures and told fun anecdotes about the families, especially the children. Then we went outside and looked at the White House from the other side. Beautiful. Michelle Obama reinstated the kitchen garden for fresh vegetables as a part of her healthy eating platform--which was fun to see.
Now we needed to do some serious memorial viewing. On route we came across the national headquarters for the DAR. Knowing it was a treasure trove of genealogical information, I just had to stop and take a peek. They were showcasing an exhibit of quilts highlighting the life of Lafayette. Because of his immense popularity, part of the exhibit told how many cities, counties, and even children were named after him in the 1820's - 50's. I have found a couple of Lafayette's in our family line so that was fun to learn. The building had a gorgeous research library that I had to restrain myself from entering--someday I will.
After our brief, cool, DAR diversion we were on course to view the Vietnam Memorial. There is a book at the beginning of the memorial that lists all the veterans and where to find them on the wall. Not knowing any specific names to look for, we continued on. Seeing all the names listed felt very sobering. The ability to see yourself reflected in the black marble is especially powerful. The statue of Three Soldiers which accompanies the wall was being refurbished so it was difficult to view but amazing nonetheless.
Since now we were close by the Lincoln Memorial, we decided to take a daytime look. Since I had already had the grand stair experience there, we went to the elevator entrance. Well, that's when everything started to go downhill. Initially the somewhat air conditioned room felt good, then the waves of nausea began. What to do?? Visions of me hurling all over Lincoln were not helping. Hoping that after cooling off a bit I would feel better, I found a corner and sat on the floor. Long story short, about 20 minutes later I was paying homage to the porcelain monument. So not how I had this day playing out in my mind! Not knowing if this was heat induced or salt-sweating induced (probably a combination of both) how to get to a metro without becoming even worse was now the challenge. Luckily, a taxi pulled up just as we got to the closest street and he took us to the nearest metro. Hallelujah!
After laying down and taking a nap while Rheid did a bit on his own, I finally felt good enough to cross the street and try a bit of dinner. Not exactly the exotic "it is our 25th anniversary" dinner we were expecting to have, but it has stayed down so far. Almost made it eleven days without any shenanigans--unfortunately seems a bit symbolic of our past 25 years. At least I avoided making a spectacle of myself, well, except for the poor lady who had the misfortune of walking into my no-lock stall as my "experience" was at its peak…sorry.
Headed home bright and early tomorrow!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Day 10: June 13, Sunday
The Energizer bunny has nothing on us--ten days and we're still going…just not as fast. If someone could find the off button for the heat, that would help the most. We started off late this morning and headed for the National Gallery of Art. When exiting the metro, I saw some rainbow-colored blowy things dancing in the street and a large police presence. What could it be I wondered? It was clear soon enough--Pride in DC 2010. We saw some pretty flamboyant people. Kinda awkward. We made it through the crowds to our building just as a light rain started.
You've heard me say it before but I just have to say the National Gallery of Art was amazing! I had no idea we would be seeing so many famous pieces of art. At times I felt like I was in the Masterpiece game (if you didn't grow up with that game, you were very culturally deprived.) The first gallery we chose was the Chester Dale Collection. He was an extremely successful business man who made his money on the stock market. As a way to divest, he started to purchase works of art. He and his wife became extremely well known in the art world and even had to purchase larger homes to display their vast collection--the largest in the US. At his death, he bequeathed all his paintings to the National Gallery. Walking into the gallery, the first painting I saw was Renoir's A Girl With a Watering Can. In the matter of a few rooms I had seen paintings from not only Renoir but also Cezanne, Monet, Degas, Cassatt, Manet, Picasso, and Rivera. I felt like I was in the Louvre! In other galleries I was excited to see Rembrandt's, Whistler's, more Picasso's and lots of others. Paintings clear back from the 15th century looked as vibrant and beautiful as if they had been created last week. Aside from a run-in with a security backpack Nazi who was just sure I'd damage some priceless work of art if I didn't wear it over just one shoulder (none of the 10-15 previous guards said a word--gurrr), the experience at the gallery was awesome.
