Friday, October 24, 2008

The Ninth Inning.

How fitting! our Ninth day was centered around the one thing that every real american boy should experience one time in his life. A pro baseball game! And not just any Pro Game! This was the Yankees vs. the RedSox. We had awesome timing and I bought the tickets before we left on e-bay. Fortunately they were legit and we made the trek to Yankee Stadium to see the Sox (2007 World Champs) beat the Yankees in the house that Ruth built. It is the pantheon of baseball and there is no better rivalry to witness than this. I never need to go to another baseball game for the rest of my life.

We left the game 30 min early to get a jump on getting back to the JFK airport. We waited and waited for our flight, and finally borded and headed back to SLC.

Wake up in the cradle of the Philosiphers and Statesmen.

Day Ocho was pretty nice, we woke up a little late had some breakfast at Amanda and Ben's apartment and headed out to Monticello. The estate of my favorite Founding Father. Thomas Jefferson would probably object to having so many make a pilgrimage to his beautiful plot of land, but I am grateful it has been preserved for posterity. Ashlee was particularly struck by Jefferson's quest for improvement and design in the way a household is organized. She really thought Mr. Jefferson clever to devise methods for making the whole thing work and function. Of course having servants and slaves helps but there had to be some genius of organization and benevolence. In no way do I feel that slavery is justifiable by any means, however that said, there are shades of grey in all things. Although the light would have to be particularly bright to see the slightest glint of gray on this matter. The weather cooperated really well (tip from previous post Buy a big umbrella), but Lance was so tired from this marathon trip I couldn't let him go and take the tour. He was miserable so I watched him outside while Ashlee toured the inside of the home. I had gone through about 15 years ago but really remembered it quite well. And while I was waiting outside I had an excellent conversation with a Syrian. He was a Christian Syrian which is like being a Jew in Salt Lake City. Actually probably worse. He had been in the US for 10 years and waxed poetically about how God has saved this land for the righteous. In retrospect I should have seized the opportunity to do a little Mormon missionary work, but somehow having a screaming kid throwing a tantrum outside the Monticello makes you feel like you definitely do not have all the answers. We spoke about families and even about Christianity, I did share my religion with him and he told me he had been to Salt Lake City once and loved it. Somehow at that point I believed if he had been to Baker California he would have said that place is awesome. Which is so cool because his positive attitude helped me deal with my son who at this time was almost a brain eating zombie that wanted so badly to just sleep and be held. Our travel itenirary is not to be copied by other young families that wish to remain sane or together or both... and here is why. we left Monticello and headed straight back to NYC. mainly to go and get some dinner in Little Italy. We drove and drove nonstop for 6 hours and actually made it to Mullbery street to see most of the eatiries closed but we were fortunate enough to get into one that kept late hours for fool like us. I have to be honest. I have had better Italian on the west coast and even in Salt Lake City. It was good but nothing to drive 6 hours non-stop for. But we did it and were satiated for the next few hours which was good because we ended up trying to get a room on the island of Manhattan for the next 2 hours and found out becasue of the Tribecca Film Festival, not even the seediest of dives had space in the broom closet. We had to drive clear out to White Plains to get the last room in a 12 story Hampton Inn. It was the Handycap room so it only had a full size bed that felt like it was frequented by an assortment of obese people weighing in at 600 lbs. Im not kidding I had to check under the sheets to see if they were trying to pass a canoe off as a bed. The four of us huddeled in and were so exhausted that we passed out. Except for the 15 times Rene woke up Ashlee and about 2 myself, but that was only so I could wake Ashlee up and have her feed Renee to get her to stop crying. I think Ashlee woke me up because she was crying too. Ai yai yai.... but its all worth it because of what we were about to do on the 9th day.

Le Setieme Jour


I am not a good blogger... Scratch that I am not even qualified to be called a blogger there has to be a better name for it. dogger? lazybonesogger, I'm like the Hailey's comet of blogging I come around once every 70-80 years or so.

