So… I’m typing this from the home of our awesome-Clark-friends in Washington DC…

We’re starting off our 2 month American Road-Trip from this spot (and will end it here too).  Joel and Megan Clark have been friends of ours for years.  Joel lived in South Africa for a number of years… which is where he and Nick started off a little film & doccie production business called Switchvert.  When Joel got married (to childhood sweetheart), Megan – they moved back to the States and settled in DC.  A few years later, their daughter Juno was born…

Anyway… so this is basically a “We are here” post… with  some photos (especially for the benefit of my mother who has been making many threats against us dropping off the radar) and who has said:  “I’m happy to support you in your new nomadic life because it will make you happy and it’s an amazing experience for the kids – but I will miss you all very, very badly… and so you MUST keep me updated with lots of photos, blogging and skype’ing… you MUST!”

So…  here goes (Mom, this is for you!)…

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The flights were a huge first for the kids.  We’ve taken them on road trips… and, when Morgan was a 6 month old baby, we took her to England and the States… but Joah has never been on a plane (and Morgan can’t remember her aeroplane experience).

I’m not in love with the whole schlep of airports and planes and long, long queues… but I loved witnessing the kids’ excitement.  We flew Emirates air… first an 8 hour flight from Joburg to Dubai… followed by a 2 hour layover… and then an exhausting 15 hour flight from Dubai to DC.  Initially there was MUCH excitement due to the following:

  • Gazillions of TV channels and games…
  • Kid’s snack pack filled with all sorts of yummies…
  • A small mountain of kid prezzies from Emirates…
  • Lego from us…

… and Joah exclaiming with glee:  “This is the most funnest day ever!

But… after MANY hours of flying, the enthusiasm waned somewhat… and there were endless repeated requests of:  “Are we there yet?”

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We passed through US customs fairly quickly – and Joel fetched us from Dulles airport in the car (which he is letting us drive around the States on our road trip).

We have already named the car “George”.  Actually – Nick is the one who came up with the name… and Nick is naming everything George these days.  Even the big rain spider in the studio back at home…

Back at the Clark’s home – we settled into our basement nest (they offered us a bedroom – but the basement is huge and spacious with loads of place for play and luggage!).  Oh – and there’s fairy lights…  (and fairy lights make me feel happy)….

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Also… we received our Disney Parcel (that Disney had shipped to Joel’s address once we had booked & paid for our stay).

Disney has something called “Magic Bands”…  you can custom-design your bands online… add your name… and they get shipped to an address that you supply to Disney.  They’re getting all very technologically fancy these days…. the Magic Bands have some kind of radio signal stuff built in to them – so instead of using tickets and bits of paper to gain access to the parks and hotels… you just wear your band and you’re “recognised”…

It’s still the pilot phase of the “Magic Bands” program – but I’ll be interested to see how it all works.

The bands arrived in a very fancy box – and look like so:

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After settling in to our basement… Joel took us downtown.

We ate at Chipotle (which makes me very happy because I LOVE Mexican food… even though the purists say it’s not “real” Mexican food, I don’t care – I flippin’ LOVE it!).  We ate our Chipotle food under the huge covered dome of the National Portrait Gallery.  I love it in there… and the kids loved it even more (lots of space to run and explore).

Nick and I loved the gallery itself – but the kids were too hyped and excited and just wanted to run and explore… and run some more.  So, we didn’t get time to really take in the beauty of the artwork on display.  Here’s 2 of my favourite photos though:

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Morgan & Bill…

IMG_1019Joah looking up to George…

Afterwards, we went back to the Clark’s and enjoyed some of Joel’s fabulous home-made pizza with pepper-Pepperoni (which I thought was ridiculously yummy)… and then early-to-bed.

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Yesterday, the day began with another trip downtown for freshly baked bagels.  I love American bagels!  In South Africa, we do not (and cannot) “do” bagels like Americans can.  So – it was a real treat for me to start off the day with a hot, cinnamon & raisin bagel – smeared with honey & walnut cream cheese!  Oh yummers!

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After bagels, we went for a walk on (at?) (around?) the National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial.  The kids chased squirrels… Nick took photos… I yakked with Joel & Megan…

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… and afterwards… we stopped off at Barnes & Noble (which was all warm & toasty) … and I enjoyed a peppermint mocha at Starbucks (strawberry smoothie for the kidlets)… and we browsed books and toys and just had a lovely time…

And then… Joel & Megan dropped us off at the Museum of Natural History – which is HUGE… (think:  life-sized T-Rex bones… enormous whale suspended from ceiling… live butterfly room… massive section on bones & Egyptian mummies… huge bug exploration area – and SO much more….)

(Nick has taken lots of “proper” photos on the “actual” camera…  the photos on this blog are from the iPad)…

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So…. after touring dino bones, examining fossils and minerals through microscopes, learning about the stories on huge totem poles, touching bugs (with Joah high-speed talking out of sheer excitement the whole time)… we left the museum… and walked into town where we enjoyed (more) Mexican food – and we stopped over at the Ford Theatre (where Lincoln was shot)… and the house across the road from the theatre (where Lincoln died).

I LOVE history – by the way.  I’m fascinated by it… so I’m totally enthralled by the historical side of Washington.

In the evening… we drove to Virginia and had a meal at the home of Heather and Tim (friends of the Clarks).  There was LOTS of food – and lovely, warm hospitality (we felt very welcome and included).  At the end of the evening… Heather’s 11 year old daughter told me that she wanted to give Morgan a gift – a Belle Princess Dress (in mint condition)… complete with crown and light-wand.

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And – today is her birthday!  She’s 8!  And this morning, the first thing she did (after waking up)… was to put on the princess dress…. which she’s still wearing as I type this post in Joel’s kitchen…. and while Joel and Morgan are making birthday waffles… and Joah is somewhere in the lounge playing with Juno’s toys… and Nick is having a shower… and Megan is upstairs getting Juno bathed and changed… and Durban-the-dog is relaxing on the floor by my feet…

I am feeling exceptionally blessed – and happy – and yes, my excitement has returned too!  🙂