Thursday, July 31, 2014

If you've visited my blog for any period of time, you'll know that when I'm sad, I post pictures of otters. My line of thinking is that if there can be something as cute as otters in the world, things can't be all bad.

These otters aren't for me.  They are for one of my most favorite people in the world who unexpectedly lost a very loved, very special, grandmother.  I can't really do anything useful, or helpful, to make his loss any easier to bear.  I wish I could.  All I can do is let him know that I love him and his family so much, and that they're in my heart while they're dealing with this loss.

If you've got any extra prayers, or good thoughts, please send them their way.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


July 19, 2014

Oy, we are tired people.  We kind of overslept this morning.  Not that we were on a schedule or anything, but we slept much longer than we should have!

Ever since the unfortunate Disney World Flip-Flop Incident of 2009, I am always careful about wearing the correct kind of shoes when I'm going to be doing any significant amount of walking. but even without blisters, my dogs were still barking from the day before!  Luckily my leg wasn't hurting nearly as bad as it was yesterday.  (I forgot to mention that in my last entry.  A guy almost plowed into me coming out of the subway and I twisted my knee and my ankle dodging him. Luckily a couple of ice packs strapped to my leg in strategic places fixed me right up!)

After breakfast we headed back out to the subway station (we are old hands at it now) we went back downtown to the International Spy Museum!  It was so much fun!  We had quite a wait in line, but they were playing clips of Golden Eye, so it wasn't boring!  We were ushered into a room where we were told to choose a "secret identity" and remember it because we would need to know it later. So Steve and I dutifully memorized our new identities and we moved onto watch a short film and then on to the museum.  I'll be honest, I picked this museum because I thought Steve would enjoy the Villains of James Bond exhibit, but I enjoyed it myself.  I never really thought much about spy stuff before, but now I want a camera in my buttons and a knife in my shoe!  I don't really want to be spy, but something about all that gear speaks to my inner "survivor" type personage.  Not that I want to go live out in the wild, but I always like to be prepared for anything (including international espionage, apparently.)  It was a very entertaining place, but we never actually had to tell anyone our secret identities.  We saw one little boy being "interrogated" by one of the museum staff, so we assumed that it was something just for kids.  Oh, well, at least I have a fake identity ready if I need one.  I'll just need to learn how to speak Italian! The James Bond exhibit was very cool, and they had one hallway decked out like the interior or a submarine with big screens on each wall. A little sign said to tap on the glass, which I did, and a giant, computer-generated shark slams into the "glass" and shatters it.  I almost wet my pants.  The gift shop was full of all kinds of neato stuff, but I didn't get anything. I've realized that the secret of me not spending money on vacation is knowing that whatever I buy will need to be carried long distances. Lazy > Souvenirs.

After leaving there, we went back to the Mall so that we could visit the American History museum.  It was a lot of fun, too, only there were a lot of those very rude museum visitors there as well.  I almost punched a lady.  Hand to God, I had to walk away.  I'm not a violent type of person, but I can be provoked, and that lady almost got a face full of what happens when you piss me off.  I decided to be sweet for Jesus and left her unscathed.  Barely.  Other than that, I enjoyed myself immensely!  I saw some of the things I'd seen before, and a lot of newer stuff I hadn't anticipated. There was a whole exhibit on The Civil War that I'd never seen, and, I got to give General Nathan Bedford Forrest's hat and sword the finger. Yeah, burn the south down, huh?  I'll...basically make a rude and ineffective gesture in front of complete strangers to show my disapproval.  The museum was like a black hole, though, because we were in there for hours.  I had no idea how long we'd been in there until my blood sugar started doing that "oh,'re getting dizzy and grouchy" thing that it does.  Unfortunately, the food at the American History museum was not as good as the Native American Museum. It was basically SpRocket (ptooey) quality.  Bleh.