Now we were off to the Washington National Cathedral--the 6th largest cathedral in the world. Talk about an adventure in touristing. Sunday is not the best day to try and find more out-of-the-way places. If you could figure out the bus you wanted going in the right direction you needed (whichever that way was) that would be great. We were not that lucky even though we tried our hardest to do it the thrifty way. I hailed a cab. Got to the cathedral to find out that a high school graduation had just concluded inside so now they were allowing people to tour. Lucky. We had only been in the vast beautiful building for about 5-8 minutes though when we were told the building was closing. Noooo! My Fodor tour book said it was open until 6:30--not. We saw just enough to want to see more…alas, we will have to do a virtual tour on the internet to finish seeing it--we will not be traveling back. What I saw was incredible however.
After trying to do the reverse bus thing to get home with as much success as our previous attempt, I did what any good tourist would do. I hailed a cab again. He took us in his nicotine-infested cab back to the metro station. Yea! We are good at the metro! Found a very tasty Mexican restaurant, Gualco's, near the station which did double duty as both our lunch and dinner destination. We were starved.
Now we are back at the Hyatt soaking in the air-conditioning and trying to decide what to do on our last official adventuring day tomorrow (aka - our 25th wedding anniversary!)
Day 9: June 12, Saturday
Well today the weather elves not only turned up the heat a bit more they added large quantities of humidity to go with it, ugh! We were up and going early this morning to catch our Capital Tour (kudos again to Congresswoman Markey's office…I guess I'll have to try harder to like her now.) Just wondering...how many times can you say amazing before people won't believe you any more? Because the Capital, especially the rotunda, was amazing! Yes, once again over-zealous security guards freaked out about my "backpack" which to the barely observant looks a lot like oxygen…pleeeze! But we and our evil Werther's candy wrappers (made with foil, yeah who knew) made it through security and found our group. We were disappointed not to see the Senate or Representatives chambers as part of the tour. The Hall of Statues (each state gets to submit two) was very cool--took pictures of Brigham Young -Utah and astronaut man- Colorado. Watched a couple interesting videos about both houses of Congress. They really do much more than we give them credit for. We spent such a long time there we decided to eat in the Capital Restaurant and avoid the long search/walk for food.
Next we went to check out Union Station--a gorgeous old train station that now houses Amtrak and many shops. Explored for a bit then went across the street to the US Postal Museum. Learned so much about the pony express, the mail cars on the railroads, how the postal routes came to be, and even the history of the mail delivery vehicles. FYI- finally found a post office that actually lets you buy stamps.
We then tried to finish the Museum of American History--visit number three. We were able to see Fonzie's leather jacket, Minnie Pearl's hat, Dorothy's ruby slippers, Carol Burnett's curtain dress from her Gone With the Wind sketch (hilarious), C3PO, Rafiki's Lion King outfit from Broadway, Kermit the frog, Apollo Anton Ono's speed skates, plus lots more. One gallery housed a Lincoln exhibit which was fascinating. We saw the top hat Lincoln wore the night he was assassinated, his black suit, one of Mary's gowns, the brier built to hold his casket when it lied in-state at the Rotunda, family photographs and lots of other interesting things. Glad we had gone on the walking tour first because we saw the hoods of the prisoners who were hung for their part in the assassination conspiracy...Oooh...insert goose bumps here.
And so ends another hot yet wonderful day of realizing the blessings of living in our free country.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Day 8: June 11, Friday
Tired we are, stop we can't. So late this morning we headed off to The Old Post Office…where, by the way, you can't buy a stamp! It is the oldest DC post office and 15 years after it was completed they needed a bigger facility. So it was slated for destruction until a group of citizens rallied to keep it. The main floor has turned into a food eatery but tourists flock to see the bell tower with its spectacular views of the city.
After a quick lunch, we were off to the Museum of Natural History (of Night at the Museum fame.) The dinosaur skeletons/fossils were pretty cool. My favorite area though had to be the mammal exhibit--a taxidermy paradise. I saw animals I never knew existed with lots of fun facts thrown in too. There was an area with gems and minerals that I thought might be a yawner but turned out to be amazing--also got to see the Hope Diamond. We zipped though several areas because if you stop to read all the explanations, it could take you days to get through the museum.
With an hour and a half before we had to report to Ford's Theatre, we decided to try to finish seeing the museum we started on the very first day. A wing dedicated to the presidents was so interesting we weren't able to finish it before we had to leave…argh.