I am sure you have RSS'd this page so you can be notified the second it gets updated with the details of the Seventh day of the East Coast adventure my little family experienced way back in 'ott Seven. So without further adieu...

We spent most of the day at Colonial Williamsburg. Ashlee liked this stop in particular. She really enjoyed the recreation of colonial life circa late 18th Century. There were torrential thunderstorms that left huge puddles all around and Lance promptly decided that Williamsburg is indeed a waterpark.

We went by the College of William and Mary to get a large golf umbrella. Apparently when you buy a large golf umbrella on vacation that means the weather changes promptly so you don't ever get to use the item during the remainder of the trip. And as chance would have it, the airline baggage handlers will actually destroy the item so it may never actually be used.
We left the park as it began to close to continue our trip heading to Charlottesville to visit my Sister Amanda and her husband Ben who at the time was going to the University of Virginia Law School. This is so long ago it's pathetic, he has since graduated and taken a position with a firm in Rochester NY. Upon arrival to Charlottesville we were introduced to 5 guys. They fed us some really good burgers and fries. They liked us so much they have since followed us back to Utah to feed us more burgers.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

6th day

We left the Mudricks house and headed South to the Norfolk area (Nor-#*$@ as the locals say). We made a couple of stops along the way one of them being StoneWall Jacksons home, not much to it as one would expect since he was on the losing side.

The one thing that made the long drive berable for Ashlee and Myself was the infinite amount of trees. It was so beautiful at times we were saying to each other "I could live here easily, its so beautiful". Unfortunately housing costs on the east coast mirror those on the west coast. Driving along the highways and interstates is a treat though because it is really so clean and green. The one thing that made the long drive berable for Lance was my video iPod and the old time Disney short cartoons I hastily downloaded before the trip "just in case". Goofy and Donald Duck saved this leg of the journey.

We made it to Hampton in time for dinner at the Napoleons. We had not seen Kalani and Cheri since their move from Alaska to Virginia. They stopped in for a couple of days that summer in 2004. Kalani was running ragged from the graveyard shift he was assigned at the Airforce base and mixing in a newborn baby into the schedule. He has since retired from the Airforce and has gone into the private sector. Cherie's sister was there helping out and we just came over for dinner and a quick visit. Lance could not have been happier, since 2 of Kalani's kids were eligible palaymates. When it got close to bed time he even got to take a bath. I showed Cherie how to set up a blog and make posts. Since then she has proved to be a far better regular poster than I will ever be. She takes loads of great pictures too.

We headed to a hotel at Colonial Williamsburg since that is where we would spend most of the next day. Lance was so sad to leave the Napoleons he attempted to leave our hotel room a couple times in the middle of the night. There was no way to lock the door from the inside so Ashlee rigged up some type of alarm with the ironing board, some luggage and a tripwire or something, MacGyver style.

5 down 3 to go!

After getting a good night's rest at the Mudricks house we slept in a little, had a nice breakfast and then headed to the coolest museum in the world. I have been a huge fan of the Smithsonian National Air and Space museum on the Mall in Washington and loved visiting it. But this new one they built at the Dulles airport is the real deal. They call it an annex, but come on! The term is so dimunitive for what it really is. Its every boys fantasy collection of cool airplanes and spacecraft.
There is the epic SR-71 Blackbird, the Supersonic Concorde, the Space Shuttle Enterprise, and the Enola Gay. Thats just a few of the world-changing machines on exhibit. Yeah they don't have the Apollo Lunar module, but we all know that was only used on a sound stage anyway (hold on, my Aluminum Foil helmet keeps slipping over my eyes, I need to tighten the chinstrap.) Lance loved the jets and other planes, he was suprisingly fascinated by the smaller aircraft and helicopters. We later went up into the air traffic tower and watched planes take off and land at Dulles. A very cool stop on our trip.

