Hanging out in Manassas

Trip Start Sep 08, 2009
Trip End Jun 07, 2010

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Where I stayed
Taylor Residence

Flag of United States  , Virginia
Tuesday, June 1, 2010

After my busy Thursday, I needed a break, so I spent the morning in a coffee shop in Manassas (the nearest town to Arthur & Mickey). They joined me for lunch, and we went to this awesome little Mexican restaurant in a converted church. You'd have no idea from the outside it was a restaurant, and inside was still ornate with big wood panels. Very interesting and the food was great too! After lunch we drove out to the Manassas Battle Field, where the first official battle of the Civil War occurred (I think...) Again, it was so interesting to learn about the history of the place- my knowledge of the American Civil War was near enough zilch before I went. We walked across the fields where thousands fought and died for their country- the same country. It reminded me of being in The Sommes, imagining the soldiers who were standing right there in that spot in times gone by. We went to pick Jonathan and Alina up from school, and went to another great restaurant for dinner! I wasn't that hungry but the food was soo good- traditional Virginian food, apparently.BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, beans, coleslaw... Mmmm. 

Saturday held the much-anticipated day at the zoo. Jonathan took the lead, and became our personal tour guide for the day, planning where to go next, our route, and hurrying us a long when we spent to long at one animal. As a result, we saw the whole shebang in about 7 hours. It was a big zoo and a long day! I was asked afterwards in the car what my favourite animals were, so I'll share with you too- I loved seeing the Orangutans, and they had a rope suspended across the sidewalk so we could stand underneath and watch them swing right above us. Also the gorillas, although it was a bit sad to see them in pen and not the wild. Also a surprise fave- turtles! There were lots of them in huge tanks at eye level and it was so cool to watch their feet/fins go in and out, and watching how they turned (the same way we turn a rowing boat!) Alina and Jonathan also provided entertainment of course, posing on all the animal statues for photos and it was fun to see them enjoying the zoo too! Incidentally, one highlight at the Orangutan was seeing an Orangutan man. He was standing right there so I couldn't say anything but he was just a regular 50-year-old man, quite tall and a little bit hairy, with this unruly mop of red hair- the exact same colour as the Orangutans! It made me smile! 

Sunday morning was spent at church. Since it was the 5th Sunday of the month, Arthur and Michelle were leading Iwana games for the kids. With a soccer theme, I wasn't much good at any of the games, but I managed to keep my team of kids fairly in order (there were about 40 in total), and they all seemed to have fun. We then went into the main service, which was really good. We attended a local baseball game in the afternoon, which was fun to watch but we roasted in the sun! I don't know what temperature it was but I was very grateful for the suncream Michelle had lent me! I had heard about Ben's Chilli Bowl half smoke hot dogs (recently famously enjoyed by Obama) and was v.happy to see they had a stand at the stadium. Considering I don't normally like hot dogs, this one was amazing (and you know I love a local speciality!)  Unfortunately one player got knocked during play- and had to be airlifted to hospital... hopefully he's OK now.

Monday was Memorial Day (a national holiday), so Arthur and the kids were home. So we had a nice relaxing day walking down to the river (from their back garden), Jonathan and Alina played in the paddling pool and we had a water fight! We had Alina's favourite food for dinner (BBQ ribs) along with one of my favourite foods (ice cream sandwich!). After dinner, I gave the kids a model aeroplane kit I'd got last week from the Smithosian Air & Space museum and although I had to help them construct them (very confusing), they had fun making them fly in the front garden, giving caterpillars, ants and termites rides (until they crashed quite spectacularly and the insects presumably either fell off or died of a heart attack.) 
I packed up and left on Tuesday morning and finally arrived back in DC 90 mins later (thanks to engineering work). I was headed to the Newseum, a museum of the News but had a dilemma about whether to walk all the way down there and hope they could take my suitcase, or to leave it in Union Station. I opted for the latter, handed over my $24 for four hours and then shortly discovered I could have left it for free at the Newseum. Ah well, such is life.

The museum was really great- they had an exhibition of hundreds of newspapers and notebooks from 1650 (the early ones of course all being European) so I saw the original newspaper from the English Civil War, when the Titanic hit, when Edward VIII abdicated... fascinating. They also had a collection of every single Pulitzer Prize Photo winner (some of which were better than others!) Another poignant exhibition (and fitting to where I was going next) was on the World Trade Center. They had an intense video interviewing people involved on the day, a wall full of the worlds' newspapers from that day and even (quite bizarrely) a mangled section of the antenna that had once stood on top. With that, I ended my time in Washington DC.
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