Philadelphia & Washington D.C.

On Friday, June 17, after we left New York City, we picked up our camper and took off for New Jersey.  We stopped that evening in Trenton to see the capital building and then kept driving a little bit more to a Yogi Bear Jellystone park just south of Philadelphia.  We were excited to stay there….partly because we got to stay in one place for 4 nights, partly because it was Father’s Day weekend and partly because the campground was having a chocolate themed weekend!

We had been so busy with going, going, going in Boston and New York City that we decided to stay around the campground for the day on Saturday.  We were looking forward to the fun activities they had planned for the day.  We started with enjoying the great pools there and then it was time for the chocolate pudding eating contest, the chocolate milk drinking contest and the Hershey kiss eating contest.  Ben, Elise, Sam and Abby all had a lot of fun entering some of those contests and Elise won second place in the chocolate milk drinking contest!  Ben didn’t totally get what was going on, but he had a blast sticking his head into the bowl of pudding and eating as much as he could!


Elise and Ben competing in the chocolate pudding eating contest


She did it!

That evening was the main event…..the chocolate slip’n’slide!  Joe and Elise participated in this and it was a lot of fun to watch.  As kids waited in line to slide down the huge pudding covered sheet of plastic the camp workers would throw handfuls of chocolate pudding at them and squirt chocolate syrup all over them.  Joe and Elise were pretty covered by the time they even got to the slide.  Then they had a great time sliding back and forth and having their legs slip out from under them on the plastic.  It was a very fun way to end the day!


Joe and Elise enjoying the chocolate slip’n’slide….they almost look good enough to eat!

On Sunday we went to Philadelphia.  It was a super-hot day, but we still had fun walking around the city to see the sights.  We started with the visitor’s center where Elise and Sam picked up their Junior Ranger booklets.  Then we set out walking and got to go right past the cemetery where Benjamin Franklin and his wife are buried on our way to Betsy Ross’ house.  We went on a tour of her house which I thought was very interesting.  After that we went to Elfreth’s Alley which is the oldest continuously inhabited residential street in America.  From there we walked to Christ Church.  We were able to go inside and see the very pews where George Washington and Benjamin Franklin and their families sat.  Our next stop was Independence Hall which is where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were both signed.  We took a short tour and learned a little more about the history made there.  Then we crossed the street and got to see the Liberty Bell.  Lastly we stopped back at the visitor’s center and Sam and Elise dropped off their completed booklets and received their new badges.  It was a good day and we really had fun seeing so much American history….even in the crazy heat!


Elise, Abby, Ben, Sam and Joe looking into the cemetery.  Benjamin Franklin’s grave is right on the other side of the fence.


Joe and Elise in front of Betsy Ross’ house


This was Betsy Ross’ Bible.  I think it’s pretty neat that something her grandchildren remembered about her was was that she was often seen reading this Bible.


Walking down the very quaint Elfreth’s Alley


Our family on Elfreth’s Alley


The inside of Christ Church.  Some of the most famous people to regularly attend services here were Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Betsy Ross.  Can’t you just imagine some of the discussions that could have gone on when they got together for church potlucks?  I would think that the patriotism, loyalty and love for America must have run deep here.


Here we are relaxing in George and Martha Washington’s pew


Independence Hall



This is the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed and where representatives from each of the 13 colonies met to discuss that and, later, the Constitution.  George Washington would preside over the meetings from the wooden chair that is between the two fireplaces in the front of the room.  It is the only piece of furniture left that actually was here back then.

This picture is a great representation of why we decided to come home a couple weeks early….see the look on Elise and Ben’s faces???  A cross between boredom, frustration and annoyance?  At one point Elise asked “Are we going on ANOTHER tour??  I’m tired of history!”


Our family in front of the Liberty Bell and in the background you can see Independence Hall

On Tuesday we spent a lot of time in the car stuck in traffic on our way to Dover, Delaware to see the capital there.  We stayed only one night in Delaware.