Up the hill we went to join a walking tour, History on Foot: The Case File of Detective James McDevitt . We signed up at home when walking sounded like a good idea--what were we thinking??? The tour documents what happened in the aftermath of the shooting of President Lincoln as seen through the eyes and experiences of DC detective McDevitt. Luckily the worst part of the tour was getting to the theatre from where we started out--didn't know if I could make it at one point but managed to survive. It was definitely worth the effort--learned a lot about the "conspiracy" to kill Lincoln, kill his vice president, and kill the secretary of state (who was gravely wounded) just 5 days after the end of the civil war. John Wilkes Booth and his ilk thought by taking out the leaders of the union that they could destroy it. At the end of the tour, we found out about the fates of the conspirators--Booth was shot 12 days later while trying to evade capture and four others were sentenced to death for their involvement in the plot. A couple of people got by with lesser sentences and acquittals. The tour ended at LaFayette Park, across the street from the White House--where we got our first up close look at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Sorry Dad, Obama wasn't there to greet us. :)
The last challenge of the day was to find a place to find nourishment (aka- dinner) after 9 o'clock. After another half mile of walking, we finally found a Qudoba which thankfully staved off our eminent demise. I will definitely be having another night of "walking nightmares" I fear. It's been another great day.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Day 7: June 10, Thursday
Someone found the heat switch today and if it wasn't for a slight breeze we would had melted for sure. We planned an outside day at Arlington National Cemetery. We succumbed and bought a tourmobile (translation: bus with benches and no sides) pass when I saw the amount of hills there were to climb. What a beautiful, peaceful place. We saw the Kennedy family plot with it's eternal flame and the memorial for the Challenger space shuttle astronauts among others. The changing of the guard was super impressive with their smooth marching, rifle checks, and heel-click turns. We even got to see two groups of middle school honor students place wreaths on the Tomb of the Unknowns. There was also a large tomb/memorial for the remains of 2,111 civil war soldiers that was neat. Over 300,000 people are buried there and they have approximately 25 new burials a day. Rows and rows of marble headstones flow over acres and acres of beautiful green hills--breathtaking. It was also fun to learn about the history of the Robert E Lee home, known now as the Arlington House, which is on the property. Hearing more about his love of both the union and the love of his family and native Virginians, my heart went out to the guy who was basically in a no-win situation from the start.
Then we were off to see the Pentagon--well sort of anyway. We went there but have no pictures to document the experience since they wouldn't even allow photographs of the outside of the building. Top secret stuff! The place is huge and we know firsthand or should I say firstfeet since we walked about a "pent" and a half to see a memorial to the 187 people who were killed on 9-11. Wished they would have had some kind of tours but the security is tight, tight, tight there.
Our last adventure of the day took us to Kensington, Maryland to the Washington D.C. temple. Getting there was a feat in itself and luckily we found a taxi to take us the last few miles--set us back $15.00--I would say it was literally highway robbery but at least we made it. The temple is in a word: massive. They didn't have as many workers as one would expect so we were wondering and wandering a bit. The session was small but it was fun to sit right next to Rheid since there is no aisle. The celestial room was heavenly--wow. After the session we went outside to call a cab and take pictures while we were waiting. One problem, the cabbie gave us a bogus number that didn't work of that area. Argh! So while Rheid went inside to see what he could find out, I stayed outside and said a quick prayer for help in my heart. Not more than two minutes later, a sweet little lady passed by me then came back and asked if there was something I needed. When I explained the situation to her she cheerfully said, "I know where the metro station is--let me take you!" So sweet-little-old Sister Catmull, a missionary from Riverton, Utah, whose husband was from Burley and who is related to the Whittles, became an answer to prayer. We were truly blessed with tender mercies today!
