*I should have posted this a long time ago*
On September 26, 2011 my friend Alician, her two sisters, and I made our way to Washington DC. We caught a red eye flight at 1130. I couldn't sleep so instead I watched the map on the tv to see where we were in the US. It was actually really interesting and kind of fun. We hung out in the JFK airport for five hours and then flew into Dulles. From there we went to get our rental. We walked into Hertz (never rent from them, ever) and the Indian guy (they were all from India) started helping us. The total he gave us was $500 more than we had been told earlier. It was hot and muggy and when I saw the total it made me feel worse than I already did. I turned to Alician and said I didn't feel well. She told me to not say that and that we were almost done. I asked the guy if that was everything and took a step back. The next thing I remember is Alician asking me if I was ok and several foreign guys standing over me. I. Passed. Out. Literally. Tami and Holly (the two sisters) helped me to a couch and someone called the paramedics. They got there and asked what happened. Apparently I fell straight back. Everyone said it was just like in the cartoons when they're as stiff as a board and just keel over. My head hit the metal barrier and then the floor. I had a pretty good goose egg. The paramedic told me that if I hadn't hit the barrier and, I'm not kidding, if my hair hadn't been so thick, yeah she said that, that I probably would have split my head open. They asked if I needed to go to the ER but I refused. I wasn't about to spend money getting my goose egg looked at. Needless to say it was the perfect way to start our vacation. We took the car, which they "upgraded" because they felt bad. We hated the car and I would not pay the amount they were asking for. So we took Katie's (Alician's cousin we were staying with) cousin back with us to tell them exactly what we thought. She managed to bring our total down to $60 and then we gave the car back. We went to three different rental agencies before we ended up at Enterprise, who I absolutely love! They gave us a great car for a 1/3 of the price any other agency would give us. That day we went to bed at 830. I was an emotional wreck because of my adventure at Hertz. We started our vacation the next day. We spent all of Wednesday and Thursday in the Smithsonian at the American History, the Natural History, and the Air and Space museums. All of the exhibits were incredible. P.S. we rode the metro as much as we could. On Friday we toured the White House, which was incredible. They only do tours through the bottom half of the east wing. BUT, Holly and I went through together and our tour consisted of us, ten or eleven other civilians and guys from the Naval Academy. Uhm. Yes. I never was one for guys in uniform but I have been converted. Wow. That is all I have to say. So we saw all the "color" rooms. Seriously they all had the name of colors: the red room, the green room, the blue room and so on. The rooms were beautiful and there were so many artifacts from presidents as early as John Adams. When we got outside we were looking at the White House and I realized how small it actually is. The movies make it seem so big but it really isn't. We also toured the Library of Congress, where I saw Jefferson's Library, which I want. I've always loved Jefferson and now I love his library too. We toured the Capitol as well. Did you know that the room where all the great debates were held in the early years of the Capitol has such great acoustics that if one is whispering on one side of the room, the other side of the room can hear it, and it sounds like they aren't whispering at all? It was cuhrazy! They call it the whispering gallery. On Saturday we spent the morning weeding Katie's yard and the afternoon at Mount Vernon (George Washington's home). His home is so beautiful and the grounds are incredible. Washington had a great view of the Potomac. I could spend days on his land. We wandered around until almost closing time. Then we went to the four-level Pentagon City Mall. It was there that I was hit on by a 40-year-old man. What?! Yeah he told me that if I wasn't a tourist he'd ask me out. I was like uhm no sir. You will not. Gag. I'm sorry to say that we missed the Saturday sessions of Conference. We wouldn't have done that if technology wasn't so wonderful. On Sunday we watched conference and took Katie's three-year-old to the "Castle" aka the DC Temple. Aidan is one of the funniest little kids I've ever met. He has a father in the sky, but it isn't Heavenly Father. It is, in fact, Darth Vader. He called on him one night to get me "unstuck" from the carpet. When we took Aidan to the Temple I asked what the place was. He replied "A CASTLE!" Then