The northeast region of the US has been in a (relative) deep freeze for weeks. Last night we bottomed out at -12° F.
Pictured is our oldest child trudging across the desolate, Hoth-like expanse that is (was?) Silver Lake. Most of the snow has blown off, leaving a crusty powder that almost, but doesn’t quite, support you.
Not pictured: the tauntaun that I split open to keep the children warm overnight.
We have a new nephew, named Kappa in this blog, so we made a road trip to Maryland to meet him (and support his parents, Tim and Kelly, for a bit). We dropped Butter off at doggie daycare, rented a minivan, packed ourselves and Baba into said van, and headed out.
Little did we know that the D.C. area was set to get the coldest temperatures of the winter (teens and single digits), and a winter’s worth of snow, while we were in town. It was almost like we never left home.
Though the trip down could have gone less eventfully (we hit snow in New Jersey that followed us, off and on, through the rest of the day) we arrived in Frederick, MD safely and in pretty good time. It was the end of the day so we headed off to a very early bedtime after having dinner at the local pizza chain, Ledo Pizza.
Day 1: The Baby
We were in town for one reason, and one reason only: the other-other white meat. After a surprisingly-decent free breakfast at the motel we headed to the Fox residence to meet the new nibling. He wasn’t the happiest kid when he was awake and ate a lot, so no photos as that’s the only sure-fire way to avoid accidental boob shots.
Side note: right before we left town Kappa was prescribed Zantac. It’s given to babies that spit up a lot, which allows them to keep more food down. Who knew. At any rate, it’s making the niblet happier since he’s not so hungry all the time.
We had a great lunch at a local BBQ joint called CarterQue Barbeque and Grilling Company (it’s next door to a veterinarian, which just doesn’t seem right) and a great home-cooked dinner at their house.
Day 2: The Extended Family
We woke to find out that some of the hotel’s pipes had frozen overnight (due to single digit temperatures overnight). Our rooms weren’t affected, fortunately. Megh and I were on our third room and I think the staff would have been mortified if we’d had yet another problem. (The first room stank of air freshener and we immediately requested another, and the second room didn’t have a working shower as the faucet had broken before we took the room, so we moved yet again on our first morning. Kudos to the staff for handling it professionally.)
We had lunch with Meghan and Tim’s uncle, aunt, a couple of cousins, and her cousin’s children – a total of 15 people, including ourselves. It’s worth mentioning here that Meghan’s uncle Tom is a former rear admiral.
Highlights of the day include: the alpha nibling (Delta) getting his fingers caught in a stationary bicycle crank, then walking into a swing while our own Beta child was swinging; and Meghan flooding the bathroom with an overflowing toilet.
Uncle Tommy finally became talkative as we were about to head out the door, so we stayed longer than we intended, as more snow started falling, to hear his stories. The man is fascinating and we started planning another trip just to spend some time with him.
Day 3: Washington, DC In The Snow
An accidental halo over Beta’s head
Almost six inches of snow fell overnight, which pretty much closed the state. We’re old hands with the snow, however, as we’ve received record snow back home (nearly 100 inches so far, with more snow in the forecast). The federal and local governments shut down, but we bravely headed out on empty, heavily salted and therefore mostly snow-free, roads. We had the city to ourselves!
The Smithsonian only opened three museums: the Air and Space museum, the Modern Art museum, and the National Portrait Gallery. They were limited by the number of people reporting to work so they opened the museums most popular and/or easiest to staff. We never quite left the Air and Space museum, though.
Alpha has had a passing interest in World War Two history, and became deeply interested in the V2 rocket display. She also had fun in the 747 cockpit on display. (It’s the real nose of a 747 and the cockpit is available to step inside, but not to sit.)
Meghan, Baba, and Alpha watched D-Day 3D. I dislike the narrator’s voice (Tom Brokaw) and Beta child was feeling restless, so she and I headed outside to play in the snow and walk around a bit until the movie was done.
Side-Story: Baba and I sat on some benches while Meghan and the kids stopped into the gift shop, and continued an ongoing conversation about current political events. I had mentioned that I felt some congressional intransigence was due to racism against President Obama more than just typical Democratic/Republican squabbling, and our conversation continued.