We'd planned on touring the war memorials after we left there, but we were just too tired of walking.  If we'd been smart, we'd have joined one of the segway tours (we were too late) or we could have called Rickshaw Steve, but we were just ready to go.  We got back on the train and headed to Reston.  While we were driving back to the hotel, Steve said he wanted to explore the next little town, which was called Herndon (I think).  It was very small, and had some lovely homes scattered around. It seemed to have a very large international population, too. We saw a place called "World Fresh," which was a multi-culti market, and decided to see what they had.  Yes, we go to grocery stores for fun.  Shut up.   It was a regular grocery store, but they sold products from all over the world.  Not just touristy kind of stuff like Pocky, but real products that the people of this community probably couldn't get anywhere else.  We got a few things to try, although most of it was just candy and stuff.  I got some fresh rambutans, which are like hairy plums, and they were surprisingly good.  I also got some fresh lychee and they were gross.  One thing we didn't count on was that we wouldn't have utensils for either opening the soda that we bought nor cutting up the fruit.  We had to go full on boyscout mode.  We managed to get the cap off of the soda with a carabiner, and we flattened out the edge of the bottle cap to cut up the fruit.  I put on Facebook that I felt like a monkey on the National Geographic channel using rudimentary tools to catch ants.  We probably could have just gone to the restaurant and asked for a bottle opener and a knife, but where is the fun in that?

After all that, we packed as much as we could.  We're leaving tomorrow. :(  It's been a very fun trip, and as much as I want to see Butler, I wish it could have lasted a little bit longer! There is still so much to see!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


JULY 19, 2014

Today was our real adventure day! 

While getting ready, I was having some trouble finding something to wear. I brought my go-to Yellowstone t-shirt, but I wasn't sure if the unwritten laws of stupid stuff prevents a person from wearing a tourist shirt from one place to another, different tourist place. It's kind of like not wearing the shirt of a band to their concert. None of us want to be that guy. Anyway, I decided to throw caution to the wind and wear it anyway. I was still feeling kind of gouache about it when we went to breakfast and I saw a business man (a relatively young man who seemed to be fairly proud of himself and the way he looked) wearing a black and white flowered shirt only buttoned to the top of his stomach, underneath his suit jacket, and another man wearing a full business suit with a giant, red, Sherpa backpack and a Whole Foods bag. After that I felt ok about my t-shirt.

We drove to the metro station parking deck and had a little trouble figuring out what to do. Parking out here just kind of a nightmare. every space seemed to be reserved for someone. The thing is, we wouldn't have had this problem if we'd been here a week later, because they're opening a metro station just down the street from our hotel! BOO! Timing is everything! :) We finally just left the car in one of the spaces and crossed our fingers that it would be there once we got back. 

-Now let me pause here to make a pronouncement: if you are sitting at a red light (behind someone else) and the light turns green, and if you start honking your horn the split second the light turns...not giving them time to move their foot from the break to the accelerator, you are an a**hole. If you are proud of the fact that you do this are an a**hole. If you come from a place where this behavior is acceptable, then everyone in your town is an a**hole. By this Logic, Washington DC is full of a**holes.

Moving on.

We got on the Metro and headed towards the National Mall. Riding public transportation is kind of weird. Everyone very studiously avoids everyone else they don't know and most people just plug in headphones and stare in one spot til they get off. Is this true for trains in all places, or just really big cities? Granted, you probably don't want some random subway person getting cozy with you, but I couldn't help but think that if my hometown had a train, none of that ignoring stuff would be going on. By the time you went from one end of the line to another, you'd know the names of everyone around you, know which college team they cheer for, the names of all their kin folks, and the recipes for squash casserole they swear by.  The train kept getting more and more crowded, and just about the time it got so full that I wanted to start screaming and clawing at the doors, we arrived at our destination!  I was so excited!!!!!

The museums we really wanted to see today were all around the Mall, so we started at the Smithsonian Castle.  I had no idea what it actually held, but it turned out to have a sample of stuff that you could find in all of the other Smithsonian museums.  A Reader's Digest Condensed version of the museum experience, if you will.  Unless I missed a whole lot of stuff, it was fairly small, but still interesting.  They had an exhibit of different kinds of souvenirs, which I thought was cool.  It wasn't like t-shirts and stuff, but things like a napkin from Napoleon's court and pieces of the Bastille.  I guess it was what people used to take a souvenirs before you could buy snow globes. I have no idea. Anyways, what I thought would be awesome was if they had souvenirs of the souvenir exhibit!  There was actually a book, but I didn't get it, although that would have been funny.  Souvenir-ception!

