Monday, March 19, 2007
Bad Citizens in Washington
There have been times in my life when I'd have loved a good protest march. Or a halfway-decent, mediocre protest march. Perhaps even a half-assed complaint march.

But not this weekend.

This weekend, I was in Washington, DC, on a family vacation, and I was interested in being as obnoxious a photograph-taking tourist as I could possibly be, in between mediating 6-year-old sulking fits and agreeing with a 2-year-old's running commentary on the presence of birds and taxicabs. I had already spent an unreasonable amount of time self-congratulating because, while, true, the weather wasn't great in DC, it was a whole lot better than the weather in New Hampshire, and we traveled at just the perfect times so as to avoid delays on either end of the trip. We spent the rain/hail/snow of Friday inside a few of the Smithsonian museums, and were all set to brave the sunny-but-cold of Saturday amongst the monuments.

And then there were protesters. So our cute little narrated tour bus was over an hour late getting started in the morning, and then abandoned us for 45 minutes at the Jefferson Memorial. They blamed the delays on the protesters, even though somehow the other cute little tour bus company was in constant and regular rotation. I'm mentally drafting a nasty letter to them now, and hoping that I stay motivated to actually send the thing, because that lost two hours really screwed up the day.

But, for now, they're blaming it on the protesters, so I'll blame it on the protesters, too. Those mean, bad, patriotic, actively questioning people. I'm all for ending the war, but seriously. On St. Patrick's Day? During my vacation? Sheesh.

It was a good vacation, we crammed as much as we could into it, and we still like each other after it all, so I consider it a success. I learned, and reaffirmed, a few things while traveling:
  • My minimal standards for cleanliness collapse in airports. "Sure, kids, you can lie down underneath those chairs, I'm sure they vacuumed and mopped just before we got there. Just don't actually lick the floor directly, okay? What? It's too late? Ah, well, just don't do it again."

  • I am constitutionally incapable of lying on a bed in a dark, quiet room and staying awake. We'd start bedtime with the kids around 9:00, and I'd pass out moments later. Presumably Willem slept. Sometime.

  • My children bound out of bed at first light as though sprung from a slingshot. They would rush to the window to stare in (loudly vocal) ecstasy at the enormous construction project and fire station - oh, yes, really - directly below our window.

  • My husband and I, meanwhile, lay in bed and writhe in vampiric misery as the parted curtains allow blistering, burning, agonizing sunlight to burn our winter-white skin. And retinas.

  • Big cities are expensive.

  • Really, really expensive.

  • Unless you've figured out a way not to eat. Then they're not so bad.

  • We didn't figure out a way not to eat.

  • Ben's Chili Bowl is both not expensive and a far more authentic eating experience than the other tourist meccas.

  • Travel is hard work. Especially when you choose to check your bags and sit with your kids, instead of vice versa.

  • But it's worth it.