June 27, 2013

Red Eyes, Metros, and Rental Cars

Yes... I have had my coffee
and yes - that was a clever rendition of
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles!
(Good Morning, and you're welcome!)

So - today we come to my literal BEST Vacation! We have had several great vacations... and if you have been around here for any length of time - you will know that picking Favorites is not my thing. I'm just no good at it!  But - honestly - hands down... this was it!

Not just because of the destination and what we did and saw... but who we met (online friends who I had been talking with on a weekly basis for a year!) and mostly - because again - after a lot of vacationing with friends or family - it was just us three, and our girlie was sheer traveling perfection! (Well - other than the unexplainable melt down and ugly crying that happened the day - and yes, she can still probably tell you the exact day - which was yesterday btw - that Michael Jackson died.)  Yeah - other than THOSE several hours - she was a joy!  She drank it all in and knew how much it meant to me to see all of these places in person - in real life - and she let my excitement be contagious.  She was nearing teendom where a lot of girlies her age don't really want to hang out with their parents - but it seemed she was still really enjoying us - and us her - on this trip... and the whole thing was just Such. A. Gift.

So- the whole thing came about because I had made some incredible friends online at a weight loss website and we would chat at least a couple of times a week - every week - for nearly 8 months.  All of a sudden, during one of our online chats, several of the ladies realized that they lived somewhat close to each other.  Others said it would be a road trip - but they were within driving distance too - and that is when the planning of the first annual Scrapbook Retreat began.  Now - they are mostly over on the East Coast... at the time, the only other non-East Coaster in our group was in Oklahoma... but the majority of them are clustered up in the East and with all the excitement and possibilities of meeting - I let myself get caught up in it before I realized that for me - it was gonna take a lot more than gas money!

Now - I can't really fully explain to you WHY this is true - but it is true nonetheless... I had always ALWAYS wanted to go to Washington D.C.  I don't come from an overly politically active family - nor were we really oober patriotic - but I have memories of being in elementary school, and dreaming of going to the Washington Monument and the Capitol.. touring the White House... seeing the Smithsonian... I don't know that I ever really told anyone. I mean - honestly... I had no hopes that it would ever happen.  I do not come from a long line of travelers.  But in my nine year old heart, I thought it would just be somehow Magical to see these sites in person! (Who needed Disneyland?)

My Honey - because he is AWESOME... and super smart and not geographically challenged like me, pointed out that Pennsylvania is really actually pretty close to D.C.

"What?  What's this you say?" I am confused - not so much in picturing a map (although a little) but because why would he mentioned Washington D.C. when I am talking about a Scrapbook retreat for ladies?

"Well - we could all go... and we could make it a Family Vacation and..."

Who even cares what he said next.  Honestly - I have no idea. He kept saying stuff, but the magic was already happening in my head! Possibility was already seeping in to my heart!

We flew the Red Eye out of Seattle - which even though we didn't sleep - thanks to all the Mommies who thought for SURE the babies would sleep on the flight.. still - this idea turned out to be BRILLIANT and we will do it again and again!  We had a layover or two and arrived in Baltimore around 8am.  We took a Metro to - somewhere? - and we wandered around the streets downtown looking for our hotel... with all of our luggage... Nothing like looking like a tourist right off the bat!  We found our hotel and they had a room for us even though check in was not for hours and hours and I am just saying that it was a good thing that my Honey was doing the talking or I may have kissed that nice lady at the check in!  We found our room, dropped the luggage on the floor, and we Passed. Out.


(Yeah - we are not travelers!)

But when we woke up - it was literally lunch time... and we walked around Inner Harbor and fell in love with Baltimore.

The next day we took the train in to D.C.

We could have spent DAYS in Union Station. DAYS I tell you! (We know... we are easy to please!)

That moment when we turned the corner and the Capitol building came in to view... breathtaking magic happening there... and not just me - we all felt it!

I could go on and on... but I won't... We spent just a couple of days going in to D.C. - we saw as much as we could squeeze in which was almost everything.  Our favorites - (again - me with Favorites?) the Lincoln Memorial... just Wow! You can't know until you are standing in it... you just can't know.  Also - the World War II Memorial.  So Much Yes.  and lastly - the most holy place I have ever EVER stood: The Hall of Remembrance inside the Holocaust Museum. I didn't even take any photo's in there. I don't think that it said not to - but I just couldn't.

After our time in Baltimore and D.C. - we rented a car
and headed to Pennsylvania when my family was planning on
dropping me off with a bunch of strangers whom I had 'met' online
and ditching me to go to New York. (Whatever.)

