This summer’s road trip was monumental, part 1

“Wandering alongside the Woods” column by Jacki  Wood

“Think about what you saw.”

Those words hang on a banner outside the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It can be found on posters throughout the building and on T-shirts, pens, magnets and other memorabilia inside the gift shop.

Their slogan tries to get you to act upon what you saw during your visit. And I love it. But for our family, it actually encompassed much of what we did on our annual summer road trip.

Our destination: Washington, DC. History, government, visiting family and eating good food was on the agenda.

Our journey: Memorable. Monumental, even, mostly because I saw more monuments in a week than I probably have in my entire life, not just in DC but Gettysburg, too.

In the weeks since we’ve been home, I haven’t been able to get that phrase out of my mind.

Think about what you saw. We saw a lot. We crammed a lot into each day. It affected us in many different ways. Not just at the Holocaust Museum but everywhere we went. And it started in the car as we began the trip east.

Road Trip Tweet: We’re listening to The Diary of Anne Frank while driving in preparation for visiting the Holocaust Museum later this week.

I spend a good amount of time making a detailed agenda prior to each road trip, doing a lot of research and getting ideas from others who have been there before. And this time was no different.

But you know one of the things I like most about road trips? Flexibility. The ability to change it up a bit. And we did that on more than one occasion this summer.

Driving through Indiana, my husband saw a sign for the Hoosier gym where my favorite movie, “Hoosiers,” was filmed. So we pulled off to see it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open yet; fortunately, Larry stopped again on our way home when it was open. We took a tour and I even got to shoot baskets in the gym where Coach Norman Dale inspired those players on that legendary team.

We had another amazing opportunity to veer off our path when we saw a sign for the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, PA. The new national park memorializes the passengers and crew who bravely overtook the 9/11 hijackers when they learned what was happening in New York and at the Pentagon on that dreadful day.

I had no idea we would be anywhere near the site. It was a very emotional experience for me, remembering back to that day and the courage shown by those 40 individuals.

Road Trip Tweet: An unplanned but memorable and moving stop along the way @ Flight 93 National Memorial.

Take the 14-mile drive off of I-70. You won’t regret it.

It set us back a bit and we didn’t see as much as we intended, but it was worth it and we’re already making plans for our next trip.

Our first stop in DC was the US Capitol Building. Someone suggested we contact our senator or representative for a tour beforehand. We did and our tour was much more personal and in-depth than the masses around us.

Other highlights of the week included Arlington National Cemetery and the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the National Air and Space Museum (Hunter was in heaven).

One of the things I found fascinating was all of the quotes on the monuments and walls everywhere we went.

As I try to reflect and “think about what we saw,” perhaps the one quote that impressed me most was one I’d never read before.

It was at the Air and Space Museum next to a portrait of World War II Tuskegee Airmen Commander Benjamin O. Davis Jr., who said:

“The privileges of being an American belong to those brave enough to fight for them.”

Part 2 will include our fun food finds and the many technological helps we used along the way.

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