I asked who he was going to take there someday. "A PRINCESS! ZOE IS MY PRINCESS!" He's a doll and a monster all in the same tiny person. The triplets were adorable too. One of them acted comatose every time I held him. I would sit him up to burp him and he'd flop his head down to his stomach. He must have been in a ball in the womb because he was always doing that. On Monday we went to the Spy Museum, which was AWESOME! We spent two and a half hours there. I couldn't believe the stuff they had there. There were all sorts of weapons, like tiny finger guns and darts with poison in them. I can't even remember a lot of the stuff because there was so much to take in. We learned how to identify spies though. And everywhere we went after that we'd say "Oh he's a spy. He's gotta be a spy." The museum does cause a little paranoia. We did most of the memorials that afternoon, including the Washington, WW II and Lincoln memorials. I loved the Lincoln memorial. I could probably spend hours there. It's just so incredible. Tuesday was our last day before we left for home again. We started out with the Holocaust museum. But I have to tell you, the Arnold girls like to walk a lot slower than I can handle so I was frequently ahead of them. On the way to the museum that day there were Navy personel (sp?) carrying stuff to a van. I was walking past one and he kept smiling at me, which I was totally ok with. He was extremely attractive. I turned around when I got past, partly to wait for Alician and Holly, and partly to see if my senses were correct. They were and he was still watching me. If I had known what was acceptable I might have given him my number=) Almost immediately after I turned around another attractive officer walked toward me. As he got closer he said "Oh. Hey." You'd have to hear me say it but it wasn't like a friendly "Oh hey." It was totally a "can I have yo numbah oh hey" He passed me and I turned to look at Alician. Both her and Holly's jaws had dropped and they were staring at me. I started giggling and couldn't stop. They just kept saying oh my gosh. How does that happen to you Jill?! I'm. Not. Cocky. I promise ;)The Holocaust museum was...sobering. They had lots of artifacts from Auschwitz and other camps. There were very graphic videos of actual occurences in the camps. We saw propoganda used to brainwash Germany during Hitler's reign and tactics used against the people. The things that made me stop and think the most were the railcar and tracks used to carry thousands of the "Imperfect race" to their deaths and the piles of shoes. The railcar was just tiny and there were hundreds crammed into them every journey. I stood in that railcar for quite a while just thinking, realizing that where I stood is exactly where hundreds had stood, not knowing that soon they would be nothing but smoke in the dirty air of Germany. Sorry to be so morbid but it is true. It amazes me that one man can have that much power over millions. The other thing that bothered me was the shoes. It wasn't the actual shoes that really bothered me either. However, the shoes were very real. There were several pairs that were turned over so the heels were showing. The heels were worn down where pressure of that person's foot had been. That made the shoes more realistic. However, it was the smell of the shoes that got to me. You wouldn't think that the smell of leather could make a person nauseous but it does. That smell lingers in the air of the shoe hall. That smell made the Holocaust real for me. They weren't just shoes. They were shoes that people, innocent people, had worn in the railcars that took them to Concentration Camps. They were shoes that gave someone an identity, an identity that was taken away from them. The smell of feet and leather was almost too much. I think that was one of the best things we did the whole trip. It was a good experience to have. After the Holocaust museum we went to the Jefferson memorial, which is another memorial I could spend all day at. It's so peaceful there. And I love Jefferson. Truly. We spent a while there and then made our way to Arlington Cemetery. Alician was wary of going but I was adamant. We had to go there. We stayed to watch the Changing of the Guard. Along with the Holocaust museum it was one of the most moving things I've ever experienced. My dad asked me if I could only go back to one place in DC where would it be. Almost hands down it would be Arlington. You would not believe how quiet it is there. It's almost as if one is compelled to be quiet and reverent. Even the little kids there were not saying a word. It was quite the experience and I won't forget it. We left the next day. I'm not kidding I am seriously considering moving there. It's one of the most incredible places I've ever been.