We next went to the Air and Space Museum, which was crowded beyond crowded.  I didn't realize at the time that we were just a day away from the 45th (I think) anniversary of the moon landing, which probably explained why it was nearly shoulder to shoulder in there.  They were checking bags at the door, which slowed everything down to a crawl.  They weren't checking very hard, so I'm not sure what they were looking for.  We also had to go through metal detectors.  Were they looking for guns?  Probably.  I guess it would be easy to take down a lot of people if you wanted to go postal in a place like that, but it still makes me kind of sad that it's a possibility.  The museum was interesting, but too much like the Sprocket (ptooey) for my taste.  I guess it's because the USSRC and the Air and Space Museum had a lot of the same type of things, although we had the Saturn V and they didn't (NYEAH!)  We did see a lot of cool stuff, though, and there was a section where we got to make a very good Star Trek IV joke AND sing a verse of "Danger Zone" which was worth the whole visit right there!  Hee! 

Next we went to the Smithsonian's National Museum of the Native American, and it was amazing!  I hadn't even known it existed until a day before we left on our trip.  It was a really beautiful building, and there was some kind of festival going on where they had dancers and speakers.  It was very cool.  I've always been proud of my Cherokee heritage, as much about it as I knew of it, so seeing the exhibits was a great experience.  I wish we could have spent more time there, but it was very crowded as well, and we still had a lot we wanted to see.  We did eat at this museum, though.  There is a restaurant there called Mitsitam, which is apparently "Let's Eat" in the language of the Delaware.  They have food from five different regions of native peoples (it's so hard to be PC, since I just want to call them indians, but I realize that it's cool) in the western hemisphere.  You could mix and match food from all of the different places, but the room isn't very well laid out, and since you can jump from line to line, there is a whole lot of chaos.  I finally just jumped into a line and got turkey and some kind of rice salad from the "Northern Woodlands."  It was delicious, but it would have been better if you weren't having to essentially play Frogger with a million people to simply get lunch!

We walked across the mall to the Natural History Museum!  This was the one I was most excited to see, because I've only been there once and that was when I was a 7th grader.  It was also crowded beyond crowded, and I didn't get to see everything I wanted, but I still got to see a lot!  I had no recollection about how huge that place was.  I'm sure I missed entire wings of things, but I saw what I could.  One specific thing I really, really, really wanted to see was the gem and mineral exhibit. That's where the Hope Diamond is, as well as a room of other huge and/or significant pieces of jewelry that I had been rushed through when I'd been there before.  Steve and I found the Hope Diamond right away, and I almost had to punch a little kid in the head.  See, the diamond is in a small case on a rotating platform.  If you want to get a good look at it, you have to get close and wait for it to turn in your direction.  People were crowded around it, and when they finally moved, Steve and I stepped up to the glass to see it.  Right as it started to turn towards us, a little kid ducked under my arm and stood  right in the way of it, so we couldn't see it.  She was much too young to be there by herself, which means that there was a parent off to one side letting their kid be rude.  I did not punch the child, of course, but we ended up having to stand there for another full rotation of the platform to be able to see.  That put us in the position of having to stand there longer than we normally would have, which kept other people from seeing it until we walked away.

I moved on to the gem room, which was very crowded, and I realized pretty much right away that things weren't going to be easy to see in there.  People were so damn rude, which meant I had to be rude and wedge myself into a non-moving wall of people just to get a glimpse of the things I'd come to see.  Literally, people crowded around the cases and wouldn't freaking move.  I get it, these things are amazing, but when there is a line of people behind you, don't just stand there.  Look and move!  I was stuck between a man who very clearly seemed to just want to stand and lean against the wall, and a kid and his grandmother who knew everything. EVERYTHING.  Neither her, nor her grandson, shut up nearly the entire time they were behind me.  Also, the kid kept coughing on me.  Full on, right on my arm, coughing on me.  He also kept trying to get in front of me, but I kept my hand on the wall to block him.  I suppose I can't really blame kids for being rude, because mostly they don't think of things like being polite when they're excited about stuff.  The adults, however, I can blame all I want.  The woman and man in front of me just basically stopped at each case and stood there without moving often enough that I (genuinely) came within an inch of saying "FFS!" (expletive abbreviated)  and bodily shoving them out of the way.  I finally stepped out of the line to walked around them, and suddenly they sped up to get back in front of me!  Grrrr. I had to skip some things, which I shouldn't have had to do, but unless I wanted to start spitting on people's necks to get them to move, I didn't have a choice.  I felt I was much much ruder than I probably should have been (although my version of being rude is probably like being "Canadian Rude" in that I just say "excuse me" louder than I normally would.)

OK, here is where I get a little indignant and it may sound like my whole day was ruined.  It wasn't, I had a great time, but I did get very irritated.

