Thursday, June 30, 2016

Family Time Is the Best!

Seeing the sights is interesting and a lot of fun, but being with my family is the best part of my vacations. I loved playing with the kids – even though I stink at playing Mario Brothers! I enjoyed watching the movie "Inside Out" with the family, going down to see the pond – looking for turtles and spotting ducklings, going to church with Rachel, and listening in on their family Bible reading time.

On the last day of school, William declared he wanted to dress "fancy." Here he is relaxing after school was dismissed.

Annika is growing up to be a young lady. I loved watching two of the short movies she has produced and reading some of her story writing.

It was fun keeping score for the little volleyball game Annika and Josiah played with their neighbors Allen and Aaron. And I loved going with the family to see the new Pixar movie, "Finding Dori." I enjoyed petting their cat, Noko, too.

And then the sad part comes and I have to say, "Good-bye."

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour of Washington, D. C.

I booked passes for Hans, William and me to ride the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus to see some of the sights of Washington after touring the Pentagon. We had to walk a little ways to the first bus stop. After boarding the double decker vehicle, we stayed on the bus until we had passed the Washington Monument and then got off so we could visit the Korean War Veterans Memorial.

This is a very impressive sight! There are 19 stainless steel statues that are a little larger than life-size. They are dressed in full combat gear. It was interesting to hear Hans point out the various weapons the men were carrying. Apparently there had a been a ceremony of sorts prior to our arrival as workers were carting away white folding chairs. Wreaths from various countries remained around the perimeter of the statues. There is also a wall of black granite, on which there is a mural of the land, sea and air troops. The names of those killed are on this wall. I thought this memorial was excellent!

Next we walked past the Lincoln Memorial (on our left) and the Reflecting Pool (on our right). This entire historical part of Washington, D. C., is so well plotted out. There were some ducks swimming in the pond. One tourist overheard me tell Hans the pool reminded me of "Forrest Gump," and started yelling, "Jenny, Jenny!"

Just ahead we came to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I told Hans that one of his dad's high school classmates had died in that war and looked up his name in the directory they provided. The names of the deceased are listed in the order of when they were killed. I was able to find Scott Richardson's name. You'll see it here:

This statue is at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The National World War II Memorial was up ahead, but by the time we had seen the Vietnam memorial, I was running out of steam and needed to rest. I decided I could see it another time. So we made our way to our next bus stop and boarded it to go into the city center to see the Ford Theater. This ride took us past The White House, The Bureau of Engraving, The National Archives Building, and other Federal Buildings. We got off at the bus stop nearest the Ford Theater.

After crossing the street and walking to the next block, Hans noticed the long line outside the Ford Theater. And then we saw the sign "Must have tickets to enter theater," so I put that on my list for "next time," too. Rather than waiting for 20 to 30 minutes for the next bus, Hans decided to use Uber. This was a new and fun experience for me. He stepped away from me and William for a minute, and when he returned he said, "There will be a black Cadillac, license number ***, coming for us in about six minutes. He is here right now." Sure enough, his location appeared on Hans' phone. Well, he was a welcome sight! We piled into the big, back seat of his air-conditioned car and it felt heavenly. What a relief from the heat! He drove us to the closest spot to Arlington National Cemetery.

Tourists on the steps watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

At the Information building of the cemetery, we bought tickets to the tram which gives a guided tour of the cemetery—pointing out graves of famous people. We got off at the stop for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There were many people already assembled on the steps that face the tomb, but it wasn't crowded by any means. I felt so sorry for the soldier who was walking back and forth, in full dress wool uniform, but I learned more about them and their desire to perform,

Here is what I learned about the guards' walks:

There is a meticulous routine that the guard follows when watching over the graves.
The Tomb Guard:
  1. Marches 21 steps south down the black mat laid across the Tomb.
  2. Turns and faces east, toward the Tomb, for 21 seconds.
  3. Turns and faces north, changes weapon to outside shoulder, and waits 21 seconds.
  4. Marches 21 steps down the mat.
  5. Turns and faces east for 21 seconds.
  6. Turns and faces south, changes weapon to outside shoulder, and waits 21 seconds.
  7. Repeats the routine until the soldier is relieved of duty at the Changing of the Guard.
After each turn, the Guard executes a sharp "shoulder-arms" movement to place the weapon on the shoulder closest to the visitors to signify that the Guard stands between the Tomb and any possible threat.
Twenty-one was chosen because it symbolizes the highest military honor that can be bestowed—the 21-gun salute.
The mat is usually replaced twice per year: before Memorial Day and before Veterans Day. This is required because of the wear on the rubber mat by the special shoes worn by Tomb Guards. The sentinels have metal plates built into the soles and inner parts of their shoes to allow for a more rugged sole and to give the signature click of the heel during maneuvers. The sentinels wear sunglasses because of the bright reflection from the marble surrounding the Tomb and the Memorial Amphitheater.
On the ground not covered by the mat, a wear pattern in the tile can be seen that corresponds to the precise steps taken during the changing of the guard. On the mat itself, footprints worn in by standing guard are also visible.
At the completion of the tram ride, we opted to call Uber again for a ride back to our car. It was a full, exhilarating day. I loved all of it!

Friday - a very special day!

Hans took a day of leave so that he could spend the day with me and William. On the schedule was a tour of the Pentagon and sights around Washington, D. C. We took their car into the city since there were the three of us – the requirement to drive in the HOV lane.

Prior to going into the Pentagon, we walked to the 9/11 Memorial. On that awful day, September 11, 2001, 184 people perished when flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. There is a bench for each victim with their name engraved on the edge of it. It was very moving being in this hallowed space.

(This is not my photo.)

After looking around the memorial, we made our way around two sides of the Pentagon where I had to go through a security check to get a visitor's badge. Hans and William entered a different door and waited for me in another room.

Once inside the building, Hans began showing me the stores and shops that are on the first floor. There were gift shops, barber shops, dry cleaners, tailors, shoe shine shops, jewelers, shops for each branch of the military, and so on. I bought a hooded sweatshirt in the Pentagon gift shop.

Next we walked out into the center courtyard (that's not what they call it). There was an Expo of sorts going on out there. Here I am standing next to a robot that the Navy will be using at some point.

After looking around the Expo, we re-entered the building and went to the floor where all of the top brass in the five branches of the military have their offices. It looks like this:

(This is not my photo. No cameras were allowed.)

All of the other hallways are very, very plain—white walls, no photos.

When we were close to Hans' office, he took us into a small room that had a bank of mailboxes. Each box had a key. Hans asked me to give him my I Phone. He placed his and mine in the box and locked it. That was the first step in security to enter his offices. We crossed the hallway and entered his place of work. Once inside, he introduced me to his Administrative Assistant - a very nice woman. Then we walked down a hallway to meet some of his staff. Again—very nice people. Finally we went to his office. He is in a nice space, has a big print of the U.S.S. Curtis Wilbur over the desk. He told me he has to insert his ID badge into a device before he can log into his computer. Once into the initial program, he has to insert his badge into the device a second time, to give him clearance. Talk about security!! While we were talking, his Captain came to his door to meet me and William. He was really great! He spent quite a bit of time talking to us and told me I should be very proud of Hans and all of his accomplishments. He went on to say Hans has a rich military history.

There are at least two food courts in the large structure. We ate lunch in one of them.There are 25,000 people working inside the Pentagon. The five sided building is made up of five rings: A, B, C, D, and E, the outer ring being E. The building is five stories high. If one walked around all rings of all floors, they would have walked seventeen miles.

I loved my tour with Hans and William. It was really special!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Josiah's 6th Grade Graduation

On Thursday, Josiah graduated from the sixth grade. I was fortunate to be in town during this time so I got to go to the ceremony. There were about 90 to 100 sixth grade students. The students were seated in chairs that faced the audience; the teachers were on the stage. The program started with the students singing the school song. It was interesting to see some singing full heartedly – others barely opened their mouths.

There were awards and certificates given to students who excelled in music, sports, civic participation, and so on. Following the awards, each student came forward to receive their "diploma."

Following the ceremony, there was a reception in the gymnasium. We spent a little bit of time there and then left so that Hans and Rachel could go to work.

Hans, Josiah, Rachel

My Trip to Washington, D. C.