Several minutes after my comment, the man next to us abruptly stood up, rudely inserted himself into the conversation by saying that not all Republicans are racist and that he really thought that Colin Powell would be the first black president, and left before we could say anything. Apparently I had hit a nerve. :/
We ended the day at Tim and Kelly’s house and some takeout chinese food. Unlike the previous day, nobody was worn out or particularly angry and we actually had time to talk.
The kids broke up their sleeping arrangement when we got back to the hotel, by deciding that they must sleep in separate rooms. Beta stayed with us and went to bed immediately, while Alpha got to stay up late watching a movie with Baba.
Day 4: Touring the Capitol Building
We returned for a second day in the capitol and sightseeing. Baba had scored a tour of the capitol building by contacting her senator, Chris Murphy, so we had a date in the early afternoon.
We rolled into town and spent some time at the museums before our tour. Meghan and the kids went to the American Indian museum (and had a great time, and a great lunch); I went to the National Gallery of Art; Baba went to the National Museum of American History.
Waiting in Senator Murphy’s office for our Capitol Building tour
We made our way to the Hart Senate Office Building in time for our tour. The congressional staff was very pleasant and professional – a pleasant counter point to the daycare center that Congress is portrayed to be.
After getting checked in we were taken though the tunnels (with a mini-subway system FTW) to the main capitol building.
Highlights of the tour include the original Supreme Court chambers, the original Senate floor, the “Whispering Room” (the original House chambers), and the atrium under the dome (currently being restored but some of the artwork is visible and is gorgeous). Though congress was not in session, we sat in the gallery for a bit.
Interesting to note: you need a ticket to visit the gallery, but the tickets remain good for the rest of the session. Our tickets were free to us. We may re-use our tickets any time for the next few months!
We also had the obligatory self-guided tour of the Capitol gift shop before heading out for the streets again.
We ended our day with dinner at Jaleo. Meghan and I discovered it on a trip to D.C. before we had kids, and were delighted when we discovered that it’s still there. They serve Spanish-style tapas in a funky-yet-hip atmosphere.
We weren’t sure what to order, as all the foods on the menu were unfamiliar to us, so we gave our server a budget and let him choose. Baba had this funny idea that our budget would be around $35 total; I had to butt in and recommend $120 for the five of us (she was shocked and glad that we were paying). The food was fantastic and well-worth the money, though I’m still not sure what I ate (though I know I wouldn’t have ordered it on my own).
The Waze app gave us a tour of the city both coming in and going out, as it routed us around traffic snarls. I don’t think I’ll go road-tripping without it again.
Day 5: Heading Home
Heading home was mostly uneventful, as all such trips should be. The Delaware “tax” was limited to tolls – on nearly every other trip there’s some kind of bad highway situation in Delaware to make the expensive tolls even more painful.
Baba showed distrust in technology and thought that the estimated arrival time that Waze provided was much too optimistic. She loudly doubted the suggested route around Baltimore (taking I-495 South to I-95, instead of taking I-495 North to I-95 which the traffic map showed to be a parking lot). When Waze suggested the Lincoln Tunnel would be faster, Baba offered a bet that it was wrong; when Waze later changed the route again (all long before leaving the New Jersey turnpike) she welshed on the wager.
The wager came and went as we made our way through the city – Waze found an interesting way to get us from the turnpike to the Merritt Parkway, but we arrived at Baba’s house a couple of minutes sooner than the original estimate – just over six hours from door to door, while bypassing some bad traffic snarls.
After dropping off the rental car and retrieving Butter from doggie daycare we made the rest of our way home. We made it in the door an hour before bedtime, with the house still standing and the kitties very glad to see us.
I think a person’s command-line prompt says a lot about them. Some people have big fancy prompts with tidbits of data; some people have simple black & white prompts. Some people like fancy or frivolous things like smiley and frowny faces based on the error status of the last command; some people are strictly utilitarian. I mostly fall into the last category – I like some color with my prompts when possible, but otherwise I only want to see my name, server, cwd, and VCS branch (if any). Continue reading →