It was our agreement even though I was torn... 
I so wanted to be with them and take in the sights... 

But I had a crazy gathering of Awesome happening
at a Scrapbook Retreat house outside of Hershey
(and yes... we went there - how could we not?)... 
these Sisters are what brought me across the country...
and to meet face to face, 
and put voices to 'voices' that I had come to love
over chatrooms and emails 
- it was So Much Fun!

This trip was in 2009, and I still chat with these ladies from time to time...
they continue to meet up for Retreats each year, but as I said,
many of them are not too far away from each other...
and, well, I can Skype in... it's not the same as being there... 
but I will always always remember our first gathering!

Oh and another fun thing my girlie and I did throughout this entire trip:

There was this post (Operation Beautiful) that I had come across right before packing our bags... so I added a couple of Post It Notepads and some pens and read it to my girlie... we decided then and there - to leave a few notes in EVERY place we went... every public restroom, in every menu, or table top, every hotel room, or rental car... we were gonna spread the love, baby!

Now - I would be less than honest if I didn't share a little of the WORST in this post... because while this was hands down the BEST... a little worst can just sneak right on in now, can't it?  

So - three negatives about this trip:

1. New Shoes... I know, right? I knew this would be a walking vacation so I bought brand new shoes a couple of days before leaving town... and I wore them a couple of days before leaving town... you can guess - I paid the big bucks for these because we would be doing A LOT of walking - and I was in need of new workout shoes anyway - so I bought a 'fancy' name brand running shoe for WAY more money than I would normally spend... and my feet were not just blistered after day one of wearing them - they were bloody, ya'll.  As in painful and sad... I didn't have time (or money left) to buy anything different but I was not so sure they would not make me want to die... I packed a different pair of shoes as back up and lots and lots (and BOXES) of BandAids.  (Now - the less than Worst part: it was a Vacation Miracle!  My feet did not hurt ONCE... I wore my 'back up' shoes and not once where they sore or anything... honestly - it was a God thing, so full of Mercy and - ya know... just mercy!)

2. As I mentioned above, Michael Jackson died.  As a true 80s teen - I had my fair share of love for MJ... but to be honest, it had weened over time and you know, over some of his - well... you know.  However - my daughter fell in LOVE with him - even before he was starting to be cool again - way before there was talk of a comeback... and I cannot explain it other than to say it must have been some sort of spiritual something - because my girlie had A. Melt. DOWN. - right there in the Baltimore Mall.  Her Daddy - apparently not realizing the depth of her love for all things Michael Jackson - filled us in on the gossip he had just overheard in the Food Court... He even gave an impression of the gal upon hearing the news which I will say two things about that: 1) Her reaction paled in comparison to our daughters, and 2) We were afraid that his - uh - accurate impersonation would only be used to point out that we were in fact a minority in that Mall at the moment and we wanted him to STOP SAYING STUFF... We returned to our hotel room to watch hours and hours of news reports and watched despair and sadness attempt to take over our child. Seriously ya'll... no explanation as to why she would take it so hard... she was a fan - but it was not bordering obsession and even she seemed scared at the intensity of it! (She recovered... and went on to love New York and New Jersey and get some much needed one on one Daddy time while I was at my Retreat!)

3. WORST part ever... while we were stellar and brilliant in taking the Red Eye to the East Coast... we planned for a late afternoon arrival back in Seattle - thinking we could take our time back home and pull in early evening - right when any possible time change would want to kick us in the arse... this would have worked out PERFECTLY if only our car would have wanted to get home as badly as we did!  For some reason - our car didn't want to start when we went to pick it up from the parking garage... when we got a jump and kept it running - it seemed fine... so - after spending too much time packing and jumping and charging the car - we grabbed a bite to eat and headed back over the mountains toward home.  We were less than an hour from home when we decided food for us and gas for the car may be vital... we pulled in to a sleepy college town only to find that our car was done.  I believe it took us 3 hours to get home rather than that mere 40 minutes.  We'd been up and at the airport by 7:30am EST that morning... and it was apx 3:45am (EST) when we flung our sad, tired selves onto our comforters... and collapsed in a heap.

...but those parts, I usually don't think about!
No - I mostly remember that this was

What about you? What is the BEST trip you have ever taken?
Where did you go and what made it so special?
I'd love for you to share your story in the Comments below!
(I will be hosting a Link Up on Saturday
- so maybe this will spark a post of your own!)

Speak Life. Be Love. Shine On.

All photographs copyrighted by Karrilee @ Blessed Memories

To read the complete series, Click HERE...
each post is linked at the bottom!

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