Day 6: June 9, Wednesday
Today started out bright and early with our thank-you-Congresswoman-Markey tour of the Library of Congress. The best word to describe it is incredible. Beautiful architecture, vibrant colors, symbolic murals, majestic sculptures, and magnificent marble columns all combine to make a dazzling feast for the eyes. I learned the library started out to be mostly a collection of history and law books--kind of what you might expect a congress to want and then under the influence of Thomas Jefferson they expanded the collection to include genres of all kinds. I was bummed to find out my concept that the Library of Congress houses every book ever printed in the US is mythical. They do get about 20,000 submissions a day for inclusion but only about 50% of those are chosen--which is still an amazing number of books and other media. After the tour it was time to get up close and personal with the gift shop--all I can say is I exercised an amazing amount of restraint not to purchase everything in the store. I did get a cool book bag, book mark, and t-shirt--there were too many interesting books to choose from to just pick one…so I decided to ponder on the matter because I didn't want to make such an important decision rashly. Oh, I forgot to mention that if you are a researcher and want to actually touch a book, you must go to one of the 22 reading rooms and submit a request to the reference desk. The librarian will put in the request and about 45 minutes later your book will arrive from a series of conveyor belts from wherever it is housed within 3 massive buildings. Then you must sit and read your "chosen one" there at a desk--there is no checking out at this library. Pretty cool.
A lunch break and it was off to the National Archives. There is a reason why smart tourists plan ahead and pay a dollar to get timed entry tickets. But it takes a brilliant tourist to plan ahead, pay the fee, and then stand in line anyway because you missed your entry by two days…yep, we did our penance standing in line for about an hour in pouring rain. Enterprising entrepreneurs were selling 5 dollar umbrellas like hotcakes to desperate folks caught in the deluge--we luckily borrowed one from our hotel before we left since it looked threatening. (See, we can be smart at times.) When we finally got into the building, being now slightly damp, I froze in the exhibits. My toes turned into raisins with my wet sandals- but I like to think, they were cultured raisins! We got to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and even the Magna Carta. Awesome!
A quick on-the-run dinner then we were at the Ford Theatre watching a two man play. The one act show told the story of the Ford Theatre manager and an actor who piece together the events of the day leading up to the assassination of President Lincoln. It was riveting to see the pieces come together of that fateful night and how they come to grips with the fact they missed the signs of John Wilkes Booth's intentions. Loved it.
On our way back to the hotel we found something going on in The Mall. We stopped and watched the world premier of a documentary (coming to a public television station near you) of Daniel Burnham, an architect and city planner most notably of the Chicago World's Fair and Washington D.C. It was interesting--even the Philippine ambassador spoke briefly since Burnham designed parts of Manilla and their summer capital city. A fun bonus to end our day.
Day 5: June 8, Monday
Today was all about portraits and pictures. We visited the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Wonder what I was doing up in heaven during art class because that is one talent I didn't bring with me; these gifted artists made me wish I had been more diligent. Portraits of the presidents were very impressive with Washington and Lincoln being my favorites of course. However, others I liked were Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Bush's looked so happy and friendly - which most didn't and Reagan commented when he saw his finished portrait, "That’s the old buckaroo." As much as I hate to admit it, Clinton's was cool--very avant guard.
One gallery housed pictures from a national competition where artists submitted portraits of people close to them. The stories explaining why the artists chose who they did were so interesting. I didn't want to miss one single explanation. At the end of the 60 picture exhibit the winner is revealed and I am pleased to report the winning entry came from Fort Collins, Colorado!
Another highlight of the day included our lunch in Chinatown. Since the museum was so close to the area, we decided to stop for nourishment (and give our over-stimulated brains' art processors a break.) We picked what seemed to be a fairly innocuous restaurant that once inside and up the stairs turned out to be the most popular in Chinatown. It had won several awards and there was a picture wall of famous people who had eaten there. My sesame chicken was the best I'd ever had and Rheid's seafood platter was, well, seafoody. I'm sure they would have asked permission to add our touristy faces to their wall of fame had they been aware of just how awesome we are!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Day 4: June 7, Monday
Today we took the metro then transferred to the bus (just call us city slickers) out to Mount Vernon. It was totally awesome. Can I just say sometimes I feel jipped by my public education??!!! There was so much about Washington I had never heard before. He was such an amazing man. The more I learned the more convinced I became that God had a plan for this country and George Washington was the man to fulfill it. In a position at the end of his military career to use his influence and power in any way he wanted to, he chose to give his power back to the people. There were military leaders who thought this fledgling country needed a king in order to survive but Washington stayed true to the democratic principles he believed in. George Washington is a true hero.
