Day 17 – Florida Roadtrip – Washington, DC

Having survived that last sketchy motel near Washington, DC, our first task in the morning was to find some drinkable coffee, so we are prepared for a day at our final tourist destination, the National Museum of the American Indian in DC. Good old Google showed us a Starbucks nearby, so we entered the address into our GPS, and off we went. Car fully packed, we passed some Air Force Base, and oops, the GPS tells to make a turn there. Ok, so lets see where this leads – if it’s a Starbucks on Google, surely it can’t be right in this military zone, right? Wrong!

Before we realized and could turn around, the military checkpoint appeared and we already envisioned our car getting searched endlessly for bombs. So we were apologetically blamed Google, but the guard basically grinned, asked for our ID, duly recorded it, called some other guys about some ‘unauthorized vehicle coming through back’ and made sure we understood where exactly we were supposed to turn around. Probably happens to him a hundred times a day…

Eventually we found a non-militarized Starbucks nearby and then made our way to DC. Our iPhone also told us about the best price for parking nearby the museum, but it actually turned out that street parking was free and unlimited on Sunday, and we had no problem finding a spot right across from the museum, since we were very early.

The museum itself was great. The boys had a lot of fun building an Igloo, and even more fun destroying it, and it was quite interesting for the grown-ups, too. The best was probably the museum restaurant though. It’s quite pricey, but was exceptionally good, with very unusual (for us) American Indian food.

And that was the end – it was time to make the trip home. Almost 4000 miles later, the last stretch had pretty heavy traffic, but we made it, and the kids were happy to be back and re-united with all their toys and a bathtub…

Day 16 – Florida Roadtrip – Fredericksburg, VA

Having survived yet another night in a motel, Renzo almost regretted that we didn’t go camping instead, but it really was still a little too cold in the morning. We’d need a proper set up to go camping with the kids when it’s just above freezing in the morning, not to mention that rain had been predicted.

So instead, we left the motel to go to a farm near Richmond VA to watch some sheep shearing – and to freeze there, even in the sun. The sheep was amazingly calm, but after 15 minutes the kids were more interested in going to a nearby playground, so we did.

That was enough of Richmond for us though. We considered the children’s museum there but then decided to go to Fredericksburg VA instead and to visit Mary Washington’s house. This was a very nice little museum with a lot of stories that even managed to catch the boys’ attention for a while.

They particularly liked the playroom in the garden though, which had various games, including stilts and bocce. However, the fun ended rather abruptly when Timofei managed to throw a heavy bocce ball right on Yelisei’s little pinky as Yelisei was reaching for a bocce ball himself.

So we drove screaming Yelisei with a bag of ice on his pinky to the emergency room as it was pretty blue and swollen. Of course the emergency room is the only health care for many people in America, so it was packed. We would have waited at least two or three hours there. Luckily, both Yelisei and Timofei soon fell asleep, so we skipped the emergency room. Renzo stayed in the car with the kids and I went for a walk through the old town of Fredericksburg VA.

Fredericksburg VA is a very cute town and I learned from the museum that this was basically a town of failures. For example, it took them 20 years to build some canal that in the end nobody needed. Even today, it was a nice spring day, but the antique stores were more like junk stores.

When Yelisei woke up, he was all fine again and had just a little pain in his pinky. Our sprits lifted accordingly, we found further salvation in yet another ethnic dive restaurant, this time Latin food from Salvador. Nobody spoke any English and the food was another winner.

Fully back in a good mood now, we next drove to a used car lot to check out a Toyota Tacoma that Renzo been going on about as one of his dream cars if we ever buy another car. When we were looking for this car, some dealer in Staten Island actually refused to let us test drive any cars because we were obviously not going to buy anything. Not in Fredericksburg VA – the sales guys were nicely low key and let us tourists drive his Tacoma, no problem. I was actually quite impressed with it – I liked the substantial tires, the clutch was amazing (this was a stick shift, Renzo still refuses to consider an automatic), and it had a nice front bumper – very useful for parking in Brooklyn. Definitely a car I could be driving to South America in, if it only came with a stove and sink ready for action on demand.

Next stop: Yet another motel, this time of the sketchy sort, close to Washington DC. No further incidents or accidents except that I could not fall asleep at all!

Day 15 – Florida Roadtrip – Richmond, VA

The next day we went to a Camping World RV sales lot somewhere near I-95. At each campground we walked by these RVs and trailers, I never have been inside one. Some of them are soooooo huge! And cost over $100,000. So we were very curious to see what was inside of those big ones but also what those small pop-up ones look like inside.

The big ones can sleep10 people and have cable TV, air conditioners, heat and a full kitchen as well as a shower and a toilet. The small ones with no bathroom are very small. They can still sleep four and have two gas burners and a sink. Also there is a table to eat for four. I have to say I was jealous about the indoor kitchen. But mostly because you don’t have to put it away…
We had lunch in some small redneck ville in North Carolina.

Once we arrived in Richmond VA, we decided that we were not ready for such a big city yet. So rather than planning for a downtown walk the next morning, we found a historic farm to go to the next morning and to watch some sheep shearing.

For dinner Renzo found a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant. It was a real dive, but the food was fantastic and the owners were the most wonderful people, an elderly couple from Vietnam.

All the greater then was our shock when we arrived at the motel that we had already made reservations for on the way. The entrance are was entirely packed with dozens of high schoolers on a field trip, apparently some kind of sports team. They were pretty well behaved but we were worried about a bunch of screaming teenagers keeping us up all night.

In the end, the teenagers were quiet and what kept us up instead was some rotten wiring and/or air conditioner that decided to make a lot of noise most of the night.