Celebrating The Big 3-0!

Last week found me quietly, and secretly hopping on a plane, flying cross country, and (happily) pulling of one of my favorite surprises I've managed to achieve so far! The 4th was my amazing sibling's 30th birthday, and I couldn't let such a milestone pass by with just an ordinary gift. Instead, I worked it out with their wonderful wife to spend 4 amazing days and nights in DC with them.

I flew in late Monday, the night before their birthday. I'm so used to openly voicing my travel excitements and worries, so it was weird heading to the airport in snow, wondering if I would be able to get out okay, and not saying anything! But we did get off on time, and thanks to my wonderful friend Alexa, arrived at their apartment as predicted, also. They were so surprised! It was absolutely amazing. We chatted some that night, but as it was already late, we really began our visit the next day.

Our parent's had come down too, so we all spent that day together. First with a relaxed breakfast, then with a trip to the coolest salon for some pampering. 

After that we walked to the water, then through the Torpedo Factory... a really cool artists collective housed in a former torpedo factory. 

We went back to their apartment for a late lunch/early dinner, then some relaxing and hang out time. The next day my parents headed out, and Elise headed to work, so it was just the siblings for the day! We did some yoga together (breaking in their new yoga mat!), then headed to National Museum of American History. I love so very much how many free museums there are in DC.

We explored leisurely, ate at their amazing mac & cheese bar (wahhhhhhh?!), an then headed home to meet Elise after work. They also introduced me to The Good Place that night, and I'm addicted. 

Thursday was my explore alone day, as both my lovely hosts had work. I started with breakfast at the National Cathedral Cafe - one of my favorites for brunch. Their lavender hot chocolate is amazing, and they have the best quiche. Its also a nice walk from my sibs apartment, which is also a nice way to start the day. 


It had been a while since I'd taken a leisurely time through the Cathedral, so that's exactly what I did after brunch.

Main floor, lower level, up to the observation floor, places I hadn't seen before, I spend a few lovely hours just wandering. There are endless mosaics, carvings, and little details to take in.

Mostly beautiful, though some sad...

The are currently working on a really wonderful fundraiser to repair damage from the 2011 earthquake, by selling Legos for this amazing model they are creating! 

This was a fundraiser I couldn't resist (as I knew Gwen wouldn't be able to resist either... so I bought three (the flat ones by my finger), which are the base for part of the Nave.


 The rain had rolled in at this point, so I called a Lift to take me to my next stop, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History... one of my absolute favorites!!

They had some amazing exhibits that I hadn't seen before, so I spent a few fun hours exploring. 

I've been absolutely fascinated by outbreaks and epidemics since I was a kid (Andromeda Strain and Outbreak are two of my favorite books to reread). So I spent a while in the Epidemic exhibit.


I love all the Smithsonians, but the Natural History museum will always be the one I'm drawn to most.


I wandered down the rainy Mall area to my next stop (enjoying the view on the way)... the Air & Space museum, which I haven't been in since I was a kid. 

Space is another fascination of mine, so this one was a must see. I got a little choked up watching the video they had of the final launch of the Discovery. 

There something that grips my throat and settles into my belly when I imagine being out there in the vast reaches of space, nothing between you and the unknown other then a metal cage.

 After that it was back home to wait for E and Elise to arrive, and our final evening together.

Friday I slept in a little, read, packed up my bags and put their living room (my bedroom!) back together. I met them for one last lunch, then headed back to the apartment a final time. Then it was time to head to the airport. More snow in Denver meant that my departure and arrival times were a little up in the air, but just a few minutes late on Friday evening I arrived back home; so glad to be back with Gwen, Trav, and Daisy... but missing my amazing DC family already.

Someone said that "January was a long year, but we made it!" and I feel that deeply, but this was my sweet reward for making it to February! There's so much more I wish I could pack into this post, but suffice it to say, words alone aren't enough to describe how grateful I was to make this surprise a reality, plus how wonderful and filling it was to have that time with my sibling and their wife. Happy Birthday E! I love you so much!

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