Monday, March 29, 2010

A Day In DC

It was a two and a half hour drive to 'DC' from my brother's house that took us down long winding Virginia roads through small towns made up of wooded farmland dotted with old homes. We spotted dozens of turkeys in fields and trees (eight of them were stuffed and mounted on top of a house. Can you say Redneck?), three bald eagles, white tail deer and Baptist churches. Lots of Baptist churches.

On the way home late that evening, Taylor looked over at me and said, "Aunt Annie, that was the most epic trip to DC ever." Indeed it was. It was a day filled with seeing parts of our nation's capitol building that most people don't get to see, meeting and having our picture taken with a Congressman, watching a session in the House of Representatives, chatting with the Secret Service, acting like complete dorks at the Washington monument, having a squirrel chase after us, being humbled by the Gettysburg address at the Lincoln Monument, walking the length of the The Wall and seeing the names of all those who gave their lives in Vietnam and spending a lot of time with one of my friends, who is currently a page at the Capitol building.

Here are a few pictures that highlight our trip to DC.

Having our picture taken on the steps of the Capitol with Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR). >(That is Cassidy, my friend, who is standing next to the Congressman. She gave us an awesome tour of the Capitol through a maze of hallways, stairs, back doors, front doors, more stairs, elevators, offices and the House chamber.)

Yes, life in DC moves this fast. Just try driving there. (As Taylor said, "we were in a timewarp or something.) This picture was taken in the Rotunda at the Capitol building.

THE best tour guide ever of the Capitol Building.

They were just that happy to be in DC...

On a dare from Killian, Taylor runs alongside a jogger at the Washington Monument.
Taylor: Nice day for a jog.
Runner: Yes it is. I'm going 10. You wanna hang with me?
Taylor: Not really. Have a nice run.

The Vietnam Memorial. Otherwise known as The Wall.

Inside the Lincoln Memorial (which is awesome by the way).

I don't know if the squirrels are rabid, crazy or just extremely assertive but first they came at us and then they followed us. And then Taylor made friends with them. It was nuts. (snort!)

So those were a few highlights of DC. Of course the rest of the trip was a blast and we were sad to leave. It is good to be home, though Killian already wishes he were back in Virginia with his cousins and all of his hick friends.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Virginia: Bugs, Baseball, Militia and Other Stuff

I've been spending spring break with Killian on the coast of Virginia, in Gloucester, with my brother and his family and there hasn't been a lot of down time, especially because the amount of kids in the house numbers 13.

We've had a great time so far and this week we'll be heading up to DC to visit one of my high school volleyball players who is in a six-month program and working as a Republican Page at the capital while going to school in the Library of Congress. She told me this is an exciting week to be coming for a visit - with the healthcare vote going on and all.

We're hoping to make it over to Charlottesville to see Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson and The University of Virginia, but there is still a lot to do in the next six days so we'll see. Here's a few pictures of the trip so far that I thought you might enjoy.

The Gloucester Militia:

This is the 'posse', a bunch of teenage boys who like to spend all of their free time dressed in camo while running amok in the woods playing airsoft wars. This has taken up much of Killian's time so far.

A visit to Yorktown:

The kids were pretty excited that the weather finally brought sunny skies and warm temperatures, so we headed down to the beach in Yorktown where they were jumping for joy. (We'll have to work on the timing some.)

Don't Mess With Me:

Eli, flexing his muscles. He's the toughest of the bunch.

Making brownies:

This is the best part...licking the beaters.


We're watching lots of baseball.


And, eating bugs. Yes, they really ate those crunchy little worm things on a dare by their neighbor.

Prepping the Garden:

Can you find Taylor in this picture? (Hint: He's wearing camo pj's and rototilling the 'garden'. Look hard.)

Okay, that's it for now. My brother's got waffles cooking and baby needs a diaper change (yes, no lack of excitement on this trip!). And I've got a vacation to get back to.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Life of a Wanna Be

There are moments when I think God probably manipulates the way the universe turns so that He can have a good laugh on me. Such as this morning.