Last week I flew to Washington, D. C., to visit Hans and his family. I arrived at Reagan National Airport on Wednesday afternoon and Hans was there to pick me up. Driving from the airport to his home, he pointed out the Pentagon to me. I also noticed the Washington Monument and the U. S. Capitol. Since I hadn't been there since 1967, this was very interesting to me. Of course, back then, there weren't so many cars or lanes for them.

There was no one home when we arrived at Hans' home. The kids were in school and Rachel was at work. Hans gave me a tour of their house, and that was fun. Rachel is really great at decorating. Here are a couple of photos I took.

These are wooden Japanese dolls on display

Japanese cabinet in Rachel's kitchen with Japanese plates, etc.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


I know. I'm behind the times with many things today. One such thing is treating myself to a pedicure and a manicure. Today I got up the nerve and walked into a salon and had the full treatment. What a pleasant experience this was!

The man who greeted me spoke some English. I asked if I could get a pedicure and a manicure and he said, "Yes, pick out your nail color." Wow! They must have had 300 bottles of various colors on the wall. I chose a medium rose color.

I was so excited to have my toe nails clipped and cleaned up. The woman who was doing this for me was so sweet. She spoke little English, but told me she was from Vietnam. She and her husband own the shop and they work 7 days a week! She soaked my feet—all the while the massage rollers inside the chair were going up and down my back. It felt so good! She clipped, trimmed, filed, and buffed my nails, and massaged my feet. Next she applied a very nice cream on my legs and began massaging them. Over and over again she rubbed the nice cream in. I didn't think it could get any better, but she followed this by wrapping hot, moist towels around my feet. [Some of this could be out of order, but it is close.] Eventually she began with the polish—first clear, followed by 5 coats of nail polish—putting each foot under a heat lamp for 60 seconds between each coat. The final coat was a clear gel coat.

Next came my hands. I moved from the massage chair to a desk-type setting. First she soaked my hands in a nice bowl of warm water. It made me think of the old dishwashing detergent TV ad where women soaked their hands in the sudsy solution. Next she pushed back the cuticle and then trimmed the cuticle. She filed and buffed, then soaked my hands once again. Next she led me to to a sink and gave me a nail brush to scrub my hands and nails. After drying my hands on a nice, warm towel, I returned to the desk and she began the polishing – first the clear coat, followed by 5 coats of the rose color (one minute under the heat lamp following each coat), and finally, the coat of the clear gel.

All in all, this was so much fun! I was pampered and felt wonderful. I'll be returning.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Planning Trips

I have had fun looking for things to do for this summer. I have two trips planned. First off, I'll be flying in to Washington, D. C. in a couple of weeks to visit Hans and his family. I have been to our nation's capital only once - back in 1967. Steve and I had bought our first new VW Beetle and first movie camera for this trip.

We drove east to Gettysburg and then to Washington, D. C. We toured the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court Building, took the elevator to the top of the Washington Monument and walked down the stairs. Boy, did our knees hurt the following day! Did you know that inside the memorial are commemorative stones from individuals, civic groups, cities, states and countries that wanted to honor the memory of George Washington?  There are a total of 898 steps. An earthquake hit the Virginia area in 2011 and caused damage to the memorial. Since that time, no one is permitted to use the stairs.

We went to the Lincoln Memorial and also to John F. Kennedy's grave site. At that time, it was very simple and surrounded by a white picket fence.

(I took this photo off the Internet)
We toured one portion of the Smithsonian Institute – the building that houses the Hope Diamond and the First Ladies' dresses. We also drove to Mount Vernon and then took in a baseball game at D. C. Stadium. Vice President Hubert Humphrey was also at the game. I tried to go over to greet him, but the Secret Service would not allow me into that section, even though I was from Minnesota.

During this upcoming trip, Hans is going to take me on a tour of the Pentagon. I hope to see his office and possibly take a photo of him sitting at his desk!

In July I'm going to go to Ely, Minnesota, for a couple of days with my sister. At the same time, Peder and his family, plus our cousin Linda, and Peder's in-laws have rented cabins at a resort there. We'll be able to go to their resort during the day and then spend our nights at a hotel in the town. I have never been to this part of our state, so am looking forward to that.