We left New Jersey fairly early with the goal of arriving in Washington DC by early evening. We made a sort of last-minute decision to stop and see Trina (Allen's sister) and John and their family, who had just moved to Pennsylvania two days before. It was a welcomed stop and the kids loved playing with their cousins and getting out of the car for a couple of hours.
We drove (and drove and drove and drove) and made it to Maryland where our hotel was located, just outside of Washington DC. We trusted the GPS to find us someplace to eat that was not hamburgers or Subway and found a Popeye's Chicken place inside of a nearby mall. We pushed three tables together in the center of the food court and ordered a family dinner pack which we devoured while every person in that area of the mall took turns counting our kids and watching us eat. It was fantastic.
We decided to visit Washington DC a little later in the evening when the humidity wasn't quite so stifling, so a lot of our pictures are lame because either the buildings are lit up and we are not or I used a flash so we are lit up with muted versions of buildings in the background. But whatevs. These pictures are proof that we were there.
I'm not sure what Hubba was intending, but he had some kind of crazy idea to blow up his cheeks in almost every picture in Washington DC. He's such a cute little blowfish.
When we were walking toward the Washington Monument we saw this tractor thingy that bore Julia's initials. Hey, let's take a picture!
See that big, grayish thing behind my family? That's the Washington Monument.
And here's our creepy lighting picture right at the base of the Washington Monument.
I took one with flash, too. I like it much better. What a good-looking bunch!
At this point Little O and X were SO DONE with walking around Washington DC. So Allen and All-a-Boy went to get the van and picked us up. Allen still wanted to see a few sights and I wanted to clean out the van so we parked in a central location and he took these four along with him to visit the Lincoln Memorial,
get a better picture of the Washington Monument,
and the Korean War Veterans Memorial, which I wish I was able to see because I've heard it's even more amazing at night.
We tried to do a night time drive-by of the Washington DC Temple but the lights were turned off. The next morning we decided it was well worth the effort to go out of our way so the family could see how amazing the Washington DC temple looks from the freeway. You're just driving along and then all of a sudden, there it is - like a castle in the sky.
We drove to the temple grounds for a family picture and HOLY COW it was HUMID! Couple the humidity with the fact that the sun seemed even brighter than usual and that combination made it nearly impossible to even keep my eyes open when I was outside of the van. I tell you this so you can understand what a miracle it was to get almost every one of my kids looking at the camera with their eyes open in this picture:
I couldn't even see well enough to make sure that the angel Moroni on top of the temple was in the picture, so he didn't make the cut. All-a-Boy took about 10 pictures of Allen and I before getting this one where my eyes are open.
In case you think I'm exaggerating, this is what I looked like as we toured the temple grounds:
Here's Moroni, all on his own. Even he can't look at the sun.
Here they all are again, minus Moroni.
They decided to just let X run free before we loaded back into the van for our marathon drive to Florida. (Yes, Washington DC to Florida in one day. Crazy? Yes.)
All-a-Boy scooped up Little X for the trek back to the van. Such cute brothers.
As we were making our loooooong Sunday drive toward Universal Studios in Florida I saw a sign for this city which is named after my youngest boy and I couldn't help but wonder if it was actually named after him when I saw their tagline, which was SO perfect:
Benson, the Center of Attention. Yes, he is.
This is what most of our drive looked like that day:
Lots of tall trees that didn't allow you to see anything except the freeway. It started to feel like we were rats in a maze, just going the direction that the trees allowed us to. We drove all day and all night and pulled off to sleep for an hour or so and then kept driving into the next morning when we finally arrived at our much-anticipated destination - a hotel just down the road from Universal Studios in Orlando!