People really need to learn some kind of museum etiquette. Trust me, I know people go to museums to see all of the awesome, historic stuff that they contain and they get excited about it.  It would be wonderful if we could go to them and take a much time as we wanted pressed up against the cases, staring, reading and re-reading the little card, posing for pictures and tweeting about what we're looking at.  If the museum isn't busy, you CAN do that.  However, and I can't stress this enough, if the place is busy and there are people crowded around something, hoping to see it, you shouldn't be that mouth-breathing-window-licking-gooney-bird backing up the line. That is just bad form. BAD FORM.  You have to make yourself as small as possible, turn sideways if you have to, and no matter how much you'd like to study details on something, if you are mashed full-frontal onto the exhibit case for minutes at a time, you need to understand that people are going to be plotting your death.  Read, glance, and move on.  Go back later if you can, but don't sucker-fish yourself to something and refuse to move if other people want to see it.  Also, you also don't have to take a picture of/with everything you see.  Seriously, lighting in museums is usually not conducive for photography unless you have specifically equipped cameras, so the picture of that thing you had to pose next to that took your buddy so long to take with the iPad the size of a cookie sheet that had to be unfolded out of the giant crowd-control Sherpa backpack he'd been wearing is going to turn out badly.  Take a few pictures, fine, but if you have to stand open mouthed and peace signed next to every exhibit, you should be punched.  Also, don't stop in front of  a crowded exhibit to start texting a friend or start messing with your phone, or to have a conversation with your family about where to eat lunch.  I realize that I know these things because I once worked at a museum, but most of it should be common sense AND common courtesy.        


There was more to see, but due to the crowds and the fact that we'd been walking for several hours made us decide to go back to the hotel.  We did have a bad moment when we had stepped outside to look at a map, when one of those bicycle-cart guys started trying to convince us to go on his tour.  We'd already been quite clear we weren't interested, but he wouldn't back off.  I finally took down his number just so he'd leave us alone. If you need a bicycle cart tour of Washington D.C. let me know and I'll give you Rickshaw Steve's phone number.  It's in my phone.  We jumped back onto the subway and went back to the parking garage.  Luckily, our car hadn't been towed!  Huzzah!

We went to Chipotle for dinner, which was the first time I'd ever been to one.  We have one in Huntsville, but it's always crowded, so I'd never been.  It was pretty good.  We also stopped by Target to buy some essentials we needed.  It had been a great day! :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


 July 18, 2014

I don't know if it was because we ate so late last night, or if it was a nightmare, but I woke up in complete Crazy Town early this morning, freaking out that I'd lost my grandmother's wedding band. I hadn't, as it was still on my hand, but I was convinced it was gone. I'm sure Steve appreciated the abrupt wake up, but that's one of the perils of being married to me!

Maybe it was the residue of the anxiety meds still in my system, or maybe it was because I woke up in the middle of the night and had to go on an epic adventure looking for a ring that was actually on my hand, but after I went back to sleep I ended up sleeping until about 10:00 this morning. I don't usually sleep that late ever, but today I was a lady of leisure.  Steve's business meeting was today and I was on my own.  I had planned on maybe going into the city to look around by myself, but that wasn't possible due to the fact that Steve had the car and our hotel is actually in Virginia, just far enough away from public transportation to make it a bigger hassle than it was worth. I didn't mind, though, our hotel is nice. After finally getting up and getting ready, I explored the place,
bought a soda, and relaxed back in the room. I didn't get bored, though. I watched two episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix! I also brought yarn (because of course I did), and I crocheted while I listened to another audio novel. I think crochet must be slightly hypnotic, because time seemed to fly by while I was doing that.

Once Steve got back from work, we left to get something to eat.  One of his coworkers recommended an Italian place at Reston Town Center, which is a really nice shopping/dining area.  It's several blocks long, and has higher end shops and restaurants lining the streets.  The restaurant was great, although to be honest, I'm not sure I have a very good basis of comparison with Italian food. All the same, I really liked it.  We walked around a bit after we ate and looked around. 

There were a lot of people walking their dogs and I wanted to pet them all, but I didn't! I had some self control! Barely.