After touring Washington's home and part of the grounds, we decided to have lunch at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant. We ordered two of their well-known dishes: peanut soup with chestnuts and bread pudding. Eating in the colonial-style inn was a real treat.
After lunch we toured the museum and then saw the burial places of George and Martha and the burying grounds of the slaves who worked at Mount Vernon. I wimped out on the last hill of the day and took the shuttle to the top which turned out to be a good thing. As we rounded a corner we saw two humongous wild turkeys out in the field. The driver said he occasionally sees them come out of the forest this time of night…sometimes it pays to suck up the pride and ride.
After a full day we decided to do one more thing…go to the Capital steps to listen to a free military band concert. Turns out tonight was the Navy's turn and they were terrific. There is nothing like listening to rousing patriotic music as the sky darkens and the monuments on the mall light up the night sky. At the conclusion of the hour-long concert, Rheid and I stood as the Army anthem was played--in honor of my cousin, Aaron Jackson, who is currently serving his 4th tour in the Middle East. The music gave me chills and my socks would have rolled up and down had I been wearing any! GREAT DAY.
Day Three: June 6, Sunday
Well, our 12 hour day of sight-seeing proved too much and today truly became our day of rest…we slept and then slept some more. We had a short devotional and by the time we were ready to head out, it was past noon. The forecast was for storms so we decided to do indoor attractions just to be safe.
First stop: The Smithsonian Institution Building. It looks like a castle and is the information center for all their museums (smart tourists have gone there first--but hey, we're learning.) A funny Ben Stiller video introduces you to an overview of what you can expect to see. Armed now with enough information to be dangerous we set off.
Second stop: It started to rain so we ducked into the first building that looked promising. Turned out we were in the Hirshhorn Museum --translation: modern art gallery. Ugh. The one museum I thought I could miss without depriving myself. Well, when in Rome (and it's raining) you might as well check it out. One favorite exhibit was a white-walled room with pieces of red and blue yarn stretched from ceiling to floor. Even though it looked kinda dumb, on closer exploration the strands made things look dimensional--like you expected to see your reflection looking back at you. Awesome. One I-don't-like-this-at-all moment came when we entered a black room which you entered slowly to allow your eyes to acclimate. Turns out this red wall starts to appear and it changes perspectives as you move. Problem is we got completely discombobulated in the room and couldn't figure our way out. After bumping into a wall…oops bad exhibit participants…we finally made our way out. No wonder they had a worker standing outside the entrance--not to guard the artwork but to rescue hopelessly lost souls from the dark abyss that is modern art. I must admit, the vast majority of art I didn't quite "get"--lets face it, even an artistically challenged person like me can paint a canvas one solid color without messing it up--oh well. One whole gallery was the works of a French artist, Yves Klein, who in my humble opinion is highly overrated. Come on, sea sponges drenched in blue paint are not particularly artistic if you ask me. Rheid and I had a great time at the museum even though we giggled and shook our heads through most of it.
Third stop: Our next attraction was the most visited Smithsonian, The National Air and Space Museum. Wow. We were there several hours and still didn't finish seeing the top floor. How they got so many airplanes and spacecraft in there is amazing. The Wilbur and Orville Wright room was very cool. And then as you progressed through time ending at the space modules, you really got an appreciation for how far we have come technologically. It took some pretty hardy individuals (translation: crazy) to fly in some of those aircraft. Not enough money in this world would get me into a space module--can you say claustrophobia? Yikes.
It was an amazing day full of wonders. Seeing the pictures taken of the sun and the planetary system, I could feel the hand of God in his creations. There is order in the universe and we are not here by chance. We are blessed.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Got up early to get a headstart on sight-seeing. Headed to the nearest metro station and descended on I swear, the world’s longest, steepest escalator. Quite an awesome sight going under the city.
Our first sight of anything “touristy” was the Washington Monument. It was quite the hike to get over there next to it—no going in this time. We walked over to the Museum of American History to start our many Smithsonian adventures. My favorite part was the large Stars and Stripes flag which was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner. Only got halfway through the museum when we needed to leave for the Holocaust Museum tour. The Holocaust Museum was an amazing, depressing, motivational, and tragic experience. It was hard to see how inhumane people can be to one another. At one point I had to walk away from one kiosk—it was just too much to fathom let alone watch. Also it was scary to realize the power one person can have to spread evil and hatred; how quickly governments can change when leaders no longer work for the common good but to spread their own warped ideologies. To handle the crowds, the museum’s thermostat was set to arctic and after three hours, we were nearly frozen. It was almost a relief to walk outside into the 92-but-feels-like-120 degree weather.