On Wednesday we headed to our next campground which was in Maryland.  We stopped on the way in Annapolis to see the capital and then had some supper at the campground after settling in.  After supper we drove to Washington D.C. to see a little bit of the city.  We found some parking and then walked to the Jefferson Memorial.  We had a great view from there of the Washington Monument too.  Before we drove back home the kids had a great time catching fireflies on the banks of the Potomac River.  It was such a pretty night to be there.


Sam and the Washington Monument


Sam and Elise in front of the Jefferson Memorial


Our family in front of the statue of Thomas Jefferson inside of the memorial


Watching the ducks, geese and sunset between the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial on a beautiful evening



Sam, Ben and Rose catching fireflies along the river, they had so much fun!!

On Thursday we had an appointment in the afternoon to tour the U.S. Capital with someone from our Representative’s office.  We had really been looking forward to it, but knew it could be tough since it started right when naptime normally starts for Ben and Rose……and it was!  We managed to learn a little about the capital building and really enjoyed seeing the old supreme court and senate chambers, standing in the rotunda and looking up at the beautiful paintings and even the tunnel under the street to get there was pretty interesting.  By the end Ben and Rose were sick of needing to be quiet and we were sick of trying to corral them.  After a stop at the capital cafeteria to recharge everyone was doing a little better.  Lance took the four older kids into the house chambers to see what that is like.  I stayed with Ben and Rose…’s a good thing they didn’t go in there, what with all of the dancing, laughing loudly and chasing each other they did together while we waited!


On our capital tour we saw where the Supreme Court used to meet


The painting at the top of the rotunda.  There was a lot of restoration going on in the dome so we were lucky to be able to see this


This is where the Senate originally met, until we added more states to the union and they needed more space


Rosemary outside the Capital building


Our family in front of the Capital building


Rosemary in front of the Supreme Court building

The next morning we decided to start with Arlington Cemetery.  It was a SUPER hot day….about 95 and dripping with humidity!  Once we got there we started walking towards JFK’s grave and it didn’t take long to see that this too was too much for Ben and Rose.  The beautiful cemetery is such hallowed ground and deserves quiet and respect and those two things are tough to get from toddlers, especially while they are wilting in the heat.  I ended up walking back to a grassy spot in the shade where they could just play and Lance kept going with the older kids to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.



The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Washington D.C. has SO MUCH to see and we had planned to spend about 6 days there to fit as much in as we could, but with how things went at the capitol building and then at Arlington, along with everyone being a little burned out with history and tours and then throw a large dose of homesickness in we made the decision to head home a little early.  It was difficult to leave D.C. when you know you didn’t do it justice, but we are hoping to head back that way in a couple of years when hopefully everyone will be a little more ready and excited to be there.

We only had one more state to see and that was Virginia so we packed up and headed to Richmond that night.  We stopped by the capital building the next morning and then went to a fun park for the afternoon.  Virginia is one of those states that has quite a bit to see so, once again, it made our decision tough, but we still felt it was the right thing to do.   We will be back Virginia!!

That evening we got to have an evening visiting with some dear friends of ours who we met about 13 years ago.  Their oldest son is Joe’s age and those two seemed to be good buddies even when they were toddlers.  We don’t get to see their family often enough, but it sure is special when we do to see the boys reconnect in no time.  We loved having supper and ice cream sundaes with the Crains and catching up with them meant an evening full of stories and laughter.  I can’t think of a better way to end our road trip.


Elise and Molly enjoying their Chick-fil-a


The Crain kids and the Kornoelje kids


Lance and I with Alex and Aileen….and Ben and Rose the photobombers!


Joe and Benjamin

We left there around 10:30 at night and set our sights on Zeeland.  Lance drove like a champion and while most of us dozed he got us closer and closer to home.


Sleeping through the ride home


We were all pretty excited to see this sign!!!

We arrived back at our very own house at 11:30 on Sunday morning, June 26th….exactly one year after we left on our big adventure.


Home, sweet home….one year later