If you don't already know, photography is a passion of mine and I've been rather anxious to break in my new wide-angle lens. My son was going to be heading off early on a hunting trip and I had packed my bag with all of my camera gear for a hike up Pilot Butte, which is smack dab in the middle of my town. The intent was that I was going to catch the sunrise as it reflects off of the Cascade mountains and shoot some lovely pictures. Sometimes though, things don't always turn out the way we intend them to.

6:07am - My eyes pop open and I sit straight up in bed because something doesn't seem right. I look at my phone and realize my alarm didn't go off at 5:30 as planned and Killian is supposed to leave in 8 minutes to go hunting. I mutter a word than I'm fairly confident my mother would not approve of and race downstairs to wake Killian up.

6:07:12am - I yell at Killian to 'get up, you have 8 minutes to get ready' and race back upstairs where I turn on the coffee pot and throw on some sweats to spare everyone from seeing my 'couch potato' pajamas and a hat to cover the 'Phyllis Diller' doo.

6:08am - Race back downstairs to make sure Killian heard my first battle cry of the morning and fix a lunch for him to take.

6:10am - Killian announces, 'Steve's here!' and I intently focus on not chopping off any of my fingers as I am trying to slice my way through a bagel with a knife as big as a machete.

6:10:12am - Peer around the corner at Steve and profusely apologize for him having to witness my less than desirable appearance and continue fixing Killian's lunch.

6:12am - Killian heads out the door and I race back upstairs to throw on my hiking clothes and curse the coffee pot for being the freakingest slowest coffee pot ever because the coffee is still not done.

6:15am - Grab my phone, backpack with 100 pounds of camera gear, coffee, keys and dog and head out the door.

6:16am - Close the garage door and am pulling out of the driveway as I realize I remembered the dog and forgot the leash. Pull back into the driveway, open the garage, run into the laundry room, grab the leash and race back out.

6:17am - Finally head down the road doing way faster than I should. Turn on a CD and hear Lady Gaga playing which makes me want to drive faster. So I do.

6:19am - As I near the butte, I have to drive past the police station. I try to be as inconspicuous as I can while driving 15mph over the speed limit. It's a gift, really.

6:20am - Curse whoever designs roads and parking lots at the City of Bend because I have to drive past the turn for the butte because of the divider in the road and turn around in order to get to the parking lot.

6:20:18am - Pull one heck of a 'u-ee' and drive as fast as I can to the parking lot.

6:21am - Jump out of the car, let the dog out, grab my backpack and and decide to run up the butte because I'm running out of time for 'the shot'.

6:25am - Wonder what the heck I was thinking bringing all of my camera gear because the '100 pound' pack is heavy as heck and I am only two minutes up the extremely vertical mile trail and already sucking air.

6:27am - Suddenly realize that the tripod attachment for my camera is still in the Tahoe, say another word my mother would not approve of and decide to keep going, all the while wondering why I took the trail that is way more vertical than the road.

6:30am - Still cursing the City of Bend and whoever decides to close the road to vehicles in the winter while sucking air much worse now.

6:31am - Heading around another corner and saying over and over in my head, 'what the heck was I thinking?' to the rhythm of my feet hitting the ground.

6:34am - Finally turn a corner and the mountains come into view. And the clouds. And the shadows. And the realization that I missed 'the shot'.

6:35am - Open up the backpack and start shooting pictures with various lenses anyways while trying to slow down my heart rate and steady my shaking hands. Eventually, I realize I'm not happy with the photos and head back down the butte once I locate the dog.

9:36am - On my way to the store I glance at the mountains and see the blue sky without a cloud in it, the sun hitting the mountains and I look up at the butte thinking I should be there now.

Such is the life of a wanna be photographer. I wasn't very satisfied with the pictures this morning because of the light and clouds and how they appeared to me when I downloaded them. My only consolation is that the mountains have been right where they are for several years now and there will be plenty of other opportunities in the future for the perfect shot. And the fact that I went back out and gave it another shot.