Last stop! Another long bus ride later (thank YOU Virgin Mobile Hotspot), and we landed at our final destination, Washington DC. We stayed at a Marriott, and it was across the street from the "Spy Museum" - COOL! Upon arrival, the staff greeted us and offered a free upgraded room (Jacuzzi suite) because it was our ANNIVERSARY! A+ customer service! As we got settled in, there was a knock at the door- they delivered a bottle of red WINE of course!! :)
Dan has a thing for attempting to eat at as many different Hard Rock Cafe's as possible, so that was our choice for dinner on Thursday. We met another young couple - the guy was attending law school at Georgetown, and they were engaged to be married within a year! It was fun talking to them about wedding planning, etc. :)
Friday 12/31 ***ANNIVERSARY DAY! ***
FIRST STOP: CAPITOL HILL
Definitely worth the trip- we did the traditional tour. A tad bit disappointed- Dan had called Senator Dick Durbin's office and them reserve us a spot- which is what he was told to do when he called and asked about the tours. This was not necessary at all. However, if someone from the Senator's office actually GAVE us the tour, we would have been able to go up in the dome, walk outside and get an amazing view of our nation's capitol. FYI...
We also made a quick stop at the Library of Congress, weren't too impressed, so we moved on.
Second stop: The Pentagon
Way cool. They didn't want you to take pictures from the outside. Super topsecret. We didn't go inside- it was "off-season" so nobody was able to give us tours (Dan had already seen it once or twice when he went to DC for Army NG stuff). Luckily, we were able to visit another 9/11 Memorial site at the Pentagon.
Breathtaking. Every little detail of the site contained so much meaning, memory, and symbolism.
Lunch: California Pizza Kitchen. Best. Salad. Ever.
Next Stop: Arlington Cemetary
Stunning. Endless rows of white graves. The whole place is massive- they had directions, arrows, trolley rides, just HUGE. It also winds up a huge hill- too bad there is a sign for "no jogging", it would be a GREAT place for hill repeats :)
We made it to the "top" to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In case you don't know what that it is, check it out. In summary, one unidentified or "unknown" soldier was buried from World I, World II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War mean to represent ALL of the unknown soldiers. There is one large tombstone or "sarcophagus" directly above the World War I soldier, while the other 3 are buried in crypts right next to it. Crazy Fact: In 1998, the body of the Vietnam Soldier was exhumed and IDENTIFIED. They did not replace the body, so now the symbolic tomb lies empty with a face-up penny in it!
What's REALLY cool, is that there is a special group of army soldiers soldiers called "sentinels", who guard the unknown soldiers 24/7. YES, 24 HOURS A DAY. There has been someone guarding the unknown solders every single second since July 1, 1937. Different shifts has haven been implemented since the 1920's, but since 1937, the sentinel's work a "fireman's shift" and rotate the guard every 30minutes -2 hours, depending on the season and time of day.
During cemetary hours, they are in dress uniform, very formal, and have a very strict system. They have been trained in every detail, from the shine on their shoes the length of their pants, the expression on their faces, the 21 steps that they take on the mat, the 21-second pauses, their wet gloves...every SINGLE detail is important, and they have undergone very rigorous training to "make the cut". At the end of their shift, there is a "changing of the guard", a formal ceremony worth seeing.
After we saw this, we got a special opportunity to actually MEET the sentinels and see their living quarters (while they are on shift)!! It definitely helped that Dan is in the military and deploying soon...this was definitely a highlight of our trip. We learned a LOT about their training, the strict rules and dress code that they adhere to, etc... these guys are HARDCORE! No more pics or info about this out of respect :)
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped and saw:
I can't wait wait to come back to DC and spend at LEAST 2-3 full days there- there is so much MORE to do and see! Finally it was time to get ready for my BIG surprise: Dan booked us a special trip on a dinner/dance cruise down the Potomac for our anniversary/NYE!!! I love LoVe LOVE my husband!
We had a PERFECT evening- so romantic and FUN! The all-inclusive food and drink package was GREAT, the DJ's were awesome, The boat was beautiful, the staff was a lot of fun, we had a blast chatting, drinking, and dancing with our couples, but best of all we had so much fun all dressed up and spending time with each other! My husband always looks GOOD, but I was reminded of just how SEXY he is! :)
It was a perfect way to ring in 2011 and celebrate our first anniversary. I'm looking at our wedding album next to our picture from the dinner cruise, and I can't WAIT for our next anniversary together, and I'm REALLY excited to look at photos from our first 5, 10, 30, 50 year anniversaries!
I hope and hope and pray that we will be able to be with each other on our second anniversary... but I guess maybe not being together would be memorable in itself...