The next stop was one I knew we would do from the time we decided to go. Arlington National Cemetary. I had not been since my Grandfathers burial in 1998, and wanted to show Ashlee how our nation honors those who served so faithfuly and at such a high cost. The story of Arlington its self is interesting and fitting. We were allowed to drive on site and go directly to the grave marker. Lance was too young to perceive what the signifigance of what all of the headstones mean but somehow he was reverent and somber. I was glad to see my grandmother memorialized on the back of my grandfathers headstone, I had not yet seen that. Later we went to see the tomb of the unknown soldier and witnessed the changing of the guard, Lance amazingly remained still and respectful. Ashlee was moved by the ceremony and magnitude of the whole site. I am grateful our country remembers those who protect it.

After closing Arlington down and being the last visitors to leave the grounds we headed to Georgetown. I love Georgetown, its beautiful homes and neighborhoods are a real treat to visit and see. We went to the Canal area and had some truly incredible seafood at Sea Catch restaraunt overlooking the C&O Canal. I have never had Scallops so good. We had to park a ways from the restaraunt as the area was really busy, and we even got a little lost on the way back to the car. It wasnt a help that it started to rain like mad. We decided to cut the night short and not head to the Mall area since the weather was not cooperating.

This early night gave us the chance to hang out more with Ben's dad, David Mudrick. He is truly the salt of the earth and we were so lucky to be able to stay in his home. Ben's mom, Pat Mudrick was on a trip to Boston visiting and helping a family member, so we weren't that lucky to meet and get to know her. David Mudrick has a unique hobby, he likes to draw cartoons. I find them and him hilarious and check on his site all the time. Click on me to get to the site. Everybody went to bed before 11 PM and that is still a record to be beaten in the Bruford household. We needed the rest though beacuse in the morning we were hitting the road to go south.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Jour Four

Waking up in sleepy little Gettysburg after leaving Manhattan was as stark a contrast you can get in American life. It’s like the first 10 minutes of the Wizard of Oz replayed backwards. Part of you wonders how the sprawl of such a huge place like New York City could possibly end, and sure enough 200 miles away there was no sign of Manhattan, no skyline, no noise, no smells, just some fields and farms and simple little buildings that make up a small town thrust into history more than seven score ago.

This was not my first time to Gettysburg, but I wanted to go back and show Ashlee. For some reason when I visited this place when I was 17, it moved me. I couldn’t fathom the magnitude of this battle in this quiet countryside hamlet. Sure enough it did happen, and it changed the fabric of America permanently. Ashlee read the Gettysburg address for the first time, and she was fortunate to do it in the exact spot where it was delivered. I think it moved her. In hindsight it was a great preview of what she was going to see in DC that very night.

We drove by the battlefields and went into the museum and let Lance play on the cannons by the cemetery. He really loved the cannons. Mostly because he knows that’s what makes the big noise in the 1812 Overture. Our stay was brief but purposeful. It reminded me of what I once felt about freedom and struggle and purpose. It opened Ashlee’s eyes to the fact that history does happen in real places to real people, not just in some mediocre textbook and on a chalkboard.

Our next stop was Reston VA, the home of the Mudrick family. This was to be our base of operations for the next couple of days while we visited Washington DC. Ashlee was thrilled to be able to help cook a meal and let the kids just play on the floor. We went grocery shopping with Ben’s dad, David. I avoided the temptation to purchase an authentic Virginia ham (another Blog entry for another day). We had a wonderful meal and headed out to see the Nations Capitol at night.

It is moving to see the Mall at night. It was probably my 6th time being there at night and I love it more each time. Ashlee had never been and I could tell she was in awe. Especially with the Lincoln Memorial. It is truly a temple, a holy place in our nation. Lance was even reverent and in awe of the giant statue of Lincoln. Ashlee read the giant reproductions of Lincoln’s most important speeches and we sat on the top steps and took it all in.

