Home > Events > 2007
August 22-28
Vacation to Williamsburg and Washington D.C.

Our big vacation this year was to explore our nation's capital... Washing DC with a start down at Williamsburg, Virginia where our nation began. And of course while in Williamsburg, a stop at Busch Garden's Europe, America's most beautiiful theme park and their new floorless divecoaster "Griffon". Fellow coaster enthusiast Jim flys in from Santa Cruz to join us for a day in the park. My cousin Ernie and his family live just one town south of Williamsburg in the town of Newport News, we go out for dinner and for a nice visit. The rest of our stay was spent exploring Washington DC with all the numerous museums, monuments and sites.

Wednesday, August 22

We wake up REAl early Wednesday morning and drive down to Stephanie's home in Sunnyvale, where she then drops us off at the San Jose Airport for our 6:30 departure time on Frontier Airlines. The flight leaves without a hitch for Denver. We have a two hour layover in Denver before catching our noon flight out to Reagan National Airport in Washington DC. Our flight arrives around 30 minutes late due to weather in Denver. We promptly rent our car from National after aquiring our luggage. We rent a Dodge Charger. The streets are a little hard to manouever out of the airport, but traffic flowed well until about halfway between DC and Richmond Virginia where it was a crawl. We arrived much later to Williamsburg than originally anticipated, Jim arrived early. We stayed two nights at Quality Inn at Kingsmill (Williamsburg, Virginia). After showering and getting a quick bite to eat at McDonald's Ernie and the kids come up from Newport News and meet me at the hotel. We walk around the neighborhood looking for a bar, but everything was closed. Oh well, we're were all meeting up again the following day for dinner.

Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:
Frontier Airlines
Quality Inn at Kingsmill
Williamsburg, Virginia

Stephanie drops us at San Jose early Wednesday morning where we fly out on Frontier to Reagan National in DC with a layover in Denver. Photos at Denver Int.

We arrive 30 minutes late, rent our Dodge Charger and then drive over 3 hrs down the Williamsburg arriving around 9:30pm. Jim beat us to the hotel, his flight arrived early.

Thursday, August 23

Thursday morning we wake up early and meet up with Jim for breakfast at our hotel. I had a wonderful exploding egg experience... it exploded all over me (darn hard boiled eggs!).

We left in plenty of time to arrive at Busch Gardens Europe theme park just down the road from our hotel. Upon entering the park, they had posted signs that "Griffon" was closed for maintenance! That was one MAIN reason for going to Busch Gardens. We didn't let that news deter us, we had a great time riding all the open attractions and riding coasters like Apollo's Chariot, Alpengeist, Loch Ness, and Big Bad Wolf. Lucky for us "Griffon" DID eventually open and I was able to have my first experience on a floorless DIVE coaster. Jim played 'tour guide' for us in the park since he has been there a couple of times in the past.

Toby and I left the park around 6pm to meet up with my family for dinner. We stop by the house on River Ridge Road, where we followed.

Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:
Busch Gardens Europe
Tuscany Italian Restaurante

Busch Gardens Europe in Williamsburg Virginia, rated the most beautiful theme park in America. This park I've wanted to go to for YEARS!

Our first coast of the day is the 200+ foot speed coaster "Apollo's Chariot".

Stomping grapes? Must be desparate for wine.

Crossing the bridge over the river, with Loch Ness and Griffon coaster behind me.

DarKastle is their 4-D ride experience, a-la Spiderman in Orlando.

And I thought this park didn't have 'characters'.

Killarney is the "Irish" section of this Europe themed park.

On-ride photo on Apollo's Chariot.

There were so many cute details throughout the park.

"Alpengeist" is their runaway ski lift inverted rollercoaster, the largest in the world.

We finally rode "Griffon" the world's tallest floorless dive coaster. It opened later that morning.

Alan and Toby get shackled! We leave the park around 6:15pm to change then meet up with family for dinner.

Kristen, Joshua, Ernie with Madison, Nicole and her boyfriend, and me at Tuscany restaurant.

Tuscany restaurant is where Jessica works, it's located in Newport News.

Nicole, me and Joshua waiting to be seated at the restaurant.

