The Nation’s Capital

On the road again to our last destination: northern Virginia and Washington DC. I have a cousin* in the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC that I hadn’t seen for years, so it was time for a visit. We arrived at their house on a Friday evening and spent the evening catching up. We met her husband for the first time, and helped him explore his Swedish heritage. He learned to say “Ge hit en öl till annars bränner jag ner er by,” which means “Give me another beer or I’ll burn down your village.” Like a viking, I suppose. He tried calling a bar in Stockholm so he could say that and see what they’d say, but international calling was disabled on his phone. Probably for the best. His pronunciation was pretty good though.

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With my cousin Carolyn outside her lovely home in Virginia

Saturday we explored our nation’s capital. We walked up to Capitol Hill and around the Washington Monument before deciding to skip the attractions that we adults had already seen before and the kids were too young to understand or appreciate. We set our sights on the Smithsonian museums – they’re free, they’re fun and they’re educational. It was a good choice. We had a great day at the Museum of Natural History.

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Peter and the Capitol Building

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Getting directions to a visitor’s center so we could stamp the
National Park passports one last time

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Pappa’s shoulders are much warmer to sit on than that stone!

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The Smithsonian Museums are truly a national treasure!

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So curious, and so much to learn!

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The dinosaur exhibit showed differences between dinosaur feet and human feet, particularly number of toes. Emelie wasn’t satisfied to count the toes in the picture, or even on Pappa’s already bare feet (flip flops as usual!). She sat right down and insisted on removing her shoes and socks to count HER toes. Ok, 10. They were right.

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The last exhibit we had time for that day involved petting and holding exotic insects.       My girl is fascinated and unafraid. 

Sunday we went to church with my cousin before packing up our things, hooking up the trailer and hitting the road one last time. After 91 days covering over 12,000 miles of road, it was time to head back to Pennsylvania.

*Other side of the family this time… so cousin actually means cousin. As in, the daughter of my father’s brother.

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Lower-Slower Delaware

Continuing north, we left the I95 corridor and headed for the Del-Mar-Va Peninsula via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. It was the closest and fastest route, and I remember crossing it as a kid and thinking it was really fun. Though the tolls were a bit steep with the trailer, it was a welcome break from miles of endless interstate. Both bridges and tunnels are exciting for kids in the car, and the CBBT offers about 20 miles of both. (More information: http://www.cbbt.com/)

It was extremely windy and cold when we reached the restaurant and gift shop area so we chose to take our picnic lunch inside. We sat by the window and watched the Chesapeake birds as we ate. Emelie and Pappa braved the fishing pier for a closer look, while Mamma and Peter enjoyed the shelter of the gift shop.

IMG_3100Sometimes I worry that they’ll start to expect fantastic views every time they eat!

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Yes, he’s barefoot. Again.

After crossing the Chesapeake, we continued north into southern Delaware, which we affectionately refer to as “Lower-Slower” Delaware. We have cousins* who live on a beautiful rural plot of land bordering a state park there. They have turkeys and guinea hens, and in November, big piles of leaves to jump in. We enjoyed visiting with relatives and the kids had a blast exploring their yard.

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“Napping” in the hammock with a leaf pillow and a leaf blanket

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Our plan had been to set up the camper in their yard and continue sleeping outside, but the weather turned so much colder that the space heater just couldn’t keep up with the uninsulated tent walls of the pop-up. We reluctantly admitted that it was time to move inside and gratefully accepted the guest room.

*Not my first cousins, but my mom’s. We have great relationships with extended family on that side of the family and see them regularly. It’s not always easy, though, to figure out exactly how everyone’s related, so we decided years ago that we’re all just cousins. It’s easier that way!

Heading North, part 2: North Carolina

While we weren’t the least bit tired of traveling or being on the road, we were a little tired of being tourists. The weather, though it had stopped raining, had turned colder and we weren’t inspired to head to any of South Carolina’s beaches. We also decided not to head in to Charleston but instead chose a leisurely morning at the campground and then got back on I95 heading north. We reasoned that the East Coast is a lot easier for us to come back to if we want to see anything that we missed.

We had a nice day, but little of it is blog-worthy. Nice conversations in the car, taking our time over lunch at a rest stop, not feeling hurried or pressured to see and do all that can be seen and done.

The increasingly colder weather was helping us process the change of seasons happening for us as well as in the world around us, and the hours in the car gave us plenty of time to start talking about what comes next.

Year-round campgrounds got harder to find as we headed north, but we found a KOA in Enfield, North Carolina that was still open and we stopped for the night. It was a bit drizzly and cold cooking dinner outside, and we woke up to the first frost we’d seen since Yellowstone. And, though we didn’t know it at the time, this was our last night in Home Sweet Pop-up.

Campground Review Enfield/Rocky Mount KOA:
Price: I forgot to note how much we paid, but the website shows a rate of about $35-$40 per night for a pop-up the size of ours.
Location: There isn’t much locally, but it is convenient to I95 and according to the website they are the only KOA between Fredriksburg, VA and Point South (where we’d stayed the night before). I imagine most of their business is overnight stays as people travel up and down I95.
Facilities: This one one of the smaller KOAs we’d stayed at. The pool was closed for the season. Use of the kitchen cost extra, so we braved the weather with our camp stove. The bathrooms and showers were fine.
Site-description: Grassy-field style.
Neighborhood: Practically deserted on a cold weekday in the off-season.
Website: http://koa.com/campgrounds/enfield/
Comments: The “free wifi” was time limited (an hour, I believe) and restricted by a code to one device, so no getting on with both a smart phone and a laptop. I hope that they have since changed this policy.

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A beautiful but cold morning waking up in North Carolina

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