Several years ago, we decided that we'd take each of our kids on a 12 year-old trip, just them with mom & dad, and we'd let them pick any destination within the continental US. Then two years ago, after Robbie's trip to Washington DC, we decided that we really wanted to take each of them to DC because it was an incredible experience. Joey was initially a little upset that he didn't get to choose the location, but it didn't take long for him to realize that it was still a pretty sweet deal.
We left the day before spring break began, Wednesday, March 27th, driving to the airport right after school got out. I didn't take photos of our flight to Ronald Reagan International, or our two hour drive to Gettysburg, arriving around midnight. In spite of the late night, we arrived bright and early at the visitor's center at Gettysburg:
This time we watched the movie, saw the cyclorama and toured the museum first:
Then we met our private guide for a two hour tour of the battlefield. We had encouraged Joey to read The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara to help him appreciate what we'd be seeing. He didn't quite finish, but was still pretty impressed by what our incredibly knowledgable guide, John Tudor, told us of the events of those three days in July 1863. Although we had beautiful blue skies, we were wishing we could channel some of that warm weather—it was freezing cold!
We finished our tour of Gettysburg at 1:00 p.m., and after stopping for lunch at a Quiznos in Fayetteville, we drove down to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (the one near Dulles airport). We were able to get a guided tour of the hangar, and learned a lot about the progress of flight as we saw aircraft that pre-dated the Kitty Hawk era, war planes (including the Enola Gay), the fastest jet in the world, and the space shuttle Discovery. Joey was excited to get to see something that Robbie didn't. :)
We left at closing time and drove to our hotel (the Grand Hyatt) in DC, then walked over to nearby Chinatown district for dinner. Here are Joey and Rob in front of the Friendship Arch. We ate at Vapiano, which is an Italian restaurant that Rob discovered in Eastern Europe, and we loved on our trip with Robbie.
A long but fantastic day. :)