Kristen and Ernie at dinner (with our family photo gift)

After dinner we all gather at Ernie's house.

Me, Joshua, Jessica, Ernie, and Nicole.

Friday, August 24

The next morning we have breakfast with Jim at the hotel. Jim planned on heading up to Kings Dominion just north of Richmond Virginia before heading back home.

We spent the day exploring the historical places around Williamsburg. After breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and headed to Colonial Williamsburg, which is a restored 18th-century capital of Britain’s largest, wealthiest, and most populous outpost of empire in the New World. We stopped at the visitor's center and then tour a bus to the heart of town where we explored the many little quaint shops and buildings. We then headed just outside ot Williamsburg to Jamestown, where American began. This is where the British landed in 1607 and settled. The Jamestown Settlement is a park which contains a recreated fort and ships to explore. This day was the beginning of the hot and humid weather during our trip, I was sweating up a storm at this park.

We left Jamestown around 1:30pm and headed out on the freeway up to Mt. Vernon just south of D.C. We encountered heavy traffic on our drive north and reached the park only 30 minutes before the ticket gates closed. We we able to enter and tour the home of George Washington and check out the museum before heading back into our car and driving into DC. Toby drove up to DC while I gave directions navigating the confusing streets in town. We did find our hotel, Hotel Palomar, in the Dupont Circle neighborhood in Washington DC. After we settled in and freshed up, we headed out for dinner, we decided to just eat at the hotel's ultra hip and contemporary restaurant called Urbana.

Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:
Colonial Williamsburg
Jamestown Settlement
Mt. Vernon Garden and Estates
Hotel Palomar Washington DC
Urbana Restaurant

Our first stop in Colonial Williamsburg is the Governor's Palace.

Numerous horse drawn carriages toured the town. This is the palace green in front of the Governor's Palace. Toby tried on a Yankee three pointed hat in one of the many air conditioned stores.

Oh look, more devices of torture right in the middle of town! After a short tour of town we hop in the car and drive down to Jamestown Settlement.

The Jamestown Settlement had a recreated Indian Village. Pocohantas met John Smith here in Jamestown.

Three recreated ships represent the ships that landed here in 1607. They were all very detailed, and you can explore all the nooks and crannies of the vessles.

The recreated Fort had all sorts of cannons and 'clothes' to try on.

The pier contained the three ships which landed in Virginia in 1607.

What I need to get 'water'! This sucker was heavy! After Jamestown we headed up the freeway for a 2 hr drive up to Mt. Vernon, home of George Washington.

We make it into Mount Vernon at 4:30, just 30 minutes before closing. We were able to take a mansion tour.

The home of George Washing, we were not allowed to take interior photos.

The back porch of the home which faces the Potomac River. George Washington is also buried on this property. We left the park around 6pm and headed into DC to the hotel.

Hotel Palomar is a urban chic contemporary hotel (San Francisco based chain) located in the gay friendly Dupont Circle neighborhood in Washington DC.

After getting settled in the room, we have dinner downstairs at the hotel's restuarant "Urbana", a very contemporary and hip restaurant.

Saturday, August 25

The next morning we started the day early, woke up and took advantage of the hotel's free coffee. We drove up north of Dupont Circle to the second largest Cathedral in the U.S., The National Cathedral. It's a huge Gothic inspired church with wonderful detail, I didn't realize when we arrived there that it was closed! We couldn't enter this beautiful church, only explore the exterior and the surrounding gardens. We decided to come back once it opened later that morning.

We hop in the car and head down to Georgetown, where the University is located. This neighborhood in D.C. is actually older than the Capitol area. We parked the car and explored the quaint Federal Row style homes (some once occupied by the famous Kennedy family). We walked along the historic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, a former means of travel up and down the river during the colonial days and extends hundreds of miles. We stop off at the "Old Stone House" the oldest standing structure in the entire D.C. area. (c. 18th century). We then walk down to the shopping / restaurant complex by the river called Washington Harbor, we had a quick wrap for lunch. After walking by the former Kennedy residences on N street, we get to the car and drive back up to the National Cathedral which was finally opened to the public.

We entered the huge cathedral's vast interior which was awash in multi-hued colors from the numerous stained glass windows. We went up to the 7th floor which had a observation level and gallery.