We found a place to eat, Cava, which must cater to anorexics because we got 3 crab cakes (super yummy) the size of 50 cent pieces and 6 small bite-size pieces of steak. Luckily we had unlimited pita/flatbread or we may have starved to death. We paid our 40 dollar bill (gasp) and went down to the corner to bask in the glory of Baskin-Robbins…a person’s got to keep up their strength.
We strolled the mall waiting for dark and watched fireflies flit in the grass as we headed across to the Lincoln Memorial. It was absolutely beautiful to see, especially lit up at night. When we got to the base and I saw the steps, I just wanted to cry. I was sooo tired but didn’t want to quit. Up I went and the view was amazing. With the effort of climbing, breathing hard, and being in the humidity I can honestly never remember being so hot. Every cell of me was leaking water and salt was stinging my eyes.
We were late getting to the metro and barely made the last train. Saying I was tired at this point doesn’t do it justice, but we finally made it back to the hotel. After doing my breathing treatments, I fell into bed and slept. Wonderful bed—wonderful air conditioner. Wonderfully long day.
Finally the day arrived, and off we went to catch our flight. Doing the drive-by drop at the curb, Christina’s job as chauffeur was complete. Since I mentally reviewed my packing list all the way there, I was slightly panicked when the tubing for the airplane concentrator was not the right one. Luckily the dual lumen set worked okay on the single port system. After all the craziness getting the right equipment, I couldn’t believe I almost screwed it all up with the wrong tubing. Disaster averted—now it was off to security.
Security turned out to be super easy…for me at least. Rheid put most of my medical stuff in his carry-on along with his laptop so he was the weakest link. We held up the line for a little bit but not too bad. By the time we got to the gate, we only had to wait for about 5 minutes before joining the lucky pre-boarding group…gotta get a few perks out of being gimpy. A third row window seat was my reward.
After a slightly bumpy flight, we embarked from the plane straight into what felt like a sauna. Can you say humid? Super hot and stuffy. Then it was off to our hotel on the SuperShuttle. First time I ever stayed in a hotel with bell hops which also translated into the first time I’ve ever paid someone to tote my bags to the room. Fun Day.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Thank you corporate America for coming together and blessing me with this tender mercy. Washington here we come.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Well, I am a tad nervous about the whole traveling-long-distances with O2 thing and making the connections on the other end. However, everything I had heard or read said that with a little bit of forethought and planning you can travel just about anywhere. So over a month ago we contacted our O2 supplier so they could get things set up on the Washington D.C. end. Thought all our bases were covered...wrong!
I just got a call today from the oxygen company (name withheld to protect the guilty) who informed me that there would be no O2 waiting for me on the other side of the continent. What??? They picked two days before supposed trip to inform me their company has no suppliers in the area. That is not acceptable. I frantically called several places in the D.C./Virginia area myself and sure enough, you must be their patient for them to help you out. Argh.
So what do I do? First I try to be assertive--which usually ends up with me trying so hard not to cry...and failing miserably. Don't know why when I get a strong emotion of any kind, good or bad, crying is the result. Next I see if switching to another company is within the realm of possibilities. So then it's more phone calls to the new place and messages left with the CF team (today is clinic day so no one is available) to get a new rx for the transferred service. By now it's after 5 p.m. so all the questions must wait till tomorrow to get answered.
Now my thought processes are: maybe I will be able to navigate through D.C. with no oxygen since it is 5,000 ft. lower than my Rocky Mountain home--but who wants to take the chance and spoil a great vacation if my lungs don't embrace the humid, thicker air; or maybe I can hold my breath for ten days while simultaneously walking miles and miles all over The Mall--but since my breath holding skills leave much to be desired, I don't think that is a great option; or corporate America will realize the folly of their ways and work together to make Mrs. Schloss' trip to Washington a success. My vote goes to the later--now work with me people. :)