We proceeded to head to a monument I had not yet seen, the World War II memorial. This is a very special place and a fitting tribute to those who served and sacrificed. We spent over an hour looking at the whole monument, and finally had to leave because most of the lights were shut off and the fountains stopped. Both Ashlee and I have grandfathers that served our country during WWII. We then walked back down to the Vietnam Memorial. Being there after midnight was a unique experience. I think I valued this visit to that memorial more than before, mostly because I have a greater understanding of that conflict than I did years before.

We finished our long walk in the perfect night air, got back into our mini-van and drove around the District some more. We saw the Capitol, the White House, National Archives, the Smithsonian buildings and many other buildings that make DC so unique. After getting lost looking at some of the cool neighborhoods we set the GPS to head us back to the Mudrick home 20 or so minutes away. We went to sleep very tired and very happy, glad that we were on this trip, glad to be seeing the sights, glad to be doing it together as a family.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Finally back to Day 3 of the East Coast Trip

Let's just ignore the fact that it has been close to 6 months since I have last posted about the trip we took in spring. Yes, moving right along... So it's Monday morning and it seems that NYC does not know the difference between a week-end and week-day, everything looked the same, it was just as busy, just as crowded and just as wonderful. Ashlee and I were kind of sad to know we would be leaving the big apple to continue our trip southward.

We decided to use our Double Decker bus pass to its full extent and grabbed the bus that went up the West Side of the island of Manhattan, then to Harlem and then by the Museums. Ashlee especially enjoyed this part of the bus trip because she was beginning to really appreciate the architecture in the city. She took a lot of pictures that I have been enjoying as a screensaver on my workstation. We passed Central Park again, kept going north and got a nice view of Grant's Tomb. Then we headed into Harlem where I saw the funniest Muslim friendly restaurant claim on the marquee that there is "no pork on my fork". About ready for lunch ourselves we got off the bus at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Yeah, that’s a bad idea on a Monday. Many Museums in NYC are closed on Monday (who's Sabbath is that?). So we started our walk.

We initially wanted to look for some food and just kept on walking and walking all over the Central East Side. Seriously we walked for several miles and we were getting sick of it. Especially because at my insistence we did not take the stroller, so we were carrying the kids. They became uncomfortable and so did we. We knew we had to go back to the airport and get the rental van before 5 but we weren’t sure how we would do it. It was a logistical nightmare. Our bags were back at the hotel and our van was in Queens. Plus the kids’ car seats were at the hotel as well. After some frustrating deliberation we took the subways and trains out to JFK and arrived in time to get our Van. We had to rent car seats because the Renee and Lance were obviously with us.

This was the part of the trip where I broke out the not so secret weapon of modern travel. The GPS. Oh yes, drive like a local even if you have never in your life been somewhere, you know as much if not more that the guy that has lived here for 30 years. I borrowed my dad's Roadmate 700, and have to mention that after this trip I purchased my own. I can't recommend travelling without one. So we headed back into the city to get all of our gear at the hotel on Times Square. Seriously driving with that GPS made what looked like a total nightmare seem really fun.

From there we went to get Sushi, which I admit was entirely selfish of me, But it was tuna night and I was getting a deal. This Place was called East Sushi. It’s a Kaiten sushi bar which means the sushi passes you on a conveyor belt. I think it would have been no big deal to eat there, but they were playing music like it was some European discothèque, and I could barely hear myself think. Let alone hear what Ashlee was thinking. We were seated after about 20 minutes, and ordered food for Lance and Ashlee and I just ate the stuff coming off the belt. Ashlee’s mood changed quickly as some lady made some weird comment to Ashlee about having a baby with her. It became impossible to communicate and we tried to leave as quickly as possible.

We loaded up the Van again and set the GPS to take us to Gettysburg PA. 210 Miles South East of Manhattan. We drove through the night and ended up in the hotel after 2 am due to a few construction delays. Something I hear newer GPS units will be able to warn you of. This was easily the worst day of the trip (still beats the best day at work), and we were glad it was over.