This is the last post on our East Coast adventure. Our trip home involved about 16 hours of driving, waiting, and flying, and was not without a few minor wrinkles.
We left the resort in Williamsburg about 10 am on what was surely going to be the hottest day of the whole trip. There were no clouds and just hot, humid conditions that made us glad that weren't going to be spending the day outdoors.
Our first challenge was the 153 mile drive back to Dulles Airport which went fairly smoothly. We ran into one backup due to a bad rollover injury accident that had everything tied up for a short time. I hope those folks will come out of that okay. We didn't have much in the way of traffic problems, but the roads heading south were very congested. I never would have thought you'd have that much traffic in Northern Virginia on a Saturday morning.
We stopped for lunch in Chantilly, just a short distance from the new Air and Space Museum, and when we came out I noticed that the right rear tire on our Mazda MPV (don't ever buy one of those gutless things) looked very soft and appeared to be going down. The last thing I wanted on our final day was car trouble, especially since it was a rental and we didn't know how long it would take for their road service to get to us. We were faced with the choice of going straight to the rental car return and skipping the museum, or pumping up the tire and hoping it would hold out during the museum visit. We decided to roll the dice and take a chance that the air leak was small enough not to mess us up.
Because I had visited that same area only two months ago, I knew where there was a gas station nearby, so we ran over there, pumped up the tire, and at the wise suggestion of Mrs. HolyCoast, bought a can of flat fix in case we had guessed wrong about the leak. After that we drove back to the museum.
The new museum is unbelievably big, housing everything from small civilian craft to the Space Shuttle Enterprise. My favorite plane in the collection is the Enola Gay, the B-29 bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
The boy's favorite plane in the collection is the SR-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest airplane which is now been retired. That's the Blackbird behind him. It doesn't photograph very well due to the anti-reflective paint that was used on the airplane.
The largest aircraft in the collection is the Space Shuttle "Enterprise" which was used during the early glide tests after being dropped off the 747 mother ship. It never flew in space, but gives you a good life-sized example of the craft that we've been using all these years.
While we were in the museum a thunderstorm had formed right over the airport and when we walked out the door everything was wet and the air felt like you'd just walked into a bathroom on a hot day in which a hot shower had been running. You could cut it with a knife. Lightning was flashing just north of the museum and we had a pretty good show as we walked to the car. Of course, thunderstorms and airports don't mix well and I was pretty sure the flight schedule was going to suffer.
Fortunately, the tire on the car was still up, so we drove over to the rental return and jumped on the shuttle to the airport and got all checked in. The airport was already experiencing delays in departures due to the storms in the area.
We boarded at the scheduled time, pushed back, and taxied out to a spot on the field and then stopped. The pilot informed us that we would have a 50 minute wait for take-off clearance. Great! We were already getting back to LA pretty late, but what can you do? Not a thing.
We did finally get underway about 45 minutes late and arrived back in LA at 9:15. By the time we claimed our baggage, hopped the shuttle back to our car, and then drove back to Mission Viejo, it was 11pm (2am on our East Coast body clocks) before we set foot at home again. We were pretty tired, but at least the cat was glad to see us.
Looking back on the trip, we had a terrific time. With a couple of exceptions, everything went fairly well and we got to see most of what we had come across the country for. We made a couple of good decisions, though completely by accident.
We took our tram tour of Washington on a Sunday, which is the lightest traffic day in the capital (though there is never anything close to light traffic in Washington). Had we done that on a weekday, it would have taken us much longer to get around, and we might have missed some things.
We did all our theme park stuff on weekdays, which was also fortunate. The resort employees told us that weekends are really busy in the park, and the kids wouldn't have been able to do as much had we gone there first.
If I had it to do over again I would have switched one tour - I wouldn't have gone to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and would have done the National Archives instead. That's the one thing we didn't see that I wish we could have (besides the White House), given all the important documents in that building. You can stand in line for hours to get in there, unless you have an appointment from your congressman, and although we had requested it a long time ago, it never got on our schedule. Next time I'm in Washington I'm definitely going to make a point of going over there.
For those of you who came along with us on this trip through the blog, I hope you had as much fun as we did. We'll be reliving this trip for a long time, and I'll get back to normal blogging tomorrow. Thanks!