The Kuraoka Family in DC

The Kuraoka family, August 2011
Us, April 29, 2012: Leo, Roy, Buddy, Ondine, and John

UPDATE Monday, July 9, 2012

We returned from Washington, DC last Sunday, and we still haven't gotten around to completing our trip journals and editing our hundreds of photos and videos. Heck, John only just caught up with laundry. So, rather than wait until we're done, we'll just go ahead with the weekly journal and post the trip journal when it's done.

The short report, though, is that we had a great time with lots of ground transportation adventures! (That's a teaser there.) We had arranged through our congressman, months in advance, tours of the White House, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the Capitol, and got to do two out of three (another teaser, ha!). We enjoyed a "Duck Tour" on an amphibious truck, a "Monuments by Moonlight" tour, a two-man one-act historical show at Ford's Theater, and "Operation Spy" for the kids at the Spy Museum. We also went through various Smithsonian Museums including Air & Space, Natural History, American History, the Holocaust Museum, and the Museum of the American Indian. We also went to the African American Civil War Veteran's Museum and Memorial, where we were caught a great lecture by the museum curator. There are probably bits we're forgetting, but they'll be filled in later.

One major highlight was connecting with Ondine's cousin Jason and his girlfriend Betty. We enjoyed a delightful lunch with them - what a nice couple!

In the "It's A Small World" category, we ran into one of Leo's former classmates at Hearst Elementary, who also was having a family vacation in DC! Her mother was also a freelance writer for San Diego Family magazine.

We stayed at the Madison Hotel on 15th Street, downtown, one of the posher places we've stayed (we being more the Holiday Inn Express Santa Nella types). It was perhaps three blocks to the McPherson Square Metro station and another two blocks or so to the White House. We made extensive use of the Metro, and all got quite adept at buying farecards or daypasses and navigating the Metro system.

For food, we found Chinatown was one of the few areas in the city where we could get food after, oh, around 5:00, when most of downtown's cheap eats closed. We especially enjoyed two or three excellent Chinese restaurants and Potbelly's Sandwich Shop, although there were a couple other highlight meals too.

The weather was mostly moderate, which is remarkable given the events of the last week around DC weather-wise. We even had two days of positively pleasant weather early in the week, ideal for walking around all day long.

We watched the derecho hit Friday night, with winds surging down streets and spinning construction barricades and lashing sheets of plywood and drywall out of dumpsters. A derecho is like a hurricane, only the winds attack in straight lines with no warning. Lightning lit up the black sky, and a continuous roll of thunder provided the bass notes to the continuous howl of the wind. In the sweltering aftermath, street crews scrambled to clear downed tree limbs and litter for the upcoming Fourth of July.

After the derecho, we had a couple days of extremely hot, humid weather - at 8 PM one night, the temperature was 104 degrees. But, we thankfully missed the bulk of the record-breaking heatwave that hit this week. Power at our hotel stayed on for the duration, and the only personal effect of the derecho was it knocked out of commission our scheduled shuttle ride from the hotel to the airport, so we had to arrange alternate transportation.

We flew into and out of Dulles, in neighboring Virginia. Our flights were smooth, although the one back to San Diego was delayed by nearly two hours due to a mechanical problem. Thankfully, the problem was caught before we were on board, so we had an air-conditioned place to wait with plenty of electrical outlets and free WiFi.

We'd bought all new luggage for everyone, and John let the boys go at theirs with paint pens to make them instantly recognizable. They are rolling carry-on suitcases, which made getting around the airports a breeze. On both flights, we volunteered to have our carry-on suitcases checked for free, so not only did we not have to heft them into and out of the overhead bins, but we also saved $25 per bag per trip. That pretty much pays for the bags right there!

Ondine had last Monday off, because she was on-call on the Fourth of July. She returned to work Tuesday, then had a fairly quiet on-call day Wednesday, and worked Thursday and Friday. She went to a farewell dinner for her friend Jennifer, who is moving to Tennessee to be with her husband.

The boys have been home all week, although John has had them doing worksheets and working on Math Upgrade online. He's looking forward to them being gone for a few hours every day when Media Camp starts next week!

The Fourth of July was notable here for the "Big Bay Boom Bust," in which a technical malfunction set off all the fireworks at once. It made for a spectacular 15-second show and a viral video sensation. As for us, we were still getting settled back in, so we watched "A Captol Fourth" on KPBS, and enjoyed seeing again the places where we were just a few days before.

John and Roy were going to go backpacking with our friends Alex, Ernesto, and Lucy. But Friday Alex came down with what seemed like a flu, so John called the Forest Service and had the permit cancelled so someone else could go up.

So Saturday morning, John took the boys to judo and enjoyed his first long run in nearly three weeks. He managed 7.4 miles, not bad.

By way of a silver lining, Barbara happened to have a trip planned this week to her timeshare villa at Lawrence Welk, and she took Roy and Leo with her Saturday afternoon for an overnight trip!

So, we relaxed at home enjoying hours of peace after spending a week in each other's pockets in Washington, DC.

We watched two movies. Saturday evening, we watched Le Grand Voyage on Amazon Prime. It followed an aging father and high teenage son as the teenager drove his father on a pilgrimage from their home in France to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. It's a wonderful road trip story with great scenery and encounters with locals, and a warm story of the developing relationship between traditional father and modern son.

Sunday morning, after taking Buddy for a hike on the mountain, we went to the Regal Cinema in Parkway Plaza to see To Rome With Love, the new Woody Allen movie.

Sunday afternoon, our dear friend Lucy came over bearing pie and photos of their road trip through the Southwest - Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, etc. That's a trip we want to take, so we were very interested in all the details! She already had a photo album done, with captions by Alex!

She'd also brought a delicious homemade pie, made with peaches and apples she'd just picked off the tree! It had a yummy crumble top with almonds - wow! And, she brought some ice cream to go with it. Between us, we ate nearly all the pie, that's how good it was!

Then we showed off our photos from Washington, DC - John had transferred selections to a flash drive so we were able to view them in comfort, on the TV. (Also, it means our photos are one step closer to getting online, once the trip journals are compiled.) In all, we passed a perfectly wonderful Sunday afternoon, with no kids in sight!

Speaking of whom, Barbara returned with the boys Sunday evening, around 7. They were both tired from all the fun they'd had, especially in the pool, so they pretty much went straight to bed after brushing their teeth. Thank you, Grandma Baba! That made it a three movie weekend for us, wow! While Ondine did paperwork, we watched Ocean's Eleven on Amazon Prime.

Monday is the start of Media Camp! This is the one camp they're actually looking forward to. Roy's friend Alex is in it too, and Colin, Deanna's older son. They'll have fun together! Roy and Leo are both looking forward to doing more stop-motion animation with the equipment.

Neighborhood gas prices dropped a bit more, $3.75 per gallon.

Back to the Archives page
Back to the Kuraoka Family main page
Forward to the current Weekly Journal.