After the National Cathedral we headed across the river for a quick stop at the Iwo Jima Memorial before stopping at Arlington National Cemetary. We buy a trolly bus tour which stopped at the Kennedy's "Eternal Flame" memorial for JFK and Jackie, then it stopped at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where we saw the changing of the gaurds, and then it stopped at Arlington House, the former home of Robert E. Lee. The weather was the hottest and most humid at Arlington Cemetary, the temperature almost reached 100 degrees with very high humidity. I was basically a drowned sweaty rat all day, luckily I wore Toby's wet/dry workout shirt, so you couldn't really tell.

After Arlington Cemetary we headed across the bridge to the Mall, where we visited the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Veteran's Memorial, and the new World War 2 Memorial. We then returned the rental car at Reagan National Airport and took the Metrorail back to Dupont Circle.

Once back at the hotel we took a dip in the hotel's pool before freshening up for dinner. We ate at Pesce Bistro Cafe just a short distance from our hotel on P street.

Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:
National Cathedral
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
Old Stone House in Georgetown
Washington Harbour in Georgetown
Iwo Jima Memorial
Arlington National Cemetary
Vietnam Veteran's Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Korean War Veteran's Memorial
World War II Memorial
Pesce Bistro Cafe

Early Saturday morning at the National Cathedral (it was closed)

The side of the National Cathedral, the second largest in the country.

I loved the arched collanade on the back side of the churche. Inset: "Creation" which appears above one of the front doorway arches.

The back side of the cathedral. We decide to come back once they opened for the day.

While down in Georgetown we walked by the Federal Row style homes, some once occupied by the famous Kennedy's. 3260 "N" street was occupied by JFK.

3307 "N" streett was occupied by John and Jackie Kennedy.

This 18th Century "Stone House" is the oldest surviving structure in the entire DC area.

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal runs over 100 miles up the Potomac and starts here in Georgetown, it's a remnant from the colonial days.

The canal was used as transportation of barges up and down the Potomac. This lower section is used primarily for tourist boat tours.

We had a quick bite at Washington Harbor which was right along the river. Behind us is the Francis Scott Key bridge which leads to Arlington Virginia.

Georgetown's Wisconsin Avenue is lined with cute boutique stores and coffeeshops. Even their alleys were colorful and full of shops.

We head back to the cathedral which was opened at 10am. Here is Toby on a side nave.

The central section of the Cathedral had soaring high ceilings.

We toured the 7th floor observation level, which had great views of the DC area.

After the cathedral we head over to Arlington with a quick stop at the Iwo Jima memorial which is located just outside the cemetary.

At Arlington National Cemetary we ride the tourbus to the popular sites. It was around 1pm and the hottest time of the day.

Our first stop on the tour was the site of John F Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy. The fire is known as the "Eternal Flame".

The second stop was to see the Tomb of the Unknown. We saw the changeing of the gaurds.

Memorial Amphitheater is just in front of the Tomb of the Unknown. Our third stop was Arlington House, the former home of Robert E. Lee.

After the cemetary we drove to the Mall. Our first stop was the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial.

The Vietnam Memorial had a very reflective black granite which was very mirror like.

We walk over to the end of the Reflecting Pool before heading over to see Lincoln.

We walk up the many steps up to the famous Lincoln Memorial, where Lincoln is larger than life.

Abraham Lincoln has a commanding view over DC.

Many people rested in the shade of the Lincoln Memorial since it heat advisory was 105 degrees.

We then head over to see the Korean War Veteran's Memorial. These statues are stainless steel, unlike the bronze or marble statues throughout DC.

We then head over to the newest memorial, the World War 2 Memorial. Afterwards we return the rental car and then take the Metro back to the hotel.

We had to use the pool, especially on this extremely hot day.

We have dinner down the street at Pesce, a seafood restaurant.

Back at the hotel to turn in for the night. The lobby of our hotel had some unique decorations and wall art.

Sunday, August 26

Early Sunday morning after our early coffee break in the hotel, we jump on the Metro and head down to our first stop, the White House. We view the White House from Lafayette Park just acros the street. We then walk around to the other side of the White House which has the curved porch, this side faces the Washington Monument. We were hungry so we stopped and had breakfast at Cafe du Parc in the Willard Hotel, just across the street.

