Thursday, October 13, 2016

Walking tour of Alexandria (September 26)

After getting everything all packed up on Monday morning, we struck out for Old Town Alexandria with our trusty tour guide, Amanda. I love exploring new places, but it doesn't hurt to have someone around who has done all the exploring for you and can simply show you the highlights of a place. This was probably our most efficient tour of our DC trip because with Amanda there we didn't make a single wrong turn!

Here we are leaving the parking garage:



Rachel was so happy she got to walk Malcolm.

Many of the buildings in the historic district are still fitted with gas-burning lanterns, which I thought was pretty cool. Some buildings still have shoe scrapers stuck outside their doors, embedded in the masonry for hundreds of years.


This little blue house is known as the "Spite House." It was built—out of spite—because the person who owned one of the adjacent properties was sick and tired of people loitering in the alleyway (and of wagons trying to squeeze through (apparently there are grooves in the brick walls (the exterior walls of the houses on either side serve as the interior walls of this tiny home) from wagon wheels scraping agains them. It's less than 400 square feet (it's only seven feet wide!) so it seems the concept of "tiny homes" is not entirely new (take that, hipsters).


And here's everyone checking out the ice cellar for Gadsby's Tavern:


The girls thought the long ſ in this old advertisement was pretty hilarious. Wikipedia warns users not to confuse ſ with the letter f, which was exactly what the girls did. "Perfons may be fupplied!" they read aloud, laughing.


And, of course, you already know that Benjamin thought it was neat that George Washington had visited this very same spot:


Here we are at the market square, which has been active since 1753, so this is where everything from potatoes to (unfortunately) people were bought and sold. They still hold a farmer's market there weekly.


Here's Benjamin enjoying the fountain:


And here we are walking down one of the cobblestone streets in Alexandria. I think it's King Street. Maybe. The kids loved that there was a Princess Street, a Queen Street, a Prince Street, a King Street, a Duke Street...all in a row (basically).


I love cobblestone streets, though not so much when I'm pushing a stroller. That's why Benjamin is off galloping on his horse (because he's General Washington, of course) and Andrew is pushing an empty stroller (or carriage) across the cobblestones while Zoë is all nestled in the front carrier.


We made it to the Carlyle House!


Here's Rachel pointing out that they must have been rich because they painted one of their rooms the same green that the Washingtons chose for one of their fancy rooms at Mount Vernon (apparently blue and green paints were both rather posh).


For some reason, when I watched the show Mercy Street I thought the hotel-cum-hospital was a considerable distance from the Green residence (the Greens purchased the house in 1848). There was always such a to-do when Emma was preparing to visit the hospital—bonnets and gloves and so forth. But, no. It's, like, right next-door.

Rachel found this revelation quite surprising (though she's never watched the miniseries so I don't really know why she's making this face):


Here's the Mansion House Hotel, which became the Mansion House Hospital, which is now...a boring ol' bank. But we were there! On Mercy Street!


And here's a picture of Benjamin hugging George Washington's town home:


Living in a historic house must be difficult, what with all the random people stopping by to gawk at your front door all day long. It must take a special kind of someone to live in a historic home. This person, for example, put a bust of George Washington in the window:


We enjoyed reading about the Alexandria Library Sit-in:

The girls were quite mystified that people were arrested for reading a library book. I can't even imagine what life was like back then. I also can't imagine how anyone could pretend to themselves that racism in America is "over." Not by a long shot, friends. History is, I suppose, full of bitter-sweet moments. Like, it's nice that libraries were desegregated (how sweet!) but why in the world were they segregated in the first place (bitter much?). The present day is equally bittersweet, I think. We may have come far but we have so much farther to go.

Anyway, our little tour with Amanda ended on a sweet note. She took us to Sugar Shack Donuts. Every day (every day!) they have a promotion where they will trade one of their "house" donuts for a trick of sorts. Today, for example, it was writing a poem about pumpkins. A few days ago it was bringing an adopted animal to show them. Other days it's something like singing a song. On our specific day it was presenting them with a picture of an apple.

In the morning we busted out our paper and crayons and everyone drew an apple.

After our walk we went up to the counter, turned in our pictures, and picked out a donut.

enjoying donuts with Amanda
I don't know if I'll be able to remember what kind everyone got... I got a salted caramel one. Benjamin got strawberry. Rachel and Miriam both got sprinkles of sorts, I think. Andrew got Oreo. "Zoë" got lemon-poppyseed (she shared tastes of it with everyone).

They were good donuts. And all for the price of an apple picture!

After the donuts were gone, Benjamin and Miriam had fun taking turns walking Malcolm while the grown ups boringly visited.




Here's Zoë saying goodbye to Malcolm.


Here is what Rachel wrote about Zoë and the Malcolm:

Zoë is ok with some dogs. Just not a brown and black dog named Malcolm. Malcolm is big, but never barks. Zoë only went near him when he was sleeping. Here are my assumed thoughts that Malcolm had:

What Zoë did: screamed at Malcolm for being 3 feet away from her.
Dog's thoughts: Wow. That little human is loud.

What Zoë did: Tackled Ben
Dog's thoughts: Is that thing even human?

What Zoë did: screamed
Dog's thoughts: I am going to be deaf by the time Amanda gets home.

What Zoë did: tried to poke Malcolm in the nose
Dog's thoughts: I'm trying to sleep, little lady!

What Zoë did: pooped
Dog's thoughts: Amanda doesn't smell that bad!

Really, Zoë developed a relationship of tenuous trust with Malcolm. She really wanted to like him but she also found him a little scary. He, likewise, seemed to want to like her but she was so skittish and loud (she screamed at him a lot) that he didn't ever seem to 100% enjoy her.

Here we all are saying goodbye to Amanda. The kids are extra sad because she's moving so far away (Japan), but I'm sure we'll cross paths again. We've been friends since high school and have visited each other in Egypt and Washington, DC* (two places we probably never imagined either of us would live when we were just 15 and 16) so it's not like we're going to let a little thing like living halfway around the world stop us from continuing our friendship. That would just be silly.


* And Georgia, actually, though neither of us have ever lived in Georgia.

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