Summer Getaway

18 Jul

Last Monday I got back from a weeklong foray that took me from Chicago to D.C.  Like any good trip, when asked about my time off I usually just answer “It was great!” which in no way describes the wealth of experiences I had.  I was in Chicago for a conference, in Cleveland with family and in D.C. for fun – talk about a well-rounded getaway.

I had never been to Chicago before and for some reason I was unaware of its architectural prowess.  Even without the excellent architectural river cruise, it’s impossible not to be impressed by the variety of buildings surrounding you.  The only place I think I’ve been to with more unique architecture was Barcelona, Spain.

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For some reason people were really excited about hockey that weekend?  It was like they won some big tournament or something.  There was even this big trophy in our hotel lobby.  So weird.

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After Chicago, we drove to Cleveland, stopping at Cracker Barrel on the way.  It seems just after I left Ohio, some bald eagles moved in.  Every summer I’ve visited I tried to get a glimpse of them, but they’ve always been gone by the time I got there.  This time, I got lucky.

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It was great to have some time to spend with friends and family, even if it wasn’t very long.  It felt just like old times, especially with Manda playing with the fire of her new Biolite.

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After a few days in Ohio, it was off to D.C.  I’ve been there twice before, but it’s been about ten years so it all felt very new to me.  It’s different seeing your nation’s capital as an adult, too – and after an undergraduate studying politics.

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While I’d seen most of what D.C. has to offer before, I hadn’t seen the FDR memorial.  As a national park hero (among other things), he is one of my favorite presidents.  I was very impressed with his memorial.  It’s worth a stop next time you’re in the area.

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The purpose of our trip to D.C. was the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.  After watching a documentary and the epic film before leaving, I felt prepared for the reenactment.  It was stupid HOT, but at least I wasn’t wearing wool like the reenactors.  We made a stop at the actual battlefield first, which is fantastic because it looks almost exactly like it must have 150 years ago.

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Thanks to some nice people (or maybe they were just annoyed with me practicing my fife), we were able to sit in the grandstands to watch Pickett’s Charge.  The grandstand was located right behind where the Union lines would have been so the view was marvelous.

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We ended the trip with a visit to Arlington and showed up just in time for the changing of the guards.

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One of the hot tips for this trip was something I didn’t get a picture of.  In both Chicago and D.C. there were these bike shares.  It’s $7 for one day of bike rental and you can drop the bikes off at any of the rental locations.  As long as each trip is less than a half hour (and that’s not hard to do with so many locations), you don’t pay more than $7.  In Chicago, I didn’t get to use it that much because I was at the conference, but it was a great deal.  Unless you’re traveling to the outskirts of either town, it was superior to the subway system. It was certainly cheaper in D.C. and the locations were more convenient in Chicago.  If you’re in a town with this service, I highly recommend it.  We’re supposed to be getting it in Anaheim, but right now there are only three locations so I’m hoping they get a few more.

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As with most vacations, I’m so happy to have gone and I feel like a better person now that I’m back!  I’m so excited to get back to crafting, cooking and blogging and exploring my own backyard.

~April

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One Response to “Summer Getaway”

  1. Mara July 18, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    Have you read The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson? It has a good chunk on Chicago architecture-indirectly and directly. We read it for my book group. Better than I expected.

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