We then head over to the Washington Monument ticket booth to get a time pass ticket to ride up to the top of the Monument. We get a 12:30am time pass. It was still early so we decided to head south to the Tidal Basin.

We walk to the Jefferson Memorial which was around a 10 minute walk from the ticket booth. This is the newest of the large presidental Memorials, it was constructed in the 1940's. We were most impressed by this memorial.

We then head back to the Washington Monument for our 12:30pm time. The monument is over 555 feet hight and the elevator ride was fast and smooth. At the top there are 2 small windows on each of the four walls. The views from the top were the most impressive in town. We were stuck at the top of the monument for a while, not sure what the delay was but we wanted DOWN!

Once we escaped the Washington Monument we walked over to the Smithsonian Castle for information on all the various museums operated by the Smithsonian. We then walk across the Mall and go into the Smithsonion's Museum of Natural History. The main draw for us at this museum was seeing the famous "Hope" diamond. We made a short stop through Dinosaur Hall before exiting this overly kid crowded museum.

We then entered the much quieter National Gallery of Art next door to see their impressive collection of art. We focused on the Impressionism artwork and saw the "Ginevra de' Benci" the only work by Leonardo Di Vinci in the United States. We took the underground walkway to the East Wing of the museum which houses their contemporary art collection. In the central atrium hung a massive Calder mobile.

It was time for lunch for we stopped for a quick bite at the unimpressive Austin Grill. We walked into the old downtown section of DC to the Ford Theater, the site of Abraham Lincoln's assasination. We were lucky to visit this day since (unbeknownst to us) that day was the last open public day before a 14 month restoration project. We gathered in the theater when a docent described the events that led to the assasination of Lincoln in 1865. He was very informative and we learned alot about that eventful night. We then went across the street to the Peterson House, the actual location where Lincoln died. He was wisked away after the shooting to this boarding house where he died the following day.

It was a long day so we waked back toward the White House and took the Farraguttt North metro stop back toward our hotel in Dupont Circle. That night we walked over to Connecticut Avenue for an Italian dinner at Odeon cafe.

Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:
The White House
Cafe du Parc
The Jefferson Memorial
The Washington Monument
The Smithsonian Castle
The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
National Gallery of Art
The Ford Theater
The Peterson House
Odéon Cafe - Italian Cuisine

We often took the Metro to get around town, this morning we took it one stop down to Farragutt North, to see the White House.

The side of the White House which faces Lafayette Park. This is the north side.

The south side of the White House faces the Washington Monument.

After the White House we stop off for breakfast at Cafe du Parc.

The Washington Monument, we stop and get time pass tickets for later in the day.

After we get our tickets we walk south to the tidal basin and the Jefferson Memorial.

The Jefferson Memorial is a very impressive monument, this was my favorite.

The front of the Jefferson Memorial faces the Washington Monument.

We head back to the Washington Monument for our 12:30 time pass time.

At the top of the 555' tower, we had commanding views of the entire DC area. Inset: Jefferson Memorial, White House.

There are eight small windows which overlook the mall. Inset: Lincoln Memorial.

We walk down one set of stairs to the down elevator which took FOREVER to get down. Inset: The Capitol.

The Smithsonian Castle, the information center for all the various museums. This Castle was the original (and only) Smithsonian museum.

The Museum of Natural History, with the famous "Hope" Diamond. The museum was crowded so we quickly left for our next stop.

The National Gallery had impressive collection of art, and much quieter.

The east wing of the National Gallery with it's massive Calder mobile in the atrium.

The Ford Theater where Lincoln was assasinated (the 2nd story booth on the right).

The bed where Lincoln actualy died is located in the Peterson House just across the street from the Ford Theater.

That night we have an Italian dinner at Odeon Cafe on Connecticut Ave. in Dupont Circle area.

Monday, August 27

Monday was a 'working' day, so the Metro ride to Union Station was bustling with people heading off to work. Our first stop was the historic Union Station, which is DC's version of NYC's Grand Central Station. Numerous rail and bus stops originate from this location.