When we were ready to leave, we went back the way we came in, which was through a walkway in a building. It had two glass doors with brass handles, one on each side of a glass revolving door. Steve went to one of the regular doors and I went to the revolving one.  Before I could push the revolving door, Steve grabbed the handle of his door and ripped it off! It went "clllllaaaaang!" And the handle on the other side let go and fell on the inside. Unfortunately, those doors were located just next to a crowded outdoor eating area, and everyone got quiet and they looked over at us! I am not proud of myself for this, but my first instinct was to run away, and I tried, but the revolving door wouldn't budge.  It was locked! Steve just stood there looking like a muppet. I ran towards the other door and tried to open it, but it had also been locked, so I just walked away laughing. Steve had to catch up with me. I know that makes me terrible, but there is no honor in unintended vandalism.  At least no one chased us down.

We went back to the hotel and went to the pool area. Steve got into the hot tub, and I sat on the side with my feet in.  It was nice, except that the water wasn't that warm, so we didn't stay long.  We came back and ordered snacks from room service. I love room service. Just pick up the phone and someone brings you food!  I need to install it into our house! I'm going to gain 10 pounds on this trip if I'm not careful.Seriously, though...yummers.

After that we watched a movie and made our plans for tomorrow!

Monday, July 21, 2014


July 17, 2014

We're headed to the capitol!  No,  I'm not pretending to be Katness Everdeen. Steve and I are headed up to Wahington D.C. for a business/funzies trip!  We had had been thinking about going to the beach for a weekend this summer, but since his company was purchased by another entity, he's been traveling up to D.C. at least once a month. Since sometime he only finds out a week or two in advance that he needs to be there, it makes planning any other trip kind of hard, so we decided that I'd just tag along and we'd make a weekend out of it!  If Washington DC seems like a weird place for us to go on vacation, it is a little.  But I've only gotten to go there on school trips and have always been on someone else's schedule, and I've wanted to come back on my own terms and look around.

Trust me,  I'm just excited that it isn't Orlando!

We left Butler at the pet resort this morning (and were told his arthritis has advanced to the point of his needing monthly injections.) That makes me so sad. I know he's getting older, and I know he won't live forever, but dang it if I'm not going to do everything I can to keep him around for 20or 30 more years! He's basically my son, so yes, injections will be given! Hell, I'll have his legs removed and replaced with ATV tires if necessary! :)

I went to work for a while to do the last few things that needed to be done before Sunday and went home to finish getting ready to go.  We got through airport security without setting off any alarms and got to our gate with no problems! Since we were there so early, we went to the bar to get a soda. It didn't occur to me until I had been sitting at the bar for some time that I was still wearing my Huntsville Park Baptist
Church polo shirt. It has the name of the church embroidered on the left breast area. Great way to advertise, there, Kelly! Oy.

I almost forgot to take my anxiety pill, but luckily I remembered in plenty of time before actually getting on the plane. I know it probably seems pathetic to some of you that I need pills before flying, but please understand that flying scares me stupid. Dunno why, but it does. Taking these pills keeps me from panic attacks, which is good for me and everyone on the plane with me!

There are 4 stages to my anti-anxiety medication:
1) Taking it - When I know I'm going to be doing something I find stressful, I take my pill and immediately feel better.  I know that there is no way that the medication takes hold so soon, but the knowledge that it will soon be working is enough.
2) Feeling Calmer - The meds start to take control and I actually really start to feel calmer. Everything is good.
3) Things begin to descend into a warm, fuzzy, drunkenness. I start talking too much and laughing at dumb things. Give a couple of shots of tequila, and you'd get the same result. This is why I usually need to take the pills with something caffeinated, because the caffeine keeps me sharp enough to avoid the worst of the drunk feeling. The pills aren't strong, but I have a low tolerance to things like that. Unfortunately, I didn't get caffeine, so by the time we were boarding the plane, I was effectively slightly drunk.
4) Sleep. Sometime light, sometimes hard, and sometimes drooling sleep. Luckily this time, it was light and hopefully without snoring! :) Unfortunately, I missed quite a bit of the audio novel I was listening to (Bill Bryson's At Home) so I'll need to go back and listen to that last part again.

We landed at Dulles 30 minutes ahead of schedule thanks to a tailwind. I've never flown in to Dulles before!  My only complaint about being there was a guy on the tram spent the next few minutes staring at my chest,
like it had a plot he needed to follow. Creepy! Steve has getting through the airport down to a science, so it didn't take us hardly any time at all to get through, grab our car, and get to our hotel! I'm very impressed with his efficiency!

We ordered room service when we got in, which was lovely because I was starved by then, and we fell asleep watching tv.

The adventure begins!