16 years ago, I somehow tricked my wife into saying, “I do”, so today is a big day that says more about Tammy than it does about me. For her to endure all of my disorganization and my crazy ideas for so long is a testament to her patience, unconditional love and commitment to our family. Since we’re on an RV trip, which doesn’t lend itself to a typical anniversary date, we had to improvise a little bit. We started the day with a hearty breakfast consisting of pancakes & eggs, which is something I enjoy doing. Back home, Saturday morning is usually my time to make a big breakfast for the family, continuing the tradition Tammy’s dad started when she was a kid. So I was up early making her breakfast, including making her first cup of coffee. I can’t stand the taste of coffee, but I love how it smells and how happy it makes her each morning, and I always buy her a souvenir mug every place we visit. She has more mugs than most 2-coffee drinking families.
After breakfast & getting cleaned up, I started working while the girls played outside, and then we headed out for the day. It’s great having a wife who is so willing to drive, which allowed me to work while we ventured over to Dulles International Airport to check out the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, one of the two locations in the D.C. area (the other being on the National Mall). We dropped Tiger off at Dogtopia on the way to the museum, and we are convinced Dogtopia is currently the greatest thing on the planet. Unlike last summer when we didn’t know about this heaven on earth, we are now able to drop him off to play with his friends all day, and then we can spend more time enjoying site-seeing, particularly in places that don’t allow dogs. The fact that they let the dogs pee & poop on the floors indoors doesn’t even bother us at this point.
If you love to fly and/or are mesmerized at the concept of flight, you have to put the National Air & Space Museums on your bucket list. We took an hour to walk around the museum prior to my weekly podcast recording, Word on the Street, and I was blown away by the breadth of exhibits on display. From the earliest attempts at flight to the Concorde that flew from New York to Paris in less than four hours, from the military planes of World War I to the Space Shuttle Discovery, there was so much to see.
My favorite plane, though – and it wasn’t even close – was the F-14, which is the plane Maverick & Goose flew in Top Gun, and I was able to get a picture that reminded me of a scene in the movie on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier. There were also MiG’s – which comes from the abbreviation of the names of the two Russians who built the aircraft, Mikoyan and Gurevich – and it was shocking how much bigger the F-14 was than those MiG’s. I can see how the MiG was much more maneuverable than the F-14, as they discussed in the movie.
There was also a Blue Angel’s plane and, man, I wanted to jump in that thing and take it for a ride. I’ve always been impressed by the skill of those pilots to fly in tight formations and perform synchronized rolls and other challenging maneuvers, and it is on my bucket list to ride in one of those planes before I die.
At the gift shop, Naomi found this beautiful flying bird whose wings flapped as the result of tension created by a wound rubber band, and she just had to have it. At $20, it was the most expensive gift she’s purchased thus far, but it was well worth it once we tried it out at home. In just a few attempts, she was able to make the bird fly over 25 yards, which was pretty incredible to see. It’s probably the first toy she’s purchased that I had to try out myself, and I’m pretty sure I wound it up several times! We both absolutely love the concept of flight!
After the museum, I set up my computer and portable podcast equipment to record episode 63 of my podcast The Word on the Street, which is a group of 10-15 transportation professionals who come together each week to laugh, encourage one another, talk about freight and listen to some great music, often 90s greatest hits. I literally started this “virtual lunch” when the pandemic began simply to have lunch with some people in the industry, and somehow it’s lasted for over a year. It goes to show how much we as humans crave interaction with one another, especially like-minded individuals. And the show has gone global, as we often have at least one person from Europe and one person from South America on every show. If you’ve never caught an episode, here is the link to watch the show from today, as well as the previous 62 episodes.
After the show, we made our way to Arlington National Cemetery to show Hannah & Naomi the immeasurable sacrifice of our men & women of the military. We’ve been blessed in our family, especially since they were born, to not have experienced much death to this point, so going to a cemetery is a new experience for them. We arrived and started walking up the hill to catch the next Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. If you’ve never witnessed the incredible precision of the military performing their duty of guarding the tomb, it’s truly a sight to behold. The tomb represents soldiers who never make it home, either from their bodies never being recovered or being maimed beyond recognition, either visually or by dental records with no dog tags. It’s a solemn reminder of the cruelty and ultimate sacrifice of war.
We watched in silence as one soldier would march 21 steps across the mat, turn & face east for 21 seconds, then turn and faces north for 21 seconds, and then take another 21 steps across the mat to the other side, turn to face east and continue the process. What’s really cool is how each soldier claps the soles of his shoes together to indicate he has stopped, and his handling of his weapon was pristine. Every 30 minutes, they perform a changing of the guard, which is absolutely stunning considering in many cases they aren’t looking at each other but continue to do everything in complete harmony and unity. I can only imagine how much practice goes into perfecting this ritual, and you can click this link to read more about The Changing of the Guard.
We continued on through the cemetery to see the gravesite of General MacArthur, as well as the Kennedy gravesites, and many others along the way. It was humbling to think of all the men and women who had sacrificed time with their spouses, moments with their kids, and opportunities to pursue their dreams, along with much more, to ensure that we would have the freedom to do those things. We took this time to explain to the girls that freedom is never free. There is a price to pay, and we should always be grateful and appreciative to all who served in the military to pay that price for all of us to enjoy our freedoms. I encouraged them to follow the practice I started many years ago of always thanking a person in uniform – or anyone who once served in uniform – by looking them in the eye, shaking their hand and saying, “Thank you for your service.” My hope is that my girls, whether they ever serve in the military or not, would always remember those who gave their last full measure of devotion to their country.
We left the cemetery to head towards Old Town Alexandria for dinner, and we ended up at an upscale, but not too ritzy, restaurant called Majestic, and we had a really good time. Great food and a fun waiter who made sure we had a good time on our first anniversary dinner with our kids, which was a lot of fun.
Afterwards, we headed home, grabbed a few dessert items on the way, and settled in to enjoy our traditional Friday night Family Movie Night with National Treasure starring Nicolas Cage, and we decided we would watch the sequel the next night, which was fitting since we were in the nation’s capital and preparing to make a trip up to the National Mall on Sunday. In a surprise turn of events, we discovered that lowering the kitchen table (typically done so someone could use it as a bed) became our favorite way lay down and watch a movie.