We then head over toward the Library of Congress, walking by the US Supreme Court. The Library of Congress was very impressive and undeniably the most beautiful building we seen while in DC. The interior of the library was opulant and detailed. The main reading room was closed but the main hall which houses a rare Guttemburg Bible was very spectacular.

We walk over to the Capitol Building to get our time stamp pass for a tour later that afternoon. We had a 1:30pm time pass.

We then visit the National Botanical Garden, which has a vast collection of tropical plants housed in a huge glass atrium. There was no respite from the heat and humidity inside this structure, so we didn't stay long.

We head to the popular Smithsonian Air and Space Museum to see the various famous crafts like Lindenburg's "Spirit of St. Louise", the Apollo Capsules, and the Wright Brother's "Flyer". There was a section of the museum which housed items from the closed (for rennovation) Museum of American History. This section displayed famous articles from America's past like The Wizard of Oz "Ruby" slippers, Abraham Lincoln's top hat, Edison's light bulb, Teddy Roosevelt's "Teddy" bear, Archie Bunker's chair, etc.

After this museum, we stop and get a hot dog at one of the vendors in the Mall, we take pictures in the middle of the Mall before heading for our time pass time at the Capitol Building. It twas hot while waiting outside to enter the Capitol Building. Our first tour stop inside the Captiol was the massive Rotunda . The Rotunda has a soaring high domed ceiling. Famous large paintings hung aroudn the rotunda. We then toured Statuary Hall and the old Senate Chambers. We then exitted the Capitol building to take some nice photos from this unique vantage point.

We then stop and rest at the Sculpture Gardens with is large central fountain before walking across the street to the National Archives. The Archives displays importantt documents of American History like the Declaration of Independece, The Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights. Also on display was the Magna Carta circa 1200's.

We then take the Metro back to the hotel. We make it in plenty of time for the hotel's nightly wine reception (5-6pm). That evening we again have Italian food but this time we eat at Sette Osteria in Dupont Circle. We then walk along Connecticut Avenue and stop for some home made ice cream at Larry's Ice Cream.

Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:
Union Station
The US Supreme Court
The Library of Congress
The United States Botanical Gardens
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
The US Capitol Building
The National Archives
Sette Osteria Ristorante
Larry's Ice Cream (review)

The large vaulted ceilings of Union Station. We stop for McD's here to start off our day.

We walk by the front of the US Supreme Court building.

The spectacular interior of the Library of Congress.

The main hall of the Library of Congress is opulant and detailed.

Even the side hallways of the Library are impressive.

Inside the National Botanical Gardens.

Toby on the second level of the National Botanical Gardens.

An Apollo Command Module inside the Air and Space Museum.

The Spirit of St. Louie and (inset) the Wright Flyer inside the Air and Space museum.

Items on view from the Museum of American History.

FWEE. In the middle of the Mall.

The reflecting pool in front of the Capitol.

Us with the Capitol.

Us with the Washington Monument.

We start the tour of the Capitol by entering the Rotunda from the front of the building.

Before we enter we take a quick snapshot of the Mall.

The Rotunda of the Capitol Building. George Washington is in the fresco at the very top of the domed ceiling.

After the tour we take snapshots from the Capitol building.

There are many steps leading down from the Capitol.

The Declaration of Independence at the National Archives. (inset: me at the Sculpture garden)

Drink reception at our hotel nightly from 5-6pm.

After dinner we have ice cream at Larry's.

Tuesday, August 27

On Tuesday our flight didn't leave until 2:40pm so we took our time in the morning getting ready and packing our suit cases. We walked over to Connecticut Avenue on Dupont Circle for a quick bite to eat at Cosi (egg bagel sandwich) before heading to the very impressive Phillips Collection Museum located in the middle of the residential area. This was once a private collection from a wealthy local family, now turned into a museum. After the museum we headed back to the hotel and took a taxi to Reagan National Airport where we waited from our Frontier flight back home to the Bay Area.

It was quite an experience visiting historic Williamsburg, visiting my cousin, riding coasters in Busch Gardens, and exploring the numerous sites in Washington DC. It may have been one of those 'GO GO GO' vacations, but it sure was fun.

Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:
The Phillips Collection

The famous 'Boating Party" by Renoir at the Phillip's Museum.